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Report 25th January 2019

The high pressure since the last update has resulted in stable but very cold weather.  The region was not affected by the bad weather elsewhere on Wednesday.  There has been a cold wind since Thursday, causing windslab in places and probably large snow drifts at altitude.

Ski touring and ice climbing remain the main activities for the moment.  The winter mountaineering season has not really started yet, the routes are still very dry. 

 

Ski touring: touring possibilities throughout the Mont Blanc range, (Aiguilles Rouges – Argentière sector - Requin sector – Col de la Forclaz – Loriaz sector …..) Possible to start skiing from 1000m, (cover initially poor, but good above 1500m.)  Take ski crampons because certain passages have been stripped down to hard ice/snow by the wind (ridges, cols.)

Ice climbing: Lots of activity last week in the following sectors: Trient (Pétoudes and Barre des Charcotins), Argentière (left and right banks) and Crèmerie.  A rope was seen on the Sainte Marie Viaduc icefall.  The lines looked to be formed at the Col des Montets (Barre du Chenavier) but no more information.  The Loriaz icefall looks to be well formed. In the Aosta valley, conditions remain unchanged from the last update, (19th Jan).

Valley Blanche: the ridge is now partially equipped, with a rope on the crest, (very hard snow.)  The “Z” track is not yet in place.  The current conditions require a good level of ski ability.  The run down to Chamonix (via the Mottets,) remains OK.

 

With regards to the re-opening of the Plan Praz lift. this should open on Sunday 27th January.  However, check the CMB site for the latest information as it might open already during the day on the Saturday.  It always remains possible to reach the Brevent ski area from the Flégère cable car.

 

Winter Hiking: the valley floor paths are icy, foresee using walking crampons.  The signposted snow shoe trails at mid-altitude, (prepared by the Mont Blanc Company) are proving popular as they have plenty of snow.  Those in the valley floor, (prepared by council, Communauté de communes,) have enough, albeit compacted, snow.

 

Report 19th January 2019

MOUNTAIN CONDITIONS 19/01/2019

The bad weather the previous weekend, together with that on Thursday, has greatly improved the skiing conditions. The amount of snow fallen varies from one sector to another, for example there is less snow at Vallorcine.

The ski domains are in near perfect condition; blue skies, well prepared pistes and not too many people.  However, still take care, particularly in controlling one’s speed.  Also check the bulletin on the Compagnie du Mont Blanc site to see what is open!!

Good conditions for ski touring, though the snow quality can be unreliable, (wind slab in places,) and there are still snow some icy patches away from the snow bowls.  (This can also mean a hard base with rocks just below the surface in some areas.)  It is now possible to put on the skis directly from the valley start.

All the Aiguilles Rouges classics, (Col de la Terrasse, Mont Buet, Col de Beugeant, Col des Dards & du Belvédère, Crochues-Bérard, Brèche de Bérard, Col de la Floria, Col de la Glière, Aiguillette des Houches) and in the Argentière sector, (Col du Passon, Col du Chardonnet there and back, Col du Tour Noir) are tracked.

Concerning the Aiguille du Midi, the ridge is still not equipped (only some stakes in place).  It is still early season, crevasse danger. There are some exposed rocks on the Mer de Glace but the following ski back down to Chamonix is good. The Mottets Buvette is open for the season, as is the Requin hut.

Ice climbing is possible in the usual sectors: Trient (Pétoudes), Argentière (left and right banks, Crémerie) and Les Contamines. In the Aosta valley, the icefalls below 1800m are not well formed.  However, the lack of snow means those higher up are more easily accessible than usual.

 No information concerning the mixed routes; still not in condition!!!

Lastly, conditions for snow shoeing, ski du fond and winter hiking are good.

Report 19th January 2019

MOUNTAIN CONDITIONS 19/01/2019

The bad weather the previous weekend, together with that on Thursday, has greatly improved the skiing conditions. The amount of snow fallen varies from one sector to another, for example there is less snow at Vallorcine.

The ski domains are in near perfect condition; blue skies, well prepared pistes and not too many people.  However, still take care, particularly in controlling one’s speed.  Also check the bulletin on the Compagnie du Mont Blanc site to see what is open!!

Good conditions for ski touring, though the snow quality can be unreliable, (wind slab in places,) and there are still snow some icy patches away from the snow bowls.  (This can also mean a hard base with rocks just below the surface in some areas.)  It is now possible to put on the skis directly from the valley start.

All the Aiguilles Rouges classics, (Col de la Terrasse, Mont Buet, Col de Beugeant, Col des Dards & du Belvédère, Crochues-Bérard, Brèche de Bérard, Col de la Floria, Col de la Glière, Aiguillette des Houches) and in the Argentière sector, (Col du Passon, Col du Chardonnet there and back, Col du Tour Noir) are tracked.

Concerning the Aiguille du Midi, the ridge is still not equipped (only some stakes in place).  It is still early season, crevasse danger. There are some exposed rocks on the Mer de Glace but the following ski back down to Chamonix is good. The Mottets Buvette is open for the season, as is the Requin hut.

Ice climbing is possible in the usual sectors: Trient (Pétoudes), Argentière (left and right banks, Crémerie) and Les Contamines. In the Aosta valley, the icefalls below 1800m are not well formed.  However, the lack of snow means those higher up are more easily accessible than usual.

 No information concerning the mixed routes; still not in condition!!!

Lastly, conditions for snow shoeing, ski du fond and winter hiking are good.

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.