Report 25 may

Snow fell down to 1100m last weekend with larger quantities settling at higher altitudes.

In certain areas the snow has been seriously affected by the wind causing large deposits and a risk of wind slab.

The different huts have reported the following snow levels:
- Cosmiques: about 70cm, wind affected with some deep accumulations.  Some parties had to retreat on 23 May from the Cosmiques ridge due to large cornices.  
- Grands Mulets: 70cm at the level of the hut without too much wind.  N ridge of the Dome tracked up until the Col du Dome.  Stronger SW winds at altitude.
- Les Conscrits: 60 to 70cm of fresh snow combined with strong winds during the night of 23-24th May. Dômes de Miage and Aiguille de la Bérangère done at the weekend.
- Le Couvercle: about 45cm, affected by the wind, (accumulations).  This snow is going rapidly.
- Plan de l’Aiguille: about 50cm of fresh snow at the weekend which is going quickly.  Hard snow early morning which rapidly softens so you sink in up to your knees.  The footpaths in this area remain impractical.
- A lot of snow also at the level of the Tré la Tête hut and on the Tour du Mont Blanc route. It would appear that crossing the cols (including already La Balme) would require good mountain boots and crampons.  One should wait several weeks before attempting the TMB with “lightweight” equipment.

In the Chamonix valley the snow levels remain significant above 1900m.  It is necessary to equip yourself accordingly or make other plans.  Either way, check the conditions before setting out!

MountaiNow Safety App

The Club is supporting the development of the MountaiNow App. This App aims to share current mountain conditions, in order that alpinists will be better prepared for climbs in the Alps. It will be delivered in four languages.

Report 21 May

Though the snow is slowly disappearing at mid altitudes, hiking above 2000m still remains unadvisable.  Good boots and hiking poles are essential for outing around or slightly above this 2000m level. Some passages might require crampons.

At higher altitudes, the periods of snow, wind and good weather which have followed each other these last few days have led to variable ski conditions, but mainly OK. Snow slips are being observed in the heat of the day, respect the timing!

Here is the information from last week, (which saw some heavy snow falls at altitude):

- Argentière Sector: parties on Petit Viking, Col d’Argentière, NNE of the Courtes, Aiguille qui Remue, Voie des Suisses and the Aiguille d’Argentière by the Glacier du Milieu and the Y Couloir. Skis or snow shoes essential for the approach.

- Couvercle:  the Whymper was done in good conditions (approach on skis but descent by abseilling) on the morning of 21/05, to be avoided later in the day.  The best approach to the Couvercle hut still remains by the central couloir, rather than by the ladders, (risk of avalanche from the snows above.)

- Torino and Aiguille du Midi Sectors:  Aiguilles d’Entrèves, Aiguilles Marbrées and the Tour Ronde by the normal route are in good condition.  The Gervasutti couloir and the Tour Ronde N Face were climbed on 21/05 in good conditions. Tracks seen leading to the Diable Couloir, the Gabarrou-Albinoni, the Jager Couloir and the Chéré Gully. The Cosmiques Arete and the Pointes Lachenal are tracked, as well as the route up Mont Blanc via the 3 Monts.  

- Plan de l’Aiguille: No news from this area, except for extreme ski descents.

- Mont Blanc by the Grands Mulets in good condition via the N ridge of the Dôme.

- Conscrits Sector:  It is better to do the Dômes de Miages there and back, rather than to descend via the Bérangère. The Armancette side is not in very good condition.  Some activity on the ridge of the Aiguille Carrée, though the slopes are heavily loaded.

Some additional information: 

The Val Vény road is still closed. The Val Ferret road is open up to Lavachey.
The Curalla via ferrata at Plateau d’Assy is open.
The Via Corda Alpina and the Voie Câline at the Rochers des Mottets are dry and amenable.

Climbing is happening at all the valley crags, including Barberine, but not the Chéserys slabs yet.

Ski touring is still popular from the Emosson dam as well as Mt Buet via the Berard Valley.

Chamlang (7319) - Montane Alpine Club Climbing Fund trip news

Chamlang (7319) - Montane Alpine Club Fund trip news

News from Andrew Houseman on his attempt with Jon Griffith on the north spur of Chamlang (7319m) in Nepal supported by the Montane Alpine Club Climbing Fund. But not a totally wasted trip for Jon and Andy: their acclimatisation was an ascent of Ama Dablam.

By Andy: Chamlang wasn't to be this year. Even the initial easy snow slopes were going to be difficult to access as Jon found out here on the first of only two pitches we climbed. Looking across from Ama Dablam we knew the route wasn't in the conditions we need, the whole Everest region was exceptional dry this spring. All we found was loose rotten rock and not a single bit of usable névé. The climbing was going to be too slow and the thought of dangerous, loose rotten rock for pitch after pitch once/if we got into the meat of the route higher up wasn't exactly motivating or what we were after. Back in base camp later that day as the usual afternoon snow started and the sounds of thunder echoed around the valley we were pretty relived we'd bailed rather than carrying on higher just to have a look like we'd briefly contemplated. 


Report 13th May

Snow continues to fall at altitude and skis or snow shoes are essential for the approaches. There has been little activity these last few days due to the bad weather, though some people are still ski touring, mainly in the Buet and Emosson areas.
Concerning the Mont Blanc massive, a lot of snow has fallen recently and this is likely to be affected by the strong winds forecast for this weekend, take care!

Allow at least 30 mins of walking before you can put on the skis to gain the Argentière basin.


The hut wardens have reported the following levels of new snow:
- Couvercle: 30 to 40cm of wet snow.
- Plan de l’Aiguille: 30cm of heavy snow.
- Cosmiques: 80cm during the last 2 days.  
- Torino: 1m of fresh, windblown snow since Monday.
- Grands Mulets: 50cm during the last 2 days.
- Conscrits: about 50cm of fresh snow, rapidly become wet.


Not much has changed since the report last week for the hikers. The lakes and paths at altitude remain snowed over and dangerous in places. It is recommended that walkers this weekend restrict their activities to below 2000m.
A lot of trail runners want to reconnoitre future races but for the moment the routes at altitude have far too much snow.  A list of currently “open” trails is available on the site .

There has been a landslip at the level of Nant Favre making the Sentier des Gardes impassable in this area and there is a potential risk on the Petit Balcon du Sud below.  More information will follow once the weather improves, but for the moment please avoid this sector

Indian Mountaineering Foundation Newsletter

For those with an interest in the Indian Himalaya, the 24-page illustrated digitial version of the May 2016 Indian Mountaineering Foundation Newsletter is available for download HERE

Report 6th May

The snow falls and high winds the weekend before and the early part of last week curtailed activities at altitude for a few days.

The Albert 1 and Argentière huts are now closed until the summer season, as well as all the lifts at Grand Montees.  Some routes are still in good condition in the Argentiere basin, leading to some overcrowding of the winter room.
No news about the Couturier but there has been activity on the Austrian route and the NNE of the Courtes. The Swiss route also appears to be OK.  The wind at the start of last week has made conditions difficult, (iced,) in the upper parts of the routes.  
Couvercle sector: the Pointe Isabelle is tracked with hard, windblown snow in the upper part.
Col des Droites also tracked. The Whymper has been climbed, (some ice pitches.)  The approach to the hut is still best done by the “central couloir”, but it is starting to get thin.  The N face of the Grandes Jorasses looks very dry.

Cosmiques sector:  the Pointes Lachenal traverse and the Cosmiques Arete are tracked. The 3 Monts route up Mont Blanc has been tracked since Thursday on hard, windblown snow with patches of ice at the Col du Mont Maudit and towards the Brenva col.
The Chéré, Modica-Noury, Gabarrou-Albinoni, Pinocchio and Valéria, have been climbed.  Conditions are dry but OK.

Several parties have climbed the Tour Ronde N face, no further information. The Normal route, (skis off for 20m in the middle,) and the Gervasutti couloir are also tracked.

The SW couloir of the Aiguilles du Diable has been done.

Vent du Dragon (Aig du Midi) was climbed in very dry conditions.

Grands Mulets: Mont Blanc tracked by the Plateaus and the N ridge of the Dôme.

Plan Glacier: Mettrier ridge “intégrale” was climbed in OK conditions, though the upper part was “dry”. The N face of the Dômes de Miage looks like bare ice.

Conscrits:  Dômes de Miage traverse is generally in good condition.  Descent by the Armancette is tracked but the snow is unpleasant to ski.  Skis off about 15 mins above the lake.  Better conditions for a “there and back” trip on the Tré la Tête glacier. Parties have climbed the Aiguille de Tré la Tête, to the Col des Glaciers and Mont Tondu.
Lex Blanche was done in OK conditions by the summer route. Descent barely skiable on very variable snow.

Mont Buet tracked all the way on good snow.  Skis on/off 10 mins above the Cascade de Bérard. up and down following the true right bank.  The road up to Emosson is open and people have been ski touring there, (Bel Oiseau and Cheval Blanc.)

Concerning hiking, things have not changed much with snow causing problems above 1800m.  It will still be a long time before the classic summer trails, (Grand Balcons, Lac Blanc etc.) are practicable. The footpaths at the valley floor are fine, as well as walks like the Floria, Le Chapeau or the Mottets, where the tea shack was open this weekend. If you want to visit a lake then the Lac Vert, with its beautiful views, is to be recommended, (above Servoz). The Merlet footbridge is now open so it can be approached from Montquarts.

Petzl and C2C

Since 1975 Petzl's famous line drawings have enabled thousands of mountaineers and climbers to improve their techniques on rock, snow and ice.

American Alpine Club Yosemite meet

American Alpine Club 2016 International Climbers' Meet

The American Alpine Club Is now taking applications for the 2016 International Climbers’ Meet to be held In Yosemite Valley

The American Alpine Club is hosting its 9th annual International Climbers’ Meet (ICM), to be held the week of September 25 - October 2, 2016 in Yosemite Valley. Experience with placement and removal of protection, multi - pitch rope management, at least two years of technical rock climbing, and the ability to follow sustained 5 - 8 granite is mandatory. The goal is to host a diverse group of climbing abilities from a multitude of countries. American Alpine Club members from the USA will be participating again this year.

For more information and to apply online, go to their website:

Jim Curran

It is with sadness that we report the death of Jim Curran on 5th April, following a long illness. Many will know Jim was a freelance mountain cameraman, writer and artist. He joined the Club in 1985 and exhibited some of his paintings at the AC London Clubhouse in 2004.

Alan Rouse, Dave Wilkinson, Brian Hall, Jim Curran and Al Burgess, K2 Expedition, 1986

J. M. C. Evans

In memorandum - Chuck Evans

Chuck Evans kindly contributed a short story to my book The Pen y Gwryd Hotel: Tales from the Smoke Room (Gomer Press, pending).

I have reproduced this below; it is a reflection of the happy times Chuck and his extended family had at the Gwryd. I trust it makes a small but fitting contribution to his memorial.

Kind regards,

Dr Rob Goodfellow   (New South Wales)

‘Whatever Mr Briggs says is true’ - Chuck Evans

Living in Bangor and then Capel Curig, my brothers Robin and Peter and I were often taken to the Pen y Gwryd when we were boys and, later on with my father (Sir Robert Charles Evans, deputy leader on the 1953 British Everest Expedition and leader of the expedition which first climbed Kangchenjunga in 1955) and mother, Lady Denise Evans (the first female President of the Alpine Club) for the regular Everest and Kangchenjunga reunions. Later still, many times, it was after completing the Snowdon Horseshoe for a well merited pint.

The PyG was, and still is, a magical place. As children, we were often installed in the snug behind the bar and Blodwen, the ‘maid of maids’ (dressed in traditional Welsh black), would look after us by serving hot buttered toast, forever after known in our family as ‘Pen y Gwryd toast’. And I recall that there were funny napkins with a few choice phrases written in both Welsh and English. (Probably this is still the limit of my Welsh.)

As a boy, I was fascinated by the oxygen cylinder and other holy relics of the 1953 British Everest Expedition in the glass case in the Smoke Room. And every member of the expedition had a silver pint beer tankard; and, when my father was not there, I got to drink from it too.

One story I like to recall is about the Police visiting the Hotel, questioning Blodwen about after-hours or Sunday opening. Blodwen gave the policeman a stern look and despite persistent interrogation all she would say was, ‘Whatever Mr Briggs says is true.’

I also remember Jane Pullee organising Hallowe’en parties where the staff were dressed up as ghosts. Such happy times!

In the year that my father died (1995), we celebrated the 40th anniversary of the ascent of Kangchenjunga and my two year old daughter, Natasha, made the first cut in the cake, whilst my then six month old boy, Charlie, lay asleep on a blanket on the floor in the PyG dining room as we drank champagne opposite the ‘captain’s table’, where for many years Chris Briggs would host, amongst others, the likes of David Cox and Kevin Fitzgerald, two real gentlemen!

Wonderful memories!

Chuck Evans (1959-2016) was the eldest son of Sir Charles and Lady Denise Evans. He also did some Himalayan exploration in the late 1980s and early 1990s, including Jaonli in India, Churen Himal in mid-west Nepal and Saipal in far west Nepal, as well as a visit to Khumbu. When not enjoying the mountains or sailing, Evans advised French companies in difficulties with their respective banks.

The AC and the Piolets d’Or

The AC and the Piolets d’Or

The Alpine Club and the Piolets d’Or are together again in April 2016! You can join the party – details below – and it would be great to see lots of Alpine Club members there.

Four AC members will be honoured at the celebration of the spirit of modern alpinism, most of whom have been on the Piolets d’Or stage before:

- The Lifetime Achievement Award will be given to Honorary Member Voytek Kurtyka. AC members Sandy Allan and John Porter will be amongst those giving speeches in tribute to Voytek’s achievements.

Voytek Kurtyka, AC Honorary Member, (photo M. Slowarczek)

- Nominated for a Piolet d’Or: the north face route of Paul Ramsden and Mick Fowler on Gave Ding

Mick Fowler and Paul Ramsden (l-r)

- Nominated for a Piolet d’Or as part of a four-man team: the east face route on Cerro Kishtwar by Honorary Member Marko Prezelj and team

Marko Prezelj, AC Honorary Member, and Liv Sansoz (photo L. Griffin)

The celebration will be in La Grave, at the foot of the Meije this year – find more detail here



Norway Ice Fest Meet Report 19 – 28 Feb 2016

Norway Ice Fest Meet Report 19- 28 Feb 2016 

A mixed team of attendees from several UK Climbing Clubs finally got under way on February 19th. 

Condition on the ice routes were superb. Plenty of fat ice. The track in the Rjukan Gorge was good and direct to many lines, thankfully without much deep snow, and no sign of the river below it. Almost all of the usual routes were in great condition, sometimes a little brittle ice was encountered but in general, no-one could or did complain.

One of the main venues was the Vemork Bridge routes. The usually snowed-up and icy road down to and getting out of the Vemork Bridge car park was no trouble this season even without  4-wheel drive cars. With the excellent conditions, we all got stuck in to some great ice climbing. 

Read the whole article here: 7th Joint AC/CC Rjukan Norway Ice Fest Meet Report 19 – 28 Feb 2016