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Report 31 March 2018

Winter is still very much with us.

The recent lack of stable weather has made it difficult for alpinists.

 

Furthermore, there were frequent snow falls last week.  This morning, (31/03,) there was about 40cms of fresh snow at 3500m and 30cms at 2700m.  This snow fell at night following a foehn wind the day before. These strong winds will have caused some major drifting in places.

The avalanche risk remains 3/5, so take care this weekend 

 

Despite the capricious weather, ski touring remains popular.  This includes the Haute Route and the classics in the Aiguilles Rouges, the Argentiere sector, the Valley Blanche and the area near the Conscrits.

The Dômes de Miage , with a descent via the Armacette,  was done 26/03, (the Dômes ridge was airy.)  The Bérangère and Tondu are also tracked.
Mont Blanc was tracked on Sunday (25/03) as far as the Plateaux, descent by the N face in bad snow conditions, (hard and windblown).  The Junction is in good condition.

 

The high mountain huts are slowly opening.  Do not forget to contact the warden to make a reservation and check on the latest conditions.
The snow quality is very variable, depending on the sector.
The Couvercle and Conscrits are open. For Grands Mulets and Albert 1er, contact the wardens first to check if they will be there, (and so                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 that they can prepare a warm welcome.)

 

There has been a little bit of activity in the gullies but in general they not properly formed and conditions are awkward. No information for the Argentière N faces.

 

It is still possible, (walking in one or two places below the farm) to descend the Valley Blanche right down to Chamonix.

 

No changes in conditions for snow shoeing. One can start from the valley floor but below 1500m you are probably better off with good boots, poles and, maybe, walking crampons.

 

Further information is available in the Chamoniarde                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      online route book, and you are invited to add your own experiences there.

 

Report 16th March 2018

March has been decidedly capricious and does not likely to change in the coming days.

 

The snow fall at altitude was significant with about a metre of snow settling at 2500m at the beginning of the week.  This was followed by a beautiful day, then a period of strong foehn conditions.

The wind gusts at altitude were over 140km/h at times, causing drifting. Given the general conditions this winter it is important to stay vigilant.


The Valley Blanche was skied on Wednesday and again today (Friday), some people reported there was” too much snow”. A very high level of skiing ability is essential.

 

Concerning the gullies; at last, some information:
- Pas d'Agonie 1 on the Rognon was OK but with a lot of snow at the exit.
- Mercier-Lucena on the Pointes Lachenal was also OK

- The Chéré was climbed but no further information.
- Pas d'Agonie 2 and 3 appeared to be climbable.

 

The season for ice climbing on the cascades is coming to an end, although conditions at the Cascade de Bérard, the Crèmerie and Déferlante remain OK for the moment.  One should remember that it is now the second half of March.  

 

Ski touring is still the main activity for the moment.  

The tunnel at Emosson is impassable, (blocked by snow).
The season for the Haute Route is starting, but with the bad weather, there have been no reports yet.

The Argentière hut is open.

The Conscrits hut was due to open this weekend but this has now been delayed for several days.

 

Snow shoeing remains practicable in the Bérard Valley, les Granges, Loriaz, Samoteux, Chailloux, Prarion, Les Ayères...
The footpaths along the valley floor are mostly accessible but good boots and hiking poles are essential and possibly also crampons.

 

Given the number of phone calls and emails the Chamoniarde has received, it is felt that a clarification is needed concerning hiking.
Though Spring has arrived in the plains, this is not the case in the mountains.

 

It has been a hard winter with large quantities of snow still present at altitude.  Hiking above 2000m is not an option and is unlikely to be so before the end of May and even then, not on all trails.

 

Unless there is a particularly warm, sunny, Spring, the lakes at altitude, like Lac Blanc or the Grands Balcons Nord and Sud will not be practicable during the Easter holidays nor the May bank holidays.  The lifts at Brévent-Flégère remain open until 23rd April and the change from winter to summer does not happen in the blink of an eye.


The same applies to the Tour des Aiguilles Rouges and the Tour du Mont Blanc where complete autonomy and the correct equipment is essential. Signposts and waymarks may be buried, and snowfields hard packed.

Most of the huts will not open before mid-June.
Other hikes are possible, so you may need to modify your plans..  Consider getting advice before and during your trip.

 

As usual, the Chamoniarde asks you to give them feedback on your outings/experiences

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Report 8 March 2018

The recent, unsettled weather has prevented activity at altitude, where there have been significant snowfalls together with strong winds.

 

On the morning of 8th March there was about 60 to 70cmsof fresh snow above 2500m, the wind remaining strong from the W/SW in the high mountain, causing drifts.

 

There have been virtually no reports received since the last update.

 

Some ski tours will be possible during breaks in the weather, but the selection of routes will be limited. It is necessary to adapt to the daily conditions and use the information from B.E.R.A.

 

The Valley Blanche was skied on 08-03, lots of fresh snow but no other information.

 

No recent information about ice climbing.

 

The signposted trails for snow shoeing are accessible, though remain with hard snow or ice in places.  For the most part, snow shoes are only useful to stop slips.  Good boots, poles and even crampons are often more suitable.

 

Some high mountain huts will open soon for the ski touring season. The "refuges" page has the dates.

 

Please do not forget to write up your outings in the Chamoniarde route book (cahier de courses") or your observations on conditions in the online app "Obsalp".

Report 2nd March 2018

The very cold conditions at the start of the week gave way to warmer weather together with strong winds and a couple of centimetres of new snow.

On Friday 2nd March about 20cms of fresh snow fell at 2000 / 2500m and 40cms at the Aig du Midi. The wind is still present above 2000m, causing snow drifts.

The new information received since the last update:

Ski touring remains the main activity, with a good cover of snow, though the conditions are now very variable.

 

Brèche Puiseux was in good condition on 26-02.   There is a rope in place at the col.  
Two 60m abseils are necessary to descend from the Col du Tacul to the Capucin glacier.

 

Information on other activities at altitude are anecdotal.

The Aiguille Verte was climbed on 27-02, up the Couturier and down the Whymper.  More information in the OHM route book , in which you are invited to record your own outings.

The gullies remain very dry.  However, the Pellissier on the Pointes Lachenal was done on 27-02, friable ice at the start then sections of dry.  Another party was on M6 Solar, where the conditions were not good.

Claire Chazal was done om 25/02, no further information.  

 

The Valley Blanche is OK but take care as the recent snow will have hidden some of the crevasses.  It is still possible to ski to Chamonix, with only a couple of walking sections on the descent from Les Mottets.

 

Cogne remains popular for ice climbing, the options being limited in the Chamonix valley.

On the Argentière true left bank, (rive gauche), Déferlante is OK but Mini Couloir is “grise mine”, (rock hard grey ice).
The ice climbing venue at Bérard is OK.

 

The snow on Friday will have improved conditions for snow shoeing.  A lot of the trails had become very icy, better suited to crampons than snow shoes!  

 

The Cosmiques hut is now open.  The Simond bivouac is no longer accessible.

The Argentière hut should open on 9th March, the Albert 1er on 17th March and the Grands Mulets on 27th March, to be confirmed, depending on the weather.

Link to the latest   B.E.R.A.

Report 21 February 2018

Latest mountain information :

 

Ski touring remains the main activity despite some bad weather at the end of last week. The snow/rain limit went as high as 2300m, with a lot of fresh snow above this.

 

The avalanche risk remains at 3/5 and not all the classic tours have been retraced yet. Caution is still needed.  The snow remains cold on the north facing slopes but is beginning to transform on those facing south. 

 

 

Argentière Sector : the cols du Passon, du Tour Noir, du Chardonnet (3 Cols) and d'Argentière are tracked.  The Glacier du Milieu is tracked up until the base of the final slopes, (20/02).  No information for the north faces or gullies in this sector.

 

Mer de Glace Sector:  the Valley Blanche has been popular these last few days. Conditions are mainly good but it still for expert skiers only.  The crest of the ridge and the “Z” track are equipped.  Take care selecting the correct way into the “Salle a Manger” area. The descent to Chamonix via Les Mottets is still very good, despite some sections with poor snow cover,

The exit from the Pas de Chevre is awkward, with a lot of stonefall once the sun hits it.  One is advised not to do this route.

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The Col du Tacul, the Brèche Puiseux and the way up to the Couvercle hut are tracked.
The Talèfre basin looks to be OK. As to be expected, there is a bergschrund at the base of the Whymper.

 

Aiguilles Rouges : a popular sector. The Bérard valley has hard snow/ice but goes OK.  The Buet is tracked.  

 

There has been very little activity concerning “classic” alpinism or the gullies.  Only ascents of the Cosmiques Ridge and the Chéré couloir have been reported.  For the Chéré, the first two pitches are more technical than usual, (difficult to place ice screws due to the ice being too thin or too hard.)  Conditions improve above this.

 

The snow on the marked paths for snow shoers tends to be very hard/icy. Though OK, snow shoes or crampons + poles are essential.

 

 

Report 6th February 2018

Since the last update, there was snowfall on 2nd February of about 30cms at 2000m.

Ski touring has since been very popular in the Argentière, Tour and Aiguilles Rouges sectors.

Chamoniarde has received the following information:

- when descending the true left bank of the Tour Glacier, (e.g. from the Col du Passon), it is best to exit to the right, (below the glacier.)

- Valley Blanche conditions:  the snow quality is bad, (crusty / corrugated).  The wind has caused numerous crevasses to reappear, often partially hidden by “cock’s combs”, (icy ridges.)

- at the entry into the “salle à manger” under the Requin hut, there is a particularly treacherous crevasse, take care! 

- there are now 2 ropes installed on the Aig du Midi ridge and the descent with crampons goes well. The « Z » track is still under construction.