It is feeling very cold, (low temperatures and a continuous breeze,) so despite the anticyclonic weather, ski touring is only starting up again slowly. The snow quality is very variable: mediocre and crusty in those sectors affected by the wind, better in the sheltered areas.
Below 2000m, care is needed while descending as there is not a proper snow base yet.
In the Aiguilles Rouges, the Crochues/Bérard, Dards and Belvédère cols are tracked. In the Argentière sector, the Passon, Tour Noir and Argentière cols are being done. The return by the lower flat section of the Argentière glacier towards Lognan still has little snow and is awkward. Snow depth remains poor below 2800m in numerous areas, (bare ice, protruding rocks, crevasses).
Recent parties down the Valley Blanche, (Petit Envers – Moyenne Envers,) found the routes to be awkward and crevassed. (Note: the ridge is not equipped yet, though some stakes in place.) Good technique is necessary, the snow being crusty and difficult to ski in areas affected by the wind. Below 2800m there is a serious lack of snow, with bare ice and exposed rocks in the gullies in the Requin area. The return to Montenvers by the Mer de Glace remains awkward, (side slipping between stones.) We do not have any information about the “classic” Valley Blanche and so do not know the conditions at the serac zone.
Concerning ice climbing; the Crèmerie is popular. We would remind you to walk in from the Grand Montets parking, (and not to park at the Crèmerie restaurant or the CMBH Drop Zone). We have no information yet concerning the other icefalls.
We are also waiting for information on the state of the gullies at altitude. The recent snow and the intense cold has not encouraged activity
The dedicated snow shoeing tracks are proving popular.
The ski pistes are now all open, as are the signposted trails for ski tourers, see: http://www.chamoniarde.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Espace-ski-de-rando2visu.pdf
In a word, winter has arrived, but some more snow would be most appreciated.