La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 22 June 2023

Some bits and bobs of news before the sun comes back this weekend.

As a reminder, the basic rule in the high mountains is not to start on routes when the weather is poor (wind, bad visibility). The PGHM rescuers were "surprised" to see a lot of activity on Mont Blanc (Trois Monts, Gonella) and Bionnassay with the bad weather over the last few days.

A few days of SW wind have certainly stripped off some snow.

The first two photographs (above and below), provided by the Leschaux guardians, are very telling.

The refreeze has been very, very bad and the snowpack has taken a beating in some places, which may have made some sections worse or more technical. It could snow or rain this Thursday on a snowpack that's already very wet, which could lead to special conditions over the next few days (poor snow consolidation).

Let's hope that the refreezing improves quickly so that we can get back to snow routes.

We're entering a period where we'll have to watch out for snow bridges on the glaciers and start looking out for the risk of rockfall.

Le Tour / Trient

There’s still snow on the way up to the Albert 1er refuge. The Trient hut has been renovated and is waiting for you!

The classic routes are all being enjoyed in good conditions: Aiguille du Tour (no more Couloir de la Table, Arête de la Table OK, Voie Normale via Col Supérieur du Tour OK), Tête Blanche (Voie Normale, no news about the N face), Petite Fourche (Voie Normale). The S ridge of the Purtscheller is dry. The Dorées traverse is well-travelled (the Copt Couloir is no longer doable). A 40m abseil on a dead man (in situ) to cross the Col Blanc on the Trient side.

There's also activity on the Chardonnet when the weather permits.

Forbes Arête (info from 18/06): Good route up to the “bosse". A bit of ice on the bosse but OK with 1 ice axe. Lots of snow on the arête: good progress but difficult to protect. Poor conditions over the last few days with no refreeze: soft snow on the arête, serious.

Migot Spur: Still being done but getting worse. Rimaye looks OK but icy higher up.

The Escarra and Charlet-Bettembourg goulottes are drying out.

Descent /Voie Normale: Good conditions, last I heard only 1 abseil of 25 m on bolts to pass the rimaye, otherwise it's possible to down climb but it could change quickly. 

Argentière Glacier

Until the Plan Joran lift opens on 1 July (every day), access to Plan Joran is possible from Monday to Friday by arriving at 8am sharp. Descent at 4.30pm. Ski passes must be purchased from the on-site ticket machines.

Access to the refuge is still possible via the glacier (most teams pass first along the left bank and then along the right bank, which is covered in snow), but beware of crevasses. Another option is via the ladders, which have been cleared of snow, but there is still a lot of snow afterwards. Follow the yellow dots until you see the glacier. Then traverse 200-300m to the right and descend to the glacier over névé. The classic passage under the Rognons moraine is too snowy and steep for the moment.

Glacier du Milieu: OK if it refreezes well, all snow, 20m of ice at the “narrows" above the rimaye, hard snow at the top.

Arête du Jardin (Aiguille d'Argentière): still a bit of snow (and therefore water!) but it's still a bit early. A window of opportunity is sure to open very soon!

Flèche Rousse: a few passages that are drying out but OK.

End of the day for the Y-shaped couloir (Aiguille d'Argentière).

Col du Tour Noir : OK

Nobody on the N faces of the basin and it seems to be over already...

There were still a few climbers a short while ago, but it's the end of the road for the Couturier, which has been washed away over the last few days (400m of ice).

As for rock, it's all dry but access is snowy and often steep (crampons + ice axe). 

Charpoua / Couvercle / Leschaux

A team did the traverse of Les Drus last weekend, but there's still a bit too much snow (same on the N face). The right window of opportunity should be opening soon!

The path up to the Couvercle is almost dry (there is still a névé at the foot of the Moine). On the other hand, you'll need crampons, ice axe and mountaineering experience to continue towards the Leschaux hut (descent to the Talèfre glacier and steep, snowy couloir before Leschaux).

S ridge (+integral) of the Aiguille du Moine is dry. However, don't forget your crampons and ice axe as, despite appearances, the normal route is still very snowy (and quite technical in these conditions). No activity on the Contamine yet, but from what I can see: rimaye OK, first and second pitches dry. The rest of the route is likely to be a bit snowier.

There's still a lot of snow on the Nonne - Evêque traverse (both on the ridge and on the descent paths), so no one's out there yet. A high skill level will be needed for those considering the route.

It's far too early for the Moine ridge on the Verte. The rimayes from the Whymper to the Col Armand Charlet - access couloir to the Jardin ridge are still OK, but they're getting bigger!

Whymper: lower bit of the couloir is “mixed", then main couloir: snow. Summit ridge in good conditions.

There and back to the Grande Rocheuse is fine.

Col Armand Charlet: same as Whymper, mixed at the bottom then snow to the col.

Arête du Jardin: good conditions if there is a good freeze (although the rimaye may change). Couloir is full of snow. Chimney below the ridge is dry. Arête well covered with snow (best if the snow is frozen, more complicated if not).

Droites normal route : the rimaye in the oblique couloir is a little high but still passable (some rock outcrops in the couloir itself). Otherwise, the classic route is fine. Above, the mixed section can be "scary" depending on the conditions as it is very snowy. Watch out for a track that goes round to the right (more technical mixed route). Rappels for the descent OK with 2x50m.

Les Courtes (there and back): OK if good refreeze, good crampon technique needed for the descent in the passage under the Col des Droites (it's steep!). Some teams on the traverse, but you have to keep to schedule and get up early (wake up at midnight in the refuge!). The descent via the Col des Cristaux goes well (snow). On the traverse, the snow is often softer (hence the importance of keeping to schedule).

Pointe Isabelle: good conditions, although many teams bail at the large crevasse below the serac (which can be impressive) or on the plateau (running out of time).

Not much changing at the Leschaux hut. The hot spell signals the end of the mixed climbing on the N face of the Grandes Jorasses (see photo above). For snow routes, there has to be a freeze (Brèche des Périades tracked; glacier du Mont Mallet filled in but keep an eye on your watch). South couloir of the Aiguille de l'Eboulement with a descent of the normal route done in good conditions. Routes behind the hut are dry. The west face of the Petites Jorasses may be in condition soon (still a bit of snow here and there). The glacier approach looks OK. 

Envers des Aiguilles / Requin

There is still snow to reach the Envers hut (watch out for the "snow bridges" which are easy to cross). There’s climbing on the lower crags (crampons and ice axe for the approaches): Aiguille de Roc, Tour Rouge, Tour Verte... A team did the voie normale of the Aiguille de la République (cross rimaye well to the right then traverse to the left, a little snow on the ledges). Descent via the République Bananière abseils (too much snow to be climbed at the moment).

No news from the Grépon-Mer de Glace but here too the right window of opportunity is looming (probably still snowy though). No attempt at the Ryan, so no news! A team failed on the S face of the Fou, but we have no further information.

For the moment, you go up to the Requin via the right bank.

A few climbers have come down from the Midi-Plan. The ascent of the vallée blanche is still fine, with a bit of crevasse dodging. The rock has dried well, and the first climbers are expected this weekend!


Still a lot of people on the classics: Rochefort arête, Dent du Géant, traverses of Marbrées and Aiguilles d'Entrêves.

With the warm spell, things are changing, but not for the better on the N face and the Gervasutti couloir (rimaye) on the Tour Ronde. The SE ridge is still passable when the freeze is right.

The Kuffner is still a popular route, and the procession takes place on days when the weather is favourable: "Good access couloir with 2 rocky passages. Quite a few large unstable boulders at the first rock bastion! L'Androsace goes very well".

The Aiguilles du Diable traverse still has a long way to go (we'll have to see if it snows again in today's thunderstorms).

There’s climbing on the satellites (rimayes OK). Crossing the vallée blanche still OK (for the time being!). 

Aiguille du Midi

A bit less snow here too... Ice is appearing in the Triangle du Tacul. With a good freeze, Contamine-Negri; Contamine-Grisolle; Contamine-Mazeau; Chéré are all possible.

Still some activity on the Trois Monts. It rained at the Cosmiques hut, so we'll probably have to be careful on the Tacul and have good crampon skills. Mont Maudit is still going well (a bit of ice above the rimaye). Two abseils (30 then 45m) on the descent from the Col du Mont Maudit are best (dead man needed).

Some activity on the Lachenal traverse (50m rope sufficient for abseiling, a belay has been added) as well as on the Cosmiques ridge and Midi-Plan.

Rock climbing remains a safe bet around here!

Plan de l'Aiguille Sector

The Mallory has come to an end. It's very soft and, above all, the snow is gradually giving way to passages of (bad) rock.

If we find good refreezing conditions (for the approach and the exit), the Frendo should still be possible (rock sometimes wet). Lots of ice on the left exit. A good pitch of black ice as you exit to the right to find the snow slope below the arête.

Crampons and ice axe are still required to access the rock routes in the area.

Peigne: the Papillons ridge is dry, there's still snow in the couloir below point 3009 and a bit of snow on the quartz ledge. It's too early to consider the Peigne - Pélerins - Plan traverse. No information about the Grutter.

There’s climbing on the red pillar of the Blaitière and the Aiguille de l'M (frêtes des Charmoz, NE ridge, Couzy, normal route...) or the Petits Charmoz. No information yet on the Cordier pillar.

Mont Blanc via the Grands Mulets

It smells like the end! The quality of the skiing is no longer guaranteed, but it's worth checking out!

More and more portage from Plan de l’Aiguille. The Jonction has changed a lot and needs to be re-tracked; the lower track seems to be a better option.

There is more and more ice on the N ridge of the Dôme du Goûter. 

Mont Blanc via the Aiguille du Goûter

The snow is melting gradually on the way up to the Tête Rousse and you now go up via the summer path. You can still descend via the névés on the right bank of the Bionnassay glacier.

The Goûter couloir is still full of snow, but a large gully has formed in its centre as a result of slides caused by the severe thaw (see photo 2). It is currently difficult to traverse.

The cable should be replaced on Friday by the guides from St Gervais. Good conditions above.

Miage / Bionnassay

Some teams heading for the Tricot Arête , watch this space!

Mettrier Arête: access to the ridge via the variant route (see last update) now includes a 25m gravel passage in the middle of the couloir. Otherwise, you will have to do the “integrale” (and again, you'll be wandering through some not-so-great rock at the bottom). The rest of the ridge is mixed (snow/rock) but no ice.

The ascent to the Durier via Plan Glacier and the Miage glacier goes well, you just have to be careful not to be too late.

With a good freeze , with no 100km/h winds or fog, the traverse of the Aiguille de Bionnassay is in good condition (no ice or cornices).

The Conscrits footbridge is in place, but there are still some exposed snow patches. The ascent via the Mauvais Pas and then the left bank as indicated in our last update is still going well. No major changes in sight for the routes in the sector. The route on the Trè la Tête glacier will change depending on the crevasses. Good conditions on the Dômes de Miages traverse. The descent to the refuge from the top of the Aiguille de la Bérangère is still made easier by the snow.

Gonella / Monzino

Mont Blanc via Gonella: No change since our last update.

Eperon de la Tournette climbed in good conditions.

Little change around the Monzino. The rock routes (Innominata, Croux) are accessible if there is a decent freeze. Teams have climbed to the Eccles via the glacier to continue on the Innominata ridge (information on C2C).

The Bonnatti-Oggioni to the Pilier Rouge may still be covered in snow (Gabarrou-Long and Anneaux Magiques, which are steeper, should be OK). It's also a bit early for the Freney pillar.

The S ridge of the Aiguille Noire de Peuterey is dry. The window of opportunity is closing for the complete climb!

Aiguilles Rouges

In the Aiguilles Rouges, crampons and an ice axe are often useful for approaches and descents!

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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.