Brêche de Bérard

Arve Valley

Chamonix

A brilliant detour from the classic Crochues-Bérard route which takes you through some fantastic terrain.

Ski Touring Difficult

Distance
2.7 km
Ascent
386 m
Descent
707 m
Duration
1-2 hrs
Low Point
2 km
High Point
2.6 km
Gradient
43˚
VIEW ON MAP
Brêche de Bérard Map

Description

Follow the über-classic Crochues-Bérard tour over the Col Crochues and along the traverse around to where that route begins to climb up to the Col Bérard.

In order to access this line, don't put skins on (as you would to climb to the Col Bérard) but instead sidestep north for 20 metres then drop west into the valley below you. Ski down and across this to reach the foot of a 30 degree gully. Put skins on and begin skinning up this gully. Initially it is quite narrow and requires some slightly awkward kick turns but as you ascend it widens up and gets easier to climb.

As the gully dissipates into an open face, drift right (north) and keep climbing until you reach the ridge directly above you. Now skin along this, taking in the incredible ambience and the unique feeling of skinning right on a ridge crest. The ridge is reasonably wide and doesn't feel too intimidating, but it's still not the place to be honing your skills so don't come up here if don't already have a few tours under your belt.

When the ridge begins to steepen and become rockier, drop left off it and do a stunningly beautiful traverse to pass to the west of the Aiguille de Bérard. Once on the traverse the Brêche itself is clearly visible ahead of you. When you arrive underneath it, take your skis off and boot up to it. In lean, early season conditions this might involve an easy, rocky scramble but by mid-winter it is usually just steep snow.

From the Brêche, downclimb a few metres onto the slope to the north-east. You can traverse left or right from where you put skis on and either option will take you down onto fun terrain and avoid the cliff band which is 100 metres below the Brêche. Our line goes left because the skiing is marginally more exciting that way but either is fine.

Once below the cliff band, pick one of the countless routes down beautiful mellow powder and join the classic Crochues-Bérard tour again.

Difficulty

Difficult

Serious gradient of 30-38 degrees where a real risk of slipping exists.

Medium Exposure (E2)

2 out of 4

As well as the slope itself, there are some obstacles (such as rock outcrops) which could aggravate injury.

Remoteness

3 out of 4

Little chance of being seen or helped in case of an accident.

Best time to visit

January, February, March, April

Features

  • Face
  • Ski Mountaineering

Equipment required

  • Skins

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area