Tsanteleina South Couloir

Espace Killy

Tignes and Val d'Isère

Taking in the classic peak of Tsanteleina, this line should be on the bucket list for all keen ski tourers in the region.

Ski Touring Severe

Distance
9.7 km
Ascent
1.6 km
Descent
1.6 km
Duration
6-7 hrs
Low Point
1.9 km
High Point
3.6 km
Gradient
48˚
Tsanteleina South Couloir Map

1645 meters of ascent with just under 10km of skiing, standing on the stunning summit of Tsanteleina does not come easy. It’s possible to start the tour from Le Franchet (further down the valley), but this route starts from Le Fornet to give you that extra height gain from the start for zero effort and the higher chance to be able to start the day by skis and skins rather than by foot.

Description

This ski tour begins on the summer road which leads out of Le Fornet. Start to ascend this road in a north east direction for a short distance, before breaking off and joining the summer path that leads up to the Réserve Naturelle de la Bailletaz. Once in the nature reserve (the terrain flattens out when you arrive), head in a north east direction and ascend up the Glacier de Court dessus - you should start to get a view of the south face of the Tsanteleina from here.

Once at the foot of the south couloir, take your skis/board off and bootpack straight up the couloir (crampons and walking axe advised). A fantastic ridge awaits you at the top of the couloir, with brilliant views of the north face of Tsanteleina and down into neighbouring Italy. Ascend the ridge in a westerly direction to stand on the 3,601m summit of Tsanteleina.

The good thing about all that ascent is that you get to do it all again, but 3x the speed and minimal effort with gravity on your side!

The summit is frequently wind scoured and rocky, so best to walk back down the ridge you ascended before putting your skis on at the top of the south couloir. Being a southerly facing couloir, make sure you don’t get this one too late in the day and if you do, always remember there’s the neighbouring west face which is of a similar technicality that will not be as cooked.

The couloir is the only technicality of this return ski home from the Tsaneleina, yet it’s never too steep or narrow to offer too much of a challenge. After the couloir, you’ve got a fantastic and fairly mellow descent back the way you came all the way down to Le Fornet.

Difficulty

Severe

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

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, April, May

Features

  • Bowl
  • Alpine
  • Single Descent
  • Ski Mountaineering

Equipment required

  • Skins
  • Ice axe
  • Crampons

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area