A brief overview of conditions: the last one of the year!
As expected, the heavy rain (it rained up to at least 2,700m, on top of wet snow) and the wind did some damage.
The quality of the snow for off-piste and ski touring is generally irregular and not very good, sometimes dangerous (breakable crust: for the knees, hard: watch out for injuries). There have been many avalanches which have ravaged cwms (“combes”) and couloirs. The snow cover is still good for the season, you can still skin from the valley floor.
On the northern slopes, the snow is crusty (will it break, won't it?), which hardens as you go up in altitude. Above 2,000m, there is icy snow in places, be careful when it's steep or exposed. It is better above 2,700 m (wind blown, compacted snow, sometimes powdery), with for example some good turns at the top of the Vallée Blanche. The latter is more than ever suitable only for very good skiers in these conditions (sometimes very hard snow) and with mountaineering skills (Midi arete still not equipped, early season glacial conditions).
On sunny slopes, you can find a little spring snow that softens in the sun but you have to aim right (the right time, the right altitude). Otherwise it's “croute” (crust) but without the “fromage” :) which is tough on body and soul. The refreeze is limited to the surface of the snowpack and you must not be too late (wet snow slides).
In short, ski touring and off-piste skiing at the moment are for good skiers and those who know how to find the best conditions. And don't forget your “couteaux” (ski crampons)!
For the rest, you can always go up by the marked routes and go down by the pistes!
Everyone will find a way to enjoy the good weather and the mountains!
Reagarding the goulottes, we don't have any feedback yet, you will have to take advantage of the good weather forecast and the lack of wind to go and see this weekend. It is possible that you will find even on steep ground crust, fresh snow etc.
The icefalls have been very affected by the rain and the thaw. The managers of the artificial site of Bérard has asked that nobody climbs there until further notice (for safety reasons and to preserve the remaining ice). At the Crémerie, there was already no ice before! Bad conditions also reported on the left bank (Mini Couloir: all dry; Déferlante: a big shower, 1 dry passage...); to be continued!
The marked routes for snowshoeing at the bottom of the valley remain practicable, those at altitude (access via the lifts) will be more pleasant (less icy snow, more open landscapes).
Report translated from La Chamoniarde.