A quick update on the eve of the weekend.
Yesterday (05/05) at the end of the day, there was about 25cm of snow at the Grands Mulets refuge and 35-40 cm at the Cosmiques refuge.
It’ s certainly "inter-season” now in the valley. Most of the lifts are closed (including the Skyway on the Italian side, closed until 27/05).
The Midi and the Montenvers train are still running.
As far as huts go: the Grands Mulets and the Cosmiques are open. The others are in winter mode except for the Argentière refuge which is completely closed including the winter room.
With the lifts closed, ski touring from the valley is a challeng. You can skin from 100 m below the Bérard refuge for those who want to go up Mont Buet.
The opening date of the road up to the Emosson dam hasnt been announced yet (perhaps Friday 13/05, to be confirmed).
In the high mountains, skis are essential to get around except just near the Aiguille du Midi.
In the Le Tour basin, the walk up to the refuge is by the moraine path. You can put skis on at the water intake at around 1,900m. The classic Aiguille du Tour routes (VN, couloir de la Table or even the arête de la Table once it has transformed), the Tête Blanche and Petite Fourche are possible. No information yet about the Chardonnet and in particular the Migot spur, so that may have to wait for a while.
In the Argentière basin there is about 30 minutes of ski carrying on the Pierre à Ric piste. Sacs will be heavy because the winter room of the Argentière hut is closed, so bivouac kit is needed (except by the speed merchants who do everything in a day!). All the classics are doable: Col du Chardonnet, Aiguille d'Argentière (glacier du Milieu, couloir en Y, couloir Barbey), Col du Tour Noir and Argentière. There has been recent activity on the Col des Cristaux and on the NE face of the Courtes on skis. The Couturier has also been done on the ascent at the end of last week without more information.
In the Talèfre basin, we are uncertain about the access to the refuge, which is probably still done by the central couloir (if you have information let us know!). You may need to bring a sleeping bag or even a tent for the weekend (the refuge is expected to be very busy). Once the snow has stabilised and transformed, the Whymper couloir should be in good condition, as should other southerly slopes.
From the Leschaux refuge, the SW couloir of the Eboulement could be in good nick.
Around the Aiguille du Midi, the traverse of the Pointes Lachenal and the Cosmiques arête remain good bets. The same goes for the Chéré couloir on the Triangle du Tacul. Once the snow has settled, perhaps the Contamine Grisolle could be considered (to be continued!).
We'll have to wait (until mid-week?) for the ridge routes like Midi-Plan, Rochefort, and even more for the Kuffner.
Concerning the E-face goulottes (Modica-Noury, Gabarrou-Albinoni...), they can be considered but strictly according to a schedule (and not using a morning lift). The same goes for the combe Maudite where the Baxter-Jones is still the most popular.
Once the snow has stabilised, the N face of the Tour Ronde should be in good condition, as should the Gervasutti couloir. According to the latest information, the "normal winter route" has finally filled in and is doable.
You can still do a few turns down the Italian side and ski the Vallée Noire (allow 30-40 min walk to reach the grotto). The Brèche Puiseux can be thought about but it seems wiser to sleep in a hut beforehand.
Regarding the normal route of the Tacul, it has, as expected, improved with the recent snow falls. The face is still quite steep and technical but it was done last Sunday and again on Wednesday. The exit around the shoulder remains the most tricky bit and no "obvious" passage has yet appeared.
Concerning the Trois Monts, we quote from the Facebook post of our friends at the Cosmiques hut who always give good advice: "the Maudit remains unexplored. There will probably be attempts this weekend. Be careful, it's only the "beginning of the season" for the Trois Monts, and it's quite wild! Two ice axes, at least for the leader, plenty of experience, and something to retreat on (dead man, snow stake...)". The last news (and by eye), was that the traverse between the col du Mont Maudit and the col de la Brenva was on pure ice. The Mur de la Côte is hard snow with about 40m of ice. Then it's skis on your feet or on your back up to the summit.
Mont Blanc by the Grands Mulets: you can put skis on a little above the old lift station. From the Plan de l'Aiguille, it is better to follow the beginning of the new summer path (and therefore to go down a little from the Plan) and to go around the moraines by the bottom and then to go up to the right of the moraine on the left bank of the Pélerins glacier rather than to go up to pass under the N face of the Aiguille du Midi (exposure to slides and serac fall, unstable moraine).
At the Jonction, always follow the lower route.
There have been some changes on the route across the “plateaus", you go via the Pic Wilson (or Pitschner) on the way up. Then there's a few minutes under seracs and lots of crevasses (but hey nothing new, it's the high mountains!).
The Bosses ridge is still technical (yes, Mont Blanc is still mountaineering!!!) and it’s skis off and on the sack before the slope under the Vallot (alternating snow and ice) then you have to go around the now famous crevasses of the Bosses ridge by a detour on the N face (steep, 2 axes for comfort).
The Corridor route seems to be preferable. You can join the Trois Monts route at the Col de la Brenva (see above).
The N face can be skied by first aiming for the Rochers Rouges and then diving left into the ramp.
A phone call to the guardian will give you a more precise explanation!
Around the Conscrits, lots of ski carrying is to be expected but above that generally good conditions await you !!!!
We are slowly moving towards summer but the snow cover is only slowly disappearing. We are repeating ourselves but most of the classic hikes (high altitude lakes, the grands balcons, multi-day treks, the 90 km route between Bellachat and the Col des Montets) are still not practicable.
You can still enjoy the view from the chalets de Chailloux (still some snow to get to the top of the Aiguillette des Houches?), from Plan Lachat, from the lower Blaitière alpage, from La Flégère, from the Aiguillette d'Argentière, from Loriaz...
There is still some snow (proper equipment and mountaineers feet required) to reach the Bérard refuge, the Aiguillette des Posettes or Montenvers (access only via Les Mottets then the viaduct path).
The “buvettes" are all accessible except for the chalet des Pyramides.
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.