A First Ski Descent in the French Alps

Benjamin Vedrines and Nicolas Jean have made the first ski descent of the imposing northwest face of 3,954m Ailefroide in the Ecrins massif in the French Alps.

Vedrines and Jean skied the 800m of unremittingly steep terrain, on sight, in a fog. According to Vedrines, the poor visibility gave the adventure a special atmosphere.

The first ski descent line on the northwest face of Ailefroide.

The first ski descent of the northwest face of Ailefroide. Photo: Benjamin Vedrines


“The turn above the void really impressed us, despite all our past experience,” recalls Vedrines.

The two mountaineers admitted to lots of nervous tension throughout the descent. Nevertheless, they climbed the mountain, skied down, and were back at their car 12 hours later.

Benjamin Vedrines skiing down.

Benjamin Vedrines. Photo: Benjamin Vedrines


Ailefroide is the third highest mountain in the Dauphine Alps, after the Barre des Ecrins and La Meije. Located at the southwestern end of the Mont Pelvoux-Pic Sans Nom-Ailefroide Ridge, it was first ascended on July 7, 1870, by William Auguste Coolidge, Christian Almer, and Ulrich Almer.

Another photo of the ski descent line.

Another view of the descent line. Photo: Benjamin Vedrines


Vedrines plans to climb K2 in a one-day speed ascent without oxygen during the upcoming Karakorum season. He will then paraglide down from near the summit.

Kris Annapurna

KrisAnnapurna is a writer with ExplorersWeb.

Kris has been writing about history and tales in alpinism, news, mountaineering, and news updates in the Himalaya, Karakoram, etc., for the past year with ExplorersWeb. Prior to that, Kris worked as a real estate agent, interpreter, and translator in criminal law. Now based in Madrid, Spain, she was born and raised in Hungary.