3 - 4
FATMAP difficulty grade
A wild peak in the heart of a legendary mountain range, Mount des Poilus is a much sought-after objective.
The steepness of the summit slope and the cornice hazard on it mean that few tourers actually go to the mountain's highest point, but there's some great skiing to be had without visiting the peak itself. Start out by skiing a couple of fun little faces immediately north-west of the Guy Hut which lead to the Poilus Glacier.
In bad weather, these mini faces are worth lapping on their own, but they're steep enough to be capable of avalanching - don't be lulled into a false sense of security by their proximity to the hut! Once on the glacier cross to the far side and then climb up on the skinner's right of the glacier which descends from Mount des Poilus.
There are some large cornices on Arete Peak, which towers above the ascent route, so you'll need to not only manage crevasse risks, but also judge when you might be in the firing line should one of those cornices collapse.
Seek safe spots where possible, and move quickly between them.
The crevasse risk will eventually send you to the skinner's left side of the glacier, but fortunately the cornice risk from Arete Peak decreases the further north you go.
By the time you're right underneath the peak the cornice risk should be considerably reduced.
Skin up into a bowl and then onto the ridge which separates Arete Peak from Mount des Poilus.
For the adventurous ski mountaineers out there it's possible to bag the summit of Poilus itself, but most people content themselves with the ridge and the wonderful vista it provides. Rip skins off and enjoy a fun, flowing descent back to the Glacier des Poilus.
Depending on conditions, you might be able to ski the slightly steeper terrain on the opposite side of the ascent glacier, but see how it looks when you get there. Blast across the almost-flat Glacier des Poilus (possibly by skiing down your skin track) and then climb back up to the hut.
If condition are not conducive with going directly back to the hut then it's possible to follow a ramp line just to the south of the hut and using this to make the re-ascent.