MOUNTAIN CONDITIONS 08/08/2019
ThTThThe first update fror August
The first update for this August. There has been little change for the high mountain since the last report of 31st July.
During the bad weather on Wednesday, it rained up to 4000m, with just a little snow settling above that. For several years now, rain at this altitude is no longer considered to be exceptional.
The rocks will dry quickly but there is little hope that the snow or mixed routes will come into condition. Be aware of the risk of verglas on the northern faces or on certain snow slopes.
Care is also needed with the choice of routes. A passage of warm weather, with the isotherm around 4500m and strong winds, is forecast for Friday and Saturday.
The Col Supérieur du Tour is still feasible, (avoid the ice which has several unstable boulders on it.) The bergschrund on the normal route for the Aiguille du Tour can still be crossed. Parties are still doing the Tête Blanche and the Petite Fourche. The Table Ridge remains feasible, (care needed between the lower part of the gully and the ridge.)
The Glacier du Milieu is no longer practicable in ascent (ice). It is possible for experienced parties to descend it, e.g. from the Jardin Ridge. (This involves abseilling a combination of two routes bolted in 2018, "Par des Anges" then "Spigolo": chain belays, 50m abseils.) More information at the hut.
Nothing special to report for the rock routes.
The traverse of the Drus remains in condition. It is strongly recommended to check out the glacier approach the evening before.
The information below is taken directly from the hut’s Facebook page.
"Concerning the rock routes, conditions are good. The bergschrunds are beginning to open slightly but remain OK for the Moine, Nonne, l'Evêque and the Point de Pierre à Joseph.
The Moine Ridge on the Verte is still being done. However, the bergschrund is widening. The lower part is dry but there is still snow on the ridge.
Nobody has done the Droites recently. The S face and the diagonal gully are very dry.
There is still snow up to the Col des Droites to reach the Courtes, despite a lot of snow sluffs off the Droites S face. Nobody is doing the traverse of the Courtes for the moment, the ridge after the summit is dry. Snow remains on the descent from the Col des Cristaux.
The Pointe Isabelle is still feasible though the bergschrund before the ridge is now quite wide. Some ice is starting to show through before arriving at the summit plateau.”
There was a major rock fall on 4/8 on the lower part of the Walker Spur, Cassin Route, (Rebuffat Diedre.) With the verglas and the small amount of fresh snow, it would be wise to avoid this route for the moment.
The rock routes should dry very quickly.
Envers des Aiguilles
Here also there has been little change. The direct start to California Dream is no longer feasible. One needs to start by a ramp on the right.
For the descent from the Grepon, it is best to abseil down the West face, (from the "CP") then cross the glacier to the rognon.
Plan de l'Aiguille
Crampons are advisable for the snow on the approach to the Contamine Vaucher (Gendarme Rouge du Peigne). They can also be useful to reach the normal route on the Peigne (and the Minettes Spur), where despite a good track, the icy snow in the morning can be awkward.
Aiguille du Midi Sector
It rained all day and night at the hut, (Wednesday). Be aware of verglaced snow on the faces!
The Trois Monts route is, therefore, awkward and much more technical than usual. The Tacul bergschrund is overhanging and strenuous, (3m; 2 technical ice axes useful.) The same is true for the Col du Mont Maudit, (some ice, the fixed ropes are frozen into the snow/ice and not usable.)
The seracs, (Tacul summit and the lower part of Mont Maudit,) are still there!
No reports about the bergschrunds for the rock routes, (S Face of the Aiguille du Midi, Pointes Lachenal etc). No news is good news?
Mont Blanc by the Grands Mulets.
The hut is closed for the season. It opens again in Spring 2020.
Mont Blanc by the Aiguille du Goûter
The route has been affected by the recent rain and snow mix. The amount of fresh snow is negligible. The summit was re-tracked on Thursday. The rain, together with the wind, has coated the snow with ice. Good cramponning skills are essential.
Conditions are typical for the time of year: The Grand Couloir is dry, (the stonefall no worse than usual) The Bosses ridge is in good condition.
Miage / Bionnassay Sector
The Mont Tondu is still being done, weaving between the ice sections, even though it does not look that attractive.
The Dômes de Miage, there and back, remains feasible, though the ridge appears to be coming more awkward, (narrow and icy.)
Aiguille de la Bérangère, there and back: nothing special to report, there is still some snow at the foot, otherwise completely dry.
The warden is going back up to the Durier hut today, (Thursday.) There should be a report soon for the Aiguille de Bionnassay assuming a break in the wind allows the parties foreseen for tomorrow, (Friday) to summit.
Mont Blanc by the Aiguilles Grises
Little change, the glacier is OK but the exit on the ridge is awkward.
Monzino / Helbronner / Grandes Jorasses
Little change since the last update.
The Tacul bergschrund is awkward.
The Traverse of the Jorasses: Be aware of verglas (especially at the Pointe Young). It is perhaps better to not stop at the Canzio but to climb this section in the afternoon and then bivvy on the summit of the Pointe Margherite.
The recent rock fall under the Canzio has not affected the belays. However, there is a risk of stone fall. This abseil line should only be used in emergency.
Grande Jorasses normal route: some crevasses have opened below the Reposoir. The bergschrund above is open but can be crossed. There is no ice on the route. Take care on the final summit slope, it is not steep, but rock is rotten.