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Report 10 January 2019

MOUNTAIN CONDITIONS 10/01/2019

Though large amounts of snow have fallen in Eastern Europe, we are still waiting for conditions to significantly change in the Western alps.

The last snowfall gave 20cms of light snow at 2000m, improving conditions both on and off piste, (take care the underlying base is hard.)

Ski touring is popular, despite the variable snow depths.  Ski crampons remain essential.  Still some walking for Loriaz and Bel Oiseau.  In the Contamines Montjoie valley, the roman road is bare ice, (crampons.).

The wind over the last few days has caused drifting, especially in the high mountain.  Do not forget to check the weather forecast and avalanche risk before each outing.

More snow is forecast for this weekend.

In the high mountain conditions the faces and gullies remain extremely dry. Patience needed!

Ice Climbing: The right and left banks of the Argentiere glacier are OK but the Cremerie and Berard still do not have much ice.

With the lack of snow, the signposted snow shoe tracks are accessible for walkers. Lightweight crampons could be useful, even essential in some places, together with good boots and hiking poles. This should allow one to walk up to 1500m without too much problem. 

Be warned that despite the lack of snow the paths at higher altitude, such as the Grand Balcons or to the Lakes, are not feasible for hikers or snow shoers. 

Report 4th January 2019

MOUNTAIN CONDITIONS 04/012019

 

The period of high pressure continues, meaning the conditions have not improved since the last update. 

The snow remains very hard (concrete), both on the piste and beyond.

Ski touring continues in the same sectors : Bel Oiseau and Loriaz (some walking), Mont Buet/ Col de Bérard (thin snow cover and patchy lower in the valley), Aiguillette des Posettes via Ardoisières, from the Index/Flégère (Crochues-Bérard, Col des Dards, Col du Bélvédère, Col de Beugeant), Lacs Noirs et Aiguille de la Glière from Cornu, Aiguillette des Houches from the Brévent, Argentière  sector (via Grands-Montets,) Col du Passon there and back, Col du Chardonnet, Col du Tour Noir, Col d'Argentière).

Though the above routes are not very technical, even the easiest amongst them are not currently suitable for beginners because of the difficult snow conditions, (risk of falling both in ascent and descent). Good technique, sharp edges and ski crampons are essential.

Of the signposted ski touring routes, only the one at La Tour is in reasonable condition (and even this requires ski crampons.) 

Conditions for snow shoeing are not favourable, (poor snow cover, hard snow.)  Nonetheless, it is possible to go up to the Loriaz chalets or do a loop at the Prarion summit.  Most of the paths signposted by the Compagnie du Mont Blanc are open:  Aiguillette des Posettes from the Vallorcine ski bubbles and the Autannes loop (Balme domain,) Index loop and the Raverettaz (Flégère domain.).

Hiking is possible in the valley up to about 1500m, (Petit Balcon sud, the Floria, cabane du Cerro. The paths have hard snow or ice, (good boots, hiking poles and small crampons necessary.)  It is possible to venture as far as Chapeau buvette, the Loriaz chalets, (both open), or the Chailloux chalets.

Conditions for ice climbing have improved these last few days thanks to the cold spell.  No precise details, but there are possibilities at Trient, (Odeyi, les Pétoudes), Argentière (Crèmerie, Left and right banks):  Risk of overcrowding.  The Loriaz and Picheu icefalls look to be formed.

In the high mountain, activity is limited to the Marbrées traverse and Cosmiques Ridge, (possible to avoid last summer’s rock fall area by going directly up the gully to the right of the Cosmiques Spur,) There are some other possibilities e.g. Chéré, Burnier Vogler, Pélissier, though these are very dry.

There is more precise information in the Chamoniarde Route Book.

Report 21 December 2018

Some information for the start of the winter season.

 

The Chamonix Ski Domain:

The Aiguille du Midi cable car, the Montenvers train and all of the Tour-Vallorcine  ski area are open from Saturday onwards.  There is plenty of snow above 1300m and conditions for skiing and snow shoeing are good. 

 

The Grands Montets cable car will be closed for the season, making the top of the Bochard lift the upper limit of the secured ski area.  The “Point de Vue” and “Pylones” pistes will not be opened, this season, making this a high mountain area.  This area will not be signposted, checked for hazards or have safety patrols. Despite rumours to the contrary, there will not be a secured ski touring track put in place giving access to this area.

 

Though the Midi lift is open, it is still too early to ski the Vallee Blanche (weak snow bridges).

 

The Loriaz hut opens this weekend, the Lognan hut is foreseen to open on Christmas day.

 

The forecast for the next few days is for warm, damp weather with the snow/rain limit around 2000m. Above this be aware of accumulated snow with the associated avalanche risk.

 

Ski touring is feasible above 1500m, for example, the Col de Cicle, Col des Dards, Bel Oiseau, Col du Passon, and Col du Tour Noir.  No precise information for the Berard valley but it is possible to ski back to the road.

 

No news for the alpinists, conditions appear to be still desperately dry, (Argentière sector, Chardonnet etc.).

Some of the icefalls are formed at Cogne.  (N.B. the Money sector is closed because of a nesting bearded vulture,) and Valsavarenche.

 

Report 15th November 2018

A quick update before the weekend:

The snow continues to recede on the lower slopes. There should be no problem when hiking below 2500m on the south side and 2000m on the north side.  The paths under the cables of the Plan Joran lift are closed by local council order from 20th to 30th November.  The paths under the cables of the

Plan de l'Aiguille lift are also closed, (the only access is via Blaitière)

It remains feasible to climb in the Aiguilles Rouges, though it is getting significantly colder.  The approach is on foot because all the lifts in the valley are closed, except for the Montenvers train.

No recent information received for the high mountain, though it seems there has been some activity around the Aiguille du Tour. No information for the mixed routes.  

There is partial opening in nearby ski resorts in Switzerland, (Verbier, Zermatt, Saas Fee) and Italy (Cervinia, Monterosa Ski). Ski touring is also possible in some of the valleys (e.g. Valgrisenche, Valtournenche...). Here in Chamonix one needs to wait a bit more before getting out the skis.

Report 28 October 2018

Some brief information for this (French) holiday week.

The forecast is for bad weather for most of the week, (rain/snow, strong winds and poor visibility.) Already yesterday 30cms of snow fell above 2000m.  

Unlike at the beginning of this autumn, conditions for hiking are no longer ideal. The paths are greasy and with snow above 1800m, the way is often hidden. Therefore, the higher paths are reserved for experienced hikers, (with good boots and sticks.) Treks over several days are no longer really feasible.

The paths beneath the lift cables up to the Plan de l'Aiguille are provisionally closed by council order until 31 December.

Both the weather and conditions do not favour high mountain activity, (mixed routes very dry and the rock climbs plastered.)

Report 15th October 2018

Despite numerous phone calls and agreeable weather there has been very little information received concerning conditions.

It would appear there has been regular activity around the Aiguille du Tour, Tête Blanche and Petite Fourche. The Chardonnet is still a long way from being feasible.

At the other end of the range, there have been some parties on the Aiguille de la Bérangère and the Col des Dômes, where the glacier is heavily crevassed at the end of this season.


Mont Blanc by the Gouter, (normal route), is still being done; conditions are good.


Also, there is activity in the Torino sector, e.g. Aiguilles Marbrées and Entrèves.
There has been a strong foehn wind these last few days and the rocks are likely to be plastered in some places along the France/Italy border. No information about the Rochefort ridge other than the cornice has collapsed recently.


The beautiful autumnal weather has encouraged a lot of hikers.


It should be possible to climb on the Envers des Aiguilles and the north side of the Aiguilles de Chamonix, despite a bit of snow in places. The footpaths up to Montenvers are closed, except from Plan de l'Aiguille or the de Blaitière chalets, (there and back).


For those who like the sun, the Aiguilles Rouges are accessible either from the Flégère lift or a bit of walking.  The Brévent  council order closure is still in force.


Please send Chamoniarde reports on your outings.  All information is most appreciated at this quiet time of the year.