La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 06 January 2023
Happy new year to the young and young at heart!
Where do we start...
The snow cover is not great, especially below 1,800/2,000m where there is practically no snow. It's better up high but it's still not enough to make up for the damage done last summer. Although things are gradually getting better, the North faces remain rather dry and the glaciers are still tricky.

The ski areas are waiting with impatience for possible snowfalls expected next week. A good number of the slopes in the valley are however well and truly open, like the Aiguille du Midi and the Montenvers train. Even more than usual, you need to ski carefully on the pistes (low snow cover, bumps, ice patches) and off-piste (rocks).

Ski Touring
We are also crossing our fingers for ski touring because low snow cover lower down limits activity and you have to use the ski lifts (or carry!)
The marked valley itineraries are not practicable (except for the Charamillon itinerary, which is a lot shorter than normal). Outings are possible mainly around Lac Blanc (Col des Dards, Col du Belvédère) and back. Portage is needed in the Bérard valley or from the Col de Montets. Another very popular area is the Col des Rachasses from the Herse or Bochard lifts. The descent by the old “Point de vue” Piste is in fairly good nick (the direct exit by the couloir onto the glacier isnt good at the moment). Further on (Glacier du Rognon), is okay but beware of crevasses. Trips to the Col du Tour Noir and the Col du Passon and back are feasible (not enough snow to consider going down Le Tour). Two "tricky” bits on the left bank of the Argentière glacier on the way back (classic bit between the slabs and the glacier, okay for good skiers).
For the time being, the descent of the Vallée Blanche is only suitable for good ski-mountaineers returning from a climbing route. The arête is not equipped with ropes. The snow is good up to the salle à manger (watch out for slots, the snow is quite good up to the Géant seracs and then hard/crusty snow) by the classic route. The salle à manger is quite easy (the higher track is better). Then it gets complicated and you need to walk for between 45 min and 1 hour to reach the grotto. The ratio of skiing + pleasure / danger + walking is not really optimal so for skiing it’s better to wait for more snow.  

There has been a bit of gully activity (there were a few slots in the high mountains between the heavy snowfalls): Some teams on Petit Viking without more information. Pépite, Frendo-Ravanel in good ice conditions. Gullies on the N face of the Aiguille du Midi (Vent du Dragon etc) too dry. Chéré OK. Pellissier very good. Gabarrou-Albinoni and Modica-Noury probably OK. Pas d'Agonie done but no info (the III looked filled in). Valeria, Lafaille, Filo d'Ariana, you will have to go and see and tell us!

Déferlante is probably the only water ice in the valley (let's add Mini Couloir as well) but beware of overcrowding. There is ice in the Cogne area as well.  

Even if the media has highlighted the lack of snow, there is still some and unlike some massifs, you can't hike everywhere. Practically none of the classic summer hikes (lakes, balconies etc) are practicable!

Hikes that are currently possible if you are properly equipped are:

- The Charousse Alpage.
- The “Petit Balcons” paths (North and South).
- The "Buvettes" (Floria, Chapeau, Dard/Cerro/Chalet du glacier des Bossons) .
- The Chailloux Chalets (Last part snowy).
- The Chalets Loriaz (refuge open) by the forest road (last part snowy) from Vallorcine.
- Lac Vert via Les Trois Gouilles and the Ayères Chalets from Servoz.

Snowshoeing is also limited because of the poor snow short, it's either too much or not enough... !!!!
The following are currently possible:

- Autannes near the Col de Balme
- The Raverettaz and the Index at Flégère
- A circuit round la Charme, Petit Prarion and Bellevue at Les Houches

Translated with permission from an original report by La Chamoniarde.

Readers are reminded that conditions in mountain environments are prone to (sometimes rapid) change and that they should use their own best judgement when visiting them.