Another Crazy Late-Season Ski Descent in the Alps

Yesterday, Vivian Bruchez and Guillaume Pierrel made the first complete ski descent of 4,470m Picco Luigi Amedeo on the Italian side of the Mont Blanc Massif.

On any other year, it would be crazy to attempt such a remarkable descent on June 26. But the late spring snow and the cool early summer have left enough stable snow, longer days, and no ice.

Usually, by now, the Luigi Amedeo Point is a goal for climbers rather than skiers, thanks to its well-known Brouillard Ridge. But a handful of hard-core skiers continue to stretch the season and exploit the current conditions. Last week, for example, another extreme skier, Ross Hewitt, skied down la Brenva Face of Mont Blanc. Yesterday, the French pair delivered their summer statement.

The climb and descent

Bruchez admitted that the plan was highly uncertain. It was impossible to spot a clear descent line until they were up there. As far as the skiers know, no one had ever skied the upper side of the peak. The one person to ski from the Emile Rey Col toward the east side was Aosta’s ski mountaineering champion, Denis Trento. Trento sadly perished last month on Testa del Paramont near his home.

Ski line marked in red on a photo of Luigi Amedeo point

The ski line followed by Vivian Bruchez and Guillaume Pierrel. Topo: Instagram


Conditions were not easy, especially on the lower part and while crossing the unstable glacier. The snow was firmer up to the Emile Rey col. Beyond, difficulties appeared again along the mixed pitches. It wasn’t until the final ridge that Bruchez and Pierrel saw that a ski descent was possible.

By the time they reached the summit, it was already 11 am, and they had no time to waste. This late in the season, the warming snow would soon become unstable.

Bruchez later described the descent:

We put on our skis on a dizzying shoulder 50m below the summit…the turns follow one another, and our breathing accelerates, our legs sing rock n’ roll and ask us to make a few stops. Four rappels allow us to reach the Emile Rey Col at 1pm. The snow is well-softened by the sun but stable enough to allow us to reach the Brouillard Glacier without incident.

The fog invites itself to the party for our return crossing of the glacier but gives us a window to find our way back to the Monzino refuge, where we were able to honor the copious meal warmly served by the guards.


Check the report and the pictures by Thomas Crauwels here:

Crazy ski lines

Bruchez’s current project is to ski all the 4,000’ers in the Alps. His latest and 77th peak before Point Luigi Amedeo was Schreckhorn, where he skied a new line two weeks ago. Bruchez also skied the Aguja Poincenot in Patagonia by linking two marginal snow lines that crossed the granite spire. He did it last year, on the first day of Patagonia spring, in the company of Aurelien Lardy and Jules Socie.

Bruchez also attempted to ski Dhaulagiri two years ago with Mike Arnold, Mathieu Maynadier, Matheo Jacquemond, and photographer Bertrand Delapierre.

Unlike the last three months, the winter of 2023-4 in the Alps was quite dry. Still, Pierrel skied a great line down the North Face of the Dru in February. Then, at the end of May, he did the North Face of the Aiguille du Plan near Chamonix.

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides graduated university in journalism and specializes in high-altitude mountaineering and expedition news. She has been writing about climbing and mountaineering, adventure and outdoor sports for 20+ years.

Prior to that, Angela Benavides spent time at/worked at a number of local and international media. She is also experienced in outdoor-sport consultancy for sponsoring corporations, press manager and communication executive, and a published author.