La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 3 May 2023

We are finally seeing the sun again for more than a few hours...!

High mountain activity is starting up again, we will have more information in the next days.

It snowed a lot at altitude this weekend (about 1 m above 3,500m). The snowpack is settling, the couloirs and faces are purging. There are still large amounts of snow depending on the aspect and altitude. You will have to choose your route carefully and get home early, the sun is heating up strongly and the isotherm will rise again over the next few days. Beware of the quality of the refreeze which could be altered by overcast skies or a SW wind at night. You are likely to find all sorts of snow and conditions are not always easy for skiing!

It is the off-season and most of the lifts and refuges are closed.

The Montenvers train and the Aiguille du Midi cable car remain open.

As for the refuges, the Couvercle, the Cosmiques, the Grands Mulets and the Conscrits are still staffed. 


Some bits of random information:

  • The Emosson road will not open before May 15.

  • Access to the Argentière basin may be complicated at times due to a local decree.

  • Access to the Couvercle refuge via the central couloir (also possible via the Pierre à Béranger but be careful as soon as it gets hot = rock falls).  Some teams are planning the Whymper, normal route on the Droites and to Pointe Isabelle tomorrow.

  • The Vallée Blanche is still possible. The Z has been unequipped but the rope on the ridge will remain in place for another ten days. Be careful with the crevasses of the Salle à Manger, as it will start to change. 15-20 minutes walk to reach the grotto, but that’s fine. Average skiability in the Vallée Blanche (undergoing transformation), Vallée Noire well ravaged by avalanches. Ascent to the Brèche Puiseux tracked without more info. One team turned back this morning heading to Pointe Yeld (loaded N face).

  • Some alpine activity around the Aiguille du Midi. The Cosmiques ridge was done yesterday, it is very snowy. Some teams today in the Chéré couloir without more information (except that it is still quite dry) and the Pellissier. The traverse of the Pointes Lachenal can be considered but the ice was not far away on the ascent to the first Point last week. Contamine-Negri tracked by skiers, Tacul being tracked and skied down.

  • Activity has resumed at the Grand Mulets. For the most courageous, skis on above the old La Para lift station (around 1,800m). From the Plan de l'Aiguille, descend below the station to follow the new summer path to bypass the moraines of the Pèlerins glacier from below. The lower track of the Jonction seems the safest. The N ridge of the Dôme was retracked this morning. There is an ice pitch, so bring steel crampons. It's a long way down and it might be a good idea to spend a second night at the refuge on the way down.

  • We are waiting for your feedback to feed the information chain!


Hiking conditions haven’t changed much. The website has the possible hikes at the moment. As every year, it is too early in May to have a go at the competition routes such as the 90 km...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.