Analysing terrain data
The exposure grade does not take into account objective hazards (stone fall, seracs, etc) but only the consequences of the skier falling.
Low Exposure (E1): 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.
Medium Exposure (E2): As well as the slope itself, there are some obstacles (such as rock outcrops) which could aggravate injury.
High Exposure (E3): In case of a fall, death is highly likely.
Extreme Exposure (E4): In case of a fall, the skier faces certain death.
As the name suggests, this couloir has a rock step slap bang in the middle of it.
In a big snow year it can almost disappear…almost.
However, in other years it can be a good 6 metres high with a steep, narrow landing.
It isn’t vertical either so you can’t just side slip up to the edge of it and hop off – you need some speed to clear the rocks.
If this still sounds like fun then it might be wise to check it out initially from below by first skiing one of the lines further to the west along the same face and traversing under the couloir.
Although clearly visible from the chairlift, it can be hard to judge its size from such a distance.
To get to the entrance, start at the top of the Vallons or Cucumelle chairlifts, walking south along the ridge for a few minutes at which point you’ll be able to put your skis back on and take as much speed as possible along the same ridge.
Once you can’t get any further on your skis, hike the rest on foot as far as the small cabin at the top.
Helpfully the ridge nearly always has a nicely groomed cat track in it as it is used by the ski patrol to get from one valley to the next quickly and for avalanche control.
This makes the going easier.
From the cabin, ski east along the gently sloping track at the top of the ridge.
The start of the couloir is at the near side of the main, wide north face.
There’s generally a vertical snow ridge separating the couloir from the wider face.
Take care near the top as there can be a few other rocks dotted around ready to catch you out and send you for a ride.