Mont Blanc West Face

Chamonix

Courmayeur

The 'Himalayan' face of Mont Blanc

Also in Haute-Savoie, France

Ski Touring Extreme

Distance
11 km
Ascent
154 m
Descent
3.1 km
Duration
3-4 hrs
Low Point
1.9 km
High Point
4.8 km
Gradient
58˚
VIEW ON MAP
Mont Blanc West Face Map

Description

Also known as the Himalayan face of Mont Blanc, this is as big as big mountain skiing gets in the Alps. Don’t expect good snow on this incredibly long and complex line. A descent of the West Face is sure to be a true adventure for bonafide connoisseurs of steep and remote skiing. Due to the complex and long nature of the face it is almost always skied onsight and can be approached from either the 3 Monts route or the Grand Mulets/the North Ridge of the Dôme de Goûter. Getting the right conditions and nailing the route finding will be the cruxes of the descent.

The West Face of Mont Blanc can be scouted from the upper reaches of Val Veny or from the Tré la Téte basin. To date there are four known variations that have been skied on the West Face. Starting with Saudans’s first descent of the face in 1973 some of extreme skiing’s best-known names have left their mark here. The most popular route is the De Benedetti couloir which takes a direct line down the face.

From the summit of Mont Blanc ski down initially mellow slopes trending rightwards where the slope angle starts to steepen. Pass through a couloir on the right and continue down broad and open slopes sustained at 45-50 degrees. Locate another couloir on the right and pass through the rock band. Continue down the massive face, usually crossing the bergschrund on skier’s right and then skiing the fall line from the skier’s right side. Cross over the Glacier du Mont Blanc heading west and skin up a briefly past a rock spur towards the remote Quintino Sella hut.

From here it may be possible to descend directly on the Glacier du Mont Blanc. However, this is becoming less and less feasible due to the deteriorating state of the glacier. It is more common in late spring or early summer to ski down the narrow west facing couloir just below the Quintino Sella hut. Cross over the Glacier du Dôme to the Gonella hut and follow the summer trail down onto the Miage Glacier. You might appreciate bringing a lightweight pair of shoes for hiking down the endless rubble of the Miage in late season.

Difficulty

Extreme

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

High Exposure (E3)

3 out of 4

In case of a fall, death is highly likely.

Remoteness

4 out of 4

In the high mountains or remote conditions, all individuals must be completely autonomous in every situation.

Best time to visit

April, May, June

Features

  • Face
  • Alpine
  • Single Descent
  • Ski Mountaineering

Equipment required

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

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area