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Report 29 May 2017

The latest information following the good weather over the Ascension holiday weekend.


With the recent high temperatures, the snow has been rapidly melting at the mid altitudes.  Nonetheless, there is still a lot of snow above 2200 / 2300m.   

With good mountain boots and walking poles, the Cheserys lakes are now accessible.  However, the paths to Lac Blanc remain snowbound.  Though some lakes are beginning to reappear, (e,g. Jovet lakes),  most are still covered

The bigger hiking objectives, such as Mont Buet or the “Jonction”, are still not feasible .
The snow starts at around 1700m in the Berard valley.  The Albert 1er hut is best approached from Vormaine via the moraine, the snow starting some 50m below the hut. There is still far too much snow to traverse in from Charmillion

People are starting to walk the Grand Balcon Nord. Careful, there are some large patches of hard snow and one needs to be properly equipped.  The path from Chamonix to the Plan de l’Aiguille is OK but the Pré du Rocher path is not.
No particular problems for the Bellachat and the Aiguillette des Houches.

Conditions are improving for the Tour du Mont Blanc but the right equipment remains essential. 

The ski touring season is virtually over at mid altitudes, though there are still some possibilities in the Emosson dam area, (Pointe de la Terrasse – Pointe des Charmoz).
Following the several days of hot weather, skiing the Valley Blanche is no longer to be recommended.

In the high mountain there has also been a rise in temperatures and the rock routes are becoming free of snow. (Respect the time of day and the limited re-freezing.)


- Les Conscrits: The Dômes de Miage and the Aiguille de la Bérangère remain popular. The ski touring has basically finished in this sector. The traverse of the Bionnassay was done in generally good conditions.


- Plan Glacier: No problems for the approach from the Chalets de Miage. The Mettrier ridge intergral was done recently.  The lower part was dry, conditions improved afterwards.
With better re-freezing, the Dômes de Miage N Face should come into condition; there is very little bare ice at the moment. The approach to the Durier hut via the Lancherons is tracked and nearly all on snow.

- Mont Blanc: the Italian route via Gonella is tracked and in good condition.  The Tournette Spur was done on 25/05 in generally good conditions. The Gouter route is also being done (the train and cable car remain closed).  Respect the time of day for crossing the Grand couloir.
3 Monts from the Cosmiques is tracked, conditions good, but still with a bit of ice at the Mont Maudit col.
Parties are continuing to ski the Grands Mulets route, (by the N ridge of the Dome and the Plateaux). The N Face of Mont Blanc is still being skied.  Conditions for the traverse of the Jonction are worsening, with some fragile snow bridges. It is now necessary to carry the skis in several places to reach the Plan de l’Aiguille.

- Plan de l’Aiguille:  Eugster Diagonal and Frendo Spur (left exit) have been climbed, no further information.  Likewise, for the Papillons Arete.


- Cosmiques: Climbing on the Tacul Triangle including the Contamine Négri, (quite a lot of ice,) the Grisolle and the Chéré. Start early and check the freezing conditions!  The Laurence Arete, the Cosmiques Arete and the traverse of the Pointes Lachenal are all in good condition.
The rock routes exposed to the sun are free of snow, except on the larger ledges.


- Torino: generally good conditions except for the gullies and the normal route on the Tour Ronde. The Diables Ridge has been climbed despite still having a lot of snow.


- Requin: There is about 1h30 of walking to reach Montenvers and the Brèche Puiseux is no longer recommended, (ice/rock in the middle).  The Requin hut is reached by the ladders. The way back up to the Aiguille du Midi is OK but beware of fragile snow bridges.


- Couvercle: approach by the Egralets. Parties have climbed the Whymper and the Col Armand Charlet. The normal route on the Droites looks feasible.  The traverse from the NE of the Courtes has been done. Descent of the Talèfre face by the Col des Droites OK.  A party has done the Couturier, some sections of ice but mostly good by keeping to the right, (looking upwards). Snow shoes useful for the approaches.  It is too early for the rock routes in this sector.


- Argentière: No further information other than the Couturier and NE of the Courtes mentioned above.

- Albert 1er: Good conditions for the normal route on the Aiguille du Tour despite the poor re-freezing. The Migot Spur and the Forbes Ridge look to be in condition.

- Good conditions reported for Mont Dolent, normal route and the Gallet ridge.

The Via Corda on the Rochers des Mottets has not been re-equipped after being vandalised for a second time last year. The Via Corda at Argentiere, (opened July 2016,) provides an alternative.

Report 16th May 2017

Here is the latest news of what has been happening during this spell of good weather.  Following the series of snowfalls, skis or snow shoes are necessary in the high mountain.  Temperatures are rising significantly and conditions are changing rapidly.  Be warned, avalanches are likely, (especially in the afternoon,) on susceptible slopes that have not yet purged.

 

Mont Blanc was climbed yesterday by the Grands  Mulets.  The Jonction is good on skis.  On the N ridge of the Dôme, the ice is never far from the surface, despite the recent snow, (technical axe and good crampons, with parties short roping.)   The Mont Blanc N face has been skied.  Parties left this morning on skis for the ascent by the Trois Monts.  No news concerning the normal route, (Gouter).

Cosmiques Sector: the Cosmiques ridge, Lolo (Laurence?) ridge and Pointes Lachenal traverse have been done.  The approaches to these routes are tracked and accessible on foot.  On the Tacul Triangle, the Chere couloir has inevitably been climbed. Yesterday, a party climbed the Contamine Négri and skied down the Gervasutti couloir, (no info on conditions.)  The Gervasutti Pillar at the Tour Ronde was climbed. (N.B. the Skyway Monte Bianco closed this week until 19th May inclusive.)
Conscrits Sector: the skiing starts at the glacier.  This morning the Domes de Miage and Mont Tondu were tracked. The Col des Glaciers was done yesterday, skiing down by the Dôme de Neige.
Plan Glacier Sector: skiing starts around 2000m on the approach to the hut.  The N face of the Domes was tracked and skied on Sunday, (the skiing started 50m below the summit due to a lack of snow at the top of the face.)

Couvercle Sector:  three choices for the approach to the hut, by the ladders, by the central couloir, (dry low down) or by the Pierre à Bérenger. Lots of avalanches have been seen in the area.  This morning, parties left for the Whymper Couloir and the col de Talèfre.

No information for the Albert 1er and Argentière sectors.  These huts are not staffed and the lifts are closed.

 

For Hikers: the S facing slopes below 2000m are mainly dry but above this there is plenty of snow.  On the N facing slopes the snow level is much lower with deep snow at 2000m.  Check the altitude of your proposed hike and adapt your equipment accordingly.  The mountain lakes remain snow covered.  The hiking season is only just starting, patience needed.

 

 

Report 13th May 2017

Since the May 5th update, it has snowed at altitude together with winds from the S/SW.  The rain/snow limit was about 2500m. This morning, Saturday, the Chamonix Aiguilles are plastered with snow following last night’s precipitations, (without wind.) 
As stated in the last update, the hiking remains feasible up to 1900m for the N facing and 2000m for the S facing slopes.
Concerning ski touring, there has been activity in the Emosson area since the opening of the road up to the dam, e.g. Pointe de la Terrasse, Cheval Blanc.
The Couvercle, Conscrits, Grands Mulets, Requin, Albert 1er and Plan de l’Aiguille huts are open.  It is recommended to telephone in advance. See http://www.chamoniarde.com/?page_id=57 for the contact details.

Report 5 May 2017

Bad weather fronts are following one after another and dumping snow down to 2000 / 2200m, sometimes lower.
This morning, Friday, there was about 30cm of fresh snow at the Plan de l’Aiguille (2207m) and 70 to 80cms at the at Grands Mulets hut, (3051m.)
The windows of good weather are very short, making it difficult to find suitable alpine objectives.

Some routes though, like the Pointes Lachenal or the Cosmiques Arete, remain feasible.  

No news concerning the gullies, though the Chéré on the Triangle du Tacul looks possible.  The new snow has not been enough to compensate for the underlying dry conditions.

The normal route on the Tacul is not feasible for the moment due to the high avalanche risk.

For the moment, only the Aiguille du Midi, Montenvers and Skyway (Italy) lifts are running.  The approach to the other areas, for example; the Argentière sector or the Tour glacier, is on foot from the valley.  

With the regular snow falls, the upper part of the Valley Blanche is generally in good condition. However, some of the snow bridges are fragile and are masked by the recent snow, as are some of the crevasses. Care is needed.  The Col du Tacul was tracked this morning (Friday), with no further information about the descent by the Capucin glacier,

The Mont Blanc was done this morning by the Dôme N Ridge and by the Plateaus route. Despite all the new snow, the ice is never far away, especially on the N ridge.

The N face has been skied recently, no further information


Also, no information concerning Mont Buet. There is a good hour’s walking up the Berard valley before one can put on skis. 
The Emosson road opened this evening, Friday 5th May, giving skiers access to the tours starting from the dam.  

For hikers, conditions above 1800 / 2000m remain difficult.  It is essential to be well equipped, (good boots, crampons, poles etc,) and avoid travelling too “light”.   

Even by midday, the snow can still be frozen, presenting a real danger of sliding for the inexperienced or badly equipped.
For hikes below this altitude, there are no obvious problems.


The path maintenance workforce has started for the summer season, but it is still early days, so do not be surprised about the state of certain paths. The Merlet footbridge is in place and can be approached from Les Montquarts.  It is not advised to continue towards Bellachat. However, the Aiguillette des Houches is accessible via the Chailloux chalets.

During this interseasonal period, there a certain amount of ongoing forestry work, resulting in some footpaths being closed.  Please see: http://www.chamoniarde.com/?p=45 for more information.

Report 28th April 2017

For last few days it felt as if winter was back. First there was rain, then it snowed down to the valley base, and this together with strong winds at altitude.

 

The change in conditions means the avalanche risk above 2000m is now 3/5.  Regardless of the activity undertaken, one needs to be very cautious this weekend.

For several days, there has been little action in the mountains. Here is the latest information from the hut wardens
There was between 5 and 10cms of snow at the valley floor, about 50cms, very windblown at 2500/3000m and up to 80cms higher up.
Drifting has affected some areas and certain slopes appear to be “loaded”.  The tracks to the routes have disappeared.

The Lognan and Gd Montets lifts, as well as the Argentière hut, will close after May 1st.  
Concerning the Valley Blanche, the “Z” path has been dismantled and only the crest of the ridge remains equipped.  Caution is needed, especially at the level of the “Salle à Manger”, where the snow bridges, already fragile, are masked by the new snow.  It is still necessary to walk a little to reach Montenvers.
For hikers and “trailers” there should not be any problems below about 1300/1500m. For example, the Petits Balcons N and S, the Floria and the Chapeau chalet are feasible. The Chailloux chalets, the Loriaz hut, the Lac Vert and the Prarion, even if a bit higher, are also accessible.

Above this, the conditions are tricky, with a real risk of sliding or falling.  Avoid travelling to “light” and modify your plans and equipment to meet the prevailing conditions. 

Report 22nd April 2017

Some updates for the massive:


No major changes for the hikers. The altitude limit for safe walking remains at 2000m, (S facing) and 1800m (N facing). It will take several weeks before the higher trails are in condition, for example to the lakes, (still under snow) and the Grand Balcons, N&S.  
At altitude, the recent wind and low temperatures have hardened the snow and caused drifting in places.  Caution is advised.

  
- Albert 1er Sector: 
The best approach is by the moraine, skiing starting/finishing at the level of the water intake.  The normal routes on the Aiguille du Tour, the Tête Blanche and the Petite Fourche are being done. The Table Couloir has a rocky section low down and is being climbed on foot. The 3 cols, the Forbes Arete and the Migot Spur are in condition.  The party on the Migot descended by the Forbes Arete, but the normal descent route on the Chardonnet looks OK.  


- Argentière Sector: 
Ski touring remains popular in this area, but conditions are slowly deteriorating, notably for the Passon, where the moraine presents problems. Crampons/ice axe and ski crampons are necessary for certain routes.  The Y couloir has been done, but the bergschrund is awkward.
The snow is thinning on the Courtes NE and the Col des Cristaux.
The lower part of the Lagarde Gully is no longer in condition and parties have turned back.
The Vivagel and Bettembourg/Charlet gullies have been climbed recently, albeit proving more difficult than normal.
Mont Dolent has been climbed from La Fouly by the Gallet ridge and the normal route, (about 30mins of walking).  

- Couvercle/Mer de Glace Sector:
The Y Couloir on the Verte was done on 21st April.  Conditions OK, but with some deep snow in the gully.  Exit by the left branch on granular snow, then hard neve on the ridge. In descent, the Whymper has plenty of snow, though take care near the top as the ice is not far away.
Good track on the Talèfre glacier, crampons needed to descend the “central” couloir.  Approach by the Egralets is also possible.
The normal routes on the Droites and Courtes are in condition. Nobody has been to the Pointe Isabelle for the moment.  Aiguille de Talèfre N face is very dry.

- Requin/Torino/Cosmiques:
The Valley Blanche is still being done by the classic route, as well as by the Little and Middle, (true VB), Envers.  Conditions OK as far as the Requin hut, then care needed, with weak snow bridges crossing Salle à Manger and 30 mins walking to reach the ice caves below Montenvers. The Valley Noire, (Italian side), is still doable.  

Near the Torino; the Dent du Géant, Rochefort Arete, Aiguilles Marbrées, Entreves and Toule are being done.  On the Tour Ronde some parties have climbed the SE Ridge, and the Rebuffat and Gervasutti gullies.  The N face is dry but feasible. Rock climbing on the Tacul satellites is also possible.
The normal route on the Grandes Jorasses has been done recently in reasonable conditions.

Near the Cosmiques; the Laurence ridge, the Cosmiques ridge and the traverse of the Pointes Lachenal, (some ice) are being done.  
Concerning the gullies, most of the activity is on the Chéré and the Contamine-Mazeaud.  The Gabarrou-Albinoni and Pellissier are also being climbed, albeit in very dry conditions, (set of Friends advisable.)

The 3 Monts is tracked, no further information, other than there are sections of bare ice, making it unsuitable for a “light” ascent.  Col du Plan gully, Eugster Diagonal and Mallory-Porter have been climbed recently in generally good conditions.


- Grands Mulets:
Mont Blanc is being climbed either by the Plateaux or N ridge of the Dôme. There are still passages of ice on the N ridge, requiring good equipment and technical ability. The approach from the Plan de l’Aiguille to the hut is OK.  The descent from the summit by the N face no longer looks feasible due to ice.
For those tempted to start from the Tunnel entrance, (roadhead), there is at least 600m height gain, then hard neve, requiring crampons rather than skis with ski crampons, to reach the Gare des Glaciers.

- Conscrits:
No major changes, it is a on foot as far as the glacier then good conditions for the rest of the approach to the hut. The Mont Tondu, Bérangère, Dômes de Miage traverse are being done. Still some ice on the Domes traverse. It is possible to ski down the Armancette until about 1900m. The Mettrier Ridge is very dry.  The Bionnassay ridge is tracked, no further information.

 
In the Aiguilles Rouges; the Flégère lifts are closed and the Planpraz lift closes at 13h on Sunday, 23rd April.
Mont Buet and the cols in this area remain accessible, with about 45mins of carrying your skis in the Berard valley.

With the good weather, there will certainly be a lot of activity this weekend. The Chamoniarde ( http://www.chamoniarde.com/?page_id=1857&lang=en ), looks forward to receiving your reports.