Les Courtes

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12650 ft / 3856 m
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Les Courtes
Created On: Dec 5, 2001
Last Edited On: Feb 24, 2006


The Courtes are a group of lesser peaks in the Mont Blanc region that feature a prominent north face which is a great trainings ground for extreme skiers and ambitious alpinists in ice ascents. The south side is somewhat friendlier, and is more traveled.
BTW: Courtes means 'short ones' because they appear to be a bit shorter than the Droites which are just right of the Courtes when looking at the ridge from the valley

Please note: If you find any errors or outdated info on this page or want to add
more information, please send me an eMail, so I can correct it, or I can give you editing privileges.

Getting There

The closest International Airport for this region is Geneva. 
Most first time visitors will certainly want to see Chamonix and the Mt.Blanc before going on to the Droites. 


  • Train: Railway station in the town. The Saint Gervais to Vallorcine line connects to the high-speed TGV line 
    in Annecy (in peak season the TGV runs directly to Saint Gervais) +33-(0)450 53 1298; +33-(0)8 36 35 35 35
  • Bus: Mont-Blanc Bus: Regular bus service covering all of the Chamonix valley +33-(0)450 53 0555 
    Daily services to Annecy, Geneva, Grenoble, Courmayeur, Aoste and Turin, as well as to all the principal
     towns in the Mont-Blanc region +33-(0)450 53 0115
  • Car: From:
     - Switzerland: starting from Martigny and passing by the 'Col des Montets', Cham is only a mere 16 km from the border.
     - France: Geneva is connected to Cham via a Toll-Higway and normal roads.
     - Italy: The Mont Blanc from Courmayeur makes the access very fast and easy year-round. 
Depending on the side you want to climb, you either start from
  • Chamonix for the easier south-side From Chamonix you can take the train up the 'Mer de Glace', continue over the glacier (crevasses!) and stay overnight in the 'Refuge de Couvercle' From there it is about 4-5 hours to summit
  • Argentiere for the north-face, which is just a few miles north of Cham. From Argentiere, you can take the 'teleferique' Grand Montets up and walk down again over the glacier (easy) to the "Refuge D'Argentiere". From there it is 7-12 hours to the top depending on the route
For more Details see the Approach to the Huts section below.

Red Tape

There is no limitations whatsoever: Climbing, camping, beeing happy: just enjoy !

When To Climb

A real winter ascent would be quite hard, but the conditions e.g. even beginning of November 2001 
were just fine.The North Face is steep enough that not too much snow is sticking to it, but not as 
steep as the Droites. After a strong snowfall, you should wait for the next time it gets a little warmer, 
and the first avalanches will clean out the face again.

Shelter / Huts

Hotels: Plenty in Chamonix and Argentiere, prices rather steep. Huts: The Refuges should be reserved during most parts of the year. Prices: ~50 FF = $7 US for Members of (Euro)Alpine Clubs Prices: ~100 FF = $14US for others Camping: Also possible in Chamonix on official Campground. Camping on the Mountain can be done, but try not to annoy anyone.


A short overview of the Routes on the north face:
  • The easiest Route is the "Pente NE" (AD, 700m, Seriousness III )
  • The nicest Route is probably the Swiss Route (TD-, 800m, Seriousness IV)
  • Another well known Route is the 'Austrian' (D+, 800m, Seriousness IV)


There are several Guidebooks available, please find them at the Droites page !

Approach to the Huts

To the Ref. d'Argentiere
There are 3 choices (depending on your time and energy)

  1. From Croix de Lognan (1970 m) in 3 - 3,5 h,
    to Croix de Lognan with cable car from Argentière: From Croix de Lognan, you go on foot up over
    the moraine crest till about 2250m. Than you continue horizontally to the glacier, which you follow
    on the orographically left side. After about 1 km, the glacier becomes steeper and more torn.
    You climb onto the morain of the Rognons, first over a slippery shelf, than via a marked way which
    you follow until you reach the upper end of the ice break. You climb the glacier with SE-direction
    and reach the hut above the moraine .
  2. On foot from Argentière in 5 h:
    From the ground station of the cable car, you follow the wide aisle of the ski-run. You leave it at the height of about
    1750m and reach the way of the middle station of the cable car (2 h). Now, you need 3 h to the hut.
  3. From Aiguille des Grands Montets (summit station of the cable car from Argentière; last train up: 4:45 p.m.) in 2 h:
    From the summit station, you go via a stairway to the Col des Grandes Montets. You traverse a
    bergschrund (maybe with the help of a rope) and go up the steep hang to the Glacier Rognons.
    You go with ENE-direction on the western side along P. 3000 to P. 2754m. You go down southeastern
    to the glacier d'Argentière, which you reach above the icebreak. From here in 2 h to the hut.

To the Ref. de Couvercle

  1. You reach the hut from Montenvers in 3,5 h over the glacier:
    From Montenvers to the starting point of the hiking way to the Ref. d'Envers des Aiguilles:
    You have to follow the way with direction to Les Echelles which goes slightly down to the western side
    of the Mer de Glace. But before you enter the Glacier, you have to follow the way on the western side of the
    glacier for about 20 min. Now you have to go up the glacier first more on the western side, then just through
    the middle with SE direction to Les Moulins. Now you do not follow the marking signs to the moraines but
    continue with S and then E direction to the steep passages at Les Egralets (partly a little bit like a way).
    You go the steep passages up and via a good way through grass hangs to a moraine,
    from which you reach the hut soon.
    You can reach Montenvers:
    • Either with the special Montenvers-train from Chamonix. The train goes the whole year except from the middle
      of November till the middle of December. The first train starts during the season often not before 8 a.m.,
      the last train down not after 6.30 p.m.
    • Or on foot from Chamonix on the marked way via Biollay in 2,5 h.
  2. Via a new climbing track below the Flammes de Pierre and the ends of the Aig. du Moine:
    Note: Because of ice avalanches, some passages of this route have become very dangerous.
    You have to ask for the actual conditions.

Mountain Conditions

Sorry, but most up-to-date information is only available in french :-(
  • www.chamonix.com Genereral Tourist and Weather Information
  • Office de Haute Montagnes (OHM) (+33-(0)450 532 208) offers a comprehensive information service about routes and weather conditions. Located in the building adjacent to Èglise-St.Michel church, 9:00-12:00 & 15:00-18:00 during the summer.
  • Information can also be gotten from the Bureau des Guides in Chamonix (+33-(0)450 530 088).
  • Tel. weather bulletin +33-(0)836 680 274
  • Tel. state of snow +33-(0)836 681 020

External Links

Additions and CorrectionsPost an Addition or Correction

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grynning - Mar 12, 2003 7:16 am - Hasn't voted

Climb & ski, march 2003

Climbed the huge colouir with crampons (10.march 2003). Good snow until about above midway, but hard ice and some rocks for the last 100 height meters (left our skis here). Skied down ! An awesome experience ! The steepness is between 45 and just above 50 degrees. Only to be skied/climbed in good snow conditions.

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