Le Col D Argentiere

Ski-Areas > Northern Alps > Haute-Savoie (74) > Mont-Blanc > Chamonix Mont Blanc > Le Col D Argentiere


From the refuge d'Argentière descend to the glacier then start climbing to the south-east. Pass the glacier d'Améthystes is on your left and climb the glacier du Tour Noir on its right bank (left hand side looking up the mountain). At around 3050 meters start to traverse obliquely across the glacier to the right to reach the other side of the glacier at around 3300 meters. This avoids a heavily crevassed area and steeper slopes. The climb flattens out towards the col.

col argentiere

Climb towards the Col d'Argentiere

The descent from the Grands Montets is over crevassed glacier and skiers should take care when venturing off the secured terrain.

climb refuge argentiere

Path to the refuge d'Argentière

Mountain RangeMont-Blanc
SummitLe col d'Argentière
Starting Altitude2771m (refuge d'Argentière)
Vertical850 meters
MapsIGN TOP 25 3630 OT chamonix
GPS WaypointN 45.9464°, E 07.0383°
GPS RouteGoogle-Earth:
Grade[1]Danger: 2, Climb: PD+, Ski: 3.1
Commentsmax slope 35°, crevassed area
SnowboardersYes, glacier d'Argentière is quite flat
EquipmentCrampons, rope, harness, ice-ax, ski crampons
Road AccessArgentière then Grands Montets cable car (approx 20 euros)
RefugesRefuge d'Argentière


Juliette decided we should spend Easter ski touring with a guide she knows down in Chamonix. I'm not a great fan of the resort, dodgy bus service, too many Vikings in the bars and a disparate unlinked ski area but you cannot deny the beauty of the range and a few days ski touring wouldn't do any harm.

Grands Montets

Preparations at the top of Grands Montents

We caught the night train from St Lazare. Julian works near the quays so after dropping us off with our gear and his he went to park his car. We then struggled with various bits of gear to the buffet where we ordered three poulet-frites. The train left around 10.30 pm. Two issues to resolve, fitting Julian's boots to my spare pair of touring skis, not altogether easy as Julian has a bigger foot and the Sk'alp bindings can be temperamental. We were also in different sleeping compartments and wanted to kick people out so we could be together. In the end the latter proved to be by far the easiest.


Fixing skins on the Glacier d'Argentiere

We pulled into St Gervais early on Saturday morning, you don't get Good Friday as a public holiday in France making the Easter break that much shorter. From St Gervais it was the rack and pinion railway to Argentiere. Unfortunately SNCF planning was not at its best and a whole main line train tried to climb aboard the little red Noddy express to Cham. We looked like Sardines in a tin.

grands montets view

Looking back towards Grands Montets from the Col

At Argentiere we met Juliette's friend, Jacques Rossigneux, a Chamonix based guide. Leaving any our city clothes and any unwanted gear in his car we headed up to the Grands Montets on the cable car.

Our plan was to make a single trip up to Grands and return via the glacier d'Argentière. On the program, a tour of the col d'Argentière, an overnight stop in the refuge then Le Col du Chardonnet before catching the TGV back to Paris.

aiguille du triolet

Aiguille du Triolet

The ski over the glacier des Rognons was on perfect powder and the climb to the Col d'Argentière, although somewhat long, passed without incident. On the descent we realised that much of what looked like perfect powder had developed a sun crust and we had to be careful about our route.

descent argentiere

Descent from the col

The climb up to the refuge proved quite stiff with a number of conversion turns under the full view of skiers sitting on the balcony. Cloud began to bubble up on the ridges and before we turned in for the night the sky was practically covered. A group of skiers heading for the Triolet in the wee hours of the morning quickly returned after discovering white-out conditions on the glacier.

Refuge d'Argentiere

View from the Refuge

contributed by davidof - 16 April 2001

<< | Chamonix Mont Blanc | >>