5 - 6
FATMAP difficulty grade
The Pointe du Creux Noir sits at the Southern end of the Grand Bec/Vallonet ridge and is a stunning viewpoint down onto the village of Pralognan and the towering rock faces of the Grand Marchet and Aiguille de la Vanoise.
In winter it is possible to start this tour from the top of the ski lifts, but speed will be essential here as the slopes up to the Col du Vallonet are in an east-facing bowl which heats up very quickly.
Most mortals will need an early start from Pralognan (or Les Fontanettes in the spring). Follow the pistes up to the Barmettes refuge then cross the stream and head up the main valley to the big flat of the Lac des Vaches.
From here 70/80m of steeper slopes bring you to the Chalet des Gardes at the entrance of the first hanging valley then another short steeper slope takes you into the bowl of the ‘Glacier’ de la Patinoire - there's not much left of it these days.
Cross or skirt the lake and take a circular line up then left onto the steepening slopes up towards the Col du Vallonet, pulling left again before the Col if conditions allow to finish up north-facing slopes to the summit (there's also an option here to go direct to the col then follow the north ridge).
The descent follows the general line of ascent, and you can play with the aspects down the east-facing couloir to maximise snow quality.
From the Chalet des Gardes you can ski quite directly down into the valley floor, but be wary of staying too close to the Ruisseau du Vallonnet (stream) as this goes over quite a big waterfall!!