Petit Van West Couloir

Ski-Areas > Northern Alps > Isère (38) > Belledonne > Chamrousse > Off Piste > Petit Van West Couloir

Les Grand Vans

Le Grand Van, 19 meters higher, in the background

The Vans are the classic early season ski tours for the skiers of the region. The west couloir of the Vans offers an interesting and challenging variation but to be honest, looks somewhat more fearsome than it actually is. To reach it either climb on skins from the lac Achard or, as I did, take the cable car directly to the summit of the ski station. From here descend the lac Robert piste on the right hand side to a fork. There is a big sign warning that you are entering an off-piste area. Veer to the right towards the Col de la Botte (2140m) and then traverse around the south face of Le Manque to the Col de la Lessive (Washing Powder Pass: 2100m). From here climb a short, steep slope to the east, here you enter the Grand and Petit Van bowl. In front of you there is a steep, narrow couloir that climbs to the ridge just below the summit of the Petit Van where you will find a cairn. You can easily climb across to the Grand Van, 19 meters higher and even traverse to the Grand Sorbier?.

Smurf on the summit

A Smurf comes out of hibernation!

Apart from the steepness, around 35-40 degrees, the couloir doesn’t present too many difficulties to ski, there is, of course, a danger of avalanche if the conditions are not right. I found the snow to be wind scoured and crusty in places. My friend, Marco, had skied it a week before in brilliant sunshine and fresh powder. Given that it is only some 400 meters of climbing you could consider two trips on a day like that.

Les Vans, Couloir W on right below the summit

Les Vans, Couloir W on right below the summit

From the Col de la Lessive you can ski straight down to the Lac Robert chair. Indeed the south face of Le Manque can be considered a good lift served off-piste if you get there before it is too tracked out.

Petit Van - Couloir West

The Couloir W

GPS: N 45.1276° E 05.9303°, 2439 meters Orientation: West Toponeige Rating: Danger: 1, Climb: PD+, Ski: 3.2 Climbing: 339 meters, 1100 ft. Date skied: (24/12/2002)

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