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.
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.