Though more snow is desperately needed, we continue to enjoy a period of good weather, with the minor exception of the passage of some clouds and wind at altitude.
This stable weather means conditions have hardly changed and the routes being done at altitude are basically the same as those mentioned in the previous report, (17th Dec).
Some additional information:
Parties are rock climbing in the Aiguilles Rouges, e.g. on the Index and Aiguille de la Persévérance. Crampons and ice axes may be needed for the approaches. The valley crags remain easily accessible, e.g. Barberine and the Gaillands.
Several ski tours have been reported despite the thin conditions: the Brevent to the Aiguillette des Houches and back, Crochues/Bérard and the Buet (long portage and crampons essential.)
In the Argentière basin, the Col d’Argentière appears to be the best option, the appoaches to the other routes lacking snow. The return to Lognan remains awkward. No news about the N faces or the gullies other than black ice being reported on the Petite Verte normal route.
Conditions for the icefalls are starting to improve and some of the lines on the Crémerie and the true left bank of the Argentière, (approach from above,) are being climbed.
Avoid top roping at the Crémerie, as there is a danger of falling ice from parties above.
No change for the Aiguille du Midi and the Torino hut sectors. Conditions OK to good for the Tour Ronde N face and the traverse of the Marbrées.
The gullies remain very dry for the season.
Conditions for the Chéré are OK, except for the first pitch. The gullies on the N side of the Cosmiques ridge are not in condition. The Frendo and the Mallory/Porter have been climbed, (no further information.).
The Vallée Blanche is not practical.
Though the lack of snow means conditions are generally bad for winter sports, the snow/ice on the hiking trails above 1800/2000m can pose problems and the advice given in the previous report remains valid.
The signposted snow shoe trails in the valley floor lack snow, but can be walked, (care with the ice patches.) Higher up, there are signposted trails for snow shoeing from the top of the Index and Prarion lifts. For the more experienced, the Carlaveyron plateau, from the Brevent and back, has potential.
Some of the Balme/Vallorcine lifts are open giving access to hikes between the Aiguillette des Posettes and the Col de Balme. The snow is very hard and may require crampons in addition to good boots and walking poles.