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.
Perhaps a contender for the most famous ski route in the world, the Vallée Blanche offers excellent off-piste skiing in an absolutely breathtaking setting.
Whilst requiring only moderate technical skiing ability, the environment is very serious and should not be underestimated; it is not maintained, secured or controlled, and the route follows extremely crevassed terrain.
People die here every year and you should only set off if you have the necessary skills, experience and equipment for skiing on a glacier.
The route is long and excellent weather is required to complete the route safely; this is no place for bad weather or poor visibility.
If you have any doubt, hire a mountain guide.
Make your way down the NE ridge of the Aiguille du Midi, which is equipped with a handrail during the winter season but is still exposed! Crampons are not essential here, but make it more pleasant and feel less exposed.
Get your skis on at the broad col at the foot of the ridge.
Head down onto the massive plateau of the Col du Midi but keep your speed up to get across to the Col du Gros Rognon.
Flowing glaciated terrain leads you under the impressive E Face of the Mont Blanc du Tacul.
Bear left down the fall line past crevasses before traversing left towards the Petit Rognon.
Keep to the left of the impressive Seracs du Geant following a broad couloir to a flattening.
Cross the flattening diagonally rightwards to get round the heavily crevassed terrain below.
Follow the easy angled wide glacier back to Montenvers.
You can take the stairs to the Telecabine Mer du Glace or continue further down the glacier to hike up to the James Bond track (the windy forest track which leads back to Chamonix town centre.) Hiking the stairs up the Montenvers takes around 10 minutes, allow 20 for the hike up from the glacier to the start of the James Bond track.
NB: There is no precise line to take and the line on the map only shows the general direction.
Conditions on the glacier will dictate the route required.