Italian Alps: Three Difficult Couloir Ski Descents in a Single Day

On March 14, Tom Lafaille and Fay Manners skied three steep couloirs on the Italian side of the Mont Blanc massif in a single day. The pair also climbed all three — the Couloir Grassi and Couloir Bonatti on the Petit Mont Blanc (3,421m) and the Domenech Couloir on Aiguille de l’Aigle (3,553m) — on their own.

The pair began at Courmayeur. They trekked 44km via the Bassin de Miage and climbed a leg-busting 4,000m elevation.

“The Bassin de Miage is a…spot for big couloirs, and it’s rare to find one with a vertical drop of less than 1,000m,” wrote Lafaille, the son of the late alpinist Jean-Christophe Lafaille, on social media.

full view of route map


According to him, the approach from Courmayeur isn’t what you want to do every weekend. They didn’t see a single track on the route and took turns swapping out the trailbreaking.

Lafaille and Manners have been busy in their backyard this winter. One month earlier, they climbed the south face of Aiguille du Moine via the Glacier du Milieu, a 2,700m elevation gain. They then skied down from the west summit of Aiguille d’Argentiere. It was the first known descent of that route, which they called Stratonsférique.

"Stratonsferique" on the Aiguille d'Argentiere.

‘Stratonsferique’ on the Aiguille d’Argentiere. Photo: Tom Lafaille and Fay Manners

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.