Firstly, Happy New Year from the team at Chamoniarde; wishing you many great outings in 2020.
The anticyclonic conditions have allowed for increased activity in the mountains after an Autumn and December of unstable weather.
For ski tourers: all the classic outings, (Val Monjoie, Pormenaz, Aiguilles Rouges, Loriaz/Bel Oiseau sectors/Col de la Forclaz,) are popular. The snow cover is good above 1500-1800m but can be sparse below this. The snow quality is very variable, often wind or sun affected but still mainly giving pleasurably skiing. It is possible to start skinning directly from Plaine Joux, Buet, Couteray and Trient. As a reminder, the Loriaz and Lognan huts are open for the season.
Ski touring is also possible on the glaciers: Glacier des Grands, Col du Passon (awkward to ski avalanche debris in the lower part), Col du Chardonnet, Col du Tour Noir, Col d'Argentière, Tour des Périades, Glacier del Toula etc. The Valley Blanche has black ice on the ridge, which is not yet equipped other than some belay stakes. The snow quality is variable, with a weak cover below the Salle à Manger and there are quite a lot of stones between the ice cave and the way up to Mottets. The descent to Chamonix "acceptable"
You are reminded that it is still early season and many crevasses are still open. Good skills at reading the terrain are essential.
The anticyclone which has brought agreeable temperatures to the high mountain has also helped with the formation of ice and led to a return of activity. In general, the conditions remain thin, so it is difficult to talk of “good conditions”. However, certain routes are being done frequently. Some examples: Couloir Lagarde direct, Couloir Couturier, Beyond Good Evil, Fil à Plomb, Mallory-Porter, Eugster Diagonal, Modica-Noury, Pellissier Gully, M6 Solar, Lafaille Gully and Valeria Gully. The routes behind the Requin and in the Combe Maudite look to be feasible. There is no information for the Chardonnet or the Pointe du Domino.
It is difficult for someone to be totally objective when reporting on conditions, especially as their technical abilities have such an effect. In addition, with social networking, it is not unusual to find conditions not as good as expected but with still a crowd at the start of the route!
Concerning ice climbing, the routes are coming into condition on the upper true right bank of the Argentiere, (Mur des Jumelles, Résurgence) and the left bank, (Déferlante...). Conditions are also improving at Cogne. Please note, as last year, climbing in a sector in Valnontey is forbidden due to bird nesting. The icefalls concerned are: Gusto di Scozia, Flash Estivo, Flash Estivo colonnata centrale, Fiumana di Money, Fallo di Plutone, Coupè di Money, Mistiria, Coupè Money variante, Cascata della pazienza, Cascata della rassegnazione, Meeting 2000, Sweet Valentina, Voglia di tenerezza....More information here: : https://www.planetmountain.com/en/news/alpinism/valnontey-cogne-ice-climbing-ban-to-protect-bearded-vulture.html ).
Snow shoes are not necessary for the marked trails below 1800 m (well tracked by many people), but good footwear and poles are.