All tour information is user generated and although we try our best, we cannot guarantee its correctness. Always consult people with knowledge about the area and get a proper map. If in doubt, hire a guide!

Grande Casse: Couloir des Italiens

First ascent: L.Binaghi and A.Bonacossa, on 6 August 1933.

Splendid corridor, generally in springtime conditions, on the highest point of the Savoie. Certainly one of the most beautiful snow and ice corridor climbs in the Vanoise massif at this difficulty level.

Day 1: Climb to the Félix Faure refuge (2530m): After Fontanettes (or Pralognan if the road is not open) head to the top of the Fontanettes ski lifts and the Refuge-Buvette des Barmettes (2010m). Cross the Glière torrent and climb the slight slope of the dale to the foot of the slope which bars the access to Lac des Vaches with steep bends. Cross Lac des Vaches (2318m) and continuing either by the moraine if it is cleared or by the snow covered basin to the foot of the Aiguille de la Vanoise. Skirt the base of the moraine until you are in the sight of Lac Long (2450m). Skirt the lake along its left bank (on the right) and cross a small butt to reach the refuge. From Fontanettes to the refuge takes 2h00 to 2h30. From Pralognan to the refuge takes 3h00 to 3h30.

Day 2: Return to the 2450m point, to the mouth of the Lac Long via its left bank. Climb the moraine and follow its edge before returning on glacier slope of Grande Casse (rather crevassed at the beginning). Going back up is easy to the foot of the Grande Casse pass. Via the steeper slopes (maximum 30°) head to the pass. From the pass there are two solutions: -Return on Champagny valley slope from 300 to 400m until in vertical alignment with the pass and climb a steep gully in snow and ice between two threatening seracs (55/60°). Continue directly in line with this gully, then from there it is possible to shift to the left to avoid  the serac falls (35/40°). This variation is the most elegant but also the most dangerous, the time spent under the threat of the seracs is longer! - After the pass, horizontally cross a first slow covered slope (35°). Then as quickly as possible, cross the slope exposed under the enormous seracs (30°) and go back to the left part of the face, to the shelter (40°). Stay well to the left of the line of the serac coulee and continue via a slope which becomes progressively steeper. The slope narrows to pass on the left of the highest serac (55°) then widens again to the right. Continue ascending diagonally on the right via an area often in ice (50/55°) then vertically climb the very steep gully which guards the top out. You come out of the gully (60°), based on snow cover and the presence or not of a cornice, either by the right-hand side, along the rocks, or completely by the left-hand side, along a snowy rounded top (3800m). From this point you quickly reach the summit of Grande Casse (3852m) via an exposed snowy ridge. From the refuge to the pass takes 2h00. From the pass to the summit takes 2h30 to 6h00.

Bibliography: - Les 100 plus belles Vanoise by C.Maly. - Alpinisme Vanoise Hte Maurienne by P.Col.

From the summit of Grande Casse you reach the pass between the summit and Pointe Mathews. Start to descend by keeping constantly slightly to the right as far as the summit of a broad and high (300m) slope at 45°. At the bottom of this slope cross a double bergschrund to the left and reach a scoop on the right then a broad flat area. After the flat area go completely to the left and directly descend the vertical corridors (short slopes to 40°). You will quickly arrive at Lac Long, that is avoided by going left to reach the Félix Faure refuge. If you do not want to pass the refuge go around the lake to the right to reach its mouth. The end of the descent is carried out via the uphill route of the day before. From the summit to the refuge takes 2h30. From the refuge to the Fontanettes takes 2h00.

  • Difficulty: S6 - Extreme (50-55°)
  • Danger/Exposure: E3 - Very high
  • Time: 06:00 hours
  • Total climb: 1340 m
  • Total elevation drop: 1340 m
  • Highest altitude: 3855 m
  • Lowest altitude: 2531 m
  • Extra gear: None
  • Lift access: No



Rate this tour




Guides on this tour

No guides yet.

Notify me when there is a guide on this tour

Public runs

No public runs yet.
Cookies help us deliver our services. By using our services, you agree to our use of cookies.