Vallon de la Selle

In front of Pic de la Grave

The Vallon de la Selle is one of the classic routes from Les Deux Alpes or La Grave to the village of St Christoph in the Veneon Valley. Despite the start point  at nearly 3600m and the high-mountain terrain it crosses the route is entirely non-glacial, so there is no risk of crevasses or serac falls. The finishing point of St Christoph is well worth a visit in its own right – a sleepy mountain village with breathtaking views. There is always a warm welcome and a good lunch at the Cordee restaurant (which is also a hotel,bar,village store and bookshop).

Vallon de la Selle from top
Looking down – red line shows the route ahead

The route starts at the very top of the Les Deux Alpes and La Grave ski areas and can be accessed from either side of the Dome de la Lauze. At 3659m, this is the little peak that sits just above the top of the La Grave button lift. From Les Deux Alpes you need to follow the track of the piste-basher that tows skiers across to La Grave – about a fifteen minute walk. From here a long and spectacular south face leads into the Selle valley. Initially steep and a little narrow, it quickly eases in gradient and widens out. There are several options through the lower section, but all lead to a flat area at the bottom of the valley. You will pass below the Refuge de la Selle, often without noticing it perched on the hillside above you. This refuge is a pleasant three hour walk from St Christoph in summer, and is open for ski tourers in April and for walkers and alpinists in the summer months. Ski touring routes over the Col du Replat and and Breche du Rateau are possible from the refuge, or by traversing left from the descent into the Selle valley.

Below the refuge, the skiing is straightforward but can be quite varied, with wide easy-angled slopes, the odd traverse, rolls and gullies and rocky ridges to avoid if snow levels are low. You arrive at a long wide flat section of valley floor and at this point the route heads left to traverse along the left hand side of the valley as far as possible before crossing over to the path on the right bank of the river. With very good snow conditions it is possible to follow this all the way to St Christoph, or at least to the top car park above the village. In the spring however it is quite possible to have an hour or more of walking once the snow runs out so it is worth taking a pair of trainers with you.

Above St Christoph
Approaching St. Christoph – this part is often below the snow line in spring
La Cordee
La Cordee in St. Christoph ready for a well needed lunch

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