La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 2 June 2023
At last, the seasons seem to be getting their act together! At the start of June, conditions look like...well, the beginning of June. The winter snow is slowly but surely melting in the mid-mountains, while it is settling and transforming in the high mountains.
Although the high altitude classics are still inaccessible (Grand Balcon nord, lacs Blanc/du Brévent/Cornu/Noirs/Bleu/Pormenaz, Buet, Albert 1er, Jonction, Brévent, etc.), more and more routes are becoming accessible.
You can find more information in our updated hiking article here.
On the Tour du Mont Blanc, conditions are still tricky, with heavy snow covering all the cols: Col du Bonhomme - Col de la Seigne - Grand Col Ferret - Col de Balme - Col du Brévent.
Tré la Tête / Miage
No major changes around here. The Conscrits hut is still reached via the glacier, and there's snow once you're past the Mauvais Pas. It's fine on foot all the way to the hut, but it's better to have snowshoes on, especially for the descent.
The N face of Tré-la-Tête has been done, with 40m of ice below the summit ridge. The traverse of the Aiguilles de Tré-la-Tête was done in good conditions all the way to the Dôme des Glaciers, which is rare enough to be worth mentioning!
On the Miage, the conditions on the Dômes traverse were “formidables". The ridge between the col and the Aiguille de la Bérangère is narrow and snowy, which might be imposing for some people.
The Mettrier arete is also in superb condition (see our “cahier de courses"). The Plan Glacier hut open this week end.
On the Armancette descent, its skis off at 2,100m, or 2,000m for the more adventurous!
The North Face of Mont Maudit, Taken on 28 May 2023
Things are off to a flying start on the normal route! The Tête Rousse and Goûter refuges are now open and conditions are generally good. As for uplift in the area, the Bellevue cable car opens this weekend (Saturday 3) but you'll have to wait until the 10 June for the TMB. A special feature this year is that the terminus will be at Bellevue or the Col du Mont Lachat. Only three trains/day will continue to the Nid d'Aigle (departure from Le Fayet 7am, 11am, 3pm; descent from NA 8.10am, 12.10pm, 4.10pm) and these will be reserved for mountaineers with a valid refuge reservation. Departure only from Le Fayet or St Gervais for the moment. As for access to the Goûter refuge, the couloir is filled with snow. It's fine for the ascent, but be careful on the descent: more than ever, you need good crampon technique to avoid slipping/falling. There is a good track from the hut to the summit. The NW face of the Aiguille de Bionnassay has been skied regularly over the last few days, in varying degrees of difficulty (beware, the conditions are changing quite a bit at this time of year).
A start has also been made for the Trois Monts, which can be skied and hiked in excellent conditions (little or no ice, and only one axe needed).
The Mont Blanc ski season via the Grands Mulets is continuing nicely! Little has changed since the last update, we're still favouring the Jonction low down on the way up, and the Dôme's N ridge is still covered in snow (with underlying ice in places) but it's slowly easing off. Bosses arête in motorway mode with the opening of the normal route refuges. Cold snow on the N face as far as the Grand Plateau, the two rimayes at the bottom of the face still going well (the one at the top is crossed on the right). You can ski as far as the Plan de l'Aiguille.
Aiguille du Midi
All the classic alpine routes are being done: Vallée Blanche, Pointes Lachenal, normal route on the Tacul, arête “Lolo” (Laurence) and the Cosmiques Arête. Conditions have deteriorated a little on the Triangle du Tacul, with ice showing a little on the Contamine Grisolle and Mazeaud. Still good in the Négri and the Chéré. A few teams on the Mallory (ascent), but no further information. The Vent du Dragon and Jottnar gullies have been climbed, dry and in decent conditions respectively. There are still a few tracks descending the VB, but the passage through the Salle à Manger is becoming really tricky.
On the other hand, the rock season is gradually kicking off: the Rébuffat on the S face and the Eperon des Cosmiques have been climbed (snow at the end of the 5th pitch on the former, an exit in inconsistent snow to reach the ridge on the latter). The Contamine on the S face of the Aiguille du Midi looks dry (from a distance), and the Contamine on the Pointe Lachenal has also been climbed and is also dry.
As elsewhere, all the classics are well-travelled, and approaches are being done on foot: the Dent du Géant, traverses of the Marbrées and the Aiguilles d'Entrèves, the Tour Ronde via the Gervasutti couloir, the N face, the "winter normal route" (make sure you descend before 10am as it gets very hot) or via the Col Freshfield or the full SE ridge. Some teams turned back on the Rochefort ridge traverse last weekend: too much snow but no news since. The Kuffner ridge had also been done, looks in good condition (approach on foot, very easy descent from the shoulder to pick up the Trois Monts path).
Envers des Aiguilles
It's slowly drying out up here. Due to glacial retreat, access to the foot of the ladders is not easy. There is snow 150m above the top of the ladders, so take care on some exposed spots to reach the refuge. Average freeze in the area over the last few days. The Tour Rouge and Tour Verte are dry and teams have started to climb.
Access to the Couvercle is still tricky. For the Egralets ladders, you have to go well beyond the ladders to climb up to a big rock on the Leschaux glacier. Be careful about the timing of the climb: snow residue can release rocks balanced on the slabs above! Also be careful on the snow slope below the refuge. Higher is better. Here too, snowshoes are still good to have for the approaches and returns (skis are beginning to be less useful). The Whymper is still in good condition, as is the Pointe Isabelle (all snow). The normal route on the Droites has been done, with a step to get past the rimaye. The traverse of the Courtes is good. Arête du Jardin will soon be OK, but still too early for the Moine.
This area is waking up! There may be a few people using the winter room. The approach is on foot (snowshoes are still far from a luxury!) and on skis. Skis on just above Lognan.
Some people in the Couturier, but no further information. The Y to the Aiguille d'Argentière was climbed in good conditions, the lower step is all snow (2m, steep). Glacier du Milieu can be climbed on foot (down climbing the narrows) and on skis (abseil).
Watch out for construction machinery on the Pierre à Ric during the week!
Great conditions up here too. The ascent to the Albert Ier refuge is still via the moraine, with snow at around 2,300m. On the Chardonnet, the Migot spur and the descent have been done on foot in superb conditions: a little ice on the spur for ice screws, the rest snow. Average freeze over the last few days, with a few exceptions. The Forbes Arête and the other gullies are untracked. The ridge from the Fenêtre supérieure du Tour to the Grande Fourche has been done out and back in good conditions. Normal route on the Aiguille du Tour, Tête blanche and Petite Fourche on foot, also very good conditions. North face of Tête blanche climbed yesterday, rimaye visible in places. Couloir de la Table and Arête de la Table very good and tracked despite the large amounts of snow.
You should be able to ski up here for another couple of weeks. The track along the lake after the dam has been cleared of snow, which adds a little portage before heading towards the Veudale gorge. The Perrons traverse could be considered for mountaineering (ice axes and crampons required).
The climbing season has started at Les Chéserys! Otherwise, there's still plenty of snow higher up.
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.