31 May 2015    

After years of waiting, the Mont Vélan allowed Ettore and Alfredo to get on top and ride the amazing Y-Couloir of their "Backyard-Mountain".

The temperature of recent times seems to keep on the trend of this winter season 2014-2015 characterized by constantly changing conditions.

One important aspect for being safe this year was the prudence concept, careful evaluation and renunciation.
Despite this, there was one of those beautiful mountains waiting for me since years and finally we (Alfredo and I) got the chance to try it. Conditions seem to be ok, the weatherforecast is good and so we go for one of our most desired spitboard missions.
The Mont Vélan, the highest mountain in the Swiss-Italian border between Valle d'Aosta and Valais, which is overlooking my valley of Great-Saint-Bernerd and dominates the area with its ancient Pass and Hospice. Now she was ready to be conquered, but it was not easy to do it.

Mont VelanOverview routes at Mont Velan

The facts already promise a challenging tour up to the summit and than the beautiful Y-Couloir to get down.

We start climbing the first 800 altimeters with a heavy backpack loaded with almost everything (splitboard, verts, crampons, ice ax, helmet, reflex etc.). We choose the center couloir (500 meters) to climb up with crampons, on the saddle we change to the splitboard again and after 5 hours we are on the top of our beloved Mont Vélan.
We take a short break enjoying a great panorama from Italy to Swizerland and France.

Mont Blanc Panorama vom Mont VelanView at Mont Blanc

Now we are getting ready for the descent, change to ride-mode fasten our backpacks and head on to the entry of the central couloir, just at the beginning we go to the right (riders right), to enter the beautiful Y-Couloir for the way down. The downhill of the couloir promises 600 challenging altimeters with sections of around 50°, quite exposed.

Abfahrt Y-Coloir Mont VelanEntry Y-Couloir

My first descent of this couloir was a kind of a dream, waiting for years to ride this beauty. It was hard to conquer the house’s mountain but at the same time it was a big satisfaction as well. Having the chance to ride it`s most beautify and challenging line was a special of this day.
I am happy having shared this experience with my friend and adventure’s colleague Alfredo.
After days I still feel the flow of the skins of my split along the immense Vélan’s Dome.


  • 3,727 meters - the highest point of Mont Vélan
  • 1,932 meters - the altitude of our starting point
  • 1,795 meters - total drop
  • 500 meters ascent in the central couloir
  • 600 meters descent of the riders left side of the Y-Couloir
  • 5.65 kilometers of distance to go up
  • 5 hours of climb (walking, splitboard, crampons, splitboard, verts)
  • downhill 50° in some sections and quite exposed

Story /Pictures:
Ettore Personnettaz
Spark R&D Ambassador and National Snowboard Instructor
Also check out his blog on: http://www.ettorepersonnettaz.com/en/