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Report 31st May 2018

For a change, this report starts with the information for hikers.

 

There is still a lot of snow at mid altitudes for the time of year. Many of the footpaths and cols are remain affected and there can be a serious risk of snow slides.
For example, the Grand Balcon Nord between Montenvers and Plan de l'Aiguille still has too much snow, (even though the cable car is soon to reopen.)
One needs to be properly equipped, (good boots, crampons, hiking poles etc) and have the correct experience for the route chosen.

In the Chamonix valley the paths are gradually being put back in order after the hard winter, but this still needs more time in some places.

Amongst others, this is the case for the Grand Balcon Sud, (where the path has been washed away for about 40m), the paths in the Argentiere sector and the access path to Lac Vert-Châtelet d'Ayères, making detours necessary.

In the Aiguilles Rouges, the lakes remain covered in snow and difficult to access, as are also the cols in this sector.
In the Bérard valley, the snow level is at about 1700m. The Tour of Aiguilles Rouges is not practicable for the moment.  A large boulder has fallen onto the path, blocking it completely.
For the fell runners, you are recommended to check the Vallee du Trail site, or Facebook "Vallée du Trail" or contact La Chamoniarde directly.

 

Some paths are closed for work.  These can be found on  arrêtés en cours.

 

For the Tour du Mont Blanc, there is snow on all the cols from above about 1800m. The "himalayan" bridge and the footbridge below Bionnassay are in place.

 

For the alpinistes, there has been little information, due to the capricious weather and access difficulties, (lifts closed, paths closed for work… )

The approach to the Albert 1er hut is OK by the moraine but not yet from Charamillon.
For the Couvercle hut, the approach by the Egralets is OK. There is snow on the traverse towards the hut. The warden will be back there from Saturday, 2nd June.
The bergschrund on the Whymper Couloir is open but passable.

The Aig du Midi is to re-open on 2nd June, (to be confirmed.)
Some parties have attempted Mont Blanc by the Gouter, but with the lifts being closed, this is a much longer route than usual.
The Grands Mulets route remains possible with skis, the Jonction now being  crossed on foot. Conditions on the N ridge of the Dôme appear to have improved. Ask the warden for more information.
 
Conditions are changing rapidly.  Contact the hut wardens in the sector you are visiting and do not forget to give your feedback to La Chamoniarde afterwards.  

 

Report 18th May 2018

Here is an update following the return of better weather, (though still cold with the north wind.)

 

Couvercle Sector: The Whymper has been redone.  The bergschrund is OK and the couloir is not a problem. Despite the recent snowfalls, there still no more snow in the couloir.   The approach to the hut is by the central gully.  Approaching by the ladders is not yet recommended.

 

Requin Sector: (The hut closes 21st May evening).  The Brêche Puiseux is tracked, (no further info).  Traversing the Salle à Manger is still OK but be careful at the start below the hut.

 

Grands Mulets Sector: the Mont Blanc is tracked by Plateaux and North Ridge. The Jonction is OK.  The 40cm of fresh snow is slowly settling, and is good to ski, thanks to the low temperatures.  N ridge of the Dôme; despite the recent snow the ice is still present, (foresee adequate equipment for 3 to4 pitches of about 30/40m). The N face has been skied, (good conditions).

 

Plan de l’Aiguille Sector: A party left this morning, (Friday), for the Eugster Diagonal, (awaiting info).

 

Aiguille du Midi Cable Car: following an anomaly with one of the cables, the Plan de l’Aiguille / Aiguille du Midi stage will be closed until 27th May. The Chamonix/Plan de l’Aiguille stage remains open until the 21st and then both stages will be closed 22nd to 27th May.

The Cosmiques hut remains open and can be accessed from the Torino.  The approach to the Grands Mulets hut is on foot from the valley floor.

 

The Planpraz lift will open temporarily to compensate for the closure of the Aig du Midi lift.  Note: the footpaths at this altitude are still not doable due to deep snow, (risk of slipping and snow slides).  

 

Report 14th May 2018

A quick conditions update, though the weather forecast for the coming week is not good:   

 

There has been a lot of activity since the last update but the conditions have changed following the recent snowfall together with winds at altitude.
Skis are still the best way to approach/ return from the routes.

Do not forget to contact the hut wardens to check that they are open and to make a reservation!

 

This morning, 14th May, there was between 5 to 20 cm of fresh snow between 2100 et 2700 m and an average of 30 cm above 3000 m. With the wind at altitude, expect drifting.

 

The following was done last week:

- Dômes de Miage, (walking now as far as the Tré la Tête)

- Arête Mettrier

- Mont Blanc by the 3 Monts and the Grands Mulets (ice is still present on the N ridge.)

- Contamine-Negri, Goulotte Chéré (little ice), M6 Solar, Pellissier et Gabarrou-Albinoni (crux pitch dry).

- Couloir Gervasutti on the Tour Ronde, the bergschrund goes on the true left.

- Traverses of the Pointes Lachenal, the Cosmiques and the Aiguilles Marbrées

- Activity also in the Argentière sector, (Swiss Route, Austrian route, Y Couloir….)  Due to work expected to last until Autumn, the approach via the Pierre à Ric and a part of Lognan-Plan Joran closed by local bye law. Please respect the restrictions in place.

 

- Ski touring still popular in the Mont Buet sector. It is necessary to walk as far as the Vordette bridge and then several sections above that.  An early start is essential!

 

- The road up to Emosson is now open, giving access to some good ski touring.

 

For hikers, there is still a lot of snow at mid altitudes.  Most of the paths above 2000m (S side) and 1700/1800m (N side) will not be practical for several weeks. (Grands Balcons North and South, lakes at altitude…) Also, as winter has only just ended some paths have not been re-equipped, (bridges, chains or ladders.) or simply  closed for work.
Check before you start.

 

Report 7th May 2018

There is not much to add to the last report, (24th April). The rope on the ridge down to the Valley Blanche will remain in place only until 10th May inclusive.

There was a build-up of windblown snow in the interior of the Mt Blanc massive following the bad weather 10 days ago.  With the return of hot weather last weekend, there is a risk of wet snow slides/avalanches, especially on the steeper slopes.

The Grands Mulets route up Mont Blanc is popular. The route up the N ridge of the Dome has 2 sections of ice, one of which is about 60m, requiring 2 axes, ice screws and “proper”, (steel) crampons.

Some people have skied the N face.

From the Cosmiques, the normal route on the Mt Blanc du Tacul has been skied.  Two parties left for the traverse of the 3 Monts on Monday morning.

The Whymper Couloir was climbed this morning (7th May).  The bergshrund on the right is technical, then snow in the couloir.

The Mallory on the N face of the Aig du Midi was skied at the weekend.

A mid altitudes the snow starts at 1800m (S facing) or 1700m (N facing).  The Grand Balcons, north and south, are not yet practical.

Report 24th April 2018

The latest update on conditions:

 

Spring has finally arrived in the valley along with a pleasant rise in temperature. The snows are receding up to 1400 m/1600 m depending on the aspect.  However, above 2000 m, the residual snow is 1 to 2 metres deep.  Do not be fooled by conditions in the valley floor.  The state of the hiking trails can be checked by looking at the webcams: https://www.montblancnaturalresort.com/en/webcams.

 

Snow shoeing remains possible if you are willing walk the first part and start early to avoid the heat of the day, (avalanche risk.)

 

The good weather has resulted in a lot of activity at altitude this week.  Approaching routes on foot is not yet practicable, skis being essential given the high temperatures.

 

Mont-Blanc:  The Grands Mulets route is popular: Skis on at the Plan de l’Aiguille, taking the higher track to reach the Jonction, which remains good for the moment.  The N ridge of the Dôme has some ice sections which require pitching, (2 technical axes, ice screws, good crampons). The 3 Monts traverse is tracked (good conditions, Tacul with skis and ski crampons, Maudit half on skis then on foot to the col, Mur de la Côte with crampons.)  The N Face of MB has been skied. The Aiguilles Grises route is tracked, (1 party), good conditions, crevasses closed, no ice on the traverse between the Piton des Italiens and the Dôme du Goûter.

 

Aiguille du Midi:  In addition to the comments in the last update, note that rock climbing has restarted on the S face of the Aig du Midi (Rebuffat).  The Jager Couloir looks to be dry.  The Valley Blanche remains feasible.  The ridge and the “Z” track are still equipped.  The snow is still OK but some of the snow bridges are weakening with the heat.  There is about 5 mins of walking to reach Montenvers. 

 

Tour Ronde:   North Face: The bergschrund is OK. The crux pitch up the narrows is hard, grey ice but protectable.  The snow on the exit pitches is inconsistent. The Gervasutti looks to have been skied several days ago.  There is a 20m abseil on the descent by the normal route.  Avoid being too late in the day, some stonefall has already been reported.

 

 Requin: the Brêche Puiseux and col du Tacul remain popular.

 

Charpoua: Verte - Y couloir in mediocre condition, the lower steps lacking ice and very difficult to protect.  The bergschrunds are complex, (lots of zig-zagging.)  It is only higher up in the true left branch that the snow is firm.

 

Couvercle: The hut approach is by the central couloir, (respect the time of day) and by the Pierre à Bérenger (which is starting to degrade.). There is regular activity in the Whymper Couloir, (not skied yet,) some ice at the exit.  On descent, either cross the bergschrund on the true left, (30m abseil) or well to the right.  Pointe Isabelle is popular. A party is to attempt the normal route on the Droites on 25/04.  Some activity on the Col de Talèfre.  NE of the Pierre à Joseph was skied 2 days ago.  

 

Argentière: The Lognan and Grands Montets cable cars, as well as the Argentière hut, close on the 1st May.  The Petite Aiguille Verte has been skied and climbed on foot by the normal route.  The Chevalier couloir has been descended, (1st third on foot, the lower two thirds skied, no problem with the bergschrund).

 

Aiguille Verte: has been climbed daily, by the Couturier Couloir, the “Z” route and one party by the Nant Blanc face, (see the route book). Les Droites: A party attempted the Legarde today, 24th, (awaiting news). Les Courtes: The Austrian Route has been done several times (see route book,) descending either on the Couvercle side or by the NE slope of the Dolent– voie Charlet Couturier (see route book). The Arête Gallet is tracked. Aiguille d’Argentière - Y Couloir climbed, small step at the bergschrund, exit by the right branch.

 

All the ski touring routes in this sector are in condition; col des Cristaux – d’Argentière – du Tour Noir – Glacier du Milieu (good footsteps in the snow leading up to the summit,) – 3 cols – Passon.

As well as this, rock climbing is slowly restarting behind the hut.  

 

Albert 1er: The hut is due to close at the end of the month. Chardonnet: The gullies are dry. The Eperon Migot has been done by one party, black ice throughout the route (complicated).  The normal route is in good condition, the crevasses on the shoulder glacier are filled in and the bergschrund is OK.

 

Aiguille du Tour: Normal route in good condition, Table Couloir a bit dry at the start, then good snow to the summit. There are no problems for the Cols Supérieur du Tour – du Midi des Grands.  Normal route on the Petite Fourche is in good condition.  It is still possible to descend all the way to La Tour village on skis.  

 

Aiguilles Rouges: In the Berard Valley there is skiable snow almost down to the Cascade Cafe.  The cols de Bérard, Salenton and the Buet are without problem, as long as one respects the time of day, (start between 5 to 6 am to get the Buet in good conditions.)

 

Have a good outing !

 

And a big thank you to all the people who contributed to the route book, thus allowing the Chamoniarde team to make more regular updates!

 

Report 17th April 2018

 A mixed bag of information from the latest reports received by Chamoniarde.  Be warned, despite the clear nights the slopes facing south or sheltered from the wind rapidly heat up in the warm weather.  For some routes, it is best to set off early from a hut than take the first lift.

Argentiere:  Very popular for ski touring.   For alpinists, the Couturier has a section of about 60m of ice. The Courtes NNE is OK. The Austrian route was done on Sunday with good snow, ski descent by the Cordier (Courtes).  The Swiss route does not look to be well formed.  The Petit Viking also is not properly formed.  There was an attempt on the Charlet Couturier gully.

Albert 1er Sector: the normal route and the Table Gully on the Tour have been done. Likewise, the Migot spur, but the Chardonnet gullies are dry

Couvercle: The Pointe Isabelle was done, and there was activity in the Whymper Couloir. (N.B. the hut telephone is 06.87.99.01.66)

Requin: The Brèche Puiseux and the Col du Tacul, (descending the Capucins glacier) are popular.  The gullies « Ice is nice » and, « Sorenson Eastman » have been climbed: ice not in good condition and the exit awkward!

Cosmiques: The Chéré is being  climbed each day but the ice is not good.  The Contamine Négri was climbed this morning (17/04), take care with holes hidden by the new snow.  Descent on ski by the Gervusutti Couloir, (jumped the bergschrund.) A party tracked Mont-Blanc du Tacul this morning, (17/04).  The Eugster diagonal on the N face of the Aig du Midi has been climbed, the start being fairly dry, then snow.

Grands Mulets: Good conditions up to the hut.  At the moment Mont Blanc is being done by the Petit and Grand Plateau. The N face has been skied.   The N ridge of the Dôme (which is going to be attempted tomorrow, 18/04) requires two axes, ice screws and needs pitching on the ice sections. From the Plan de l’Aiguille take the lower track to cross the Pélerins glacier.

Conscrits: There is about 1h30 of walking from Cugnon, before using skis.  It is recommended to cross the Mauvais Pas early in the day. Good conditions for the Dômes de Miage and the descent of the Armancette glacier to just below the Armancette lake.  The Aiguille de la Bérangère has been done there and back from the hut.  The Col des Glaciers and Mont Tondu has also seen activity.