La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 17 March 2023

The long-awaited snow is here! Well, at least above 2,000m. At the end of this 10 day blip, it’s time for a quick update.

Snow cover at altitude has improved considerably, but has unfortunately got worse below 1,800 m. As has often been the case in recent years, snowfall was accompanied by strong winds. This had the effect of covering/filling in the glaciers, but also of creating snow bridges that are not always solid, as well as accumulations that are sometimes substantial. So be careful! Spring is on the doorstep and it is getting warmer and warmer, even at altitude: beware of being late! Sleeping in a refuge can be comfortable or necessary depending on your choice of outing. And the timing is good because most of them are now open or will open in the next few days: the Requin, Argentière, Loriaz and Les Prés huts are open. The Conscrits, Cosmiques (17/3), Albert Ier & Lac Blanc huts (18/3) will open this weekend. As a reminder, the access to the latter in winter is a ski touring itinerary and is not suitable for snowshoeing or hiking (risk of slipping). Finally, the Grands Mulets and the Couvercle will open on 1 April! 

On the Vallée Blanche, conditions have improved considerably. However, be careful on the Petit Envers itinerary, the track passes over a hole. Be careful at the Salle à Manger and watch out for the “moulins" (ice holes) on the Mer de Glace. You can ski down to the grotto again now. 

All the classic ski touring routes are being done. Make sure you cross any moraine (Col du Passon, Col du Chardonnet) early to avoid exposure to stone fall. There are two possibilities for the abseil descent on the Swiss side of the Col du Chardonnet. Firstly, three abseils on the right bank. The first 45m and the others shorter, bolt belays. The alternative is 3 x 30m abseils down the left bank (check the belays, the first is on a large block with two “maillons rapides”, the second block with a sling, the third a bolt with 2 maillons). It’s still possible to ski down to Le Tour, as well as to the Bérard buvette and the hamlet of Couteray. 


For the gullies, the activity will resume slowly. As you know, it has snowed well up there and the faces have been well plastered: it should settle down and purge over the next few days! The ice climbing season is coming to an end. There is still a bit of climbing at Bérard, and possibly at the Crèmerie or Déferlante (make sure to check the state of the ice before you start).


There is a lot of activity on snowshoes: the snowy weather has helped the high altitude itineraries which are all in good condition (Prarion, Flégère, Posettes, Loriaz). Further down, you can walk on the valley floor trails (petit balcons nord & sud, Cerro, Dard, Floria, Chapeau...), and more generally up to 1,500m on the north side and 1,700m on the south side.

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.