A truly inconic ski face, THE line of the Argentière Basin


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FATMAP difficulty grade



Les Courtes is a true steep skier's mountain.

There are no less than eight independent skiable lines on the peak.

Out of these eight lines, the North-east Face is the most amenable and most frequently skied.

It is also a convenient if tedious descent route for alpinists on foot looking for a way off the mountain.

While the North-east Face is sometimes skiable in the winter months, it is much more common to find it in good condition in the spring.

Unfortunately, the face is a victim of its own fame.

When covered in good powder and while the Grand Montets lift remains open (not for long in May these days), it is not uncommon to find many teams on the face at the same time, sending sluff down on top of each other.

While the slope is never 'extremely' steep, it is sustained at over 45 degrees the whole way meaning a fall will likely result in the skier ending up at the bottom of the face.

This actually happens most years due to the volume of traffic on the face and perhaps due to the lack of experience of some aspiring steep skiers tackling the descent.

In order to tackle the face, climb it (which feels like a slog!) to the col at the top which overlooks the Taléfre basin and has huge views up to Mont Blanc and its satellite peaks.

Ski back the way you came, choosing your exact line according to where the best snow is.

The face begins to mellow at the bottom (as you'll know from climbing up) and the closer you get back to the bergschrund, the more you can enjoy the sensation of skiing on this huge and wild face.