FATMAP by Strava

North Couloir of the Grande Balme.

Espace Killy

Tignes and Val d'Isère

Vanoise Massif

Ski the stunning couloir and face that brings you straight back into Val Claret

Freeride Skiing Severe

1.1 km
181 m
306 m
Low Point
2.6 km
High Point
2.9 km
North Couloir of the Grande Balme. Map

The classic and one of the few descents possible on this north face. From the top of the freeride line ‘Grande Balme Couloir P3’ you can attach your skins and tour up the summit of the Rochers de la Grande Balme - it’s sometimes possible to bootpack to this summit if you prefer to ride on full-on downhill equipment, but this bootpack wouldn’t be recommended in deep snow.


Once at the summit, which is marked by a metal cross, take in the awesome panorama around you with many of the Tarentaise giants surrounding the Grande Balme.

Whilst from time to time you’ll see skiers/boarders hucking in from the top cornice into the couloir, but the standard access to this couloir from the summit for mortals like you and I is to descend a short distance in a north easterly aspect until you reach a ridgeline that allows you to cut skier’s left into the couloir proper.

Once in the couloir, you’ll be soon faced with a slightly technical steep and narrow section before it opens out again - be aware that you’re consistently exposed above cliffs whilst in the couloir and to avoid going over these cliffs you need to make a skier’s right traverse (which is often rocky/icy) to reach the exit of the couloir, leading onto the apron slopes below, allowing you to show your best turns to the onlookers in Val Claret!

The bottom section of these apron slopes are usually tracked by skiers/boarders who have traversed over from the Col du Ves chair, but the top section will make all the effort worthwhile with the option to head further skier’s right than the traversing path allows.



Steep skiing at 38-45 degrees. This requires very good technique and the risk of falling has serious consequences.

High Exposure (E3)

3 out of 4

In case of a fall, death is highly likely.


1 out of 4

Close to help in case of emergency.

Best time to visit

between December and May


  • Bowl
  • Cliffs
  • Couloir

Equipment required

  • Skins

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area