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3 day tours around Chamonix?
Posted: 23 February 2011 09:45 PM  
Total Posts:  2
Joined  2011-02-23

Hi all,

A friend and I are looking for suggested routes for a couple of 3 day hut tours in the Chamonix area during March. We’re splitboarders of reasonable competence and have done a number of the well known day tours (Crochues-Berard, Cols du Belvedere, Nant-Croix, Tour Noir, Chardonnet etc) and one 2 day tour (Domes de Miage and the Armancette Glacier), but we’re interested in finding something a bit longer and spending 3 or 4 days in huts at a time this time round.

A lot of the routes in guidebooks seem to have nothing between short one or 2 day tours and long 6 day routes. We only have a week and we have set dates so we’re reluctant to take on a 6 dayer in case we don’t get a good weather window. Doing a couple of 3 day routes would be ideal, that way if we have to bail on one then we have less to lose.

Has anyone got any suggestions for routes?

Thanks in advance,


Posted: 24 February 2011 10:58 PM   [ # 1 ]  
Total Posts:  2234
Joined  2003-10-24

Hi Tom,

I’m not a Chamonix expert. The biggest issue are open huts. I wonder if it would be interesting to do a traverse from somewhere like Flaine or maybe Plaine Joux, which you could reach with public transport. Then climb via one of the refuge d’Anterne -> refuge de la Pierre a Berard then maybe Mont Buet (tricky ridge traverse) and the Cheval Blanc to finish at Vallorcine (train). Otherwise star * tours are an idea, you use a hut as a base and tick off some routes, this means you can leave some gear in the hut and travel light.

Posted: 25 February 2011 08:14 AM   [ # 2 ]  
Total Posts:  53
Joined  2008-12-18

The Pierre a Berard never opens before June - it is completely buried at the moment! You will have to base tours on the bigger huts - Argentiere, Trient. Obvious link is the traditional start to the Haute Route over the Col du Chardonnet. You could avoid the Haute Routers by doing the Col du Passon and the Col du Tour (tricky last year - huge wind lip) From Trient do the Aig. du Tour etc. Descend to Tirnet vis the Glacier des Grands - return to Vallorcine on the Navette. You could do a trip round the Aiguilles Dorees - private hut here but you can get the key in advance thus avoiding crowds at Trient. How about the Midi to the Bivouc des Periades (3 places) and then on to the Couvercle and the many day tours above there?

On a serious note the glaciers are in poor condition with many crevasses just starting to be covered with wind blown snow - it is very dangerous at the moment - think December conditions!

Posted: 27 February 2011 11:53 PM   [ # 3 ]  
Total Posts:  2
Joined  2011-02-23

Thanks guys, some good ideas there. Bit worried by the lack of snow cover - having had a crevasse “incident” last year, it’s not something we particularly want to repeat...!

We’ll keep an eye on the conditions and make a decision nearer the time I think.


Posted: 03 March 2011 11:16 PM   [ # 4 ]  
Total Posts:  2234
Joined  2003-10-24

Tré-la-Tête Tour

If you are not allergic to the south-west side of Mont Blanc this is a tour you can do in 3 – 4 days. Quite a lot of climbing at the start though. It is a glacial route which implies crevasse rescue kit and a GPS is not a luxury with all the refuge programmed as finding places in fog can be extremely tricky (I speak from experience).

Day 1: Cugnon to the Tré-la-Tête refuge. V+ 750m / 2h30.

Cugnon is a small hamlet just after les Contamines/Montjoie

From the Cugnon parking take the trail that climbs through the woods to les Plans via the climbing area to the refuge. Due to the south facing nature of the trail you often don’t find snow cover below 1300m, even in winter.


This is often done in the afternoon, avoid the higher Claudius Bernard trail as it is very exposed to avalanches. Watch out for purges under the Pointe de Chaborgne, some of these can be substantial.  If there is any doubt about stability (temperatures > 0C, fresh snow, recent rain at altitude) take “Roman Road” from Notre Dame de la Gorge to the Roman Bridge cross over via the Nant Borrant and Pont de Laya. Cross the Combe Noire bridge then head for the Tete Noire and EDF cable car. Take care to avoid slipping if there is snow/ice cover.

Latitude: 45.793, Longitude: 6.737

Day 2: Tré-la-Tête refuge → Pain de Sucre du mont Tondu (3169m) → refuge Robert Blanc (2750m)

V+ 1200m, V- 400m

(you could combine D1 and D2)

Climb the wide ridge above the refuge to the Mauvais Pas (bad step) and traverse down to the glacier Tré-la-Tête, this is a exposed and a “no fall” section. The snow is often humid. Pass the seracs on the left close to the rock faces to reach the upper basin of the glacier to reach the base of Tondu glacier at 2550 m. Pass the col du Mont Tondu on your left to reach a small pass that leads to the north west ridge of the Pain de Sucre to climb to the summit (3196m).

Traverse the ridgeline to the col du Mont Tondu (2895m). Descend the steep south facing slopes, a cliff band is equipped with cables at 2800 which may be under the snow… you may need to fix a rope here. If the cable is visible secure youself and climb down. Traverse via the moraine de l’aiguille des Lanchettes to the Robert Blanc (The “Robert Blanc” of les Arcs fame) refuge.

Altitude: 2750m Latitude: 45.7655, Longitude: 6.7742

Day 3: Robert Blanc → epaule de l’aiguille des Glaciers (3700m) → col des Glaciers (3063m) → refuge des Conscrits (2600m)

V+ 1300m, V- 2000m

From the refuge descend to circumnavigate the south ridge of the pointe des Lanchettes, climb the glacier des Glaciers by the right bank (left side of glacier). Follow some steepish slopes to the Dome de Neige (3592m).

Depending on the snow cover you can follow the ridge to the col des Glaciers but this is exposed, better to descend the glacier and climb a small cliff to the col. The north side is steep at first (40 degrees). Rejoin the Tré-la-Tête glacier at around 2500m after skiing past a rock outcrop. Climb 100m+ to the refuge de Conscrits. This is an impressive, modern structure with nice dormitories but with rudimentary sanitation in the winter which belies its “boutique” looks.

Altitude: 2602m Latitude: 45.793, Longitude: 6.778

Day 4: Refuge des Conscrits (2600m) → Domes de Miage (3670m) → Cugnon

V+ 1050m, V- 2450m

From the refuge climb up the moderate slopes behind then traverse to rejoin the glacier around 2750 meters. You may want ski crampons if the snow is hard and icy. Head towards the col Infranchisable (site of illegal heliski drops), avoid a serac/crevasse zone at pt 3336 meters by keeping to the right as you climb to the col des Domes (3564m).

Descend via the glacier d’Armancette (after following the famous Miage ridge – crampons, iceaxe) to reach the high point of 3670m. Under the col de la Berangere there is about 150m of steepish skiing (40 degrees), keep to the right of the glacier than at 3100m avoid a serac band on the left. Continue on the right bank. At 2750 leave the glacier on the right for a short climb to a col (pt. 2722m). Descend a valley with rock wall on the right. At about 2500m take a short, exposed couloir which leads to a small plateau. Keep to the right and ski under the pt 2330m into the Covagnet valley, this narrows at the bottom to exit at the lac d’Armancette (1673m). Follow a forest trail to Cugnon.

Route finding is complex and should only be undertaken in good visibility. Otherwise return by the Tré-la-Tête glacier following a narrow gorge below the Mauvais Pas before climbing to the Tré-la-Tête refuge.