3 - 4
FATMAP difficulty grade
In the heart of the Aravis mountains, this is a surprisingly wild feeling tour, despite its proximity to ski areas.
The ascent is atmospheric and the skiing is exciting without ever being too difficult. From the large parking area north of the village of L'Étale, skin east across flat ground heading directly for the Pointe de Merdassier West-Northwest Face until you reach some sparse trees at the foot of it.
Skin up on the left (which is slightly mellower than going right), following a vague bowl al the way. When the bowl steepens and narrows, exit it leftwards into a broad shoulder immediately north-west of the Pointe de Merdassier.
From the shoulder skin directly onto the summit.
(The final climb to the top is quite steep and it can often be easier to bootpack than skin.) The views from the top are huge so (if the wind isn't blowing too hard) sit and enjoy it for a while before doing a descending traverse south-west into the top of the West-Northwest Face.
From the top of the face, follow the fall line, veering off left and right wherever necessary to find the best snow. The skiing is quite steep initially but mellows all the way down the line until you find yourself skiing mellow terrain through sparse trees at the foot of the face.
Once back on flat ground, take one final look back up at your route and pole back to the car.