Whymper Couloir Ski

Chamonix

An iconic, sought after and serious line on one of the greatest peaks in the Alps.

Ski Touring Extreme

Distance
6.8 km
Ascent
1.5 km
Descent
1.5 km
Duration
5-6 hrs
Low Point
2.7 km
High Point
4.1 km
Gradient
54˚
Whymper Couloir Ski Map

A truly legendary line from a legendary peak, this line should be a goal for any serious and highly skilled ski mountaineer. Finding it in good conditions is extremely difficult but even if the snow is perfect, the line is still steep and serious. The best way to tackle the route is to climb it early in the morning and then ski it as the snow begins to soften when the sun hits the couloir.

Description

If the stars align and conditions permit a descent, start by heading up to the Courvercle hut, which is reached via a 2 hour skin from the Glacier de Leschaux.

Get a very early start the next morning and pass under the south-east ridge of the Aiguille du Moine to reach the Glacier de Talèfre. Skin up this, staying left and passing under La Nonne, L'Éveque Le Cardinal before traversing into the (often large) bergschrund at the foot of the Whymper Couloir.

Cross the bergschrund on the right then climb a short couloir above before following a ramp out left into the main couloir. Boot up the couloir (which is not technically difficult but is steep enough that a fall would be disastrous - keep concentrating) to reach the col between the Aiguille Verte and the Grand Rocheuse.

From here either ski back down the couloir (abseiling any unskiable mixed ground in the lower section) down to the bergschrund, or ditch your skis and climb up to the summit of the Aiguille Verte itself via an exposed and often icy ridge. Chamonix mountain guides traditionally say that you are not a "vrai alpinist" (a real mountaineer) if you have not stood atop the Verse, so the detour is well worth it for the kudos and staggering views.

Whether you detoured to the summit or not, abseil over the bergschrund and ski back to the hut. Toast your success and then ski back down to the Glacier de Leschaux and continue down the Vallée Blanche to the Montenvers train.

Difficulty

Extreme

Extreme skiing terrain above 45 degrees. These routes are reserved for experienced experts.

Extreme Exposure (E4)

4 out of 4

In case of a fall, the skier faces certain death.

Remoteness

3 out of 4

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

Best time to visit

March, April, May, June

Features

  • Alpine
  • Couloir
  • Single Descent
  • Ski Mountaineering

Equipment required

  • Rope
  • Skins
  • Ice axe
  • Crampons
  • Glacier kit

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area