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Col des Cristaux: NE Slope

A beautiful steep skiing slope, less unrelenting than its neighbour the NE of Courtes.

Time span: 5 to 6 hours (ascent - descent from the refuge)

Route: D1: From Grands Montets, follow the route for Argentière refuge. Start from "Point de vue" track and leave it quickly on the right to descend the Glacier des Rognons to the NE towards the Glacier d'Argentière. (classic wilderness skiing with numerous variants. You generally cross the ropes through a small opening with a warning panel). You pass classically near the Rognon at 3000 (rather on the right) then to the South of the Rognons moraine. Via a traverse to the right, you reach glacier d'Argentière and put the skins on (having left the areas exposed to avalanches from the Aiguille Verte). Go up Glacier d'Argentière by aiming at the Argentière refuge that is reached by an ascending traverse towards the East (1h30)

Some years when there is very good snow cover, it is possible to traverse Glacier des Rognons under Aiguille Verte to pass above the Rognon 2866m and reach the base of Glacier des Améthystes. (very crevassed complex route and exposed to serac falls from Verte)

D2: from the refuge, descend Glacier d'Argentière and traverse it ascending while passing under the Courtes to reach the base of a corridor resulting from Cristaux pass that you climb and exit rather to the right.

Descent is the same, look carefully from the top for possible ice plates! You reach Glacier d'Argentière that you descend following its left bank to return to the Grands Montets wilderness ski area. Remain on the left edge of the glacier (sometimes very crevassed and narrow route) and after an area with a minor slope, leave from he glacier  uphill from a serac area around 2300M to reach the slopes or wilderness skiing until Argentière. You can also go towards the EMHM building (restaurant). If there is not much snow coverage go to Lognan and the "Pierre à Ric" slope covered with artificial snow.

  • Difficulty: S5 - Very difficult (40-50°)
  • Danger/Exposure: E3 - Very high
  • Total climb: 2922 m
  • Total elevation drop: 2905 m
  • Length: 22.56 km
  • Highest altitude: 3608 m
  • Lowest altitude: 1229 m
  • Extra gear: None
  • Lift access: No



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Negative slope values means the track is heading uphill.

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