Sunday, February 17, 2013

Glacier du Tour via Col du Passon

This is one of these classic Chamonix tours that come with an almost indecent effort to reward ratio: For a total skin/climb of 2,300 feet you get an 8,000 feet top quality ski (none of this flat ski out in the bushes kinda stuff…). Hard to beat!
We were blessed with fresh powder (foot+), low avy risk (moderate) and blue bird day with no wind! This was the kind of ski day where you have to pinch yourself…
You start off by taking the tram to the top of the Grands Montets resort. This takes you to the Col des Montets (Col is mountain pass) at 10,608 which is your real start on skis dropping 3,000 feet, not a bad start for a rando day… You ski down the Glacier du Rognon akll the way down to the left bank of the Glacier d’Argentière that you follow down for about 300m or so and then take a sharp right to cross the glacier. It’s on the right bank of the Glacier d’Argentière that you put on the skins and start working your way up the steep moraine till it flattens up a bit and then continue on in a NE direction till you reach the bottom of 1,000 fet or so couloir that you get to boot pack up in snow then rock/snow mix (the only hard part of the day) till you reach the Col du Passon at close to 10,000 feet. After that you get to ski top quality slopes all the way to the village of Le Tour from where you’ll grab the Chamonix bus back to Les Grands Montets.

Topo map: 3630OT (Chamonix)
Dominating aspect: NE
Starting elevation: 10,608 (Col des Montets)
Elevation where you put on the skins: 7,800 feet
Pass elevation: 9,936 feet
Elevation gain to the pass: 2,300 feet
Drop from pass to the Tour: 5,300 feet

Access by car:
Drive through Chamonix and at the last roundabout just before the village of Argentière, drive into the parking lot of Les Grands Montets. There are one-way tickets available that this season cost 26.5 euros.

Here are the pictures (click to enlarge):

Col des Montets is where the tram ends and in red is our
ski line till the left moraine of the Glacier d'Argentiere
Coming off the tram: View of the Aiguille de Chardonnet (left)
and  the col de Chardonnet in the middle
If proof was needed that these mountains are alive, this crater
is from a serac that fell on the Glacier du Rognon a
couple of days back...
...and that you can see here smack dab in the middle of all ski
tracks. We saw this from a distance on our way down to the
moraine of the Glacier d'Argentiere 
We are now on the left bank of the Glacier d'Argentiere with
the seracs just to our right, we will follow them till the
flat and cross the glacier there
Crossing the  Glacier d'Argentiere we get a glimt of our 
objective of the day: Col du Passon

We have now crossed the glacier, hiked up the steep right bank
moraine and getting onto the gentler slopes that will take us to
the couloir we are gonna have to  boot pack up
We are not alone...
Some people ahead of us are already on the boot
pack (middle of the picture)
We are now at the pass looking at others climbing.
From the top of the Col du Passon looking back down the
slope we boot packed , then further down on our skin track ,
the Glacier d'Argentiere dominated by the Aiguille Verte
Now looking north we are on the Glacier du Tour trying to
decide between left or right? We decided on left - looks like
more fun skiing minus the serac risk
One of many slopes we had to drudge through... All the
way down  is the Village du Tour
The Glacier du Tour is dominated by the Aiguille du
Tour, go figure...
A look back onto the seracs of the Glacier du Tour

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