At last it's all gone white!
A temporary return of winter with snowfalls in the mountains. On this Friday afternoon, the ground is white down to the valley floor. This morning, there was between 20 and 30 cm between 2,000 and 2,500m depending on the sector (40 cm at the Requin and Cosmiques refuges, 30 cm at the Conscrits) to which we must add between 15 and 20 additional cm that fell today (on the other hand, the wind will have a hand in things).
It's difficult to say what it will be like in the mountains. This should be good news for the quality of the skiing. On the other hand, we'll have to be wary of the risk of avalanches in the next few days as we are all a bit out of practice.
Above all, you need to be extremely careful on glaciers. They are generally quite open for the season and this new snow will undoubtedly form very tricky snow bridges. There have been an unusually large number of crevasse accidents in the last few weeks in the northern Alps, enough for several rescue organisations to warn about. Excellent experience in glacial terrain and roping up are more necessary than ever if you are planning trips in the high mountains.
Some brief summary information (roughly speaking, not much has changed since our last updates):
- Albert 1er refuge open, nothing particular to note in the area.
- Still no information about a possible reopening of the Argentière refuge.
- Before the bad weather: quite a few teams on the N face of the Drus; a few teams on the Whymper couloir which was fairly dry; N face of the Tour Ronde + Gervasutti couloir (quite complicated rimaye which is crossable and then a bit of an exposed traverse; dry at the top). Descent by the Freshfield couloir is dry (beware of rock fall); teams on the Roger Baxter-Jones (Maudit), Lafaille, Pellissier, Chéré, Vent du Dragon etc.
- Rock fall (including large boulders) from the mixed section (at the top of ‘Pinocchio') have recently affected the bottom of the Gabarrou-Albinoni + Modica Noury routes.
- Refuge des Cosmiques + Requin open, beware of crevasses in the Vallée Blanche. We'll have to wait for more snow to see what happens on the Trois Monts route. Cosmiques arête in good condition.
- Mont Blanc on skis by the Grands Mulets: very complicated at the Jonction (see info on the website). We are waiting for information on the opening of the refuge which should take place during the next good weather window. It is absolutely compulsory to avoid the high track and to use the lower one even if you have to put skins back on. This itinerary is only for very experienced ski-mountaineers for the moment.
- The Conscrits hut is open, no major changes in the sector.
- Chamonix-Zermatt in quite dry condition: the Swiss rescue services would have carried out more crevasse rescues last week than in 20 years on certain sectors!
As far as hiking is concerned, this storm is a timely reminder that even though it is spring down here (green grass, primroses, pétanque games, barbecues and all that), there is still snow in the mountains. It's the time of year for walks in the valley (below 1,700 m). Most of the classic hikes in the valley are not practicable at all. Several rescues have already taken place for hikers taken unawares by the snow.