Add these couloirs to your skiing bucket list post-haste
THE EASY ONE
Or rather, ‘easy-once-you’re-in’. A gentle skin on the southern (back) side of the Touno summit, which dominates this end of the St Luc domain, then boot along a ridge before a snow-and-rock-scramble down to a notch. A short roped section through a tight rocky gully and – finally – it’s skis on for 700m of a wide, constant pitch of frequently great snow on this north-west- facing gully.
THE DEATH-DEFYING ONE
At the wrong time and in the wrong condition (it or you), any couloir could have serious consequences for a skier. France’s La Grave and Chamonix may be the go-to sources for huge scary couloirs, but this Austrian one presses all the right buttons. Think: sections of ice and of 50+° and an abseil after some down-climbing into the gully.
THE EASY-ACCESS ONE
Straight off the Grands Montets cable car, this is a Chamonix favourite. The is more challenging still and a great option in good conditions. It’s big stuff too – around 2000 vertical metres – and with the added excitement of glaciated sections (but then, you are in Chamonix).
THE LONGEST ONE
Not just a head for heights required, but for altitude too, with a start point at 4454m. Some tricky bits early on and, frankly, you can’t really stop concentrating for about 2400 vertical metres, when you reach Macugnaga. Seldom has a beer been so well earned.
THE MOST PICTURESQUE ONE
If we must narrow it down, it’ll have to be any of the endless lines in the Dolomites. Lots of these qualify for serious and then some: thin threads of white running top to bottom of these cliffy mountains. Sassongher is the perfect example, looking unskiable though in reality ‘only’ 45°.