Aiguille D Olle North west Couloir

Ski Areas > Northern Alps > Belledonne > Glandon > Aiguille d'Olle north-west couloir


From the col du Glandon (1924m) follow a track to the Combe de la Croix (before May start from Sous le Col d’en bas - 1670 m) on the north side of the col. Climb the combe to the Plan des Trois Eaux to around 2220 meters (confins de la Croix) and branch south-westwards to the glacier de l'Argentiere. At around 2500 meters turn southwards, the Col Dulong de Rosnay South face? is ahead and the Brèche du Chien and couloir are to your left (east). Climb to the foot of the couloir at 2700 meters. Fit crampons to climb the couloir. Leave your skis at the base of a steep south ridge and climb to the summit (steep and exposed).

Topo Argentierre glacier west
Glacier d'Argèntiere, West


Possible to descend via the north-east couloir but as this sees the sun early be careful not to ski down too late

Possible to climb or descend to the Glandon by the Brèche du Chien and the col de la Combe?.

Mountain RangeBelledonne
SummitAiguille d'Olle
OrientationNorth-west then north-east/east
Starting Altitude1924m
Vertical950 meters
MapsIGN n°3335 ET Bourg d'Oisans
GPS WaypointN 45.2451°, E 06.1381°
GPS RouteGoogle-Earth:Glandon
Grade[1]Danger: 2, Climb: AD+, Ski: 4.1
CommentsNorth-west facing couloir can be icy, the final climb is exposed. Crampons + ice ax
SnowboardersYes but the col de la Combe is flat.
Road AccessGrenoble -> N91 -> Rochetaille -> Allemont -> col du Glandon (closed until May)

Trip Reports

10th May 2007

Another early start, we'd decided to meet at Grenoble at 4h30 to start from the col at 06h00. We had hoped to avoid too much carrying and this was pretty much the case on the way down. On the way up we had to climb into the combe de la Croix where the snow was still resisting well. The refreeze was excellent and a cold, draining wind, was blowing down the valley. Snow quality was much improved from a couple of weeks ago with the percolation columns largely filled by new snow. Gilles was keen to climb to the col de la Croix and do the Rocher Blanc. I'd already visited this summit 3 times and was less enthusiastic. Finally a broken Dynafit toe-piece on Gilles ski meant he couldn't properly lock his boot for climbing and we decided to stay in the Croix bowl where we were at least sure of being able to ski back to the car without climbing.

Climbing the couloir with crampons

The surface of the snow was icy on a lot of slopes. We climbed to the Marmottane then skied an east slope that was just starting to soften at 8h30. We then refixed skins for the climb to the couloir where we put on cramons. I had grave reservations about this descent. Skiers on Monday had purged all the snow leaving avalanche debris at the bottom. The snow was hard and icy and full of bumps and frozen ski tracks. Being north-west facing this was unlikely to soften. I took a look at the north-east couloir. The entrance lacked snow but further down it didn't look too bad. Gilles was not keen, thinking it too late in the day.

david in the couloir
Looking up the couloir

We left our skis at the top of the couloir and climbed the steep slope to the summit. About 50 meters of exposed but not difficult climbing. At the summit we found a tin box with various notes left by visitors. The oldest dating from June 1972, an era where this route was still possible on skis into the early summer.

Back in 72 it was skiable in June

The direct entrance into the couloir is more than 45 degrees. On the hard, poor surface the only solution was to sideslip, especially given a large rock outcrop at the base of the couloir, exposed by the lack of snow. We then skied to the base of the breche de Chien, climbed on crampons and skied into the east sector of the Argentiere glacier to the col de la Combe.

aiguille d'Olle ridge
The ridge was steep and icy

The col de la Combe has a reputation as being dangerous from stonefall and should be tackled early. We had to climb a few meters down a scree slope before skiing in a narrow gulley. It didn't seem too dangerous but the numerous rocks would say otherwise. From here sticking to the left bank of the Glandon river we were able to ski down to 1900m and the summer path.

  • Weather : Sunny and warm, excellent refreeze
  • Avalanche Risk: Weak (1/5)
  • Participants: Gilles
  • Snow level: 1900 m

Category: Trip Reports

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