Skiing: Tom Lafaille and Fay Manners in the Grassi, Bonatti and Domenech couloirs in the Miage bassin

©Coll. Manners/Lafaille

On the 14th of March, 2024, mountaineers Fay Manners and Tom Lafaille linked the Grassi, Bonatti and Domenech couloirs on the Italian side of the Mont-Blanc massif. A 44km trek with 4000 metres of ascent to take advantage of the great conditions for steep skiing, but also to train for a bigger project. Despite the tiredness, the duo is delighted with this adventure back home and tell us more about it.

“My dream was to have first tracks on all three couloirs, and we did”, says Fay Manners. On the 14th of March this year, the British mountaineer and his sidekick Tom Lafaille completed a hat-trick of steep ski descents on Mont-Blanc: the Grassi and Bonatti couloirs on the Petit Mont-Blanc (at an altitude of 3,421 metres), followed by the Domenech couloir on the Aiguille de l’Aigle (3,553 m). And they did it in one day, without using ski lifts.

From Courmayeur, they moved on to the Miage bassin, an area that Tom Lafaille didn’t know very well: “This is the spot for big couloirs, and there are very few of them with a vertical drop of less than 1,000 m“, he comments. “And the approach from Courmayeur isn’t the kind of thing you want to do every weekend… It’s like skinning up on a (flat) cross-country ski run.

Fay Manners adds: “The walk in from the Mont Blanc tunnel is about 3 hours, 13k in distance and 1,000m of ascent. We