7 - 8
FATMAP difficulty grade
If you are looking for some great views, a bit of a tranquility and some mellow skiing, look no further.
However, this tour does pass through (and underneath) avalanche terrain so this is not an entirely stress-free route in the wrong conditions. Park at the final parking area on the left when driving towards Notre Dame de la Gorge at the southern end of Les Contamines village.
From the carpark follow a jeep track south across a river and up into the forests. After about 40 minutes on the jeep track you will reach the hamlet of Nant Borant and 15 minutes later you emerge out of the trees into a long valley which runs directly north-south. Skin up the valley floor (still on a jeep track) as it undulates and then climbs up to the Chalet Refuge du Balme.
From here the jeep track becomes less distinct and you will need to focus slightly more on route finding.
Keep going south from the Chalet Refuge du Balme and then stay right of the base of the valley as it climbs up and left to pass beneath the dramatic north face of the Aiguilles de la Pennaz. Once past the north face of the Aiguilles de la Pennaz follow the valley which leads south directly up to the Col du Bonhomme itself.
The final climb up to the Col is steep enough that avalanches are a concern, so pick your route carefully and be aware of the large slopes up to your right when picking where to stop for a rest. There is a small hut at the Col which, although tiny, will be a very welcome sight on a windy day! Strip skins off and ski back the way you came all the way down to the carpark.
In icy conditions the jeep track can be pretty "exciting" so take it steady!