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!