Report 15th October 2020

MOUNTAIN CONDITIONS 15/10/2020

Not much has changed since the last update.

The weather remains wintery in the Chamonix valley for the start of the All Saints half term, (17th Oct to 2nd Nov in France),

A much hoped for improvement in the weather is needed before mountain activity can resume. There should be a weather window in the few days’ time.

The Aiguille du Midi cable car, the Montenvers train, (with the ice cave lift,) and the Flégère bubbles will be open during the holiday period.  See :(https://www.montblancnaturalresort.com/en/).

There has been little information coming in recently about the high mountain.  There has been a lot of snow, and if nothing else, making the glaciers “happy” :) !  To move about, skis or snowshoes are essential. Take care with the snow bridges which might not be consolidated yet.  Also be aware of avalanche risk, even if Météo France is not yet issuing bulletins on BERA.   Remember that all the huts are closed, (winter rooms accessible.)

As far as the mixed routes are concerned, what little information is available, (mainly from looking,) indicates conditions remain dry.  The new snow is very cold and has covered the ice and rocks without consolidating yet.  That said, some routes will be “climbable”.  Looking forward to your reports ! 

Some classic routes could be feasible : Aiguille du Tour, Tête Blanche, Cosmiques Ridge, Pointes Lachenal and Marbrées traverses etc. More stability is needed before  committing to longer routes like Mont Blanc by the Goûter or the Dômes de Miage.

The hiking trails can be challenging.  They are often greasy and slippery, with care needed in places.  There is quite a lot of snow above 2000m, (depending on the aspect)   However, it is still too early to get out the snowshoes! As a reminder, some of the signposting has been removed for the winter.  The early arrival of the snow has caused some trees to fall onto certain paths, (especially those with leaves).

As stated in the previous report, some alpine paths remain impractical, (Nid d'Aigle, Jonction, Lake Cornu, Albert 1er, Buet etc,) as are the multi day treks (Tour des Aiguilles Rouge, TMB) unless one is in expedition mode,  :) . 

Due to the snow, certain classic hikes require one to be well equipped, (poles, good boots, maybe gaiters.) In the absence of footprints, the path is not always visible and it is easy to go wrong.

Possible objectives are:  the Aiguillette des Houches, Prarion via Charousse and the Col de la Forclaz, Bellachat hut, the Sentier des Pharaons above the Cerro chalet, Plan de l'Aiguille via  Grand Bois.  The Grand Balcon Nord (completed covered in snow and only suitable for  experienced hikers,) Alpage de Blaitière, Montenvers via Caillet or Les Mottets (possibility to continue, there and back, to the Signal Forbes), Planpraz, there and back, via the Plan des Chablettes and the Combe du Brévent, Grand Balcon Sud, there and back, from Flégère, Chéserys lakes (possibility to continue to Lac Blanc in the snow,) from Flégère or the Col des Montets, Aiguillette des Posettes from Trè le Champs (snow higher up), Bérard Valley, Loriaz chalets.

The via ferrata des Evettes should be feasible, with the Flégère lift open.  Likewise, for the Curalla VF at Plateau d'Assy (due to be closed from 02/11).

 

Report 7th October 2020

MOUNTAIN CONDITIONS 07/10/2020

Some brief  information for this autumnal start to October.

Since the last update, already some time ago, winter  has established itself early at altitude.  The  various weather fronts have deposited  snow, sometimes  below 2000m. There have even been snowflakes down to the valley floor.  All the mountain huts are now closed, (including the Plan d’Aiguille, Cosmiques, Torino which normally would still be open.)  Weather permitting, the Aiguille du Midi lift will stay open until 1st November (re-opening foreseen for 12/12).  Likewise, for the Skyway, (closes 02/11 reopens 25/11).  The Montenvers train also remains open this Autumn, (N.B. the ice cave and cable car are shut until the half term holidays.)   The Flégère  will also be open at half term,(17/10 to 1/11).

The high mountain activity is virtually zero given the amount of snow and lack of weather windows.  The rocks appear to be out of condition and there is no information for the mixed routes. One needs to wait until the weather improves .  The routes from the Aig du Midi could be feasible during the weather window foreseen in the next few days, (perhaps strong winds at altitude.)  Snowshoes could be useful.    Hiking is limited due  the early arrival of winter at altitude. For the same reason, some of the signposts are in the process of being removed; take a map!

In general, hiking is best below 2000m, for example: Chalets de Chailloux, Prarion via Charousse and the Col de la Forclaz, Chalet du Cerro, Alpage de Blaitière, Montenvers, Buvette du Chapeau, Chalet de la Floria, Grand Balcon Sud, Pierre à Bérard hut, Loriaz hut, the Cascades du Dards and Bérard.

Experienced hikers  (with walking poles and good footwear) could venture higher, though the paths might not always visible; for example :  Aiguillette des Houches, Grand Balcon Nord, Aiguillette des Posettes, Chéserys Lakes. The more alpine trails are not recommended, for example : Nid Aigle, Jonction, Cornu lake, Albert 1er and Buet.

Report 18 September 2020

MOUNTAIN CONDITIONS

The season is coming to an end and autumnal weather is expected next week.

Most of the ski lifts and mountain huts are either closed or soon will be.  For more details, consult the relevant pages on the Chamoniarde site.

Regarding hiking, conditions are excellent and should remain so if the weather is favourable.

In the high mountains, the season is finished and even if the snowfall last week had temporarily improved the conditions of some routes, the hot weather since has reversed most of this, with rockfalls becoming frequent again.

 

For now, conditions in the Tour sector are OK, (the hut closes on Sunday 20th September.)

All the huts in the Mer de Glace sector are now closed  but climbing here should still be possible on pleasant autumnal days.

In the Aiguille du Midi sector, the Pointes Lachenal traverse and the Cosmiques ridge are still being done despite the dry conditions. There have been some parties also on the  Contamine-Grisolle (exit at the top of the Triangle then return by the shoulder) , the Chéré Gully and on the south face of the Aiguille du Midi.

There has been no recent information about the Midi-Plan traverse.

The Trois Monts is still being done but the route remains more technical than usual, despite the presence of a fixed rope at the Mont Maudit Col.

Crossing the Valley Blanche is reported to be complicated in places.  However, interest in this route will fade with the closing of the Panoramic lift this weekend.    

A track is visible on the Plateau route above the Grand Mulets.   No further information is available.

Normal route of Mont Blanc:  The Bellevue cable car closes on Sunday 20th and the Mont Blanc tramway the following weekend.  The Nid d'Aigle, Tête Rousse and Goûter huts remain open,  (closing dates were given in the last update).  There has been an increased amount of stonefall  in the Grand Couloir and several  parties have chosen to turn back in recent days.  Also, the cable was severed  by a huge, night-time rockfall.

In the Conscripts sector, the conditions are now as dry as they were before the last snowfall.  The Glacier de Tré-la-Tête is dry and below the Col des Dômes  it is necessary to weave between treacherous crevasses.  There is ice, “canolles” (unstable ice formations) and a risk of stone fall on the slope between the Dômes and the Bérangère.  Therefore, to do the Domes de Miage  it is preferable  to go there and back from the Col des Dômes.

It is over for Mont Tondu, except from the south via the Valley des Glaciers.

On the Italian side, there has been reports of parties on the SE ridge of the Aiguille Noire de Peuterey and of rock climbing on the Aiguille Croux.

There has been regular activity around the Torino hut (Marbrées, Entrèves, Tacul satellites, Dent du Géant, Rochefort ridge ...)   Care is still required on the approach to the “Salle a Manger” due to the unstable terrain.

 

As for climbing and hiking in the Aiguilles Rouges, all the lifts will be closed after this weekend.

The conditions described in this update  will certainly change in the coming days.

As the huts are now closed, it will be more difficult for Chamoniarde to obtain information, so do not hesitate to send in your feedback.

 

Report 10 September 2020

MOUNTAIN CONDITIONS 10/09/2020

The mountains are benefiting from an Indian summer, with cool nights and warm days.

Conditions are generally good, given that it is the end of the season

Activity continues in the Tour sector.  (The lifts close on Sunday 13th, but the hut remains open until the 21st.)  The normal routes on the Aig du Tour, (most parties choose to go up by the Col Supérieur du Tour, which remains fairly dry, and descend by Col du Tour,) the Tête Blanche and the Petite Fourche are been done regularly

The Table Ridge remains feasible, though the start is not obvious.  On 08/09 the Migot Spur was climbed, (average conditions with ice  and rocks showing through inconsistent snow,) with a descent by the Forbes Ridge, (good conditions: dry on the crest and snow on the N side passages).  As stated in a previous report, the classic descent is not feasible due to a large bergschrund beneath the Adams Reilly Col.

The Argentière and Charpoua huts,  together with the Argentière lifts are closed for the season. The traverse of the Drus is no longer feasible. The glacier is impassable and recently there has been a large rockfall.  

There is still some activity from the Couvercle (winter room), notably on the S Ridge,  S Ridge integral and the normal route on the Moine.  The bergschrund for the Contamine is currently impassable.  The start is now by a F6b/c crack on the right; foresee extra gear.

A party turned back at the large crevasse on the Courtes glacier while attempting the Pointe Isabelle. Crystal hunting seems to be the main activity in the rest of the sector.  A lot of rockfalls have been noted, especially near the normal route on the Droites.

Rock climbing is still happening near the Leschaux, (the hut shuts on the 13th,) on the Aiguille de Pierre à Joseph routes, (it is over for the Aiguille de Leschaux, the Petites Jorasses remains possible but with a risk of being wet in places.)  and in the Envers des Aiguilles sector (the hut closes on the 15th  ) The Grépon-Republique bergschrund is reported to be "easy but scary”.

The Plan de l'Aiguille sector is also dry.  For example, Aiguille de l'M (NE Ridge and normal route), Petits Charmoz traverse, Pilier Rouge de Blaitière, Lames Fontaine, Papillons Arete, normal route / SW ridge on the Peigne are being climbed.

The traverse of the Chamonix Aiguilles was done on 08/09, descent by paraglider.  There has been o recent information concerning the Nantillons glacier, (should be feasible), the Cordier Pillar, the Charmoz-Grépon (looks to have snow)) or the Frendo, (the crest looks white but this maybe just hiding problems)

In the Aiguille du Midi sector (N.B. the Panoramique is open weekends in September) the S faces are being climbed, e.g. Aiguille du Midi and Pointes Lachenal). The Cosmiques Ridge and the Pointes Lachenal traverse are also being done.

The Midi-Plan, there and back, was done in OK conditions.  

There have been some parties on the Triangle du Tacul. The Contamine-Grisolle was reported to be in good condition, the Chéré gully is still fairly dry.

The normal route on the Tacul remains technically difficult. Some parties have managed the Trois Monts route.  The Maudit is overcome now by the serac, (very steep for 4-5m, 2 axes and ice screws needed.)

There are good conditions for the Gouter route, if the time of day is respected, Crampons are only needed from the Gouter hut onwards.  

The huts in this area stay open as follows, (dependent on the state of the sanitation and the weather):   

- Nid d'Aigle : closes to the public on 27th September,(when the TMB closes.)

- Tête Rousse : closes to the public on Monday 12th October at 8am.  (Capacity reduced to 36 places from 1st October.)

- The “camp de base” (near Tete Rousse) closes on Sunday 26th September at 8am.  

- Goûter : closes to the public on Tuesday 13th October at 8am.  .

 

The Dômes de Miage  traverse is still being done (the Conscrits hut closes on 19/09). However, the ice is never far away above the Col de la Bérangère and the snow bridges on the Trè la Tête glacier remain treacherous.  

The traverse of the Aiguille de Bionnassay is in good condition and is being done regularly, (Durier hut closed.)

The Monzino hut remains open for another week. There are quite a few hikers traversing to the  Col Chasseur and climbers on the Aiguille Croux. Two parties did the Innominata Ridge on 09/09, (no further information, especially about the access to the Eccles.)

The classics in the Helbronner sector are still being climbed with the traverses of the Aiguilles d'Entrêves and the Marbrées being very popular.

The Dent du Géant and the Rochefort Ridge (some sections of ice) are being done daily in good conditions.  The access to the Salle à Manger can be problematical if one leaves the main track.

Some parties on the SE ridge integral of the Tour Ronde and on the Aiguilles du Diable traverse, (the snow at the end of August improved conditions in the access gully and the rock is dry on the ridge.)

The Tacul satellites are being climbed. The bergschrund for the Pyramide du Tacul is a bit awkward, (black ice and many crevasses.)

The Tronchey Ridge (Grandes Jorasses) was done on 09/09.  No further information neither for this nor for the descent by the normal route, which must have been awkward.

The Boccalatte hut is shut.  The winter room is open for emergencies only and is not suitable for overnighting, (bad sanitation).

Report 4th September 2020


This report is based on information received following the resumption of activity in the high mountain.


After the storms there was a period of cold weather, but the temperatures have risen significantly today. The new snow has on the whole improved conditions but remember the season is ending. Vigilance is needed on the glaciers; the new snow can conceal the weak snow bridges and some crevasses.  The rock routes exposed to the sun are climbable again.

 

Aiguille du Midi Sector

 

There has been climbing on the  S face of the Aig du Midi.  There is some snow on the ledges, but the rock is mainly dry. Conditions have improved, for the time being, on the Cosmiques Arete and the traverse of the Pointes Lachenal (the 3 Pointes), both of which are retracked. On the Tacul, a party turned back yesterday due to knee deep snow after the 1st bergschrund. A party today crossed the 1st bergschrund in the middle and went up the lefthand side, (looking upwards.)
A party turned back at the second pitch on the Chéré Gully, (a lot of snow on top of the ice): A second party attempted the Tacul, crossing the bergschrund in the middle and going left up under the Triangle. (No further information yet.)   

The traverse of the Valley Blanche was re-tracked yesterday. 

Torino Sector

The Marbrées and Entrèves traverses are being done again, as has the Rochefort Ridge. Likewise, there is climbing on the Dent du Géant.   (Take care on the unstable terrain at the level of the Salle à Manger and above the bergschrund.)

 

Envers des Aiguilles Sector

The rock has dried well, and climbing is possible everywhere in this sector.  This morning there was a party on the Mer de Glace face of the Grepon.  The bergshrund goes once more on the right, then traverse to the left.  There is some snow on the ledges, but this is not a problem for the climb.  No information for the descent of the Nantillons glacier.

 

Conscrits Sector

The Tondu was re-tracked two days ago, the conditions being easier due to the new snow.
The Dômes de Miage traverse was done this morning in good conditions, (no ice for the moment!)

 

Chamonix Aiguilles

The ledges of the Pilier Rouge de Blaitière look to still have some snow, though a lot disappeared today.
Snow remains on the ledges on the Peigne normal route. No further information for this sector, which is taking time to dry in some areas.

 

Mid Mountain

The hiking conditions were not affected by the recent snowfall and remain excellent.

Please note that the Remuaz path between  Col des Montets and the cairn at Tête aux Vents will be closed from 7 to 11 September. 

 

 

Report 31 August 2020

A taste of winter in the mountains at the end of August !!!

 

There is quite a lot of snow at high altitude: the rocks are well plastered, beware of the risk of avalanches and snow sluffs on some routes! Be careful also at the snow bridges on glaciers ...

 

There is snow down to 2300m but it is unlikely to affect the hiking trails for long.  

 

Some feedback from the hut wardens:

- Cosmiques: 50 cm of cold and very windblown snow

- 30/40 cm at the Gouter, also windblown

- Torino: 20 cm, (no snow at the Monzino)

- Envers de Aiguilles: 20 cm

-Couvercle: 20 cm

- Albert 1er: 20 cm

- Conscrits: also, 20 cm

- Col de Balme: 8 cm