5 - 6
FATMAP difficulty grade
This is a fantastic ski tour taking in everything from peaceful forests to wild, open ridgelines and some very exciting skiing.
The upper section of the route (ascending Pointe Ronde's NW Ridge and descending its N Face) require some route finding skill and locating the correct line would be very difficult in bad weather, so save this one for a blue sky day. The tour starts at the Col de la Forclaz, which links the Chamonix and Rhone valleys and is (in all but the most brutal storms) open all winter.
There is a hotel/restaurant on the Col and plenty of parking. From the Col skin east into the forest on a clear path and keep going as the path winds through some lovely trees and up to a clearing, which you reach within an hour of leaving the Col. Turn south-west and skin up the clearing into a bowl which leads easily onto the Pointe Ronde's NW Ridge.
Follow the ridge, which is mostly scenic and wide, all the way to the summit.
The final ascent to the summit is a bit thinner and more exposed than the lower section of the ridge, but still not too tricky or intimidating. Having spent some time geeking out about the view and spotting famous peaks (both Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn are clearly visible, amongst others), ski briefly back down the NW Ridge then find the best spot to drop into the N Face.
There can be big cornices at the top of the face so treat these with respect and only drop in once you're happy you've found a safe entry point.
If you can't find a good entry then retracing your ascent route isn't a bad consolation prize. Provided you do find a way in, the skiing is steep on the N face and there are countless routes down.
The line mellows all the way down and gradually leads you into trees.
These provide some more brilliant skiing but all too quickly deposit you back on the track you started skiing up at the beginning of the day.
Turn left and follow this back to the Col de la Forclaz.