3 - 4
FATMAP difficulty grade
Perfect for newbie backcountry skiers and high risk avalanche days, Pointe d'Andey is a mellow, safe and relatively short ski tour that's very popular with locals. If you're into ticking boxes and hard charging Type 2 fun then please proceed directly to the Chamonix valley where you will find all the iconic steep descents your ego is looking for.
But if you're looking for a casual day out with your dog or a fitness training skin with an epic backdrop and the chance of some sweet powder turns in the trees, then Pointe d'Andey is well worth a look. Stop at the bakery in Mont Saxonnex on the road up from Cluses for a coffee and a croissant before proceeding onwards to Brizon where the tour begins.
Park at the bottom of the 'piste' at 1,050m (I have never seen a lift in operation) and follow the obvious line upwards beside the trees.
Work your way upwards in the direction of the Solaison plateau where there is a Nordic ski track and several wooden chalets selling tarte aux myrtilles.
Resist the temptation to stop and head up to the right in a NW direction towards the summit. Your choice of skin track is not important as they all lead to the top.
Make the most of the time to check out the snow and your best option for the descent. The summit itself is at 1,877m and offers fantastic panoramic views of the Aravis, Grand Massif and Mont Blanc Massif.
Be sure not to go beyond the summit Madonna as there is a very sharp cliff on the north and west side which drops precipitously right down to the valley below. Once you have taken the necessary summit pictures, choose your descent wisely.
Following the obvious route may be tempting but there can be great snow to be found with a more creative eye.
The trees on the upper slopes offer excellent visibility and hold some fabulous powder stashes so be bold and playful. Upon exiting the lower section of the trees be mindful that there are some holes in the rock which will definitely ruin your day if you fail to avoid them. Other than that it's a case of farming the snow on the upper east facing slopes before reuniting with the main drag back down to the car - or stopping half way in Solaison for that well earned tarte aux myrtilles.
Whatever your decision, take your time on the descent, look for those patches of fresh, release your inner Candide Thovex and have fun!