MOUNTAIN CONDITIONS 20/05/2020
Some information for the long bank holiday weekend.
The return of the good weather, together with the opening of the Aiguille du Midi lift and the Montenvers train, has allowed for a lot of activity in the high mountain. Take heed of the warm weather, conditions will have certainly changed since last weekend. We are between the ski and alpine seasons. Skis and snowshoes remain useful for moving about the mountain.
Tour Sector: The hut is accessible either on foot, (a snow patch to cross near the water outlet then dry until the junction with the other path below the hut), or on ski, (a part of the moraine still has snow, 1hr of carrying.) A lot of people were on the Table Couloir (mixed section low down, final ridge OK,) and the normal route on the Aiguille du Tour. Some parties have done the Migot Spur.
Argentière Sector: The skiing still starts at the rocky section of the Pierre à Ric. Last weekend the Couturier Couloir was in good condition, (still 30m of ice at the narrows.)
Talèfre Sector: No information other than to reach the hut, the central gully and the Pierre à Bérenger are dry. It is better to go by the Egralets ladders (free of snow but the equipment on the ledges may not be all there.)
Aiguille du Midi Sector: The lift will be open from Thursday 21st to Sunday 24th. The ridge is in good condition, (no ice,) and with some stakes in place
Skiing remains the main activity. Return trips from/to the Aiguille are popular. The upper part of the Valley Blanche is in good condition but this is not the case lower down, (crevasses at the Salle à Manger, sticky snow and the skiing ends at the junction with the Leschaux glacier, 1hr of walking to the Montenvers ladders.)
The Glacier Rond and the Cosmiques couloir have been done, no further information. It is recommended to return to the Plan de l'Aiguille, (one starts walking well above the old Glaciers station.) Be aware that conditions are changing rapidly.
Quite a few skiers have been going, there and back, to the Col des Marbrés and the Col d'Entrèves.
The Gervasutti couloir was popular (good conditions), as was the normal route on the Tour Ronde (no further information.)
The normal route on the Mont Blanc du Tacul was done in good conditions last Sunday. The bergschrunds are OK and one can keep the skis on throughout. There were some parties on the Chere couloir, (looks to be very dry,) on the Contamine-Grisolle (black ice showing through) and on the Contamine-Negri. The Gervasutti couloir has been skied, (conditions have probably changed since). As last year, the bergschrund for the Mont Maudit looks to be problematical .
The Cosmiques Arete has been done, (approach on foot tracked.) The west Pointe Lachenal was popular. The traverse has not been done but looks to be in condition.
Not many rock climbers about even if the south facing rocks look to be dry, (e.g. Aig du Midi S face, Cosmiques Spur, Pointes Lachenal.) There is still a bit of snow on the ledges.
Mont Blanc : No recent information concerning the Jonction. There looks to be ice on the N ridge of the Dôme du Goûter. Again, the descent via the Plateaux « looks » OK.
Dômes de Miage: The Mettrier ridge was OK but with a long carry. The Dômes traverse and descent by the Armancette is still feasible with skis, ( the walking starts above the lake) The Aiguille de la Bérangère, there and back, is also OK via the Mauvais Pas. (The skiing starts at the glacier.)
Skiing is finished for this year at the mid altitudes, (Buet etc).
Hikers should not forget it is only the start of the season and there is still a lot of snowabout. Not everybody is aware that more than half of mountain accidents happen to hikers.
As well as the hikes indicated in last weekend’s bulletin, the following are now feasible: the Aiguillette des Posettes from Le Tour or the Col des Montets, the Signal Forbes from Montenvers, (N/B. the Grand Balcon North traverse still has too much exposed snow,) the Bellachat hut from Chamonix, the chalet des Pyramides, the chalets de Pormenaz from the Tête de la Fontaine, the chalets de Miage from Gruvaz.
Multi pitch routes are now permitted so it is possible to climb in the sun, for example at the Cheserys. The Evettes via feratta (La Flégère) is feasible but does involve a long walk from the valley.
Attention : The Barberine cliff is in Switzerland: the border police have done numerous controls and the fine is 100 CHF per person for someone crossing the closed border. This is also true for the Baberine canyon.