Here is the latest information, prior to the end of year holidays:
There have been no major changes to the conditions since the last update, they remain very dry for the time of year.
Albert 1er sector: Parties have gone for the Aiguille du Tour (no further information) and the Migot Spur on the Chardonnet, where conditions are not ideal especially at the bergschrund and on the descent. Snowshoes used for the approach.
Argentière sector: Ski tourers are doing the Cols du Tour Noir and Argentière. There is not much snow in the lower parts and care is needed, (moraines, crevasses).
The return to the Lognan is awkward and not skiable all the way.
A party went for the NNE of the Courtes, (no further information). Another party turned back at the Petit Viking bergschrund, judged to be too difficult to cross. The Pépite gully was climbed in dry conditions. The Chevallier gully has been climbed. The Couturier Couloir, (direct finish) is OK, (changing snow quality throughout), keeping to the true left side, with 60m of ice near the top. Descent by the Whymper keeping to the left bank, the upper part being ice in the middle for about 150m. The secondary gully is fairly dry, 3 abseils of 30m, bergshrund passable on the true right.
The Y Gully and the Glacier du Milieu have also been climbed, but not without problems as the lower sections are dry. Cornices present on the summit ridge.
For those into ice climbing, the Crèmerie and Déferlante are slowly coming into condition.
Aiguille du Midi / Mer de Glace/ Torino sector:
The Midi cable car opened on the 17th, so we are expecting reports of conditions for the Tacul and Aig du Midi gullies soon.
Near the Torino, the N face of the Tour Ronde remains OK, as does the normal route. “Winter” climbing is also taking place on the Aiguilles Marbrées, the Entrêves and the Dent du Géant.
At least one party has been on the Pierre-Allain on the Dru, (no further information.)
The Grandes Jorasses are not in condition, (« font grise mine… »)
Parties have gone for Mont Blanc by the Goûter, the approach to the Gouter hut is mixed, as if it was the start of the summer. No information about the rest of the route, (e.g. the crevasse between the Bosses and the summit.)
Dômes de Miage and the Aiguille de la Bérangère have been done recently on foot. Approach from Cugnon and then via the Mauvais Pas (lots of ice) and the Tré la Tête glacier, (fairly dry but without any notable problems.).
Concerning ski touring, the choice is limited with most of the activity taking place at higher altitudes in the Mont Blanc range.
The Aig Rouges lifts are have just opened, but we do not have any further information yet. Likewise, there is no information for the Mt Buet, though certainly you will have to carry the skis for most of the Berard valley, (crampons essential.)
No information from the Emosson sector. Despite the rumours, the road is officially closed after Finhaut and it is forbidden to drive up it even if it looks feasible.
The conditions appear to be better on the Italy, for example, the Grand Paradiso.
Lastly, for the hikers:
Conditions at altitude are difficult and potentially dangerous. This includes the paths higher than 1800 to 2000m. One is strongly advised against hiking the Grands Balcons (north and south,) or up to the higher lakes.
The Loriaz hut is open and accessible by the forest track, needs good boots and walking poles. (Skis and snowshoes a waste of time.)
There is a lot of ice on the paths in the Berard valley; crampons necessary. The “Cascade de Bérard” buvette will be open all winter from 10h to17h and will open in the evening if reserved.
The Merlet Animal Park opens for the Christmas holidays: 19th to 23rd and 26th to 30th Dec. from 12h to 16h.
There are no problems with hiking in the valley floor.
During this difficult time, caution is required and you need to adapt your plans in line with the prevailing conditions.
Please do not forget to send in a report of your activities to the Office de Haute Montagne, to help with the next conditions update.