La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 5 January 2024.

Happy New Year everyone!

We've had a bit of everything over the Christmas holidays: snow, rain, wind, sun, foehn… There was even more on the menu than at Grandma's at Christmas!
Snow cover remains fairly thin below 1800m, but substantial at higher altitudes. Watch out for the snow conditions, especially with the wind blowing in just about every direction. In 2024, more than ever, the BERA (avalanche forecast) is your friend!
Most of the classic ski touring areas are being visited. It's sketchy at the bottom of the Vallon de Bérard and the Col du Passon on the le Tour side (poor snow cover, likely to improve with the snow fall forecast for this weekend) and you need to be a good skier.
The “climbers" version of the Vallée Blanche is also in decent condition: the Aiguille du Midi arête is not yet equipped (therefore crampon skills are essential) and you have to make your own way back up to Montenvers until the new cable car is open.
The Brèche Puiseux was climbed last week: lots of snow, plan 2x30m for abseiling, head well to the right to exit the Mont Mallet glacier (the couloirs on the left are not in good condition!)
In the Argentière basin, there are lots of people on the cols (Passon, Chardonnet, Tour Noir), often there and back. The Aiguille d'Argentière was skied via the Glacier du Milieu (fairly well filled in glacier, a mixed pitch to get up the narrows and 15m of abseiling on the descent) and via the Y couloir (10m step to cross the rimaye, 40m abseil on descent, spring conditions in the couloir).
Conditions for these high-altitude routes are likely to change as temperatures drop and snow and wind arrive!  
For fans of snow, ice and mixed terrain, it looks like the season is about to get under way with the cold snap expected later this week. For the moment, only the Déferlante sector on the left bank of Argentière is offering decent conditions (watch out for overcrowding!)
Gullies: Chéré couloir on the Tacul was climbed in very dry conditions. Several teams on Petit Viking (complicated rimaye with 40m of M5 on the right, then OK conditions) and Charlet-Ghilini. Mini Blast, Rébuffat-Terray and M6 Solar were also climbed without further information.
For our friends the snowshoers and other winter walkers, the valley's signposted routes are all open! More information on the dedicated page on La Chamoniarde.

Translated with kind 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.