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La Balme Summit Couloir

Serre Chevalier

The other La Balme couloir – less well known, less skied and shorter than its illustrious neighbour but epic all the same.

Freeride Skiing Difficult

2.3 km
104 m
454 m
Low Point
2.2 km
High Point
2.6 km
La Balme Summit Couloir Map

The north couloir can be a thing of beauty or a devil depending on the snow conditions. Even in apparently ideal conditions the entrance can be corniced and pitted with exposed and hidden rocks. However, if your skis survive intact and you ride it in deep powder with a bunch of friends, even the most jaded of freeriders will be screaming like an excited kid all the way down. Also known as Huw's couloir for a short time after a guy called Huw (funnily enough) had the ride of his life down here in deep powder on tiny little slalom skis! Perhaps this couloir changes name after each epic descent, to be named after the last person to ride it? To get to it, start at the top of the Vallons or Cucumelle chairlifts, walking south along the ridge for a few minutes at which point you’ll be able to put your skis back on and take as much speed as possible along the same ridge. Once you can’t get any further on your skis, hike the rest on foot as far as the small cabin at the top. Helpfully the ridge nearly always has a nicely groomed cat track in it as it is used by the ski patrol to get from one valley to the next quickly and for avalanche control. This makes the going easier. From the cabin, follow the track down the ridge to the east then continue along the same line, ignoring the sharp right turn the path takes. Stay close to the ridgeline – you’re looking for pretty much the highest point on the ridge, about 250 metres past the bend in the track. Just beyond it, you’ll find the entrance to the couloir.



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.


2 out of 4

Away from help but easily accessed.

Best time to visit

between December and April


  • Cliffs
  • Walk Required

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area