Steep skiing : exceptional ski descents in the Mont Blanc massif

Dans le couloir en Y, Aiguille verte ©Benoit Cougoureux

It’s no secret that a well-watered spring in Europe resulted in a snow surplus in the high mountains. An exceptional spring for steep skiing: in the Écrins, France, as in the Mont-Blanc massif, daring ski descents were made, both firsts and rare repeats. These include several exceptional descents on the north face of the Aiguille du Midi, above Chamonix, and on the Italian side of Mont Blanc, above Courmayeur.

F​rom mid-May onwards, steep-slope skiers began tackling itineraries that were rarely or never repeated, particularly in the Écrins: the Gravelotte on La Meije by Boris Pivaudran and Charly Brochard on May 19, the northeast face of l’Ailefroide and the north face of Pic Sans Nom by Benjamin Védrines and Nicolas Jean, who, among others, scored two exceptional days: the Plaques route on skis on the north-west face of the Ailefroide on May 26, and, on June 5, a series of four descents on the north face of the Meije, including the mythical Z, skied shortly before by an anonymous rope party (May 27).

One of the two “anonymous” climbers, answering to the pseudonym Daniel Fauxchefoin, also skied the Fourastier route on the north face of the Pointe du Vallon des Étages on June 3, a very daring descent. The Bonatti at Pic Coolidge was repeated by Boris Pivaudran and two companions. In the Vanoise, Xavier Cailhol and Jeremy Prevost ski the Boivin at Grande Casse for the first time. In the Mont-Blanc massif, Eric Jamet and Benoit Cougoureux achieved