La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 20 January 2023
Finally snow and cold weather to bring a smile to your face! We have about 30cm on the valley floor in Chamonix. It finally looks like winter!
The higher you go, the better (more normal) the snow cover is. Brilliant piste conditions! Look out for rocks off-piste.
Ski touring will be able to start again. You can skin from the valley floor but on the way down the cover may be a bit thin at the bottom. All the classic itineraries will be getting done: Aiguilles Rouges (Crochue Bérard traverse done today in good conditions), Argentière Glacier, 3 cols, Contamines.
As a reminder, the Fantana Fredda footbridge in the Bérard valley is closed (read the arrété decree).
The descent to Le Tour from the Col du Passon was done today. Beware of the avalanche risk though.
The glaciers are getting better, but snow bridges are still weak.
The Vallée Blanche is still a serious trip!
The aréte is snowy, stakes and a fixed rope are in place. The ‘Z’ bit is being worked on.
The descent is for the moment reserved for good skiers with good experience in glacial terrain.
Grand Envers and Moyen Envers: quite a few slots and hard-packed snow in places. It's better on the classic side and the slopes of the rognon.
The salle à manger is fine. Lots of sidestepping which can be tricky for those snowboarders who are less technically adept.
You can ski down to Montenvers. The most determined (“débrouillards”) skiers who are not in love with their skis can ski down to the Buvette des Mottets (buvette open this weekend) but you will be scraping your skis on the glacier and on the last few turns before Les Planards.
Be careful on the flat bit of the Mer de Glace, the central track passes near (1m) to some “moulins” (vertical holes in the ice). The first one is visible, someone fell in the second one this morning.
The cold will help the ice climbing. There is climbing on the Rive Gauche (Déferlante). The Rive Droite and further down (EMHM) will need more time. The Crémerie must be buiding up but it's under snow at the moment.
The Bérard artificial site is also on standby (not enough ice). Some people cut the water supply and the pipes froze. Result: we have to wait for the end of the cold spell to be able to produce ice.
Gully activity: it will be very cold the next few days up high. We don't have any feedback since the snowfall but before there was climbing in the Chéré Couloir, Pellisier (very good conditions), Gabarou-Albinoni (good but no more: a lot of snow on the approach slopes; several belays not found on the descent for abseiling). Goulotte: good but not incredible either (brittle ice, thin in places), Modica-Noury (looks thin but doable), Pinocchio (no more info), a few teams on the Super Couloir (very dry at the bottom, the rest of the route looks nice), Lafaille (looks thin in places). The rimaye on Valeria is tricky, quite a lot of snow in the gully and little ice, not great.
The N face of the Tour Ronde has also been climbed (rimaye crossable, then straight up, hard nevé (squeaky snow- neige couic) all the way.
The return of the snow means snowshoeing is back, either on the marked itineraries at the bottom of the valley or at altitude with access by the ski lifts.
The most experienced can escape outside these marked routes (Chalets de Chailloux, Refuge de Loriaz...etc).
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.