MOUNTAIN CONDITIONS 06/03/2020
Some (brief) information for the weekend.
One spell of bad weather has been quickly followed by another, making the good weather windows very short. The main activities, therefore, have been off piste skiing, ski touring and snow shoeing, (on the trails at the head of the valley.)
On Thursday, there was 50cms of fresh snow at Vallorcine and a bit more in Courmayeur, (due to pockets of cold air). In the Chamonix valley and the Prealps, (Chablais and Aravis,) it rained up to 2000m
At altitude, there has been 40 to 50cm of new snow reported since Thursday morning. PIDA, (Avalanche Patrols) have released unstable snow with depths of 40cm to 1m, sometimes in large quantities.
Concerning the off piste, the snow is relatively good and the successive snow dumps have increased the chance of making “fresh tracks”. Be aware of the avalanche risk.
The three designated ski touring trails (Les Houches, Trapette at Argentiere and Le Tour) are feasible.
All the classic ski tours could be OK but be aware of the avalanche danger. It is possible to start skinning from Notre Dame de la Gorge, Plaine Joux (Pointe de Pormenaz), La Flatiere (Aiguillette des Houches), Buet (Bérard Valley / Buet), Couteray (Loriaz sector), Finhaut (Bel Oiseau sector) and Col de la Forclaz (Pointe Ronde).
Concerning the glaciers, the Argentiere sector is popular, (hut open, telephone working again.) It is still probably too early for the Aiguille d’Argentière by the glacier du Milieu, even if the recent snows have improved the lower part.
No information for the Brèche Puiseux or the Conscrits sectors, (weather windows often too brief.)
The recent snowfalls have improved conditions for the lower part of the Mer de Glace and it is possible to reach Montenvers without problems. The people responsible for the ice cave have put out a warning that the old, (lower,) ice cave is at risk of collapsing. It is therefore best not to pass this way but to approach the steps from above.
The descent by the Mottets snack bar, (open this weekend,) down to Chamonix is possible, with some rocks showing through on the lower part of the glacier and on the bends before the Planards Farm, (not to be recommended to people with new skis!)
The marked snow shoe trails at altitude are feasible but check first for those managed by the Company du Mont Blanc on their website: : http://www.skiplan.com/bulletin/bulletin.php?station=chamonix®ion=alpes&pays=france&lang=en). The more experienced snow shoers can consider the unmarked trails up to Chailloux or Loriaz.
For the hikers, it is best to keep down in the valley on the signposted paths. Please check the avalanche risk before doing certain routes. For example, the way up to the Chapeau cafe, normally practicable this winter, has frequently to be avoided during the last few weeks due to avalanche risk
Following a stonefall, the path beside the Arve between Les Monquarts and the Eaux Rousses path is closed until 13th March.
There is still icefall climbing on the true left bank of the Argentière glacier, (Déferlante sector) and at Cogne, (Patri, Lillaz gully, Patinaggio Artistico etc).
There is no recent information for the gullies, except for a party seen on the Pellisier (Pointes Lachenal) last weekend.
A party did the Fil à Plomb on Wednesday: deep snow, crux still with ice but too thin for ice screws.
The gullies on the N face of the Aig du Midi, (Vent du Dragon etc ), and the Triangle du Tacul look to be very dry.