As Spring arrives the snow is disappearing in the valley up to 1500m on the S slopes and 1200m on the N slopes. There is still plenty of snow in the mid altitudes. The snow quality varies with the aspect. It is still possible to find some powder, (albeit rare,) in some N facing, wind protected pockets. On the other hand, the snow is likely to be very hard in the morning on those S facing slopes exposed to the wind. The snow softens quickly with the sun and the large, daily range of temperatures at all altitudes.
The conditions are like those reported on 21st March, with the following extra information:
Still in generally good condition, though some treacherous crevasses are beginning to appear. There snow is starting to disappear on the descent down to Chamonix meaning several ski carrying sections and a 30 minute walk at the end.
Parties on the Aig Entrèves et Marbrées traverses: overall good conditions.
The Bérard valley still OK, (need to carry the skis at the little wooden walkway near the Cascade.)
The Loriaz hut shuts on Sunday evening 31 March.
Grands Mulets route: The Grands Mulets hut is open. Good snow cover to reach the hut. The north ridge of the Dôme is difficult (200 m of bare ice); needs to be pitched. Serac collapse risk at the level of the Petit Plateau. Also take care of the seracs on the true right bank of the Grandes Montées (between the Petit et Grand Plateau). The N face is not appealing due to dry conditions and the effects of the strong winds this winter. The route being used for the summit is there and back via the col du Dôme. Steel crampons are strongly recommended. (ice below the Vallot)
Goûter route: Some parties on this route, no further information.
3 Monts route: The route does not look to be in condition and is not being done; impressive bergschrunds on the Tacul and Maudit.
The Bochard lift is still closed, (hopefully it will open next weekend.)
Glacier du Milieu: Near the summit take care, the ice is just below a thin snow cover.
The rock routes behind the hut are dry.
Albert 1er Sector
The hut opens this week, (no warden on Wednesday or Thursday.)
The hut opens this weekend.
Couloir SW de l'Eboulement (26/03): Crossing the bergschrund went OK but the party turned back because the couloir was not in condition for skiing., (narrow, icy).
An hour of carrying the skis at the start of the hut approach. The traverse of the Dômes de Miage is overall in good condition. There is a track on the ridge, but some short sections of ice require good crampons. The Armancette glacier is in condition, (the snow runs out just above the lake but then it is possible to ski again shortly afterwards, almost down to La Frasse).
The Bérangère, Pain de Sucre, Col des Glaciers are being done.
The Drus (23/24/03)
N Face – Lesueur route: OK dry tooling – not much snow – start by the Alain Leninger route then the classic. Descend by the North Couloir on abalakovs and in-situ abseil points on the route.
Thank you to all those who posted their information in the online Route Book.