Report 23 May 2019

Some information for this weekend.

We find ourselves in two seasons, Spring in the valley and Winter/Spring up in the mountains, a situation typical for Chamonix in May.  Quite a lot of snow fell this winter at mid altitudes which, together with the very little sunshine and cooler than average temperatures in April and May, means the snow is taking a long time to disappear.  

For example, it is still possible to ski in the Berard Valley, with the snow down to 15 minutes above the cascade.

This makes things awkward for hikers as there is still a lot of snow above 1700/2000m. This is not just snow patches but rather whole valleys remain under snow making paths and waymarks invisible.   There is often a need to break trail in deep snow with also a danger of slipping/falling in places.  The mountain lakes are not yet accessible and remain under snow, as are the Grand Balcon paths



Little has changed since the update of May 10th. Below is a selection of recommended hikes with great views.

- Lac Vert

- Alpage de Charousse

- Chalets de Chailloux (snow below the Aiguillette des Houches)

- Alpage de Blaitière Dessous

- Rocher des Mottets (possible to continue up to Montenvers.  Do not go up to Montenvers by the Caillet path.)  

- Buvette du Chapeau and viewpoint.

- Petits Balcons north and south, Buvette de la Floria (open),

- Chalets de Loriaz from Le Couteray (snow on leaving the forest)

- Aiguillette des Posettes starting from Tré le Champ.

Do not forget to check on the Chamoniarde site for which paths have been closed  (avis de fermeture e) and especially those in the Flegere sector, (secteur Flégère ).


Tour du Mont Blanc

As is normal for this time of the year, it is still too early for hiking.  There is no evidence of hikers in the Chapieu valley yet, only skiers

In the high mountain we are between seasons, most of the lifts and huts are closed.   There is too much snow unless using snowshoes or skis, which then need carried when lower down . The weather windows have been rare and often brief.  The good news is that the snow that fell last weekend, (without wind and between 50 and 70cm depending on the altitude) has stuck to the ice and rock, leading to a start in the improvement in conditions for mixed routes.


Tour Sector:  The approach to the Albert 1er hut is by the moraine path.  The upper part of the Migot Spur is dry and the Forbes Ridge has a lot of snow since the last storm.  The Aiguille du Tour, Tete Blanche etc. are feasible.


Argentière Sector

- Aiguille d'Argentière, Glacier du Milieu has ski tracks, (no more info.)  

- Col des Cristaux, NE Face of the Courtes look to be skiable.

- Couturier does not appear to have any recent tracks.


Couvercle  Sector (hut open )

To reach the hut, it is no longer feasible to go by the Pierre à Bérenger and the CentralCouloir. The new approach, (shared with the Charpoua hut) crosses too many gullies which have not purged yet. All that remains is the Egralets route, which still has a lot of snow.  It would appear best to take a rounabout route to the left to reach the foot of the ladders.

Below is information taken from the hut Facebook site before the last storm, (no activity since, the faces and gullies are well purged) :

For the 2019 season: “the Couvercle hut will open on 1st June and close on 15th September.  The hut will be renovated to meet modern building standards and offer better conditions for the alpinistes and wardens and to make it more eco-friendly.  The work is due to start mid-September, assuming the planning permission is obtained."

Concerning the routes in this sector, the two main objectives are the Whymper on the Verte and the Pointe Isabella.  Conditions are OK with a good snow cover since the recent snowfalls.  The bergschrund on the Whymper is crossed on the true left, though it is starting to open up. For the Pointe Isabella, the crevasses are filled in.

Some parties on the Droites and the Courtes but there is a lot of snow high up and bare ice on the N faces.


Aiguille du Midi Sector (Cosmiques hut open):

- Cosmiques Arete, Pointes Lachenal, Triangle du Tacul (Chéré, Contamine-Mazeaud, Contamine-Grisolle): there are walking tracks in place.  Likewise, for the traverse and descent, (and ascent to the summit) of the normal route of the Tacul from the top of the Triangle.

- Normal route on the Tacul was done on skis, there and back, on 23/05 (no problems with the bergschrunds).

- Mallory Porter and Eugster Diagonal were climbed on23/05

- Vallée Blanche: Need to walk to reach the ladders or the ice cave, (see Montenvers webcams).   It is warming up, making the snow bridges weak. The Requin hut is open but will be closed from 29/05 to10/06.


Pointe Helbronner Sector

- Traverse of the Marbrées has been done, (on foot).

- Tour Ronde is popular:  Gervasutti Couloir, North face, descent by the Freshfield Col. The normal winter route is feasible.

- Good track to the Col d'Entrèves, (the traverse looks feasible.)


Mont Blanc

- The Trois Monts is still not being done.  A descent sized weather window is needed to work out the route to cross Mont Maudit. 

- good conditions by the Grands Mulets: From the tunnel one needs to carry the skis to just above the ancient Gare de la Para.  If not, one can use skis from the Plan de lAiguille.  As a reminder, one needs to start EARLY, in order to reach the hut, (risk of snow slides and the traverse of the Jonction is awkward when it warms up.)   The snow is sticking to the N ridge of the Dôme du Goûter, (skied on 23/05.  There is still some bare ice, between 4 to10m according to the guides.)  The route by the Plateaux is also tracked, the danger from falling seracs is still there.  The N face has been skied on the true left in good conditions.  

- the Goûter hut opened on 24/05. The Tête Rousse opens on Monday, 27/05. The Bellevue cable car will open on 8/06 and the TMB on15/06. This early in the season, snowshoes are useful to reach the Tete Rousse.  Starting from Bionnassay is perhaps easier, (or 4x4 taxi to Bellevue.)  It is best to take the path by the Are chalets to reach the Nid d’Aigle.  (The Dérochoir has too much snow and the route following the railway track is dangerous.)


Conscrits Sector

The Mont Tondu, the traverse of the Dômes de Miage (the skiing ends just above the Armancette lake) and the Aiguille de la Bérangère (there and back from the hut,) are all in good condition. 

Before the latest snowfall, the upper part of the N faces, (Lex Blanche, Trè-la-Tête, Mettrier,) were bare ice.


Report 10th May 2019

Some information for mid-May:

Wednesday/Thursday’s weather front brought with it 50cms of new snow at 3000m and 30cms at 2500m.  There was a lot of wind giving rise to unstable conditions by the end of the day on Thursday and Friday, (risk of avalanche.)  

Bad weather with more snow is foreseen for Friday night and Saturday.

The Aiguille du Midi cable car, (ridge no longer equipped), Montenvers train, cable cabins to the ice cave and the Skyway Monte Bianco (but closed from 13 to 17 May) are the only lifts still open.

High Mountain

The Conscrits hut is now closed.  The huts still open are: Couvercle, Requin, Cosmiques, Torino, Grands Mulets.

Due to the bad weather there has not been much activity recently. Next week should be better.  Conditions for ski mountaineering and classic snow routes should be OK, (not too much ski carrying, crevasses filled in, etc,) but do not forget to check the avalanche risk.  Concerning the mixed routes, it is not known if conditions have improved.  


Down in the Chamonix valley it feels like spring or even summer.  However, up in the mountains, conditions remain wintery.

Due to so much snow, there is little chance that the footpaths above 2000m, (1800 for N facing,) will be feasible this spring.  Some sections of the classic trails are likely to remain awkward even at the beginning of summer, e.g.  Lac Blanc – Lac Cornu – Grands Balcons – Tour du Mont Blanc.

One can get an idea of the amount of snow by looking online at the Chamonix webcams.  Also, do not hesitate to get advice on what paths are feasible from the Chamoniarde (OHM) office. Be sensible in your choice of route and make sure you are properly equipped.

Mont Blanc Normal Route

The Goûter hut opens on the 24th May and the Tête Rousse hut on the 27th May.  The Bellevue cable car opens on the 8th June and the Mont Blanc tramway on the 15th June.  

The amount of snow at mid-altitudes makes the approach to the huts more difficult than normal but should not be a problem for fit, experienced alpinists.  

A new warden for the Nid Aigle hut is in the process of being appointed. The hut should be open at some time between 1st and 15th June. The reservation system will be identical to that for the Tete Rousse and the Gouter, nominative, online, (50% of the places through resa web) and by telephone.  Proof of a reservation is needed to access the huts.    

As reported in previous bulletins, camping will be forbidden anywhere on the route, including the Tete Rousse.  Therefore, it is pointless carrying a tent.  As an alternative, communal tents, Himalayan base camp style with mattresses and blankets, (5 tents, each with 8 places i.e. 40 places total,) have been made available.  They can be reserved using the the Tete Rousse website. Full price is expected to be about 30€; usual reductions available.  


The road up to the Emosson dam is due to open soon.  However, there is work planned on the dam from 13th May for three weeks.  Hikers and skiers will be forbidden to go across the dam during this time.

Landing at the Bois du Bouchet para gliding site is forbidden by council order from 13th to 22nd May.  This is so that the area can be put back in order following the Musilac festival.  During this period, landing is allowed at the Bois du Bouchet hang gliding site


Report 4th May 2019

Mountain Conditions 04/05/2019

A quick update for this gap in the bad weather:

Since Thursday the following amount of fresh snow has been reported:

- about 50 cm at the Cosmiques, (slightly wind affected.)

- 15 cm at Grands-Mulets, no wind  

- 30 cm at the Conscrits hut

More snow is foreseen this weekend.


The Grands Montets ski area closes on Sunday evening, (05/05). The Argentière hut closed on the 1st May.  There is still a lot of ski touring potential in this sector, (Col du Chardonnet, Aiguille d'Argentière, Col du Tour Noir, Col d'Argentière). Conditions are slowly improving for the steep skiing, (couloir Barbey, col des Cristaux, NE des Courtes) and the mixed routes. The Albert 1er and Trient huts are also closed.

Though there are good conditions in the Talèfre area, the approach to the Couvercle hut is now awkward. The moraine is dangerous and there is a slab to climb in the central gullly, the Pierre à Béranger has no snow and the route by the ladders has too much snow.  More info in the cahier de course, (route book).

The rope protected “Z” path from the Aig du Midi has been dismantled.  The Valley Blanche is still OK, (the snow bridges, especially in the lower part, need care.)  There is walking in some places on the Mer de Glace, as well as for 5 mins to reach the ice cave.  The Brèche Puiseux, couloir du Capucin and the col du Tacul, there and back, are still being done.

The Glacier Rond (rope useful at the start), Cosmiques couloir and the Col du Plan are being skied regularly.  The Mallory-Porter has not been climbed recently.

The Plan de l'Aiguille hut opened on the 1st May. The Grands Mulets hut is due to be very popular for people doing Mont Blanc over the next few days.  A serac fall crossed the track at the Petit Plateau on 1st May.  There is still an ice pitch, (60m, 6 ice screws useful) followed by a section of ice and snow for 300m, (short roping) on the N ridge of the Dôme du Goûter.  The snow appears to be stable but check when there!

On the approach to the Conscrits hut, (closes 11th May), one can start skinning on leaving the forest, (Nant du Tour).  The snow appears to be sticking to the N faces in this sector. The traverse of the Domes de Miage is still in condition.  On the descent the skiing now ends above the lake.

Ski touring is still possible in the Col d'Encrenaz area from the Col des Montets or the Berard valley, (Mont Buet, col de Salenton, col de Beugeant...).


Not much has changed for hiking. There is still a lot of snow above 1800m.  The feasible hikes remain the same as in the last update.  The footbridge at Merlet is now in place. Think about checking the list of officially closed paths, (liste) 


Report 26th April 2019


Some information for this weekend:

Following on from the recent Foehn winds there was fresh snow down to the valley floor last night, (Thursday).  On Friday morning there was : 

- 20 cm at the Grands Mulets hut (wind affected)  

- between 30 and 60 cms of accumulated snow at the Cosmiques hut  

- 20-30 cm at the Plan de l'Aiguille

- 25 cm at the Argentière hut

The weekend’s forecast is for wet weather, including the possibility of more snow.

The snow is melting quickly low down but remains above 1500m (south facing and 1700m, (north facing.)   

Most of the lifts are now closed, (Les Houches, Brévent, Flégère, Balme-Vallorcine). Only the Grands-Montets (closed on 2nd +3rd May and then closes definitively on the 5th,) the Aig du Midi, Montenvers and the Skyway MonteBianco, (Italy) remain open.

Ski touring is accessible in the Argentière sector from Grands Montets, for example : Col du Passon to La Tour, Col du Chardonnet, Aiguille d'Argentière via the Glacier du Milieu (more information in the OHM route book), Col du Tour Noir, Col d’Argentière. Concerning the N faces, only the Col des Cristaux and the NE face of the Courtes. (large bergschrund) are skiable, though not from the summit.

The Valley Blanche and the Brèche Puiseux remain feasible, (the descent ridge from the Aig du Midi is still equipped.)  Be aware of crevasses concealed by the recent snow and snow bridges weakened by the recent warm winds.  It is still possible to ski almost to the foot of the stairs leading to the Montenvers (ice cave) lift.

As far as Mont Blanc is concerned, the Three Monts route is not yet OK, (avalanche risk and Mont Maudit is not in condition.)  The N ridge of the Dome du Gouter is also not in condition, (ice.)  The Plateaux route is the most feasible option. Skiing the N face by the usual ramp is not possible, instead take the true left side, (40m wall of ice, for excellent skiers only.) N.B: the Foehn wind together with the recent snowfall means there is a significant avalanche risk.

No major changes for the Tour, Talèfre and Dômes de Miage sectors since the last update of16th April.


Some suggestions for ski tours which remain feasible and do not involve glaciers:

- Col de l'Encrenaz from (just below) the Col des Montets

- Bérard Valley (Beaugeant, Bérard, Salenton Cols and Mont Buet) from Le Buet (Walking for 15 mins to the Cascade buvette plus some walking sections after that.)

- Col de la Terrasse/ Cheval Blanc from the Emosson dam road, (closed still, some walking involved.)


For those still wanting to snowshoe, a possibility is to ascend the closed La Tour pistes to the Col du Balme and/or the Aiguillette des Posettes.


Spring has very much arrived in the valley and the trees are beginning to blossom.  However, appearances can be deceptive, many of the hiking trails are not yet in condition. 

Some suggestions for hikers are, (suitable footwear and poles needed for the higher paths) :

- Chalets d’Ayères from Servoz or Plaine Joux

- Chalet de Chailloux, there and back, from Flatière or Merlet

- Chalet du Cerro and its viewpoint

- Petit Balcon Sud : Gaillands - Les Praz / Les Tines. 

- Petit Balcon Nord between Chamonix and Argentière

- Chalet de la Floria, there and back, from Chamonix or Les Praz only (path free of snow).

- Chalet du Chapeau from Les Praz – Les Tines – Le Lavancher, there and back. 

- Buvette des Mottets from Les Bois (Filia path) or Les Planards (do not take the path for Montenvers via Caillet)

- Chalets de Loriaz

Check the feasibility of the paths at the Office de Haute Montagne and also for paths closed by council order,  (arrêtés de fermetures .) 

Report 16 April 2019

Information for the high and mid mountain during the Easter holidays:

Some of the ski areas are already closed (Les Houches, La Flégère, Vallorcine, Megève, Saint Gervais).

Areas still open are Balme/Le Tour, Brévent, Contamines (until 22/04) and Argentière/Lognan (until 01/05 then the weekend 4/5 May).  The Aiguille du Midi cable car and the Montenvers train remain open. More information on the CMB website.

Tour / Trient Sector

Not much has changed since the last update.  Access is either by the Balme chairlift and the Col des Autannes or from Lognan and the Col du Passon.

A bit of walking is necessary to reach Trient village.  All the cols are being done and are in condition. The Couloir de la Table is tracked, (the gully in the lower band is OK), as is normal route on the Aig du Tour, (by the E ridge and the col between the two summits.)  A party has done the Table ridge.

Some parties have traversed the Chardonnet, (up by the SE couloir and descent by the normal route.)

It is still just possible to ski all the way to La Tour, but expect some walking at the boardercross area soon.  

Argentière Sector

Depending on the chosen route one can get onto the Argentiere glacier by the return route (Passon, Chardonnet) or by the Col des Rachasses (Glacier du Milieu, Argentière hut, Col du Tour Noir etc).

- The Lognan hut closed on the 14 April.

- The N faces are not in condition (1 party on the Couturier and the Courtes NE 15/04)

- Col des Cristaux is in good condition, cramponning for the last 150m.

- The gullies are not formed, (not enough ice etc.)

- Cols d'Argentière/ Tour Noir/ Passon are OK.

- The Flèche Rousse ridge in good condition.

- The “Y” Couloir: bergschrund OK then a pitch to overcome the lower band, (ice on rock, 2 axes useful.)

- Aiguille d'Argentière by the Glacier du Milieu: good ski conditions up to the bergschrund, ski depot. then cramponning to the summit and back.   

- Col du Chardonnet: rock hard snow in the couloir on the Saleina side. More information in the OHM route book.


Talèfre Sector

Little change here, one can find the latest information in the hut blog.


Aiguille du Midi / Helbronner Sector

Due to the dry conditions there has not been much ice climbing, (Chéré and Contamine-Grisolle on the Triangle du Tacul, Gabarrou-Albinoni and Pas d'Agonie 1 have been done).

It is forbidden by a council order to enter the Glacier Rond area from 17th to 20th April due to work there on a pylon.

The Valley Blanche, Brèche Puiseux and Capucin couloir are still being skied.   

The normal route on the Tacul was tracked on skis the 13/04 exitting by the Shoulder.  The old ladder has been repositioned in order to cross the impressive bergshrund.

The Cosmiques ridge is in condition for the moment.  The rockfall area before the abseil is delicate but has a fixed rope for security.  A 40m or 50m ripe suffices for the abseil. 

Pointes Lachenal are still bare ice.

The Mallory on the Aig du Midi N face is tracked in ascent.

Rochefort Ridge was done on 13/04 in good conditions.  The party turned back below the Aiguille due to snow on the slabs.


Mont Blanc

Approach to the Grands Mulets hut: The best option is probably to start from the Plan de l'Aiguille. (Rock hard snow in the Cosmiques couloir and Glacier Rond, also they are forbidden until 19/04, see above).   Take the lower path, (as shown on the IGN map) to cross the Jonction. The higher path leads to an impassable crevasse. 

Higher up conditions remain complicated. The N ridge of the Dôme du Goûter is bare ice for 250m, (foresee 2 axes + ice screws for 50m pitches.). This makes progress very slow and has been enough to deter most parties attempting this way to the summit.

A party climbed Mont Maudit in bad conditions (“rock hard snow”) but no further information.

The remaining way to summit Mont Blanc is to ascend by the Plateaux, (good track keeping as far left as possible.)  This route is exposed to serac fall.  The decision to risk it or not is entirely up to the individual!

The N face is not in condition for the moment, ski depot at the Vallot.

Two skiers descended by the Corridor, (a rope was used to pass an ice cliff and at the bergschrund).

It is best to descend by the Para, (30mins of walking at the end to the tunnel) or to traverse to the Plan station. It is not advisable to descend the Bossons glacier; bad conditions in the gully above the Plateau des Pyramides on the left bank, rotten snow on the right bank, (15/20 minutes of walking.)

Miage Sector

Little has changed since the last update.

For the hut approach one needs to carry the skis as far as Nant du Tour, (circa 1 hour).

In general, very good conditions for the Miage traverse, (no ice) and for the descent of the Armancette (15 min of walking above the lake then skiing again down to 1700m.)

Mont Tondu is in good condition.

SW Couloir of the Aiguille de la Bérangère has been skied in good conditions.

There has been nobody on the N faces, which are bare ice, the foehn wind of 15/04 having stripped away the snow.


It is necessary to remain at the lower altitudes.  Higher up there is a serious risk of falling.

Some examples of feasible hikes are:

- Lac Vert from La Côte (Servoz)

- Chailloux chalet from Le Bettey

- Petit Balcon Sud and the Floria chalet

- Chapeau chalet

- Loriaz chalets from Couteray, Vallorcine, (higher up snowshoes useful.)   

Due to work replacing the Flegere cable car, access to this sector, including the way to Lac Blanc, is blocked this year.  Lac Blanc remains accessible from the Col des Montets.  The paths leading up to Flégère have been closed by order of the council.

The Curala via ferrata (Plateau d’Assy) opened on the 15th April. The Gorges de Bonnant (Saint Gervais) opened on the 10/04, starting from the 2nd escape, known as "Maurice Lenoir".


Report 11th April 2019


Tour / Trient Sector

The descents down to Trient are in good condition (the snow being firstly frozen then crusty then spring snow). It is possible to ski all the way to the ski du fond pistes, (then a further 15 minutes of walking to reach the village).

The Col du Pissoir is good (no ice), as is the Col Supérieur du Tour (hard snow but a good track, carrying the skis for the last 5m.)  The Col du Midi des Grands was very dry but should have improved with the latest snowfall.

No information for the normal route on the Aiiguille du Tour which should now be in good condition. The lower part of the Table Couloir is very dry, (a rocky narrow passage of 15/20m) but the upper part has plenty of snow, feasible in ascent.

It is still possible to ski all the way down to La Tour.

Argentière Sector (5 cm of fresh snow this morning, Thursday).

Average amount of snow for the time of year, (crusty).

On the Aiguille d’Argentière, the Glacier du Milieu (the top slope not skiable in descent), and the Y Couloir, (bergschrund and lower band OK) are being done

Nobody on the N faces, except for the Col des Cristaux.

Ski tourers on all the usual cols, (Passon, Chardonnet, Tour Noir, Argentière).

The return by the true left bank of the Argentière glacier remains good.


Talèfre Sector

To reach the Couvercle hut, it is better to use the central couloir, (one passage to walk,) rather than the Pierre à Béranger (feasible if very early.)

There has been nobody on the Whymper since the last snowfall, (party foreseen for Friday12/04). The way across the bergschrund, which had collapsed, looks to have filled in again and is should go on the true right.  

The south facing slopes are in good condition, (e.g. col des Droites).  The snow is crustier on other aspects.

The Pointe Isabelle is in condition this year (glacier OK, skin up to the shoulder then mixed climbing up the ridge to the summit.)


Aiguille du Midi Sector (4 cm of fresh snow this morning, Thursday)

The Valley Blanche is still in reasonably good condition Some treacherous crevasses in the cwm before the Requin hut and on the traverse to the Salle à Manger. The snow quality is variable, with the crusty snow on the slopes exposed to the sun, (e.g. Grand, Moyen & Petit Envers). The classic route has better conditions.

The Cosmiques couloir (60m abseil then hard snow for 200 m) and the Rond glacier (rope useful at the start) are being done daily, (30 minutes of walking from the old station passing by La Para). 

The Cosmiques Ridge is now tracked. The left summit of the Pointe Lachenal is also being done, (no further information.)

The Chéré couloir is popular, though fairly dry and more technical than usual, (black ice above the bergschrund, pitch 2 dry: gravel, rock.)  The same is true for the Modica Noury and Gabarrou Albinoni (some belay bolts have been replaced.)

For the moment, the normal route on the Tacul does not look to be in condition, (large bergschrund and threatening seracs.) 


Helbronner Sector

The traverses of the Aiguilles Marbrées and the Aiguille d'Entrêves are very popular

For the Tour Ronde, it is still necessary to go via the Col Freshfield. The Gervasutti couloir is being done. No news for the N face which looks to be feasible.

The rocks on the Dent du Géant are covered in snow. Before this last snowfall, the Aiguille de Rochefort was tracked and in good condition.   

Goulotte Valeria (Petit Capucin) was done on 10/04, conditions very dry!  


Mont Blanc by the Grands-Mulets

The glacier approach is well filled in. The Jonction goes by the lower track, (as shown on the IGN map.)

Mont Blanc was done on 09/04 by the Plateaux. Conditions on the N du Dôme ridge have improved but there is still ice just below a layer of fresh snow.  The Bosses ridge is OK, (avoiding the ice with short detours).  The N face has been skied on the true left, (good skiers only; 5m of ice in the funnel, rope useful).


Dômes de Miage Sector

Generally good conditions in this sector except for the N faces, (they are holding some snow but not yet enough to fully cover the ice.)   About 12cms of snow fell on Wednesday.

It is still possible to start skinning from Plan (30 minutes of walking then again for some short sections.) However, the snow is rapidly melting up as far as Nant du Tour.

Very good conditions for the Dômes de Miage traverse.  There are some, avoidable, ice sections to reach the ridge and on the descent to the Col de la Bérangère.  The ridge is snow.

Good skiing on the Armancette, walking for 15 minutes above the lake then possible to ski again almost to La Frasse.


Aiguilles Rouges

Pleasant ski touring on all the classics, (variable snow quality). Still possible to ski down the Berard valley all the way to Buet.  Some ski carrying is needed for Loriaz, Bel Oiseau and Pointe Ronde.


Grands Paradis

The recent snowfalls have improved conditions though the snow cover is still poor, expect to carry skis at the start.