Some information for this weekend.
We find ourselves in two seasons, Spring in the valley and Winter/Spring up in the mountains, a situation typical for Chamonix in May. Quite a lot of snow fell this winter at mid altitudes which, together with the very little sunshine and cooler than average temperatures in April and May, means the snow is taking a long time to disappear.
For example, it is still possible to ski in the Berard Valley, with the snow down to 15 minutes above the cascade.
This makes things awkward for hikers as there is still a lot of snow above 1700/2000m. This is not just snow patches but rather whole valleys remain under snow making paths and waymarks invisible. There is often a need to break trail in deep snow with also a danger of slipping/falling in places. The mountain lakes are not yet accessible and remain under snow, as are the Grand Balcon paths
Little has changed since the update of May 10th. Below is a selection of recommended hikes with great views.
- Lac Vert
- Alpage de Charousse
- Chalets de Chailloux (snow below the Aiguillette des Houches)
- Alpage de Blaitière Dessous
- Rocher des Mottets (possible to continue up to Montenvers. Do not go up to Montenvers by the Caillet path.)
- Buvette du Chapeau and viewpoint.
- Petits Balcons north and south, Buvette de la Floria (open),
- Chalets de Loriaz from Le Couteray (snow on leaving the forest)
- Aiguillette des Posettes starting from Tré le Champ.
Tour du Mont Blanc
As is normal for this time of the year, it is still too early for hiking. There is no evidence of hikers in the Chapieu valley yet, only skiers
In the high mountain we are between seasons, most of the lifts and huts are closed. There is too much snow unless using snowshoes or skis, which then need carried when lower down . The weather windows have been rare and often brief. The good news is that the snow that fell last weekend, (without wind and between 50 and 70cm depending on the altitude) has stuck to the ice and rock, leading to a start in the improvement in conditions for mixed routes.
Tour Sector: The approach to the Albert 1er hut is by the moraine path. The upper part of the Migot Spur is dry and the Forbes Ridge has a lot of snow since the last storm. The Aiguille du Tour, Tete Blanche etc. are feasible.
- Aiguille d'Argentière, Glacier du Milieu has ski tracks, (no more info.)
- Col des Cristaux, NE Face of the Courtes look to be skiable.
- Couturier does not appear to have any recent tracks.
Couvercle Sector (hut open )
To reach the hut, it is no longer feasible to go by the Pierre à Bérenger and the CentralCouloir. The new approach, (shared with the Charpoua hut) crosses too many gullies which have not purged yet. All that remains is the Egralets route, which still has a lot of snow. It would appear best to take a rounabout route to the left to reach the foot of the ladders.
Below is information taken from the hut Facebook site before the last storm, (no activity since, the faces and gullies are well purged) :
For the 2019 season: “the Couvercle hut will open on 1st June and close on 15th September. The hut will be renovated to meet modern building standards and offer better conditions for the alpinistes and wardens and to make it more eco-friendly. The work is due to start mid-September, assuming the planning permission is obtained."
Concerning the routes in this sector, the two main objectives are the Whymper on the Verte and the Pointe Isabella. Conditions are OK with a good snow cover since the recent snowfalls. The bergschrund on the Whymper is crossed on the true left, though it is starting to open up. For the Pointe Isabella, the crevasses are filled in.
Some parties on the Droites and the Courtes but there is a lot of snow high up and bare ice on the N faces.
Aiguille du Midi Sector (Cosmiques hut open):
- Cosmiques Arete, Pointes Lachenal, Triangle du Tacul (Chéré, Contamine-Mazeaud, Contamine-Grisolle): there are walking tracks in place. Likewise, for the traverse and descent, (and ascent to the summit) of the normal route of the Tacul from the top of the Triangle.
- Normal route on the Tacul was done on skis, there and back, on 23/05 (no problems with the bergschrunds).
- Mallory Porter and Eugster Diagonal were climbed on23/05
- Vallée Blanche: Need to walk to reach the ladders or the ice cave, (see Montenvers webcams). It is warming up, making the snow bridges weak. The Requin hut is open but will be closed from 29/05 to10/06.
Pointe Helbronner Sector
- Traverse of the Marbrées has been done, (on foot).
- Tour Ronde is popular: Gervasutti Couloir, North face, descent by the Freshfield Col. The normal winter route is feasible.
- Good track to the Col d'Entrèves, (the traverse looks feasible.)
- The Trois Monts is still not being done. A descent sized weather window is needed to work out the route to cross Mont Maudit.
- good conditions by the Grands Mulets: From the tunnel one needs to carry the skis to just above the ancient Gare de la Para. If not, one can use skis from the Plan de lAiguille. As a reminder, one needs to start EARLY, in order to reach the hut, (risk of snow slides and the traverse of the Jonction is awkward when it warms up.) The snow is sticking to the N ridge of the Dôme du Goûter, (skied on 23/05. There is still some bare ice, between 4 to10m according to the guides.) The route by the Plateaux is also tracked, the danger from falling seracs is still there. The N face has been skied on the true left in good conditions.
- the Goûter hut opened on 24/05. The Tête Rousse opens on Monday, 27/05. The Bellevue cable car will open on 8/06 and the TMB on15/06. This early in the season, snowshoes are useful to reach the Tete Rousse. Starting from Bionnassay is perhaps easier, (or 4x4 taxi to Bellevue.) It is best to take the path by the Are chalets to reach the Nid d’Aigle. (The Dérochoir has too much snow and the route following the railway track is dangerous.)
The Mont Tondu, the traverse of the Dômes de Miage (the skiing ends just above the Armancette lake) and the Aiguille de la Bérangère (there and back from the hut,) are all in good condition.
Before the latest snowfall, the upper part of the N faces, (Lex Blanche, Trè-la-Tête, Mettrier,) were bare ice.