MOUNTAIN CONDITIONS 27/12/2019
The last update for 2019, for a weekend that promises to be sunny.
The storm last weekend brought with it a lot of snow at altitude, but also strong winds and with a warm period at the end. This resulted in wet snow below 2000m, (risk of snow slabs detaching from ground level.) The off piste ski conditions often unpleasant, (a crust above a deep layer of soft snow and inconsistent hard snow at altitude).
The spell of bad weather on Friday, (27th,) put down 30cms of snow at 2000m and around 10cms of damp snow at 1000m. Above 2000m the snow cover has been affected by the wind. Already on Friday there have been quite a few avalanches. (A thinnish layer of fresh snow sliding on an old, hard layer.)
Take care this weekend with the return of the sun and a rise in temperatures, (0ºC isotherm around 3000m on Saturday and Sunday.) There will be a lot of people about. USE ALL YOUR SENSES NOT JUST THOSE OF YOUR TRANSCEIVER!
The snow cover is very good for the time of year above 1500m but remains poor below 1400m.
Most of the ski area is now open. You can see exactly what lifts and pistes are open in real time at: http://www.skiplan.com/bulletin/bulletin.php?station=chamonix®ion=alpes&pays=france&lang=en
For ski tourers not wishing to use the lifts, one can start skinning e.g. at Bettey, Le Tour parking, Vallorcine, Bel Oiseau and Col de la Forclaz. To repeat, be careful with your route choice, given the potentially hazardous conditions due to the mixture of fresh snow, wind and rising temperatures.
There have been a lot of people asking about the Valley Blanche. It is still a bit too early and for the moment it is only suitable for very experienced ski mountaineers.
There is no information about the gullies and mixed climbs. It has been very windy. The OHM is looking forward to receiving your reports!
Concerning the valley ice climbs, there is not much about, which is to be expected given the temperatures. There is some ice at Cogne, otherwise patience is needed, (to avoid everybody on the same icefall!) Hopefully, conditions will improve in January.
The snow shoe tracks are open, (best above 1500m) : (https://www.ccpmb.fr/uploads/2019/12/TopoRaquettes_2019-20_light.pdf). The Company du Mont Blanc maintains some tracks at altitude, accessible by lift: (http://www.skiplan.com/bulletin/bulletin.php?station=chamonix®ion=alpes&pays=france&lang=en). These would give access to the superb views from the Prarion or Flegere this weekend.
Take care and a Happy New Year to everyone