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Report 16th May 2017

Here is the latest news of what has been happening during this spell of good weather.  Following the series of snowfalls, skis or snow shoes are necessary in the high mountain.  Temperatures are rising significantly and conditions are changing rapidly.  Be warned, avalanches are likely, (especially in the afternoon,) on susceptible slopes that have not yet purged.

 

Mont Blanc was climbed yesterday by the Grands  Mulets.  The Jonction is good on skis.  On the N ridge of the Dôme, the ice is never far from the surface, despite the recent snow, (technical axe and good crampons, with parties short roping.)   The Mont Blanc N face has been skied.  Parties left this morning on skis for the ascent by the Trois Monts.  No news concerning the normal route, (Gouter).

Cosmiques Sector: the Cosmiques ridge, Lolo (Laurence?) ridge and Pointes Lachenal traverse have been done.  The approaches to these routes are tracked and accessible on foot.  On the Tacul Triangle, the Chere couloir has inevitably been climbed. Yesterday, a party climbed the Contamine Négri and skied down the Gervasutti couloir, (no info on conditions.)  The Gervasutti Pillar at the Tour Ronde was climbed. (N.B. the Skyway Monte Bianco closed this week until 19th May inclusive.)
Conscrits Sector: the skiing starts at the glacier.  This morning the Domes de Miage and Mont Tondu were tracked. The Col des Glaciers was done yesterday, skiing down by the Dôme de Neige.
Plan Glacier Sector: skiing starts around 2000m on the approach to the hut.  The N face of the Domes was tracked and skied on Sunday, (the skiing started 50m below the summit due to a lack of snow at the top of the face.)

Couvercle Sector:  three choices for the approach to the hut, by the ladders, by the central couloir, (dry low down) or by the Pierre à Bérenger. Lots of avalanches have been seen in the area.  This morning, parties left for the Whymper Couloir and the col de Talèfre.

No information for the Albert 1er and Argentière sectors.  These huts are not staffed and the lifts are closed.

 

For Hikers: the S facing slopes below 2000m are mainly dry but above this there is plenty of snow.  On the N facing slopes the snow level is much lower with deep snow at 2000m.  Check the altitude of your proposed hike and adapt your equipment accordingly.  The mountain lakes remain snow covered.  The hiking season is only just starting, patience needed.

 

 

Report 13th May 2017

Since the May 5th update, it has snowed at altitude together with winds from the S/SW.  The rain/snow limit was about 2500m. This morning, Saturday, the Chamonix Aiguilles are plastered with snow following last night’s precipitations, (without wind.) 
As stated in the last update, the hiking remains feasible up to 1900m for the N facing and 2000m for the S facing slopes.
Concerning ski touring, there has been activity in the Emosson area since the opening of the road up to the dam, e.g. Pointe de la Terrasse, Cheval Blanc.
The Couvercle, Conscrits, Grands Mulets, Requin, Albert 1er and Plan de l’Aiguille huts are open.  It is recommended to telephone in advance. See http://www.chamoniarde.com/?page_id=57 for the contact details.

Report 5 May 2017

Bad weather fronts are following one after another and dumping snow down to 2000 / 2200m, sometimes lower.
This morning, Friday, there was about 30cm of fresh snow at the Plan de l’Aiguille (2207m) and 70 to 80cms at the at Grands Mulets hut, (3051m.)
The windows of good weather are very short, making it difficult to find suitable alpine objectives.

Some routes though, like the Pointes Lachenal or the Cosmiques Arete, remain feasible.  

No news concerning the gullies, though the Chéré on the Triangle du Tacul looks possible.  The new snow has not been enough to compensate for the underlying dry conditions.

The normal route on the Tacul is not feasible for the moment due to the high avalanche risk.

For the moment, only the Aiguille du Midi, Montenvers and Skyway (Italy) lifts are running.  The approach to the other areas, for example; the Argentière sector or the Tour glacier, is on foot from the valley.  

With the regular snow falls, the upper part of the Valley Blanche is generally in good condition. However, some of the snow bridges are fragile and are masked by the recent snow, as are some of the crevasses. Care is needed.  The Col du Tacul was tracked this morning (Friday), with no further information about the descent by the Capucin glacier,

The Mont Blanc was done this morning by the Dôme N Ridge and by the Plateaus route. Despite all the new snow, the ice is never far away, especially on the N ridge.

The N face has been skied recently, no further information


Also, no information concerning Mont Buet. There is a good hour’s walking up the Berard valley before one can put on skis. 
The Emosson road opened this evening, Friday 5th May, giving skiers access to the tours starting from the dam.  

For hikers, conditions above 1800 / 2000m remain difficult.  It is essential to be well equipped, (good boots, crampons, poles etc,) and avoid travelling too “light”.   

Even by midday, the snow can still be frozen, presenting a real danger of sliding for the inexperienced or badly equipped.
For hikes below this altitude, there are no obvious problems.


The path maintenance workforce has started for the summer season, but it is still early days, so do not be surprised about the state of certain paths. The Merlet footbridge is in place and can be approached from Les Montquarts.  It is not advised to continue towards Bellachat. However, the Aiguillette des Houches is accessible via the Chailloux chalets.

During this interseasonal period, there a certain amount of ongoing forestry work, resulting in some footpaths being closed.  Please see: http://www.chamoniarde.com/?p=45 for more information.

Report 28th April 2017

For last few days it felt as if winter was back. First there was rain, then it snowed down to the valley base, and this together with strong winds at altitude.

 

The change in conditions means the avalanche risk above 2000m is now 3/5.  Regardless of the activity undertaken, one needs to be very cautious this weekend.

For several days, there has been little action in the mountains. Here is the latest information from the hut wardens
There was between 5 and 10cms of snow at the valley floor, about 50cms, very windblown at 2500/3000m and up to 80cms higher up.
Drifting has affected some areas and certain slopes appear to be “loaded”.  The tracks to the routes have disappeared.

The Lognan and Gd Montets lifts, as well as the Argentière hut, will close after May 1st.  
Concerning the Valley Blanche, the “Z” path has been dismantled and only the crest of the ridge remains equipped.  Caution is needed, especially at the level of the “Salle à Manger”, where the snow bridges, already fragile, are masked by the new snow.  It is still necessary to walk a little to reach Montenvers.
For hikers and “trailers” there should not be any problems below about 1300/1500m. For example, the Petits Balcons N and S, the Floria and the Chapeau chalet are feasible. The Chailloux chalets, the Loriaz hut, the Lac Vert and the Prarion, even if a bit higher, are also accessible.

Above this, the conditions are tricky, with a real risk of sliding or falling.  Avoid travelling to “light” and modify your plans and equipment to meet the prevailing conditions. 

Report 22nd April 2017

Some updates for the massive:


No major changes for the hikers. The altitude limit for safe walking remains at 2000m, (S facing) and 1800m (N facing). It will take several weeks before the higher trails are in condition, for example to the lakes, (still under snow) and the Grand Balcons, N&S.  
At altitude, the recent wind and low temperatures have hardened the snow and caused drifting in places.  Caution is advised.

  
- Albert 1er Sector: 
The best approach is by the moraine, skiing starting/finishing at the level of the water intake.  The normal routes on the Aiguille du Tour, the Tête Blanche and the Petite Fourche are being done. The Table Couloir has a rocky section low down and is being climbed on foot. The 3 cols, the Forbes Arete and the Migot Spur are in condition.  The party on the Migot descended by the Forbes Arete, but the normal descent route on the Chardonnet looks OK.  


- Argentière Sector: 
Ski touring remains popular in this area, but conditions are slowly deteriorating, notably for the Passon, where the moraine presents problems. Crampons/ice axe and ski crampons are necessary for certain routes.  The Y couloir has been done, but the bergschrund is awkward.
The snow is thinning on the Courtes NE and the Col des Cristaux.
The lower part of the Lagarde Gully is no longer in condition and parties have turned back.
The Vivagel and Bettembourg/Charlet gullies have been climbed recently, albeit proving more difficult than normal.
Mont Dolent has been climbed from La Fouly by the Gallet ridge and the normal route, (about 30mins of walking).  

- Couvercle/Mer de Glace Sector:
The Y Couloir on the Verte was done on 21st April.  Conditions OK, but with some deep snow in the gully.  Exit by the left branch on granular snow, then hard neve on the ridge. In descent, the Whymper has plenty of snow, though take care near the top as the ice is not far away.
Good track on the Talèfre glacier, crampons needed to descend the “central” couloir.  Approach by the Egralets is also possible.
The normal routes on the Droites and Courtes are in condition. Nobody has been to the Pointe Isabelle for the moment.  Aiguille de Talèfre N face is very dry.

- Requin/Torino/Cosmiques:
The Valley Blanche is still being done by the classic route, as well as by the Little and Middle, (true VB), Envers.  Conditions OK as far as the Requin hut, then care needed, with weak snow bridges crossing Salle à Manger and 30 mins walking to reach the ice caves below Montenvers. The Valley Noire, (Italian side), is still doable.  

Near the Torino; the Dent du Géant, Rochefort Arete, Aiguilles Marbrées, Entreves and Toule are being done.  On the Tour Ronde some parties have climbed the SE Ridge, and the Rebuffat and Gervasutti gullies.  The N face is dry but feasible. Rock climbing on the Tacul satellites is also possible.
The normal route on the Grandes Jorasses has been done recently in reasonable conditions.

Near the Cosmiques; the Laurence ridge, the Cosmiques ridge and the traverse of the Pointes Lachenal, (some ice) are being done.  
Concerning the gullies, most of the activity is on the Chéré and the Contamine-Mazeaud.  The Gabarrou-Albinoni and Pellissier are also being climbed, albeit in very dry conditions, (set of Friends advisable.)

The 3 Monts is tracked, no further information, other than there are sections of bare ice, making it unsuitable for a “light” ascent.  Col du Plan gully, Eugster Diagonal and Mallory-Porter have been climbed recently in generally good conditions.


- Grands Mulets:
Mont Blanc is being climbed either by the Plateaux or N ridge of the Dôme. There are still passages of ice on the N ridge, requiring good equipment and technical ability. The approach from the Plan de l’Aiguille to the hut is OK.  The descent from the summit by the N face no longer looks feasible due to ice.
For those tempted to start from the Tunnel entrance, (roadhead), there is at least 600m height gain, then hard neve, requiring crampons rather than skis with ski crampons, to reach the Gare des Glaciers.

- Conscrits:
No major changes, it is a on foot as far as the glacier then good conditions for the rest of the approach to the hut. The Mont Tondu, Bérangère, Dômes de Miage traverse are being done. Still some ice on the Domes traverse. It is possible to ski down the Armancette until about 1900m. The Mettrier Ridge is very dry.  The Bionnassay ridge is tracked, no further information.

 
In the Aiguilles Rouges; the Flégère lifts are closed and the Planpraz lift closes at 13h on Sunday, 23rd April.
Mont Buet and the cols in this area remain accessible, with about 45mins of carrying your skis in the Berard valley.

With the good weather, there will certainly be a lot of activity this weekend. The Chamoniarde ( http://www.chamoniarde.com/?page_id=1857&lang=en ), looks forward to receiving your reports.

 

Report 13th April 2017

An overview of what is happening:


The snow is rapidly receding as a result of unseasonal high temperatures. 
No problems hiking up to 1800/2000m, depending on the aspect but above this there is plenty of snow blocking the paths.  
The Grands Balcons North and South, as well as the high routes at altitude. (for example, to lakes Noir, Blanc) are not feasible to do safely!

The following “high points” are accessible without notable danger: the Aiguillette des Houches, (via the Chalets de Chailloux), the Loriaz hut, the Aiguillette des Posettes and the Prarion.

Alpinism and ski touring:

- Albert 1er sector:
The approach to the hut is best by the Col du Passon (little snow at the start)  crampons, ski crampons and ice axe necessary.
The descent to Vormaine is becoming awkward lower down, need to walk in several places.
The approach from Charamillon is not feasible for the moment.
The Chardonnet remains very dry, nobody is climbing the gullies, the Forbes Ridge “looks” feasible.  The other classic routes in the area remain in condition, with the exception of the N face of the Tête Blanche.

- Argentière Sector:
Ski touring is popular and conditions are good if you respect the time of day.
Do not forget crampons and ski crampons.
The Y couloir is still being done, 2 axes necessary for a steep section at the exit to the right of the summit. 
No special problems for the Glacier du Milieu, the NE Courtes (still dry near the summit) and the Col des Cristaux.
There is 50m of fixed rope at the Col du Chardonnet, from which a further abseil of about 25m is necessary.
Couloir Lagarde: bergshrund technical and the 2nd pitch difficult to protect, conditions OK after that. Descent by 6 abseils on the Talèfre side.
Couloir Couturier is more technical than usual because of an ice section at the bend.  The exit by the dome and descent by the Whymper OK for the moment.

Conditions basically good for the Petite Aiguille Verte despite some ice at the bergschrund.  The N face is ice. Couloir Chevalier in good condition, (in ascent)

The gullies remain very dry and not appealing. Vivagel, however, was climbed in reasonable conditions.
The rock behind the hut is free of snow and is being climbed.


- Mer de Glace / Couvercle sector
The Valley Blanche is still being done, though the conditions are deteriorating, especially in the lower sections, about 20 minutes of walking.
The Brèche Puiseux and the Col du Tacul, (there and back,) are being done, but best avoided later in the day.  A party has gone for the Fou S face, (see the route book on the OHM website.) The approach to the Couvercle is by the Egralets ladders. Lots of activity in Talèfre bowl, you need to make a reservation if youy wish to stay at the hut.
The Whymper, Col des Droites, Col de la Tour des Courtes and the Col de Talèfre are in good condition.
A party has done the Pointe Isabelle; route all on snow but with a difficult crevasse to cross.  The bergschrund goes on the left.   The Angélique and Aiguille Croulante gullies are dry in their upper sections.

- Torino / Cosmiques sector:
The Dent du Géant, the Rochefort Arete. Aiguilles d’Entrèves traverse and the Aiguille de Toule have been done.
The SE ridge and the Gervasutti Couloir have been climbed on the Tour Ronde.  The N face is still very dry but has been done, conditions appear to be better on the left, but the climbing is much more difficult than usual.

The Supercouloir and the Jager couloir were done a few days ago.  The start of the Supercouloir is totally dry and very technical.

The gullies on the Triangle du Tacul and Pointes Lachenal are dry but some are still being climbed. The rock faces that catch the sun such as on the Pyramide du Tacul, Grand Capucin, Pointes Lachenal and Aiguille de Midi are being climbed.
A party went for the Midi-Plan traverse, awaiting further information.

Eugster diagonal is basically in good condition, no footprints visible on the Mallory
Cosmiques Ridge and the Pointes Lachenal traverse are tracked, some ice on the Pointes Lachenal.

- Mont Blanc
3 Monts Route: there are technical sections with ice on the Tacul, (bergschrund and exit to the left), on Mont Maudit and the Mur de la Côte. Crampons, (steel) and technical axes recommended.  
Grands Mulets Route:  The approach to the hut from Plan de l’Aiguille is OK.  The routes by the Plateaux and the N ridge of Dôme are tracked and should improve with the passage of people.  3 Abalakovs in place, crampons (steel) and a technical axe necessary.

Some sections of very hard snow/ice on the N face descent.  Some parties have also descended by the Corridor.
Tracks have been seen on the normal route by the Gouter, no further information.

To summarize:  conditions are basically good but “reserved” for good skiers and alpinists.



- Conscrits
One has to walk as far as the Tré la Tête glacier, the Mauvais Pas and the approach to the Conscrits hut is OK.
There is a section of about 12 metres of ice on the traverse of Dômes de Miage (crampons (steel) and ice screws perhaps useful.)  Descent by Armancette to Covagnet, then you have to walk.

Aiguilles Rouges: the main activity is on the Crochues-Bérard traverse and Mont Buet.
Some skiers have gone towards the Belvédère and the Col des Dards but the return to Flégère is becoming awkward.

Good ski touring conditions have been reported for the Mont Dolent normal route starting from La Fouly (20min walking) and also for the Gallet Ridge (some ice in places.)

The Grand Paradis is popular, the skiing starting at Pont.  However, the snow is not particularly good at altitude.

 

The Chamoniarde ( http://www.chamoniarde.com/?page_id=1857&lang=en ), looks forward to your reports to help with future updates.