Col du Passon

Col du Passon 3028ms

An excellent tour with a good ratio of skiing/climbing. Starting in Argentière take the easy option and get a one way ticket to the top of the Grands Montets (3283m). If the top station is not open then you can still access the Glacier d’ Argentière by climbing up 550m above the Lognan to a track leading to the glacier.

From the top of the Grand Montets the Col du Passon is the small notch left of the Aiguille du Chardonnet directly opposite. Descend the Glacier des Rognons and cross the Glacier d’ Argentière. There are two popular roues up to the col; a direct line and a line that traverses in from the foot of the Glacier Chardonnet. Either way, whilst the climb is fairly short there is a risk of avalanche on both the climb up the south facing slopes and the ski down on the west facing slopes – particularly in the afternoon so avoid late starts.

The skinning tracks eventually reach a point where it becomes steeper and you will need to take off your skis. Although generally not particularly difficult or long the  climb up the couloir will depend on the snow conditions. If it is soft, then many people continue in boots using ski poles but in hard snow/nèvé, crampons and one axe will be a significant advantage.

Click to expand topo

Once you arrive at the Col du Passon (3028m) the way down is to the left via the Glacier du Tour. Route finding is not trivial so ski with a guide or prepare well and have a map and compass. Once you have Le Tour in your sights the exit from the glacier can be made though one of several couloirs. Be careful of going too far skiers right because there are some blind exits with seracs at the foot.

We generally head to the middle right and avoiding the far left hand side, which later in the season is often slushy with heavy snow on a steep track. It is important to take care on the lower slopes as conditions do vary and there are many obstructions including cliffs and deep rocky gullies. Avalanche is a particular risk on these sunny west facing slopes. In good conditions this is one of theChamonixclassics so should be high on your tick list.

The descent is 1600m vertical. On a good day the ascent will be 2-3hrs in total with about 1/2hr descent. A serieux (large beer) is essential at the Olympic restaurant or the restaurant Passon before taking theChamonixski bus home.

Equipment, avalanche gear, harness, and gear for glacier travel, skins, pack lunch, sun hat for skin up in spring time!

For more details about this tour or any other of routes we regularly guide thought the season please contact either Gavin Foster +33 (0)61 51 95 427 or Doug in our UK office