Aiguille du Chardonnet, West Couloir

Arve Valley

The West Couloir is yet another reason why the Aiguille Chardonnet is one of the best summits for steep skiing in the Alps.

Also in Haute-Savoie, France

Ski Touring Extreme

Distance
1.6 km
Ascent
0 m
Descent
1.1 km
Duration
0-1 hrs
Low Point
2.7 km
High Point
3.8 km
Gradient
57˚
Aiguille du Chardonnet, West Couloir Map

The most logical way to ski the West Couloir is via a traverse from the South Couloir, skiing it on-sight. This gives one of the very best ski-mountaineering traverses in the Mont-Blanc Massif.

Description

Climb the South Couloir as described under its own route description. It is possible to reach the summit of the Aiguille du Chardonnet via both branches of the upper section of the South Couloir, but it is more enjoyable to take the climber's right branch and scramble up along the final section of the Forbes Arete. This approach provides exposed but not technically-difficult alpine climbing (some slings, a few nuts, and a cam or two may be useful depending on conditions).

Take a moment to enjoy the summit before down climbing a short ridge to the start of the West Couloir. The couloir starts off at 35-40 degrees before steepening to 45-50. There is a delicate traverse that needs to be navigated out to the Col Adams Reilly. It may be necessary to use the rope to get across.

Now you have two options: ski down the north side of the Col Adams Reilly and join up with the descent route of the Col du Passon, or drop into the direct continuation of the West Couloir and back into the Argentière Basin. These are two very different beasts. The West Couloir Direct weighs in at 5.3 and is much more technical than the upper West Couloir and less often in condition. Unless conditions are exceptional, you will need to make one or two abseils in the lower couloir. After skiing back down the Argentière side, continue across to the other side of the Glacier d'Argentière and back to Lognan.

Difficulty

Extreme

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

Extreme Exposure (E4)

4 out of 4

In case of a fall, the skier faces certain death.

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

February, March, April, May

Features

  • Cliffs

Equipment required

  • Rope
  • Skins
  • Ice axe
  • Crampons

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area