Les Quatre Têtes North Couloir

Arve Valley

A long tour through staggering scenery which culminates with a descent of a beautiful hanging face.

Ski Touring Difficult

Distance
12 km
Ascent
1.4 km
Descent
1.4 km
Duration
6-7 hrs
Low Point
969 m
High Point
2.3 km
Gradient
42˚
VIEW ON MAP
Les Quatre Têtes North Couloir Map

Description

This is a fabulous tour which is best done in early season when you can skin all the way from the parking area in the little village of Burzier.

Leave the carpark and skin up the well established jeep track through the hamlet of Les Planes and up to the Chalets de Doran at the northern end of a long bowl.

Skin south-west up the bowl, taking in the dramatic mountain architecture around you, and then, as the bowl steepens, go south onto the broad col to the west of Les Quatre Têtes. Turn left and skin up the wide and staggeringly beautiful ridge which climbs onto the summit itself. If you didn't look at the view much on the final climb to the summit, make sure you do once on top because the panorama across the Portes de Soleil and the Mont Blanc Massif is mind blowing.

From the summit you have a few options; if you don't like the look of the conditions to the north, retracing your ascent route provides a nice ski, but if things look good then drop directly north off the top and enjoy the powder!

This line (the North Couloir) is accessed by pushing out right into the northernmost of the 2 big bowls that make up the north face. Ski down the bowl as it narrows and continually sends you right down a series of lovely little gullies and runnels. It's only really a couloir in name, but "North Gully" doesn't sound nearly as good!

Another option is to ski the other big bowl on the north face, which is wider and less distinct, but of similar difficulty to this line.

From the foot of the face, hang a right and ski down the bowl you skinned up back to the Chalets de Doran and follow the jeep track back down to the car from here.

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

Features

  • Bowl
  • Face
  • Couloir
  • Single Descent

Equipment required

  • Skins

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area