Report 11 August 2017

A quick update of the mountain conditions.


The bad weather these last few days has virtually halted all activity in the mountains.

Snow fell to 2200m this morning.  There has been about 10 cms of new snow at the Cosmiques hut, 20cms at the Goûter hut and 30-40cms at the Dome du Goûter. 

The new snow is not enough to significantly improve the existing very dry conditions of the snow/mixed routes but does mean it will be some time before the rock routes at altitude are feasible again.  

Special care is needed on the glaciers, because some of the snow bridges, already weak from the previous dry and hot conditions, are now camouflaged by the new snow. 

The rain and snow showers are due to continue this afternoon but the weather should then start to improve on Saturday, with the temperatures low for time of year.


Patience, patience…

Report 3rd August 2017

The heat wave has returned at altitude and the routes, which temporarily came back into condition due to the recent snow falls, are now again very dry.

The temperatures are expected to rise over the next few days, which will mean virtually no re-freezing at altitude and an increase in stone fall.


- Albert 1er : The snow bridges are getting weaker in this sector.  The way over the bergschrund on the Aiguille du Tour normal route has collapsed.   There is a way across but this demands a higher technical level than usual.


- La Charpoua : The traverse of the Drus remains feasible and the glacier is OK for the moment. There have also been parties on the Flammes de Pierre.   N.B. the route “La Reprise” has been re-bolted and the glue has not yet set.  Do not climb before the 5th August.


- Le Couvercle : The Brèche Nonne-Evêque gully is dry, the approach to the Contamine-Labrunie on the  Moine is difficult but goes still. No problems for the other routes on the Moine.  No information about the Moine ridge on the Verte.


- Leschaux : The routes in this sector are generally in good condition but there is still some snow near the top of the Grandes Jorasses.  The Walker Spur looks feasible.


- Envers des Aiguilles : Still a lot of activity in this sector, though some of the bergschrunds are becoming awkward and others no longer passable, (Subtilité Dulférienne and  l’Homme du Rio Grande). The bergschrund for la République is still OK.


- Le Requin : The Dent du Requin and Congo Star have been climbed, no particular problems.  The route up to the Cosmiques is still being done, good glacier rope technique needed.   


- Torino : 2 parties traversed the Rochefort Arete towards the Canzio bivouac. The normal route on the Grandes Jorasses looks to be tracked.  Parties on the Kuffner Ridge and the Aiguilles du Diable; the approaches are very dry, the rock sections are generally free of snow but the snow sections are awkward, (the snow is wet/soft.)   The Dent du Géant and the traverses of the Entrèves and Marbrées are in condition. The Tour Ronde does not look inviting.  

The Tacul satellites remain OK, though some of the bergschrunds are now awkward.


-  Cosmiques : The normal route up the Tacul is being climbed, (some ice just before the summit.)  The 3 Monts route was done on 3rd August, in difficult conditions due to wind, fog and lack of freezing.  The Pointes Lachenal has been traversed, but it is more technical than usual.  Nobody on the Triangle du Tacul, (very dry).


- Les Grands Mulets : Contact the warden directly for information on this sector.


- Le Goûter : The return of the hot weather means  the stone fall has increased in the Grand couloir, including the morning!


- Durier : Parties have done the Aiguille de Bionnassay, (there and back,) and also the traverse to the Goûter, (no further information.)  


- Les Conscrits : The Dôme central, there and back, by the Tré-la-Tête glacier remains possible but the Dômes de Miage traverse is no longer being done, (ice).


- Monzino : A lot of stone fall in this sector and parties going for the Innominata turned back from the way up to the Eccles bivouac.


- Gonella : The hut has been shut since 30th July and the normal Italian route up Mont Blanc is in bad condition.


- Grand Paradis : The normal route from the Victor Emmanuel hut has sections of ice, (+ stone fall). These zones can be bypassed by going towards the Chabod hut, then up the moraine until the Schiena d’Asino, to reach the glacier above the difficult sections.  

Report 28th July 2017

A brief update on the conditions for this weekend :

The recent snowfalls have not been enough to significantly improve the situation for the snow/mixed routes but enough to cause problems on the rock routes in some of the higher altitude areas.  These, however, should dry quickly as the warm weather returns.  

In general, there are a lot of open crevasses on the glaciers and the recent snow has only served to camouflage some of the weak snow bridges.  Good glacier ropework needed !


- Albert 1er : Conditions not too bad in this sector and Aiguille du Tour is being climbed by the Table ridge and the normal route.  The Tête Blanche and Petite Fourche are also being done but the Chardonnet remains out of condition despite the new snow.


- Argentière : The descent from the Grands Montets lift remains OK and the rocks near the hut are dry,  None of the snow routes are in condition, with the exception of Col du Tour Noir, (there and back).

The Belvédère, (East) ridge on the Aiguille des Grands Montets has been done recently but the Petite Verte still has a lot of bare ice and so is far harder than usual.


- Charpoua : The snow is disappearing quickly from the rocks in this sector. The Evêque looks dry and parties were climbing on the Flammes de Pierre today (Friday).  The Drus should soon be in condition.  


- Le Couvercle : The Moine has been climbed by the normal route, the S ridge and the Contamine.  The snow/mixed routes are not in condition and there appears to be too much snow on the Verte Moine Ridge for the moment.


- Leschaux : the Grandes Jorasses N face is holding a lot of snow but the W face of the Petites Jorasses is drying quickly.  The rock routes behind the hut are dry.


- Envers des Aiguilles : Still snow at altitude and with the cloud cover this is taking time to melt away. Climbing is possible near the hut, e.g Pilier des Contes, Tours Rouge and Verte and the 1ère Pointe des Nantillons.


- Le Requin : Still some snow at altitude but the Pierre-Alain is dry. The way up the Vallee Blanche towards the Cosmiques and the Torino requires good experience at route finding and care with the snow bridges.


- Torino : No tracks on the Rochefort Arete but the Dent du Géant was climbed on 27/07. Some parties had to turnback on 28.07 due to strong winds. The traverses of the Aiguilles Marbrées and the Entrèves remain feasible, though care needed on the approaches, (snow bridges…).  No news about the Kuffner or the Tacul satellites


- Cosmiques : The Tacul normal route is tracked, (no further information).  Some climbing on the Pointes Lachenal but the Tacul triangle remains desperately dry.  The Cosmiques ridge is tracked.  The traverse of the Vallee Blanche is tracked but has a lot of crevasses.


- Grands Mulets : No particular problems for the approach to the hut and the North Ridge of the Dôme was climbed on 28/07, no further information.


- Conscrits : The Dômes de Miage traverse was done on 28/07 but the snow cover over the ice was thin and conditions are likely to deteriorate quickly.  The route to the central Dôme by the Tré la Tête glacier, (there and back) remains feasible, though the glacier is heavily crevassed.  Except for the Bérangère, the other routes are no longer in condition.


- Monzino : Conditions OK for the Pointe de l’Innominata  and parties went up to the Eccles to attempt the ridge on 29/07.   The approach to the bivouac is heavily crevassed.  The Brouillard glacier is OK for the moment.  Parties were seen on the S ridge of the Noire de Peuterey.

Report 25th July 2017

Some information about the recent snowfalls, which have reached as low as 2500m:

40 cm at the Goûter hut.

About 30/40 cm of windblown snow at the Col Flambeau, near the Torino hut.

40 cm at the Cosmiques hut.

All the Chamonix Aiguilles are plastered, (including next to the Envers des Aiguilles hut.)

20 cm at the top of the Grands-Montets.

There has been a lot of wind which will affect these estimations.  There will almost certainly be some deep snow drifts.  The strong winds are due to continue for a few more days at altitude.  It is necessary to wait until the snow cover stabilises and the rocks dry.  In the meantime, one needs to remain patient, choosing alternative, lower altitude routes.

Report 19th July 2017

Conditions at altitude continue to deteriorate and the stone fall risk is increasing in numerous areas.  Take care with your route choice and respect the time of day.


- Albert 1er : the conditions remain OK for the normal routes on the Aiguille du Tour, Tête Blanche and Petite Fourche. The Table ridge, Aiguille Purtscheller and Aiguilles Dorées traverse are still popular.  Some of the snow bridges in the area are now suspect.


- Argentière : Rock climbing is the main activity in this sector.  The Aiguille d’Argentière is no longer recommended, especially the Glacier du Milieu. The glacier walk up to the Col du Tour Noir and back is popular. The descent from the Grands Montets is still OK and the return from the Rognan to Lognan has recently been re-equipped. There is bare ice on the Petite Aiguille Verte.   The Grands Montets Ridge is in condition, though a crevasse blocks the exit and requires some “initiative”. Descent via the Moine ridge with a 30m abseil at the bergschrund.


-  La Charpoua : The Dru traverse is popular  and the glacier remains OK.  The rock routes near the hut are also in condition.


- Le Couvercle : The rock routes remain accessible, the bergschrunds  generally not posing a problem, though the one for the Contamine on the Moine is awkward  Parties have climbed the Moine Ridge on the Verte, there and back, the bergshrund going on the left.


- Leschaux : Good conditions for the rock routes near the hut. Some parties have done the Petites Jorasses W face and the Aiguille de Leschaux. Likewise, there have been parties on the Walker Spur; some ice at the level of the “cheminées rouges”, (red chimneys). There are new way markers on the glacier approach to the hut. Continue up the Mer de Glace, past the drum, to find the orange cairns.


- Envers des Aiguilles : for some of the routes with a glacier approach, the  bergshrunds are awkward.  It is is still possible to pass the bergschrund for the Republique by climbing a slab to the right then traversing back left to start the route.


- Le Requin :  No problems reaching the foot of the routes and parties are still going up the Valley Blanche.


- Torino : No bad reports concerning the bergschrunds in this sector.  On the other hand the glaciers are becoming problematical with numerous fragile snow bridges.  Conditions for the Rochefort Arete have deteriorated, many parties having turned back. No major problems for the approach to the Dent du Géant, though take care of other parties in the approach gully.  The traverse of the Jorasses is feasible but technically more demanding than usual.  Parties still doing the Kuffner, (dry, approach directly,) and the Aiguilles du Diables (the approach gully is mixed with unstable rock.) It has been reported the Tour Ronde is very unstable, including the SSE Ridge, (2-3 pitches to reach the col then keeping to the Brenva side, rather than following the crest.) The approach to the Pilier d’Angle and Aiguille Blanche de Peuterey is no longer in condition, (chaotic glacier and stone fall/ land slips.)


- Cosmiques : When there has been a good freeze, some of  the Triangle du Tacul routes have been done. Petit Frounet and Chéré, their first two pitches are dry but protectable.  Contamine Negri and Grisolle have some sections of bare ice.  It is very important to start these routes early! 

The 3 Monts is still popular, though the route requires a good technical ability, (bare ice in several sections.)   Parties on the Gervasutti Pillar have reported generally good conditions.  The bergschrund at the foot of the Rébuffat-Baquet route, (Aig du Midi, S face) is opening up and requires “jump start”.


- Plan de l’Aiguille :  The Frendo is no longer feasible, too dry and lots of stone fall!   The Nantillons glacier is in very bad condition.  


- Monzino : All the routes in the area are being done, though as the conditions are dry, they are technically harder than usual.


- Gonella : The normal Italian route up Mont Blancis still in condition.


- Boccalate :  Parties are still doing the normal route on the Grand Jorasses, the route remaining OK.


- Robert Blanc : conditions still very good for the Dôme des Glaciers and the Lanchettes ridge, though some snow bridges are becoming fragile in the upper of the route.


- Conscrits : A lot of bare ice on the  Dômes de Miage traverse and it is now rarely being done. There and back to the central Dôme Central via the Col des Dôme, as well as the East Dôme, remains feasible.  Except for the Bérangère, the other routes are no longer in condition.


- Durier : The Bionnassay Ridge is still very narrow (knife edge), but feasible given a good technical level. The ice is just below the surface at thePiton des Italiens.


- Goûter/Tête Rousse : The Mont Blanc normal route remains very popular, despite frequent stone fall.  Take care and respect the time of day.  


- Grands Mulets : There is little snow left on the Bossons and Jonction glaciers,(dry), and the track follows more or less that shown on the IGN map.  About 60 to 70m of bare ice on the Dôme N Ridge.





Report 13 July 2017

Conditions at altitude are becoming even drier, meaning even fewer snow and mixed routes are now feasible.  Likewise, the approaches to, especially the bergschrunds, some rock routes are becoming more complicated.

The weather is due to improve over the next few days and with the rise in temperatures, one needs to be particularly vigilant!


- Albert 1er : There has been no activity on the Chardonnet for 10 days. The normal routes on the Aiguille du Tour, Tête Blanche and Petite Fourche are still OK, though the snow bridges on the glacier are becoming more fragile.   The Table ridge is feasible if started directly by the ridge, (initially bad rock.)  Good conditions also for classic rock routes (Purtscheller S Ridge, Dorées Traverse).


- Argentière : No recent news, though the rock routes above the hut are in condition. (some stonefall danger).  The return path from Rognan to Lognan has been re-equipped and now feels less exposed.


- Charpoua : The Dru traverse is in good condition, no problems for the glacier, up and down, (done on 13/07).  Rock routes are also OK (Contamine, Sale Athé…)

A lot of parties on the Dru N Face, even though this area is subject to stonefall and summer is not the ideal time.   


- Couvercle : Only the rock routes are to be recommended and the approach/return for some of these  are becoming more awkward. Most of the snow and mixed routes are not currently feasible, though conditions change rapidly and it is best to consult the hut warden.


- Leschaux : The routes near the hut are dry and the approach to the Petites Jorasses remains OK. The approach to the Périades is also OK, if there is a good night time freeze. The upper part of the Walker Spur still has plenty of snow but with the rise in temperatures one would expect it to be climbed by the start of next week.  Feel free to ask the warden for more information.


- Envers des Aiguilles : In general, the bergschrunds are technically difficult in this area. The Mer de Glace face of the Grepon is not being done because of difficulties in descent, (bad state of the Nantillons glacier and abseilling down “Le soleil à rdv avec la lune” is long and complicated.)  No problems for the routes without glacier approach (Tour Verte, Pointes des Nantillons, Pilier des Contes, Dalles de l’Envers).


- Le Requin : The approaches to the hut and routes are still in good condition and the rock is free of snow.  The way up the Valley Blanche remains OK, (with care.)


- Torino : The Rochefort Arete is being done, the bit of snow that fell in a recent storm has improved conditions.  Good conditions for the traverse of the Grand Jorasses and the normal route, (2 short sections of ice).  The Kuffner and Aiguilles du Diable traverse were done yesterday, some verglas but basically OK.


- Les Cosmiques : Mont Blanc by the Trois Monts was done on 13/07 and is popular : the Tacul is OK, (care needed at the 2nd bergschrund), the lefthand track on the Maudit avoids exposure to the seracs , (especially on ascent) but has 2 sections of ice, (use of ice screws possible.) Ice just below the surface on the traverse to the Brenva Col and the Mur de la Côte, but should not slow one down.

Conditions difficult for the Pointes Lachenal, bare ice on the 1st and 3rd summits both on ascent and descent.  The abseil area has loose blocks, expect to make a 30m abseil.

Triangle du Tacul very (too) dry.


- Plan de l’Aiguille : The latest information is that conditions on the Frendo have got a lot worse.  Crampons are still needed for the approach to the Peigne N Face.


- Les Grands Mulets : The warden is going back up to the hut on the 14th July, so we expect an update of conditions for this route up Mont Blanc on the 16th.


- Tête Rousse/ Goûter :  For the moment the condition of the approach to the Gouter is “normal” but the stonefall frequency could increase with a rise in temperatures.  It is important to reduce the risk by crossing the Grand couloir as early as possible, (before the afternoon). The recent storms have cleared the soft snow off the Tete Rousse glacier and crampons are needed to cross it.


- Plan Glacier : There has been some storm damage to the footpaths, but no major problems for the approach.  Some awkward sections on the approach to the Durier, though nothing too « dramatic ».


- Les Conscrits : The Mont Tondu is very dry and not to be recommended at moment.  The Dômes de Miage are feasible, preferably there and back to the central summit.  Concerning the traverse, the descent to Bérangère is bare ice and requires excellent cramponning technique. Nobody has been on the Aiguilles de Tré-la-Tête and the Lex Blanche for some time now.


- Robert Blanc : The Lanchettes Ridge and the Col des Glaciers on the Dôme des Glaciers are in condition. There have been parties on the Petite Aiguille des Glaciers and Mont Tondu. The Glaciers des Glaciers is OK for the moment.


- Monzino : Some parties on the Innominata, feasible but more technical than usual.  The rock routes in this area are very popular.


- Gonella : The normal Italian route up Mont Blanc is well frequented and with no particular problems, (the route goes over a snow bridge which is solid for the moment).


- Hiking : Good conditions for the Buet, (good boots and poles suffice). The paths below Flégère are open again, except for the 4x4 track under the cable car which will open on 28th July.