La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 24 May 2023
It's time for a change! Winter is gradually giving way to spring and big boots are bit by bit replacing ski boots. The poor weather of the past few weeks is gradually giving way to better weather for mountain activities.
Despite everything, there is still a lot of snow above 1,900m on north facing slopes and above 2,100m on southerly slopes. For the moment - and this is likely to change relatively quickly - skis or snowshoes still seem to be pretty necessary for most outings in the high mountains, while crampons are often good to have at the bottom of the bag for hikes in the “moyenne montagne" (see the dedicated Spring Hikes article).
Tré la Tête / Miage:
Skis on after the Mauvais Pas to go up to the Conscrits refuge. A poor refreeze and lots of purging around the refuge. A bit of activity on the Dômes de Miage, which are being done there and back. On the Armancette you can ski down to about 2,100m. The N face of the Dômes de Miage is quite white, probably quite loaded as well. The guardian of the Plan Glacier is going up this weekend.
The normal route is about to get going. The Tête Rousse and Goûter open this weekend (respectively the 26th and 27th). There is a track in on foot and on skis to reach the two huts. As everywhere in the massif, there is still a lot of snow up there! Beware of purges on the slopes of the Goûter, plan to climb early. The Grand Couloir was skied in good conditions a couple of days ago, but it's been hot since.
Still good conditions for the ski ascent by the Grands Mulets! The low track on the Jonction is good. The Plateaux has been tracked in ascent and descent (beware of seracs...). More people have been up the N ridge of the Dôme (recommended!). There is some ice under the snow for 10 meters on the arête, otherwise it's good. More comfortable with 2 ice axes though. There is no track on the right side of the arête as there is ice in places. A nice ski track higher up, which goes around the ice under the Vallot (bring couteaux, hard snow). Bosses arête OK. Good skiing on the N face of Mont Blanc this morning.
The Trois Monts are still waiting but it shouldn't be long now. The Maudit north face in particular looks good compared to previous years. Be careful with the large amounts of snow on this route.
Aiguille du Midi:
The snow is starting to settle with a reasonable refreeze at the Col du Midi. For the moment, the sector is about the only one where approaches can be considered on foot. Teams in the Pélissier gully turned back at the penultimate pitch (inconsistent snow difficult to protect and a threatening cornice at the summit), but conditions were OK until then. The Lachenal traverse, the Arête Laurence and the Cosmiques Arête are being done regularly in good conditions. Top conditions also in the Triangle du Tacul, where all the classics such as the Contamines and the Chéré are being climbed at the moment (a bit of black ice in places at the start of the Mazeaud). The north face of Mont Blanc du Tacul has been tracked up and down, on skis and on foot.
A team did the Midi-Plan and came to a stop at the Rognon: lots of snow. Some people on skis on the N face of the Aiguille du Midi: Eugster, Mallory, Col du Plan ... not in super conditions.
It's almost the end for the Vallée Blanche, now reserved for experienced skier-mountaineers: the Salle à Manger is still passable but it's opening up a lot, lots of purging on the southerly slopes below the Requin hut with brown snow below. Skis off at the bend in the glacier then once at the grotto you have to walk back to Montenvers (grotto and gondola closed).
The N faces of the Aiguilles du Plan and du Midi, and in the foreground the Grand Balcon Nord still entirely under snow
(and therefore not accessible for hiking, as you can see!)
The "least bad" access to the Couvercle at the moment seems to be the Egralets ladders, the others presenting either risks of purging and falling, or risks of rockfalls. The moraine under the ladders is still unstable and you must be careful. The Whymper was climbed this morning in good conditions (alpine, not for skiing). The S faces of the basin (Droites, Courtes col des Cristaux...) as well as the Pointe Isabelle are quite white and the rimayes are well covered. What about the quality of the snow over there though? And as some people have asked: it's too early for the Moine or other rocky routes in the area, as elsewhere in the massif.
Not much activity and therefore not much information on the area. Skis on just below Lognan. For the rest, the webcams of the Argentière refuge are your friend.
The ascent to the Albert I hut is by the moraine, which is dry until above the water intake. The refuge is reopening this Saturday! Above, tracks on foot (keen people!) and on skis towards the Aiguille du Tour.
A lot of people in the area since the opening of the road! Towards the gorges de la Veudale / Pointe de la Terrasse : skis on just after the dam and the conditions are pretty good beyond, with the precious spring snow which has been so absent this season.
Aiguilles Rouges / Buet
It's still too early to consider rock climbing in the area. A bit of activity on le Buet, where there is snow just above the Pierre à Bérard refuge.
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.