Col du Passon

Arve Valley

Chamonix

Les Grands Montets

Balme (Le Tour)

One of THE classic tours of the area taking in a variety of high quality ski terrain.

Ski Touring Moderate

Distance
9.1 km
Ascent
684 m
Descent
2.5 km
Duration
3-4 hrs
Low Point
1.5 km
High Point
3.3 km
Gradient
47˚
VIEW ON MAP
Col du Passon Map

Description

One of the most popular tours in the Chamonix valley, the Col du Passon is a real crowd pleaser. A 700 meter skin gives access to a long descent of impeccable quality over a variety of terrain. While there isn’t much significant objective hazard on this route the lower slopes above Le Tour can be avalanche prone. The Col du Passon is also becoming an increasingly popular way to start the Haute Route instead of the Col du Chardonnet.

From the top of the Grands Montets start down Les Rognons as described under the freeride lines. Ski out and across the Glacier d’Argentière, crossing to the far side and locating the best point in the moraine wall to pass through. Skin up the large south-west facing bowl above and then bootpack up the couloir south of the Col du Passon to reach the Col itself (as described for the first day of the Haute Route). Crampons are sometimes needed to boot up the couloir which can often have firm re-frozen snow.

From the col ski down trending north-west on pleasant, rolling glacial slopes. Keep to the left of the rock spur at 2700 meters altitude and continue down a steeper bowl. From here you can continue to ski the fall line directly back into Le Tour staying to the left of the waterfalls and rock slabs. If snow cover isn’t so good lower down or there are doubts about the snow stability, it is recommended to stay skiers left and follow the summer trail down into the start of the tree line and back into the village of Le Tour. It is also possible to take a variation at 2300 meters altitude across to the Bec de la Cluy giving access to some beautiful freeride terrain and short 40 degree couloirs.

Difficulty

Moderate

Slopes become slightly steeper at around 25-30 degrees.

Low Exposure (E1)

1 out of 4

Exposure is limited to that of the slope itself. Getting hurt is still likely if the slope is steep and/or the snow is hard.

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

  • Bowl
  • Alpine
  • Ski Mountaineering

Equipment required

  • Skins
  • Ice axe
  • Crampons
  • Glacier kit

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area