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Col des Volnets


Vanoise Massif

A great 'medium-steep' spring snow line.

Ski Touring Difficult

9 km
1.3 km
1.3 km
5-6 hrs
Low Point
2 km
High Point
3.2 km
Col des Volnets Map

A fantastic spring snow line down a big ‘toboggan-run’ slope and a great stepping stone for those who want to progress on to some of the steeper lines in this area. While never seriously steep you definitely wouldn’t want to take a slide down here on firm snow and crampons (and an ice axe) will almost certainly be needed for the ascent. Timing will be key to enjoying the descent with ‘just-softening’ spring snow, and given the aspect a pre-dawn start will be needed by most mortals to be on top at the right time.


The starting point of Les Barmettes is easily reached by skinning up the Pralognan pistes - after the ski area closes in spring the road is open to Les Fontanettes at 1600m. It is also possible to stay in the Refuge Des Barmettes, or the tour can be built into a stay at the Col de la Vanoise hut.

From Les Barmettes follow the valley up to the flatter area before the Lac des Vaches and then skin more steeply north to the Chalet des Gardes and into the Vallonet hanging valley. A short, steeper slope takes you out of this and into the Patinoire bowl. Skirt (or cross) the lake and head straight up the slope due north to the Col des Volnets. This is mostly in the 30/35º range, but steepens slightly in the top 100m. The ridge is often corniced though this can generally be passed on the right. From the Col it is possible to continue up the ridge running west to the summit of the Pointe du Vallonet.

The descent follows the line of ascent.



Serious gradient of 30-38 degrees where a real risk of slipping exists.

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.


3 out of 4

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

Best time to visit

between January and April


  • Alpine
  • Single Descent
  • Ski Mountaineering

Equipment required

  • Skins
  • Ice axe
  • Crampons

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area