March has been decidedly capricious and does not likely to change in the coming days.
The snow fall at altitude was significant with about a metre of snow settling at 2500m at the beginning of the week. This was followed by a beautiful day, then a period of strong foehn conditions.
The wind gusts at altitude were over 140km/h at times, causing drifting. Given the general conditions this winter it is important to stay vigilant.
The Valley Blanche was skied on Wednesday and again today (Friday), some people reported there was” too much snow”. A very high level of skiing ability is essential.
Concerning the gullies; at last, some information:
- Pas d'Agonie 1 on the Rognon was OK but with a lot of snow at the exit.
- Mercier-Lucena on the Pointes Lachenal was also OK
- The Chéré was climbed but no further information.
- Pas d'Agonie 2 and 3 appeared to be climbable.
The season for ice climbing on the cascades is coming to an end, although conditions at the Cascade de Bérard, the Crèmerie and Déferlante remain OK for the moment. One should remember that it is now the second half of March.
Ski touring is still the main activity for the moment.
The tunnel at Emosson is impassable, (blocked by snow).
The season for the Haute Route is starting, but with the bad weather, there have been no reports yet.
The Argentière hut is open.
The Conscrits hut was due to open this weekend but this has now been delayed for several days.
Snow shoeing remains practicable in the Bérard Valley, les Granges, Loriaz, Samoteux, Chailloux, Prarion, Les Ayères...
The footpaths along the valley floor are mostly accessible but good boots and hiking poles are essential and possibly also crampons.
Given the number of phone calls and emails the Chamoniarde has received, it is felt that a clarification is needed concerning hiking.
Though Spring has arrived in the plains, this is not the case in the mountains.
It has been a hard winter with large quantities of snow still present at altitude. Hiking above 2000m is not an option and is unlikely to be so before the end of May and even then, not on all trails.
Unless there is a particularly warm, sunny, Spring, the lakes at altitude, like Lac Blanc or the Grands Balcons Nord and Sud will not be practicable during the Easter holidays nor the May bank holidays. The lifts at Brévent-Flégère remain open until 23rd April and the change from winter to summer does not happen in the blink of an eye.
The same applies to the Tour des Aiguilles Rouges and the Tour du Mont Blanc where complete autonomy and the correct equipment is essential. Signposts and waymarks may be buried, and snowfields hard packed.
Most of the huts will not open before mid-June.
Other hikes are possible, so you may need to modify your plans.. Consider getting advice before and during your trip.
As usual, the Chamoniarde asks you to give them feedback on your outings/experiences