A beautiful wide and open steep ski face, one of the most popular of the Argentière Basin's celebrated North Faces. Shorter than the rest but steep and exposed in the upper half.

Statistics

3 - 4

hrs

730

m

730

m

59

max°

Difficulty

FATMAP difficulty grade

Extreme

Description

Tucked away in the upper reaches of the Argentière basin lies the Col des Courtes north-east slope.

Weather systems can roll over the nearby Italian frontier and deposit snow on the Col des Courtes whilst missing much of the rest of the Argentière Basin.

The Col des Courtes is genuinely steep in its upper half and according to steep skiing legend Pierre Tardivel, the same slope angle as the famous Couturier Couloir.

Tardivel thus rates the descent as 5.4, whilst Anselme Baud in his own guidebook rates it as 5.1.

Whilst the top half of the Col des Courtes may be as steep as other 5.4s, it is also much less sustained and more straightforward to ski than others in the range.

It is therefore an excellent entry point into the Mont Blanc Massif's truly steep descents. From the top of the Grand Montets cable car, ski down the very start of the Point du Vue piste before quickly ducking the rope and heading skier's right and down the Glacier du Rognons.

Take care to watch out for some large crevasses on the upper section.

Keep to skier's right of the Rognon itself (a large rock island).

This soon brings you down onto the Glacier d'Argentière.

Skin towards the head of the glacier until you reach the foot of the Col des Courtes' north-east slope.

The face starts at 45 degree before steepening.

Climb up veering slightly rightwards and find a passage through some rocks.

The face tops out at a small notch on the ridge to looker's right side.

The very top is briefly 55 degrees before lessening to 50.

Ski back down the same way and down the Argentière Glacier and back to Lognan.