Report 29 May 2017

The latest information following the good weather over the Ascension holiday weekend.

With the recent high temperatures, the snow has been rapidly melting at the mid altitudes.  Nonetheless, there is still a lot of snow above 2200 / 2300m.   

With good mountain boots and walking poles, the Cheserys lakes are now accessible.  However, the paths to Lac Blanc remain snowbound.  Though some lakes are beginning to reappear, (e,g. Jovet lakes),  most are still covered

The bigger hiking objectives, such as Mont Buet or the “Jonction”, are still not feasible .
The snow starts at around 1700m in the Berard valley.  The Albert 1er hut is best approached from Vormaine via the moraine, the snow starting some 50m below the hut. There is still far too much snow to traverse in from Charmillion

People are starting to walk the Grand Balcon Nord. Careful, there are some large patches of hard snow and one needs to be properly equipped.  The path from Chamonix to the Plan de l’Aiguille is OK but the Pré du Rocher path is not.
No particular problems for the Bellachat and the Aiguillette des Houches.

Conditions are improving for the Tour du Mont Blanc but the right equipment remains essential. 

The ski touring season is virtually over at mid altitudes, though there are still some possibilities in the Emosson dam area, (Pointe de la Terrasse – Pointe des Charmoz).
Following the several days of hot weather, skiing the Valley Blanche is no longer to be recommended.

In the high mountain there has also been a rise in temperatures and the rock routes are becoming free of snow. (Respect the time of day and the limited re-freezing.)

- Les Conscrits: The Dômes de Miage and the Aiguille de la Bérangère remain popular. The ski touring has basically finished in this sector. The traverse of the Bionnassay was done in generally good conditions.

- Plan Glacier: No problems for the approach from the Chalets de Miage. The Mettrier ridge intergral was done recently.  The lower part was dry, conditions improved afterwards.
With better re-freezing, the Dômes de Miage N Face should come into condition; there is very little bare ice at the moment. The approach to the Durier hut via the Lancherons is tracked and nearly all on snow.

- Mont Blanc: the Italian route via Gonella is tracked and in good condition.  The Tournette Spur was done on 25/05 in generally good conditions. The Gouter route is also being done (the train and cable car remain closed).  Respect the time of day for crossing the Grand couloir.
3 Monts from the Cosmiques is tracked, conditions good, but still with a bit of ice at the Mont Maudit col.
Parties are continuing to ski the Grands Mulets route, (by the N ridge of the Dome and the Plateaux). The N Face of Mont Blanc is still being skied.  Conditions for the traverse of the Jonction are worsening, with some fragile snow bridges. It is now necessary to carry the skis in several places to reach the Plan de l’Aiguille.

- Plan de l’Aiguille:  Eugster Diagonal and Frendo Spur (left exit) have been climbed, no further information.  Likewise, for the Papillons Arete.

- Cosmiques: Climbing on the Tacul Triangle including the Contamine Négri, (quite a lot of ice,) the Grisolle and the Chéré. Start early and check the freezing conditions!  The Laurence Arete, the Cosmiques Arete and the traverse of the Pointes Lachenal are all in good condition.
The rock routes exposed to the sun are free of snow, except on the larger ledges.

- Torino: generally good conditions except for the gullies and the normal route on the Tour Ronde. The Diables Ridge has been climbed despite still having a lot of snow.

- Requin: There is about 1h30 of walking to reach Montenvers and the Brèche Puiseux is no longer recommended, (ice/rock in the middle).  The Requin hut is reached by the ladders. The way back up to the Aiguille du Midi is OK but beware of fragile snow bridges.

- Couvercle: approach by the Egralets. Parties have climbed the Whymper and the Col Armand Charlet. The normal route on the Droites looks feasible.  The traverse from the NE of the Courtes has been done. Descent of the Talèfre face by the Col des Droites OK.  A party has done the Couturier, some sections of ice but mostly good by keeping to the right, (looking upwards). Snow shoes useful for the approaches.  It is too early for the rock routes in this sector.

- Argentière: No further information other than the Couturier and NE of the Courtes mentioned above.

- Albert 1er: Good conditions for the normal route on the Aiguille du Tour despite the poor re-freezing. The Migot Spur and the Forbes Ridge look to be in condition.

- Good conditions reported for Mont Dolent, normal route and the Gallet ridge.

The Via Corda on the Rochers des Mottets has not been re-equipped after being vandalised for a second time last year. The Via Corda at Argentiere, (opened July 2016,) provides an alternative.

Announcing the George Starkey Hut Maintenance Meet

This fantastic new AC membership benefit, with its excellent location in the eastern Lake District relies on members giving a little time to keep it in good shape.
So a joint ABM/AC Hut Maintenance Meet will take place on the weekend of 1-3rd September 2017. This meet will be organised by David Dunk and Marian Parsons (both AC members).
The idea is that bednights will be free to those willing to put in a day's work. There is no pressure to spend the whole weekend working: one day work and one day play is fine!
A free meal will be provided on the Saturday night.  Mike Parsons has his 75th birthday (1st Sep) and wants to celebrate a bit, so there will be some free wine too!
Jobs will be allocated according to what people feel they can do. 
Please book with Marian Parsons. (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

Report 16th May 2017

Here is the latest news of what has been happening during this spell of good weather.  Following the series of snowfalls, skis or snow shoes are necessary in the high mountain.  Temperatures are rising significantly and conditions are changing rapidly.  Be warned, avalanches are likely, (especially in the afternoon,) on susceptible slopes that have not yet purged.


Mont Blanc was climbed yesterday by the Grands  Mulets.  The Jonction is good on skis.  On the N ridge of the Dôme, the ice is never far from the surface, despite the recent snow, (technical axe and good crampons, with parties short roping.)   The Mont Blanc N face has been skied.  Parties left this morning on skis for the ascent by the Trois Monts.  No news concerning the normal route, (Gouter).

Cosmiques Sector: the Cosmiques ridge, Lolo (Laurence?) ridge and Pointes Lachenal traverse have been done.  The approaches to these routes are tracked and accessible on foot.  On the Tacul Triangle, the Chere couloir has inevitably been climbed. Yesterday, a party climbed the Contamine Négri and skied down the Gervasutti couloir, (no info on conditions.)  The Gervasutti Pillar at the Tour Ronde was climbed. (N.B. the Skyway Monte Bianco closed this week until 19th May inclusive.)
Conscrits Sector: the skiing starts at the glacier.  This morning the Domes de Miage and Mont Tondu were tracked. The Col des Glaciers was done yesterday, skiing down by the Dôme de Neige.
Plan Glacier Sector: skiing starts around 2000m on the approach to the hut.  The N face of the Domes was tracked and skied on Sunday, (the skiing started 50m below the summit due to a lack of snow at the top of the face.)

Couvercle Sector:  three choices for the approach to the hut, by the ladders, by the central couloir, (dry low down) or by the Pierre à Bérenger. Lots of avalanches have been seen in the area.  This morning, parties left for the Whymper Couloir and the col de Talèfre.

No information for the Albert 1er and Argentière sectors.  These huts are not staffed and the lifts are closed.


For Hikers: the S facing slopes below 2000m are mainly dry but above this there is plenty of snow.  On the N facing slopes the snow level is much lower with deep snow at 2000m.  Check the altitude of your proposed hike and adapt your equipment accordingly.  The mountain lakes remain snow covered.  The hiking season is only just starting, patience needed.



John Ashburner

News has reached us that John Ashburner passed away on 5th May at Aintree Hospital, Liverpool, after a courageous 5-year battle with cancer of the larynx.

Members would be welcome to send their tributes to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. so that they can be posted on the website.


Report 13th May 2017

Since the May 5th update, it has snowed at altitude together with winds from the S/SW.  The rain/snow limit was about 2500m. This morning, Saturday, the Chamonix Aiguilles are plastered with snow following last night’s precipitations, (without wind.) 
As stated in the last update, the hiking remains feasible up to 1900m for the N facing and 2000m for the S facing slopes.
Concerning ski touring, there has been activity in the Emosson area since the opening of the road up to the dam, e.g. Pointe de la Terrasse, Cheval Blanc.
The Couvercle, Conscrits, Grands Mulets, Requin, Albert 1er and Plan de l’Aiguille huts are open.  It is recommended to telephone in advance. See for the contact details.

Report 5 May 2017

Bad weather fronts are following one after another and dumping snow down to 2000 / 2200m, sometimes lower.
This morning, Friday, there was about 30cm of fresh snow at the Plan de l’Aiguille (2207m) and 70 to 80cms at the at Grands Mulets hut, (3051m.)
The windows of good weather are very short, making it difficult to find suitable alpine objectives.

Some routes though, like the Pointes Lachenal or the Cosmiques Arete, remain feasible.  

No news concerning the gullies, though the Chéré on the Triangle du Tacul looks possible.  The new snow has not been enough to compensate for the underlying dry conditions.

The normal route on the Tacul is not feasible for the moment due to the high avalanche risk.

For the moment, only the Aiguille du Midi, Montenvers and Skyway (Italy) lifts are running.  The approach to the other areas, for example; the Argentière sector or the Tour glacier, is on foot from the valley.  

With the regular snow falls, the upper part of the Valley Blanche is generally in good condition. However, some of the snow bridges are fragile and are masked by the recent snow, as are some of the crevasses. Care is needed.  The Col du Tacul was tracked this morning (Friday), with no further information about the descent by the Capucin glacier,

The Mont Blanc was done this morning by the Dôme N Ridge and by the Plateaus route. Despite all the new snow, the ice is never far away, especially on the N ridge.

The N face has been skied recently, no further information

Also, no information concerning Mont Buet. There is a good hour’s walking up the Berard valley before one can put on skis. 
The Emosson road opened this evening, Friday 5th May, giving skiers access to the tours starting from the dam.  

For hikers, conditions above 1800 / 2000m remain difficult.  It is essential to be well equipped, (good boots, crampons, poles etc,) and avoid travelling too “light”.   

Even by midday, the snow can still be frozen, presenting a real danger of sliding for the inexperienced or badly equipped.
For hikes below this altitude, there are no obvious problems.

The path maintenance workforce has started for the summer season, but it is still early days, so do not be surprised about the state of certain paths. The Merlet footbridge is in place and can be approached from Les Montquarts.  It is not advised to continue towards Bellachat. However, the Aiguillette des Houches is accessible via the Chailloux chalets.

During this interseasonal period, there a certain amount of ongoing forestry work, resulting in some footpaths being closed.  Please see: for more information.

Piolets d’Or 2017

This year the Piolets d’Or has set up its base-camp in Grenoble and, in a new format, is taking place in two parts. 

At the April event the 9th presentation of the Piolet d’Or Career Award was made to Jeff Lowe, the 8th Honorary AC Member recipient of this award, and the 2016 route awards were announced.  These will be presented at the second 2017 Piolets d’Or event in Grenoble in November during the Recontrés Cine Montagne Film Festival.

Report 28th April 2017

For last few days it felt as if winter was back. First there was rain, then it snowed down to the valley base, and this together with strong winds at altitude.


The change in conditions means the avalanche risk above 2000m is now 3/5.  Regardless of the activity undertaken, one needs to be very cautious this weekend.

For several days, there has been little action in the mountains. Here is the latest information from the hut wardens
There was between 5 and 10cms of snow at the valley floor, about 50cms, very windblown at 2500/3000m and up to 80cms higher up.
Drifting has affected some areas and certain slopes appear to be “loaded”.  The tracks to the routes have disappeared.

The Lognan and Gd Montets lifts, as well as the Argentière hut, will close after May 1st.  
Concerning the Valley Blanche, the “Z” path has been dismantled and only the crest of the ridge remains equipped.  Caution is needed, especially at the level of the “Salle à Manger”, where the snow bridges, already fragile, are masked by the new snow.  It is still necessary to walk a little to reach Montenvers.
For hikers and “trailers” there should not be any problems below about 1300/1500m. For example, the Petits Balcons N and S, the Floria and the Chapeau chalet are feasible. The Chailloux chalets, the Loriaz hut, the Lac Vert and the Prarion, even if a bit higher, are also accessible.

Above this, the conditions are tricky, with a real risk of sliding or falling.  Avoid travelling to “light” and modify your plans and equipment to meet the prevailing conditions. 

Report 22nd April 2017

Some updates for the massive:

No major changes for the hikers. The altitude limit for safe walking remains at 2000m, (S facing) and 1800m (N facing). It will take several weeks before the higher trails are in condition, for example to the lakes, (still under snow) and the Grand Balcons, N&S.  
At altitude, the recent wind and low temperatures have hardened the snow and caused drifting in places.  Caution is advised.

- Albert 1er Sector: 
The best approach is by the moraine, skiing starting/finishing at the level of the water intake.  The normal routes on the Aiguille du Tour, the Tête Blanche and the Petite Fourche are being done. The Table Couloir has a rocky section low down and is being climbed on foot. The 3 cols, the Forbes Arete and the Migot Spur are in condition.  The party on the Migot descended by the Forbes Arete, but the normal descent route on the Chardonnet looks OK.  

- Argentière Sector: 
Ski touring remains popular in this area, but conditions are slowly deteriorating, notably for the Passon, where the moraine presents problems. Crampons/ice axe and ski crampons are necessary for certain routes.  The Y couloir has been done, but the bergschrund is awkward.
The snow is thinning on the Courtes NE and the Col des Cristaux.
The lower part of the Lagarde Gully is no longer in condition and parties have turned back.
The Vivagel and Bettembourg/Charlet gullies have been climbed recently, albeit proving more difficult than normal.
Mont Dolent has been climbed from La Fouly by the Gallet ridge and the normal route, (about 30mins of walking).  

- Couvercle/Mer de Glace Sector:
The Y Couloir on the Verte was done on 21st April.  Conditions OK, but with some deep snow in the gully.  Exit by the left branch on granular snow, then hard neve on the ridge. In descent, the Whymper has plenty of snow, though take care near the top as the ice is not far away.
Good track on the Talèfre glacier, crampons needed to descend the “central” couloir.  Approach by the Egralets is also possible.
The normal routes on the Droites and Courtes are in condition. Nobody has been to the Pointe Isabelle for the moment.  Aiguille de Talèfre N face is very dry.

- Requin/Torino/Cosmiques:
The Valley Blanche is still being done by the classic route, as well as by the Little and Middle, (true VB), Envers.  Conditions OK as far as the Requin hut, then care needed, with weak snow bridges crossing Salle à Manger and 30 mins walking to reach the ice caves below Montenvers. The Valley Noire, (Italian side), is still doable.  

Near the Torino; the Dent du Géant, Rochefort Arete, Aiguilles Marbrées, Entreves and Toule are being done.  On the Tour Ronde some parties have climbed the SE Ridge, and the Rebuffat and Gervasutti gullies.  The N face is dry but feasible. Rock climbing on the Tacul satellites is also possible.
The normal route on the Grandes Jorasses has been done recently in reasonable conditions.

Near the Cosmiques; the Laurence ridge, the Cosmiques ridge and the traverse of the Pointes Lachenal, (some ice) are being done.  
Concerning the gullies, most of the activity is on the Chéré and the Contamine-Mazeaud.  The Gabarrou-Albinoni and Pellissier are also being climbed, albeit in very dry conditions, (set of Friends advisable.)

The 3 Monts is tracked, no further information, other than there are sections of bare ice, making it unsuitable for a “light” ascent.  Col du Plan gully, Eugster Diagonal and Mallory-Porter have been climbed recently in generally good conditions.

- Grands Mulets:
Mont Blanc is being climbed either by the Plateaux or N ridge of the Dôme. There are still passages of ice on the N ridge, requiring good equipment and technical ability. The approach from the Plan de l’Aiguille to the hut is OK.  The descent from the summit by the N face no longer looks feasible due to ice.
For those tempted to start from the Tunnel entrance, (roadhead), there is at least 600m height gain, then hard neve, requiring crampons rather than skis with ski crampons, to reach the Gare des Glaciers.

- Conscrits:
No major changes, it is a on foot as far as the glacier then good conditions for the rest of the approach to the hut. The Mont Tondu, Bérangère, Dômes de Miage traverse are being done. Still some ice on the Domes traverse. It is possible to ski down the Armancette until about 1900m. The Mettrier Ridge is very dry.  The Bionnassay ridge is tracked, no further information.

In the Aiguilles Rouges; the Flégère lifts are closed and the Planpraz lift closes at 13h on Sunday, 23rd April.
Mont Buet and the cols in this area remain accessible, with about 45mins of carrying your skis in the Berard valley.

With the good weather, there will certainly be a lot of activity this weekend. The Chamoniarde ( ), looks forward to receiving your reports.


Report 13th April 2017

An overview of what is happening:

The snow is rapidly receding as a result of unseasonal high temperatures. 
No problems hiking up to 1800/2000m, depending on the aspect but above this there is plenty of snow blocking the paths.  
The Grands Balcons North and South, as well as the high routes at altitude. (for example, to lakes Noir, Blanc) are not feasible to do safely!

The following “high points” are accessible without notable danger: the Aiguillette des Houches, (via the Chalets de Chailloux), the Loriaz hut, the Aiguillette des Posettes and the Prarion.

Alpinism and ski touring:

- Albert 1er sector:
The approach to the hut is best by the Col du Passon (little snow at the start)  crampons, ski crampons and ice axe necessary.
The descent to Vormaine is becoming awkward lower down, need to walk in several places.
The approach from Charamillon is not feasible for the moment.
The Chardonnet remains very dry, nobody is climbing the gullies, the Forbes Ridge “looks” feasible.  The other classic routes in the area remain in condition, with the exception of the N face of the Tête Blanche.

- Argentière Sector:
Ski touring is popular and conditions are good if you respect the time of day.
Do not forget crampons and ski crampons.
The Y couloir is still being done, 2 axes necessary for a steep section at the exit to the right of the summit. 
No special problems for the Glacier du Milieu, the NE Courtes (still dry near the summit) and the Col des Cristaux.
There is 50m of fixed rope at the Col du Chardonnet, from which a further abseil of about 25m is necessary.
Couloir Lagarde: bergshrund technical and the 2nd pitch difficult to protect, conditions OK after that. Descent by 6 abseils on the Talèfre side.
Couloir Couturier is more technical than usual because of an ice section at the bend.  The exit by the dome and descent by the Whymper OK for the moment.

Conditions basically good for the Petite Aiguille Verte despite some ice at the bergschrund.  The N face is ice. Couloir Chevalier in good condition, (in ascent)

The gullies remain very dry and not appealing. Vivagel, however, was climbed in reasonable conditions.
The rock behind the hut is free of snow and is being climbed.

- Mer de Glace / Couvercle sector
The Valley Blanche is still being done, though the conditions are deteriorating, especially in the lower sections, about 20 minutes of walking.
The Brèche Puiseux and the Col du Tacul, (there and back,) are being done, but best avoided later in the day.  A party has gone for the Fou S face, (see the route book on the OHM website.) The approach to the Couvercle is by the Egralets ladders. Lots of activity in Talèfre bowl, you need to make a reservation if youy wish to stay at the hut.
The Whymper, Col des Droites, Col de la Tour des Courtes and the Col de Talèfre are in good condition.
A party has done the Pointe Isabelle; route all on snow but with a difficult crevasse to cross.  The bergschrund goes on the left.   The Angélique and Aiguille Croulante gullies are dry in their upper sections.

- Torino / Cosmiques sector:
The Dent du Géant, the Rochefort Arete. Aiguilles d’Entrèves traverse and the Aiguille de Toule have been done.
The SE ridge and the Gervasutti Couloir have been climbed on the Tour Ronde.  The N face is still very dry but has been done, conditions appear to be better on the left, but the climbing is much more difficult than usual.

The Supercouloir and the Jager couloir were done a few days ago.  The start of the Supercouloir is totally dry and very technical.

The gullies on the Triangle du Tacul and Pointes Lachenal are dry but some are still being climbed. The rock faces that catch the sun such as on the Pyramide du Tacul, Grand Capucin, Pointes Lachenal and Aiguille de Midi are being climbed.
A party went for the Midi-Plan traverse, awaiting further information.

Eugster diagonal is basically in good condition, no footprints visible on the Mallory
Cosmiques Ridge and the Pointes Lachenal traverse are tracked, some ice on the Pointes Lachenal.

- Mont Blanc
3 Monts Route: there are technical sections with ice on the Tacul, (bergschrund and exit to the left), on Mont Maudit and the Mur de la Côte. Crampons, (steel) and technical axes recommended.  
Grands Mulets Route:  The approach to the hut from Plan de l’Aiguille is OK.  The routes by the Plateaux and the N ridge of Dôme are tracked and should improve with the passage of people.  3 Abalakovs in place, crampons (steel) and a technical axe necessary.

Some sections of very hard snow/ice on the N face descent.  Some parties have also descended by the Corridor.
Tracks have been seen on the normal route by the Gouter, no further information.

To summarize:  conditions are basically good but “reserved” for good skiers and alpinists.

- Conscrits
One has to walk as far as the Tré la Tête glacier, the Mauvais Pas and the approach to the Conscrits hut is OK.
There is a section of about 12 metres of ice on the traverse of Dômes de Miage (crampons (steel) and ice screws perhaps useful.)  Descent by Armancette to Covagnet, then you have to walk.

Aiguilles Rouges: the main activity is on the Crochues-Bérard traverse and Mont Buet.
Some skiers have gone towards the Belvédère and the Col des Dards but the return to Flégère is becoming awkward.

Good ski touring conditions have been reported for the Mont Dolent normal route starting from La Fouly (20min walking) and also for the Gallet Ridge (some ice in places.)

The Grand Paradis is popular, the skiing starting at Pont.  However, the snow is not particularly good at altitude.


The Chamoniarde ( ), looks forward to your reports to help with future updates.

Montane Alpine Climbing Club Fund

Montane Alpine Climbing Club Fund ( MACCF) grants are now available for both official Alpine Club expeditions and independent private expeditions involving Alpine Club members.

Grants are usually given to expeditions attempting new routes or first ascents in high and / or hard to reach mountain ranges e.g. the Himalaya and Karakoram ranges. Grants will now not typically be given for the more well-travelled mountain areas in Central Alaska, Patagonia, or Greenland (unless the applicants are young members who are new to expeditionary climbing).  First ski ascents or descents are not usually supported. A new feature of the grants is that they may now be awarded to teams attempting early repeats of technical routes, especially on 7000m and 8000m mountains, and/or if they aim to improve on the style of earlier ascents. Preference is given to expeditions by students and younger members, and to those who have not previously received a grant.

Details of funding and the application process can be found HERE.

Report 6th April 2017

For a change, this update starts with the conditions for hikers.  Spring is fully here.  However, despite initial appearances, there is still lots of snow at altitude. Below 1800/1900m, on the south side, and 1600/1700m, on the north side, there are numerous hiking possibilities. The trails above this altitude, such as Lac Blanc, Grands Balcons North and South, Mont Buet, Bellachat and the Albert 1er hut are not yet feasible for hikers.


For snow shoers, the possibilities are limited, but here are some suggestions: the Charme circuit near the Prarion (easy), Brévent Lake, there and back, from the top of the Brevent cable car, (difficult)), the signposted footpaths at the Index and the Raverettaz at Flégère (easy) and the Aiguillette des Posettes, there and back, from the top of the Vallorcine lift (easy).
You are reminded that going uphill on the ski pistes is forbidden.

For the high mountain and alpinists:
Ski tourers must be prepared to walk quite a bit on the lower parts of the routes and to respect the timing, (early starts.)   Do not forget crampons and ski crampons.

The classics in the Aiguilles Rouges are still popular, though returning to Flégère is becoming more and more complicated. The Bérard valley is still OK for the moment, with only a limited amount of ski carrying. The road up to Emosson will not open until 14th May.
Despite the recent, (but brief), period of snowfall and wind at altitude, conditions are basically the same as last week.  The Argentière sector continues to attract people (crampons and ski crampons strongly recommended). The Brèche Puiseux and the traverse of the Valley Blanche are tracked.  The approach to the Couvercle hut is best by the Pierre à Bérenger and not too late, (stonefall risk).  A party turned back on the Whymper today (6th April), due to strong winds. No other activity reported for this sector.

No notable changes in the Conscrits sector.
Mont Blanc is being done by the Grands Mulets and then the N ridge of the Dôme or the Plateaus, depending upon conditions.  The N ridge is technical with two, 50m pitches of hard snow/ice, requiring two technical axes for the leader and ice screws

In the Albert 1er sector, the descent from the Passon is still OK, by keeping to the right, (looking down,) the lower section is gradually becoming more awkward.
The Table Couloir has footsteps.  There is a rock barrier in the lower part that goes OK.  The normal routes on the Aiguille du Tour, the Tête Blanche and the Petite Fourche are tracked.
The Tête Blanche N face is very dry, as are the Chardonnet gullies. The Forbes Ridge “looks” feasible.

The Chamoniarde ( ), looks forward to your reports to help with future updates….

Report 30 March 2017

The blue skies and above average temperatures continue for the moment, though a passage of unsettled weather, (Foehn,) is forecasted for the weekend.


Here follows the latest information on mountain conditions, (and thank you to all those who have contributed to this.)
Albert 1er Sector: the approach is via the col du Passon.   Some people doing the Haute Route are using this way. The Couloir de la Table, (passage on rock near the start,) the Normal route on the Aiguille du Tour, the Tête Blanche/Petite Fourche and the Col du Midi des Grands are being climbed.

Argentière Sector: Y couloir is in condition. The Barbey couloir has been skied, descent “delicate”, with ice hidden under a thin layer of snow near the summit. Return via Fenêtre du Tour down to Vormaine, taking the skis off once at the moraine.

The Lagarde couloir : Bergschrund awkward due to inconsistent snow. Thin ice in the lower part, better mixed climbing higher up.
Couturier couloir: was done again on 28 March, good snow for half of gully, ice at the “kink” and exit by a dome of deep snow. Descent in good conditions down the Whymper, (if you are early enough.)  The way down onto the Leschaux glacier is either by the Central couloir or the Pierre à Béranger. 

Aiguille du Midi Sector: the snow in the Valley Blanche is still good. The Valley Noir, (Italian side) is OK. There is about a five minutes walk to reach the approach for Montenvers, (ice cave area.) The Fil à Plomb has been done, the Mallory skied and rock climbers on the S Face of the Aiguille du Midi.
Brèche Puiseux: Good conditions for the most part.  There is a fixed rope at the breche, (col).  You need 2x40m if you descend directly from the Périades bivouac.  The ski down the glacier is not inspiring!
Since the last snowfall, the Tour Ronde face now looks white, (i.e snow not bare ice.) The Gervasutti couloir is feasible, with descent either by the normal route or, if it is getting late, by the SE ridge.
A group of ski tourers left for the Trois Monts, (Mont Blanc) yesterday.  On the normal route up the Tacul there were sections of hard nevé, it is necessary to alternate between skis and crampons. No further information on the route, though the snow looks deep on the climb up to the Col du Mont Maudit.  Returned by the same route.

Grands Mulets sector:   The hut is now open with a warden. The route via the Dôme du Goûter, N ridge was done this morning. It is preferable to be roped up for the traverses of the Bossons glacier and the Jonction; conditions OK.

Conscrits Sector: Obviously, there is a lot of ski carrying on the way up to the Tre la Tête from Cugnon.  The rest of the way up to the Conscrits hut goes well. There is a small section of ice on the traverse of the Dômes de Miage. Good snow conditions for the Aiguille de la Bérangère and Mont Tondu. The Armancette glacier is skiable, down to about 1800m.

With the rise in temperatures, the signposted ski touring trails, except for the Col du Balme, from Charamillon are no longer feasible.  
Please remember, it is forbidden to go upwards, (skinning, snow shoeing etc,) on the ski pistes.

The strong winds in the valley, together with falls of wet, heavy snow have resulted in numerous trees being uprooted, often with stones/boulders coming onto the paths.  Mountain bikers be warned !  The responsible services in the Chamonix valley are working, bit by bit, to put the paths back in order.

AC Meet - The Tatra Mountains 2018

The Tatra Mountains are situated on the border between Poland and Slovakia. During winter, they offer excellent alpine climbing – snow, ice and mixed routes, followed by sharp ridges that take you to spiky summits. Descents are often tricky. There is no problem with acclimatisation as the altitude is 2000 – 2600m.

Report 21 March 2017

Now Spring has arrived the conditions are evolving rapidly.  It is important to respect the timing (early starts) and take on board the latest information on conditions.

Here are the results from reports received since the last update:
The Valley Blanche is still popular, now ending at Montenvers, using the cable lift and train to get back to Chamonix. The Valley Noire, on the true right bank of the glacier, is still OK.   Ski tourers are regularly doing the Col d’Entrèves, the Brèche Puiseux and the Col du Tacul.
Stonefall has been reported on the normal route of the Tour Ronde.

The gullies remain very dry, though there has been some activity near the Cosmiques Ridge.

Conditions are OK on the Aiguille de l’Eboulement and the Whymper Couloir. The approach, (and descent,) to the Couvercle hut from the Leschaux glacier is best via the central gully.

A party has climbed the Frendo Spur, (with a bivvy), no further info.

A party also climbed the Eugster Diagonal in difficult conditions.
There was a party on Lesueur, N face Drus and another on Rolling Stones, N Face Grandes Jorasses.  The routes were very dry, but were not a problem for the climbers involved.
Argentière sector:  the classic ski tours are popular, e.g. the cols Argentière, Tour Noir and Passon.  It is important to respect the timing, especially on slopes that get the sun early in the day. There is a fixed rope on the descent from the Col du Chardonnet but, apparently, it does not quite reach the foot of the gully
Some parties on the Aiguille d’Argentière by the Glacier du Milieu and the Y Couloir.
Conditions on the NE des Courtes and Col des Cristaux are also OK.
Couloir Couturier: the bergschrund goes on the right, which is then followed by snow with some sections of ice, 50m at the kink and 30m hard ice to exit.

On the Droites, the Rhem-Vimal and the Lagarde Gully have been climbed.

In the Aiguilles Rouges the snow varies, depending upon aspect and time of day.  The slopes warm up rapidly, so it is important to get away early.

The Dômes de Miage and Mont Tondu are tracked.  Likewise, the cols in the area, e.g.  Cicle, Chasseurs, Bonhomme.
One needs to gain about 400 to 500m in height before skis can be used towards the Tré-la-Tête. The roman road is still OK, though crampons maybe necessary soon.

The Grands Mulets hut should open on 28 or 30 March, depending on conditions.


There are less options for snow shoers.  However, the Prarion plateau, the Loriaz hut, the Bérard valley and the Aiguillette des Posettes, (from the Vallorcine bubbles,) remain feasible.
Hikers are recommended to stay below 1500m, to avoid risks. 

It looks like the weather is going to be unsettled for the next few days, which will limit the activity at altitude.
We encourage you to report to the OHM the conditions experienced on your outings.

Report 15th March 2017

At the moment, ski touring is the main activity, with a reasonable snow cover above 2000m.  Snow conditions are becoming spring-like, so it is important to respect the time of day, especially on routes exposed to the morning sun, in the lee of the wind and regardless of altitude. Hard packed snow exists on the shaded slopes sometimes either polished or sculptured by the wind.
Despite already a lot of avalanches, more are to be expected, either spontaneous or from weighting, (e.g. skiers).


Some recently received information:
- Albert 1er Sector: the Couloir de la Table was done on 13/03, no further information other than a rock barrier near the bottom.
Nobody on the Chardonnet, the gullies are all very dry, but the Forbes Ridge looks feasible.

Be warned, some of the slopes near the Signal Reilly look to be still unstable.  Do not take the summer route from Charmillion to the hut. Snow conditions gave difficult skiing down from the Col du Passon on 14/03. The telephone is not working at the hut, use the mobile number to contact the warden.
- Argentière Sector: The cols in this area are been done regularly but the conditions are variable and not as good as last weekend. 

No news from the N faces, which remain very grey looking.
Col des Cristaux is tracked, the bergschrund being passed on the right, (looking up.)

- Vallée Blanche Sector: 
The Pas de Chèvre has not been practicable for several days now!

There was a party on the Drus N Face, (no further info.)
The Valley Blanche is still OK, but do it early.  The descent by Mottets, (snack bar open,) is still possible for a few more days.  You have to walk some bits, about 20 mins in total.  Since the large avalanches last week, the Brèche Puiseux and the Col du Tacul have been re-tracked, (no further info.)
Whymper done on 12/03 in poor conditions, (inconsistent snow).

- Aiguille du Midi / Torino Sector:
Pointes Lachenal, the Cosmiques Ridge, the Marbrées and the Normal route on the Tour Ronde have all been done recently.
The gullies are still very dry.  However, the Chere, (1st pitch dry, better above.)  the Contamine-Mazeaud, the Pellissier Gully and M6 Solar have been climbed, though placing ice screws can be difficult.
The Tour Ronde N Face is black ice. None of the gullies near the Torino have been climbed recently.
- Aiguilles Rouges Sector: there is activity in this sector but sadly the OHM has not received any feedback on snow conditions.  An early start is, again, important! 

Concerning snow shoeing, the information remains the same as in the last update of10/03.

Report 10 March 2017

With the improving weather, people are slowly going back into the mountains.

The storms last week increased the snow cover.  However, there were accompanying strong winds followed by a rise in temperatures.

It has rained up to 2000m making the snow heavy.

There have been numerous snow slides and there is a marked avalanche risk, especially in the heat of the day.

There has been no information received for the “mixed” routes, the wind appears to have stripped the faces and the gullies remain bare.
This morning, (10th March,) there were still no tracks on the Cosmiques Ridge.


The Valley Blanche has been skied but conditions are difficult and there is an avalanche risk on the steeper sections. An expert ski ability is required. No information yet about the return to Chamonix but it will certainly involve some walking.  Care needed when crossing the couloirs between Mottets and Chamonix!


The Pas de Chèvre is not in condition and moraine exit is impassable.  


Ski tourers need to be very careful and away from the suspect zones before the day warms up.
The significant rise in temperature means the snow is very wet up to about 2500m. Above this, conditions are very variable due to the wind.

The cols above the Argentière glacier are tracked again, (no other information.)

The Argentière and Albert 1er huts are now open.
A large slide, (avalanche), came down from near the Col du Tacul, crossed the Périades glacier reaching the Salle à Manger.  Therefore, the climb up towards the Brèche Puiseux is not advisable.
In the Aiguilles Rouges, the way to the Lac Blanc was tracked yesterday, as was the Bosse des Charmoz above Loriaz.
Bad conditions reported for the Pointe Ronde.

For snow shoers the following areas remain practicable:  Granges Loop, Loriaz, Samoteux (Coupeau), Prarion Plateau(Les Houches), Lac Vert/ Barmus/ Ayères, (Plaine Joux).

Peter Mallalieu

It is with great sadness that we report the death on 6th March of Peter Mallalieu, Honorary Keeper Emeritus of the Club’s Paintings.  

Peter joined the Club in 1992 and in 1996 became Honorary Keeper of the Club’s Paintings. In 2007 he published ‘The Artists of the Alpine Club’, the first ever biographical study of Alpine Club artists

Peter Mallalieu's funeral was held at Banbury Crematorium on Friday 17 March at 2.00 pm.

Members would be welcome to send their tributes to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. so that they can be posted on the website