Report 19th June 2020



                                                Mountain Conditions 19/06/20


A quick update on snow conditions.  There will be more information after this weekend’s feedback.  

From Saturday, the weather is due to stabilise and from Sunday, should become warm and sunny.
This weekend the Leschaux, Charpoua, Argentière, Plan Glacier and Durier huts will open.


High mountain: some parties turned back before reaching the summits, (Chardonnet, Mt Blanc, Dômes de Miage...) There was a lot of deep snow making the routes a lot more tiring.


Albert 1er sector: Aiguille du Tour is well tracked and in good condition, some surface snow sluffs.  There is a good 60cms on the Forbes Ridge, not tracked. The Migot has been skied. There is hardly any snow at the hut.  The best approach is by the moraine as there are still exposed snow patches on the summer path coming from Charamillon.

Couvercle sector: There was a party on the normal route of the Droites but they turned back due to too much snow. The freezing conditions are not good but the Droites, Courtes and the Whymper look to be in condition. The rock routes are still too damp, (snow), including the S ridge of the Moine.


Aiguille du Midi and Torino sector: 40cm of very humid snow has fallen which is now crusty snow on the surface.  The traverses of the Cosmiques Ridge, Laurence Ridge, (Lolo), Pointes Lachenal, and Marbrées are tracked. The Tour Ronde has been skied.  The Tacul Triangle looks to be in condition, (plenty of snow).

  
Goûter sector: The normal route up Mont Blanc is tracked. There is a lot of snow between the Rognes and Tête Rousse and it is preferable to approach by the glacier.  More than a metre of windblown snow has fallen at the Gouter hut.  The cable at the Grand Couloir is in place, though some of it is still under the snow.  Good crampon skills are needed for the descent from the Gouter.  The glacier below the Tête Rousse is all on snow.

Conscrits sector: It is finished for skiing here. The footbridge on the summer path is still not in place, (damaged and not yet repaired)  For the approach by the glacier it is best to keep to the true right bank without crossing the river, then following the cairns after the steep section, as marked by the hut warden. The snow routes appear to be in condition, (Aiguille de Tré la Tête and Blanche) but need time to stabilise.  There is still a lot of snow on the Dômes de Miage.

At the Grand Paradiso, the routes from the Chabot are tracked and in good condition.


Mid mountain:  There is still quite a lot of snow at the TMB cols and on the Tour des Aiguilles Rouges.  Hopefully, this will disappear from the paths after a week of sunny weather.
The footbridges at Bionnassay and Armina (Italian Val Ferret) are in place. Some of the TMB variants are not in condition yet. 

Snow is still causing some problems for rock climbing in the Aiguilles Rouges, crampons could be useful.

Report 4th June 2020

MOUNTAIN CONDITIONS 04/06/2020

First the good news.  The by-law forbidding overnighting in the mountains was lifted on the 2nd June. The bad news is that the weather has changed for the worse, (though this should eventually improve conditions which were very dry for the beginning of June.)

The French huts will be allowed to open, with certain conditions, (reduction in capacity, bedding and pillows not supplied…)  Please consult the dedicated website ( https://www.chamoniarde.com/montagne/refuges )  which will be updated regularly.

Until the huts open, the winter rooms remain accessible, though a bivouac, (individual tent,) is better adapted to the current health situation.

The Conscrits and Trè la Tête huts opened on 2nd June.

Here are the dates on which the following huts hope to open:

  • 10 June : Tête Rousse; Albert 1er
  • 11 June : Goûter
  • 13 June : Cosmiques; Plan de l'Aiguille, Nid d'Aigle
  • Mid June : Plan Glacier
  • 20 June : Charpoua, Leschaux
  • Early July : Envers des Aiguilles

The Grands Mulets and Requin huts will not open this summer.  It is not certain when the Couvercle hut will open, as work is foreseen there.  The Chamoniarde site will keep you informed.

The situation in Switzerland and Italy appears to be similar with the progressive opening of the huts.

Concerning the high mountain conditions, the good weather these last weeks has allowed for a lot of activity.  The snow routes are mostly in good condition.  Aiguille du Tour; Chardonnet (Forbes Ridge + Migot Spur); Aiguille d'Argentière (Flèche Rousse, Y Couloir, Glacier du Milieu), Aiguille Verte (Couturier, Whymper), Midi-Plan Ridge, Cosmiques Ridge, Mont Blanc du Tacul (normal route, Contamine-Negri, Contamine-Grisolle), Kuffner Ridge, Mont Blanc normal route, Mettrier Ridge and Dômes de Miage traverse were done frequently.  

On the other hand, the Trois Monts route is not in condition.  A large serac bars the way on the N face of Mont Maudit and the seracs lower on the face are unstable.  

Rock climbing conditions are good on the S faces but there remains some snow  on faces not that exposed to the sun.

Some reports on recent outings can be found in the cahier de course.

These conditions will probably change with the unsettled weather period that has started.

For hikers :  the Barberine path has re-opened.  The 4x4 track up to the Mottets from Planards is closed until July 31, more info : https://www.chamoniarde.com/actualites/sentiers/fermeture-chemin-4-4-des-mottets 

Given the bad weather, the other good news is that the climbing wall at Les Houches has re-opened.  

 

 

Report 29 May 2020

Mountain Conditions 29 May 2020

 

The latest information before this three-day weekend.  

 

It should be no surprise that it is still too early for the classic walks at altitude, such as the mountain lakes tour, the North Grand Balcon or the Jonction.


In the Cheserys/Lac Blanc area there is still plenty of snow and the lakes remain covered.   The northern slopes and the high cols remain present problems as there is still snow on some paths.  Care and correct equipment are needed.

The Aiguillettes des Posettes and des Houches, Tête de Balme, Alpages de Loriaz, Planpraz via Plan des Chablettes and the Jovet lakes at Contamines Montjoie offer excellent views without snow problems.

 

In general, the paths bellow 2000/2200m remain feasible, for example, le Chapeau, la Floria,and  Bossons glacier, but check first that there is no maintenance work being done at: fermetures pour travaux..

Overnighting, either a bivouac and in a winter room, remains forbidden for the moment, (and certainly for this weekend).  Only day trips are allowed.  Hopefully, this will change soon.

 

Not much has change for the high mountain since the last report, other than ski conditions have deteriorated, the snow being icy below about 3500m. 

 

At Argentière, it is still possible to put skis on at the level of Lognan and get in a few turns.

 

Albert 1iere sector: it is still best to approach by the moraine.  Activity has been reported on the Aiguille du Tour and the Forbes Ridge.  The Migot Spur looks feasible.

Last weekend the normal route on the Mont Blanc du Tacul, Contamine-Negri, Pointes Lachenal traverse, Cosmiques Arete, Cosmiques Spur, Aiguille du Midi S face, Frendo Spur and Mallory-Porter were climbed..

 

The normal route and the N ridge of the Dôme route (ice on the ridge, no information for the Jonction traverse), on Mont Blanc have been done. 

 

The Talèfre sector can be accessed via the Egralets or by the “new” Charpoua/Couvercle approach.

 

For the Conscrits, the footbridge has been seriously damaged by rock fall;  repair is foreseen for mid-June. In the meantime, access is by the Tré la Tête glacier.

 

For rock climbers: there has been a lot of activity on the valley crags and also on the Aig du Mid (S face)  For the climbs near the Plan de l’Aiguille, crampons and ice axe are needed for some of the approaches.   For example, the NNE ridge of the M has been done in good conditions, but crampons are highly recommended.

The lifts and huts will open one by one during June/July, depending on the precautionary measures taken for each.

 

For the lifts:  consult the dates here.

For the huts, regular updates are available on the Chamoniarde site:  Chamoniarde/huts site.

 

The Office de Haute Montagne is open to the public Monday to Saturday 9h to12h and 15h to 18h.
A mask is obligatory as is respecting the rules posted at the office.  For the moment, it is best to ask for information by phone or email.

 

The Chamoniarde training courses for this summer are still under review.  All relevant information will be posted soon on the Chamoniarde site and on social media.

 

The Chamoniarde team is looking forward to receiving information from your outings to feed into their bulletins.

Report 20 May 2020

MOUNTAIN CONDITIONS 20/05/2020

Some information for the long bank holiday weekend.

 

The return of the good weather, together with the opening of the Aiguille du Midi lift and the Montenvers  train, has allowed for a lot of activity in the high mountain. Take heed of the warm weather, conditions will have certainly changed since last weekend.  We are between the ski and alpine seasons.  Skis and snowshoes remain useful for moving about the mountain.

 

Tour Sector: The hut is accessible either on foot, (a snow patch to cross near the water outlet then dry until the junction with the other path below the hut), or on ski, (a part of the moraine still has snow, 1hr of carrying.)  A lot of people were on the Table Couloir (mixed section low down, final ridge OK,) and the normal route on the Aiguille du Tour. Some parties have done the Migot Spur.

 

Argentière Sector: The skiing still starts at the rocky section of the Pierre à Ric. Last weekend the Couturier  Couloir was in good condition, (still 30m of ice at the narrows.)  

 

Talèfre Sector: No information other than to reach the hut, the central gully and the Pierre à Bérenger are dry. It is better to go by the Egralets ladders (free of snow but the equipment on the ledges may not be all there.)

 

Aiguille du Midi Sector: The lift will be open from Thursday 21st to Sunday 24th.  The ridge is in good condition, (no ice,) and with some stakes in place

Skiing remains the main activity.  Return trips from/to the Aiguille are popular.  The upper part of the Valley Blanche is in good condition but this is not the case lower down, (crevasses at the Salle à Manger, sticky snow and the skiing ends at the junction with the Leschaux glacier, 1hr of walking to the Montenvers ladders.)

The Glacier Rond and the Cosmiques couloir have been done, no further information. It is recommended to return to the Plan de l'Aiguille, (one starts walking well above the old Glaciers station.)  Be aware that conditions are changing rapidly.  

Quite a few skiers have been going, there and back, to the Col des Marbrés and the Col d'Entrèves.

The Gervasutti couloir was popular (good conditions), as was the normal route on the Tour Ronde (no further information.)

The normal route on the Mont Blanc du Tacul was done in good conditions last Sunday.  The bergschrunds are OK and one can keep the skis on throughout. There were some parties on the Chere couloir, (looks to be very dry,) on the Contamine-Grisolle (black ice showing through) and on the Contamine-Negri. The Gervasutti couloir has been skied, (conditions have probably changed since).  As last year, the bergschrund for the Mont Maudit looks to be problematical .

The Cosmiques Arete has been done, (approach on foot tracked.)  The west Pointe Lachenal was popular.  The traverse has not been done but looks to be in condition.

Not many rock climbers about even if the south facing rocks look to be dry, (e.g. Aig du Midi S face, Cosmiques Spur, Pointes Lachenal.)  There is still a bit of snow on the ledges.

 

Mont Blanc : No recent information concerning the Jonction.  There looks to be ice on the N ridge of the Dôme du Goûter.  Again, the descent via the Plateaux « looks » OK.

 

Dômes de Miage: The Mettrier ridge was OK but with a long carry.  The Dômes traverse and descent by the Armancette is still feasible with skis, ( the walking starts above the lake)  The  Aiguille de la Bérangère,  there and back, is also OK via the Mauvais Pas. (The skiing starts at the glacier.)

 

Skiing is finished for this year at the mid altitudes, (Buet etc).

 

Hikers should not forget it is only the start of the season and there is still a lot of snowabout.  Not everybody is aware that more than half of mountain accidents happen to hikers. 

As well as the hikes indicated in last weekend’s bulletin, the following are now feasible: the Aiguillette des Posettes  from Le Tour or the Col des Montets, the Signal Forbes from Montenvers,  (N/B. the Grand Balcon North traverse still has too much exposed snow,)  the Bellachat hut from Chamonix, the chalet des Pyramides, the chalets de Pormenaz from the Tête de la Fontaine, the chalets de Miage from Gruvaz.

 

Multi pitch routes are now permitted so it is possible to climb in the sun, for example at the  Cheserys. The Evettes  via feratta (La Flégère) is feasible but does involve a long walk from the valley.  


Attention The Barberine cliff is in Switzerland: the border police have done numerous controls and the fine is 100 CHF per person for someone crossing the closed border.  This is also true for the Baberine canyon.

Report 13 May 2020

Mountain Conditions 13/05/2020

Back in business !!!

A little information as activities restart. Even if one cannot go too far, or too hard and the weather is decidedly unreliable, everyone is happy that we can hike, bike and ski again.   

The Company du Mont Blanc has confirmed that the Aig du Midi cable car and the Montenvers train should be open on weekends 16th/!7th and 21st/24th May.

The snow level has receded a lot during the lockdown period.  Conditions are several weeks in advance compared of other years.  To get an idea, look at the webcams on the Chamoniarde site.

Bad news for the ski tourers, who will have long walks carrying their skis. The skiable snow starts around 1800m on the N side, e.g. 100m below Pierre à Bérard hut, at the water outlet on the true right moraine of the Tour glacier and at the last big bend on the Pierre à Ric below the Lognan station.

Above, the snow is Spring nevé, pleasant to ski but with the more recent snow often being soft and “sticky”.

It is difficult to judge the conditions in the high mountain and  also difficult to access within a day.  The recent bad weather from the SW has plastered snow on the faces and concealed the underlying bad situation.  The Tacul Triangle was seen to be very dry on the 12th May.  Without doubt, snow will have accumulated in other areas and care is needed with unstable conditions.

Hikers will find that the snow level starts around 1800m, regardless of orientation, and is fairly continuous from this level. Therefore, it is too early for hikes to the mountain lakes,  (Lake Blanc, Chéserys lakes, Lake Cornu...), the Grands Balcons etc.

On the other hand there are some beautiful early season walks e.g. Cerro chalet, Bossons glacier, the Floria - Chapeau, Loriaz chalets, Pendant Alpage from Lavancher, Tête de Prapator, Montenvers via the Mottets buvette, Blaitière Alpage, Montagne de La Charlanon, Planpraz via the Plan des Chablettes, Chailloux chalet (some snow still on the Aiguillette des Houches), Prarion via the Col de la Forclaz, Lac Vert and the Ayères chalets, Varan hut.....

The Parc de Merlet opens on  the 16th May. The bridge way to the Bérard waterfall is accessible.

It is also a good time for mountain biking (with or without “assistance”)  and for crag climbing!!!

Please do not hesitate to telephone the Chamoniarde for more precise details or to pass on your information.  

Report 6th March 2020

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&region=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.