South Face of the Tour Ronde and descent of the Brenva Glacier

Chamonix

Skyway Monte Bianco

A wild and committing descent. When conditions are good, this is as good as adventurous ski touring gets!

Ski Touring Severe

Distance
6.9 km
Ascent
308 m
Descent
2.5 km
Duration
2-3 hrs
Low Point
1.3 km
High Point
3.7 km
Gradient
54˚
VIEW ON MAP
South Face of the Tour Ronde and descent of the Brenva Glacier Map

Description

Approach from either the top of the Skyway Monte Bianco lift station or from the Aiguille du Midi cable car top station (via a skin up and across the Vallée Blanche). The approach is shorter from the Skyway (Italian side), ski over the Col des Flambeaux and descend towards the Tour Ronde before skinning back up again. Climb up the Normal Route on the East Face of the Tour Ronde. Just before the final summit scramble, descend the South Face dropping away to the left. Follow this beautiful open face onto the Brenva Glacier. Descend the skier's left side of the mighty Brenva. There are three possible options for exiting the Brenva which is often the crux of this trip; A) This is the most common route to take; continue descending slightly skier's left side of the icefall until you come to a small gully slanting to the skier's right side (difficult route finding). Ski into this narrow gully which brings you out under the seracs. Don't linger here! Ski away quickly trending skier's right to the far moraine wall or continue straight down the recently exposed rock slabs. Be careful here when it is heating up after a recent snowfall. B) Skin across the flat bench of the Brenva above the icefall until you reach the far skier's right side. This requires good build up on the glacier to cover the many crevasses here. Once on the right bank, the descent is straightforward. C) Descend and traverse high hard skier's left off the glacier, keeping as much height as possible. The terrain here is very steep and on a sunny aspect so the snow cover deteriorates very quickly on this slope. It is then possible to pick a line down some very steep grassy slopes. All three exits are very serious and require a good understanding of the current conditions. Once at the bottom of the Brenva, pick a line through shrubs and old moraine until you reach the Val Veny track and take this back to the Skyway lift station or parking.

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

4 out of 4

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

Best time to visit

January, February, March

Features

  • Face
  • Cliffs
  • Ski Mountaineering

Equipment required

  • Rope
  • Skins
  • Crampons
  • Glacier kit

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area