La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 21 July 2023
As anticipated in our last update, a rather exceptional southwesterly weather system (high temperatures, strong winds, poor refreezing) has been in place over the massif for the past week. This has slowed down activity and dried out the high mountains, particularly the snow routes (given initial feedback, it could have been a lot worse).
Because of the low level of activity, we don't have much recent information and you'll have to ‘go see' when the weather permits to see how a lot of the routes are doing! There's still a bit of wind forecast at altitude over the next few days, and the weather isn't exactly perfect, but there are still some slots up for grabs!
Here's some information sector by sector:
It's still OK for the classics. However, it's the end of the road for the Aiguille du Chardonnet: the descent has become very problematic at the Col Adams Reilly rimaye (several rescues).
It's the end of the road for snow routes except for the Col du Tour Noir.
The arête du Jardin (Aiguille d'Argentière) can be considered for experienced climbers if the descent times are respected (bivouac recommended on the arête).
Rock climbing remains the main activity.
The glacier to get to the Drus is still OK (the ascent track is rejoined on the descent after abseiling): one team yesterday on the Contamine.
Unlike last year, the “roture” (gap between snow and rock) on the Evêque is easy to climb.
Access to the Flammes de Pierres via the fixed ropes ("Passage des guides") is not easy this year and it is better to use the 3 pitches on the “roche moutonnee” (https://www.chamoniarde.com/images/files/Acc%C3%A8s-Charpoua-et-Flammes-de-Pierre.pdf).
As a reminder, access to the Couvercle refuge is only possible via the ladders at the foot of the Moine. The moraine below Les Egralets is very poor.
You can climb on the Moine (normal route, S ridge, Contamine: deep gap between snow and rock), La Nonne, L'Evêque, behind the refuge...
Quite a lot of (soft) snow and big cornices at the top of the Moine arête, which has not been climbed in its entirety.
Curtains for the Droites, the Courtes... Still a few people on the Pointe Isabelle but the end is approaching (the big crevasse is opening up, 10m of ice on the steep bit).
There are still climbers regularly on the Walker on the N face of the Jorasses, which is in good condition, as is the descent via the normal route (a serac fell from the top and cut the track).
The glacier leading to the Petites Jorasses is still easy.
The balcony path is dry.
Envers des Aiguilles / Requin
No particular problems in this sector apart from a major rock fall at the start of the season at the bottom of the 3rd Pointe des Nantillons (route L'homme du Rio Grande").
The rimaye for the République/Grepon Mer de Glace is still going well.
There have been few changes to the descent of Les Nantillons since this report in our cahier de course.
The access to the Salle à Manger is now completely dry. If you stay on the route, it's fine. Otherwise it's very loose. There are still teams on the Dent du Géant and the Rocheforts Arête. A few brave souls on the Jorasses traverse and the Hirondelles Arête (the first 150 metres of the ridge are tricky because of a recent rockfall).
Conditions are no longer good for the Kuffner (overhanging rimaye + dry ridge) and the traverse of the Aiguilles du Diable (dry access couloir + rockfalls).
Nothing to report concerning the rimayes on the satellites, apart from a serac fall that has affected access to the Pyramide du Tacul (ice blocks) but which is still passable.
Traversing the Vallée Blanche is fine.
The steep part of the Aiguille du Midi ridge is ice (steps are forming but you need to know how to use crampons well). The rimaye is starting to open up.
Aiguille du Midi
It's the end for the Triangle du Tacul and Midi-Plan (except for teams leaving early for the Chamonix Aiguilles traverse: descent via the Blaitière abseils).
The Cosmiques arête is very dry. Ice on the access to the first peak on the Lachenal traverse.
The Tacul is still passable but is not at its best: crevasses are opening up and several seracs have been rather active over the last few weeks (with no consequences for the moment).
There is no ice on the Col du Mont Maudit, but two ice axes are handy. On the way down, a 60m abseil is required. It is also possible to go via the summit of Maudit and the finishing ridge of the Kuffner to get back to the normal route lower down (1 step to cross a rimaye, no ice or abseiling).
The rimaye on the Contamine route on the S face of Les Lachenal is beginning to open up.
Plan de l'Aiguille
You can climb wherever you like.
Crampons are still needed for access to the Gendarme rouge on the Peigne (watch out for the “roture” - gap between snow and rock), the Grutter arête, the red pillar on the Blaitière and even the normal route on the Peigne when there is a freeze.
There's climbing around the Cordier pillar (watch out for stuck ropes on the way down). As long as the Nantillons glacier is OK , so is the Charmoz-Grepon!
Mont Blanc via the Grands Mulets
Almost no man's land!
Mont Blanc via the Aiguille du Goûter
Despite the unusual weather, conditions are holding up for now. There's still a bit of snow in the Goûter couloir and few rockfalls if you go at the right time of day (watch this space). Some slots are opening up on the Dome du Goûter but nothing too serious.
Conditions are still pretty good on the traverse of the Aiguille de Bionnassay (wide arête with snow). A few sections of both rock and ice on the Piton des Italiens.
The traverse of the Dômes de Miage is holding up well (no ice on the ridge or on the slope above the Col de la Bérangère). Still some snow patches on the descent between the Bérangère and the Conscrits hut making this easier.
The lower slopes are dry but we're still okay on Mont Tondu.
You can climb the Aiguille Croux, Punta Innominata, Ratti Vitale to the Aiguille Noire de Peuterey.
Access to the Eccles is still OK with a freeze.
Access to the Pilier Rouge du Brouillard (particularly on the way back if you don't go up to Mont Blanc) is becoming more complicated (watch this space). The most recent info is that the Col Eccles went very well (without abseiling).
It remains to be seen whether the Innominata has withstood the heat. The last feedback was that there is a tricky ice section on the Brouillard ridge, but it could be avoided.
Most of the footpaths are now dry.
Crampons are less and less useful on the Aiguilles Rouges to access the routes.
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.