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Report 21 May

Though the snow is slowly disappearing at mid altitudes, hiking above 2000m still remains unadvisable.  Good boots and hiking poles are essential for outing around or slightly above this 2000m level. Some passages might require crampons.


At higher altitudes, the periods of snow, wind and good weather which have followed each other these last few days have led to variable ski conditions, but mainly OK. Snow slips are being observed in the heat of the day, respect the timing!

Here is the information from last week, (which saw some heavy snow falls at altitude):

 
- Argentière Sector: parties on Petit Viking, Col d’Argentière, NNE of the Courtes, Aiguille qui Remue, Voie des Suisses and the Aiguille d’Argentière by the Glacier du Milieu and the Y Couloir. Skis or snow shoes essential for the approach.

- Couvercle:  the Whymper was done in good conditions (approach on skis but descent by abseilling) on the morning of 21/05, to be avoided later in the day.  The best approach to the Couvercle hut still remains by the central couloir, rather than by the ladders, (risk of avalanche from the snows above.)

- Torino and Aiguille du Midi Sectors:  Aiguilles d’Entrèves, Aiguilles Marbrées and the Tour Ronde by the normal route are in good condition.  The Gervasutti couloir and the Tour Ronde N Face were climbed on 21/05 in good conditions. Tracks seen leading to the Diable Couloir, the Gabarrou-Albinoni, the Jager Couloir and the Chéré Gully. The Cosmiques Arete and the Pointes Lachenal are tracked, as well as the route up Mont Blanc via the 3 Monts.  

- Plan de l’Aiguille: No news from this area, except for extreme ski descents.


- Mont Blanc by the Grands Mulets in good condition via the N ridge of the Dôme.

- Conscrits Sector:  It is better to do the Dômes de Miages there and back, rather than to descend via the Bérangère. The Armancette side is not in very good condition.  Some activity on the ridge of the Aiguille Carrée, though the slopes are heavily loaded.


Some additional information: 

The Val Vény road is still closed. The Val Ferret road is open up to Lavachey.
The Curalla via ferrata at Plateau d’Assy is open.
The Via Corda Alpina and the Voie Câline at the Rochers des Mottets are dry and amenable.

Climbing is happening at all the valley crags, including Barberine, but not the Chéserys slabs yet.

Ski touring is still popular from the Emosson dam as well as Mt Buet via the Berard Valley.

Report 13th May

Snow continues to fall at altitude and skis or snow shoes are essential for the approaches. There has been little activity these last few days due to the bad weather, though some people are still ski touring, mainly in the Buet and Emosson areas.
Concerning the Mont Blanc massive, a lot of snow has fallen recently and this is likely to be affected by the strong winds forecast for this weekend, take care!

Allow at least 30 mins of walking before you can put on the skis to gain the Argentière basin.

 

The hut wardens have reported the following levels of new snow:
- Couvercle: 30 to 40cm of wet snow.
- Plan de l’Aiguille: 30cm of heavy snow.
- Cosmiques: 80cm during the last 2 days.  
- Torino: 1m of fresh, windblown snow since Monday.
- Grands Mulets: 50cm during the last 2 days.
- Conscrits: about 50cm of fresh snow, rapidly become wet.

 

Not much has changed since the report last week for the hikers. The lakes and paths at altitude remain snowed over and dangerous in places. It is recommended that walkers this weekend restrict their activities to below 2000m.
A lot of trail runners want to reconnoitre future races but for the moment the routes at altitude have far too much snow.  A list of currently “open” trails is available on the site www.valleedutrail.com .

There has been a landslip at the level of Nant Favre making the Sentier des Gardes impassable in this area and there is a potential risk on the Petit Balcon du Sud below.  More information will follow once the weather improves, but for the moment please avoid this sector

Report 6th May

The snow falls and high winds the weekend before and the early part of last week curtailed activities at altitude for a few days.


The Albert 1 and Argentière huts are now closed until the summer season, as well as all the lifts at Grand Montees.  Some routes are still in good condition in the Argentiere basin, leading to some overcrowding of the winter room.
No news about the Couturier but there has been activity on the Austrian route and the NNE of the Courtes. The Swiss route also appears to be OK.  The wind at the start of last week has made conditions difficult, (iced,) in the upper parts of the routes.  
Couvercle sector: the Pointe Isabelle is tracked with hard, windblown snow in the upper part.
Col des Droites also tracked. The Whymper has been climbed, (some ice pitches.)  The approach to the hut is still best done by the “central couloir”, but it is starting to get thin.  The N face of the Grandes Jorasses looks very dry.


Cosmiques sector:  the Pointes Lachenal traverse and the Cosmiques Arete are tracked. The 3 Monts route up Mont Blanc has been tracked since Thursday on hard, windblown snow with patches of ice at the Col du Mont Maudit and towards the Brenva col.
The Chéré, Modica-Noury, Gabarrou-Albinoni, Pinocchio and Valéria, have been climbed.  Conditions are dry but OK.

Several parties have climbed the Tour Ronde N face, no further information. The Normal route, (skis off for 20m in the middle,) and the Gervasutti couloir are also tracked.

The SW couloir of the Aiguilles du Diable has been done.

Vent du Dragon (Aig du Midi) was climbed in very dry conditions.

Grands Mulets: Mont Blanc tracked by the Plateaus and the N ridge of the Dôme.

Plan Glacier: Mettrier ridge “intégrale” was climbed in OK conditions, though the upper part was “dry”. The N face of the Dômes de Miage looks like bare ice.

Conscrits:  Dômes de Miage traverse is generally in good condition.  Descent by the Armancette is tracked but the snow is unpleasant to ski.  Skis off about 15 mins above the lake.  Better conditions for a “there and back” trip on the Tré la Tête glacier. Parties have climbed the Aiguille de Tré la Tête, to the Col des Glaciers and Mont Tondu.
Lex Blanche was done in OK conditions by the summer route. Descent barely skiable on very variable snow.

Mont Buet tracked all the way on good snow.  Skis on/off 10 mins above the Cascade de Bérard. up and down following the true right bank.  The road up to Emosson is open and people have been ski touring there, (Bel Oiseau and Cheval Blanc.)

Concerning hiking, things have not changed much with snow causing problems above 1800m.  It will still be a long time before the classic summer trails, (Grand Balcons, Lac Blanc etc.) are practicable. The footpaths at the valley floor are fine, as well as walks like the Floria, Le Chapeau or the Mottets, where the tea shack was open this weekend. If you want to visit a lake then the Lac Vert, with its beautiful views, is to be recommended, (above Servoz). The Merlet footbridge is now open so it can be approached from Montquarts.

Report 22nd February

Some updates following the weekend:

The bad weather over the last few days has added about 40cms of new snow at 2300m. The strong winds at altitude have transformed the snow, (wind crust, drifting….)

The important rise in temperatures the last two days has resulted in ski conditions which vary from wind crust through to spring snow.  With this warmth, wet snow avalanches have been seen, be careful with your timing

 

The classic descents on the Italian side have been done regularly:  Marbrées, Toule, Col d’Entrèves, Brenva, (careful in the heat of the day).

 

The Vallée Blanche is also very popular even though the conditions are not the easiest to ski.  The descent via the Mottets remains possible, however it is necessary to walk some sections before the Planards.
The Pas de Chèvre is not recommended due to a very awkward exit.  

Ski touring: Cols du Tour Noir, d’Argentière and the Aiguille d’Argentière by the Glacier du Milieu (some weak snow bridges) have been done as well as the classics in the Aiguilles Rouges. Difficult snow conditions on the N side though the Bérard valley is in good condition. .

Concerning the gullies: A reasonable amount of ice in the Pelissier, (Pointes Lachenal,) exit dry but goes without problems,

Star Académixte was climbed on 18/02, conditions dry, foresee large friends up to No.4

M6 Solar : First pitch difficult. (A party had to back off.)
Ice is Nice : bergschrund difficult but goes if one has very good technique or makes a detour to the left via an abseil.
Pépite climbed on 18/02, bergschrund delicate but goes, followed by snow more or less firm, except for the corner,  Deep, soft snow at the exit to the summit.

 

Concerning the ice falls: Déferlante, EMHM, Mini Couloir, Mini Goulotte and Noix de Samba have been climbed.
Nuit Blanche and the ice falls on the right bank are to be avoided for the moment.

The forecast is for very changeable weather this coming week, so conditions are likely to evolve as a result..

Concerning snow shoeing:  this remains popular, though snowshoes are not always necessary on the marked trails which have been used regularly,