News

Report: 21 June 2024

La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 21 June 2024.
 
We've had a brief taste of summer over the last few days, but high pressure is struggling to get going. As for the wind, it seems to want to settle in for good...
 
Classic conditions for June! In the high mountains, there's a lot of snow and random refreezes (short nights, but the good news is that the days are starting to shorten today... frequent SW winds, cloudy skies), which certainly affects conditions on snow routes. The rock is gradually drying out and is an alternative in the event of poor refreezing. Refreezing has been particularly bad over the last two days, greatly limiting activity. The rain, warm wind and sand have melted the snow visibly, but the snow cover remains promising!
 
In the "moyenne montagne", there's still plenty of snow, which means you need to adapt your choice of hikes and equipment.
 
 
Albert 1er - Trient
 
No snow patches now on the path up to Albert 1er from Charamillon/Tête de Balme. Snow can be found on the slope just before the moraine. Last Saturday's heavy rains caused a landslide above the couloir on the "moraine path", but this had no impact on practicability.
 
All the classic routes in the area have been climbed: Aiguille du Tour (couloir & Arête de la Table, normal route), Tête Blanche (normal route, N face), Petite Fourche. Good refreezing conditions are needed for the Aiguille du Chardonnet routes (Forbes arete and Migot spur).
 
There's still too much snow on the Dorées traverse, especially on the N side. It can be partially traversed E-W as far as the Col Copt.
 
There's plenty of climbing around the Orny hut including the Clocher du Portalet and on the S face of Les Dorées!
 
 
Argentière
 
The refuge opens this Saturday, 22 June! As a reminder, there is uplift for mountaineers (only) on the Plan Joran gondola every day except Sunday): 7:30 - 8:30 am / 1:30 - 2:30 pm (ascent and descent) and 5:00 - 6:00 pm (descent only). Tickets can be purchased at the Plan Joran ticket machine (bank card only).
 
The route to the refuge is via the right bank of the glacier (a few crevasses to jump over, but it's fine). Too much snow for the moment on the ladder side.
 
The rock is drying out nicely, so you'll find plenty to do! Too much snow for the Jardin ridge.
 
If there is a decent refreeze snow routes should be fantastic. The Aiguille d'Argentière via the glacier du Milieu was done in good conditions last week. Looking at it, the Couturier couloir could still be climbed.
 
As a reminder, there are major works underway at Lognan-Les Grands Montets. The whole sector is off-limits (see map), but access to the Petite Verte and the Grands Montets ridge is still possible via the Col des Grands Montets (just don't head for the construction site).
 
 
Charpoua/Talèfre
 
The Charpoua refuge is reached via the balcony path (still too early for the "Charpoua Express" variant), on which there is still some snow. No activity apart from climbers on the Flammes de Pierre (the ropes on the Passages des Guides are in good condition, photo above).
 
Still steep névé in a couloir to cross to reach the Couvercle hut.
 
Still too much snow on the south face of the Moine (so too early for the S ridge and E face). Nobody on the other "ecclésiastiques" routes (Nonne, Evêque).
 
Good conditions for the Whymper on the Verte when there's a refreeze. The rimaye goes well, some belays may still be under the snow (plan two 60m ropes) much of the descent is down-climbing not abseiling.
 
Normal route on the Droites possible (lots of snow but no cornices), teams on the Courtes and back. Pointe Isabelle tracked, but needs to refreeze a bit for it to go well.
 
 
Leschaux
 
Several large boulders have fallen onto the terrace of the Leschaux refuge, which is unfortunately no longer guardianed until further notice. The winter room remains open (don't hang around too much on the terrace!)
 
Some opportunists seized the chance to climb the Linceul or Rêve Ephémère, but the foehn has put an end to that. The rock behind the refuge is dry. A period of fine weather should make the Petites Jorasses climbable.
 
The Mont Mallet glacier is going very well at the moment.
 
There are several gullies and névés to cross on the balcony path, so good crampons and ice axe are a must! Not suitable for hikers at the moment.
 
 
Envers des Aiguilles / Requin
 
Bottom of the ladders: there's a knotted rope attached to the rope ladder. It's "sporty" and people abseil down it. The footpath department should intervene soon. 
 
You will find the snow halfway between the ladders and the refuge de l'Envers. It's on the slabs, so you have to be careful, especially when it's getting hot... Getting around the refuge isn't easy either. Hikers, this is not the time for you!
 
The SW wind has dried out the lower sectors (Tour Rouge, Tour Verte, Pointe des Nantillons, Aiguille de Roc: Pedro Polar) where you can climb without a care in the world. For the République normal route and the Grépon-Mer de Glace, a window of good weather should make them possible to climb.
 
The Requin refuge opens this Saturday, June 22. "Still a lot of névé in the couloir, between the ladders (photo below) as well as on the path but on the whole, it's fine".
 
 
Aiguille du Midi
 
Not much change up here, as conditions on the classics (Midi Plan ok up to Rognon, Triangle du Tacul etc.) vary with the wind and the refreeze!
 
The season switch (crampons gradually replacing skis) is underway on the Trois Monts route, which remains in good conditions (wind permitting).
 
 
Helbronner
 
Few changes here either (Rochefort, Dent du Géant, Marbrées, Entrèves, Tour Ronde: descent or access via the Freshfield arete). Bad refreeze in recent days and almost no activity. The Kuffner is possible when the freeze is good. We'll have to wait a little for the Jorasses and Aiguilles du Diable traverse.
 
 
Plan de l'Aiguille
 
The refuge is open.
 
You can climb the NE ridge of the Aiguille de l'M, the Pillar Rouge de Blaitière, the SW face of the Gendarme 3078m of the Peigne. Axe and crampons for access, obviously.
 
The Mallory has also been climbed recently, so keep an eye on it as conditions evolve. It's a bit early for the Frendo Spur, but the right window is coming up!
 
 
Mont Blanc via the Grands Mulets
 
Mont Blanc can still be skied, but the sections on foot are getting longer. The Jonction higher path has deteriorated and you now have to take the lower path. Little has changed above: the Dôme's N ridge, plateaus, Corridors and N face are all good.
 
 
Mont Blanc via the Goûter
 
Nothing to add to the precise and recent information and photos published on the refuges social media:
 
Ascent to Tête Rousse:
 
- Option from Bellevue, traverse to the Plan de l'Are towards the Nid d'Aigle ladders, some névés at the top but generally dry.
- The Nid d'Aigle refuge has been open since June 8, so drop in and say hello 
- From Nid d'Aigle to Tête Rousse, most of the guides are still on the glacier, with very few people on the Rognes (presence of ice).
 
Ascent to Goûter:
 
- From Tête Rousse to Goûter, great condition, snow everywhere, the cables have been dug out.
- Dôme du Goûter: very good condition
 
And for the final sprint  : 
 
- Option 1: Arête des bosses, "mauvaise arete" icy, 2 threads on the Italian side, 1 thread on the Chamonix side 1m below the ridge. 
- Option 2: North face track in great condition both up and down.
 
 
Dômes de Miage - Bionnassay
 
The footbridge on the summer path leading to the Conscrits refuge has been reopened, and the guides have been busy making the path safer. The path can now be used, but beware: there are still many snow-covered sections on which slipping is not an option: crampons and ice-axe are essential, and the route is probably not suitable for hikers for another week or two...
 
For the ascent via the glacier, you now have to cross the torrent on a snow bridge. It is advisable to rope up for this passage, as the bridge will soon be very fragile.
 
Most of the routes in the area were climbed when the weather and refreezing allowed: traverse of the Miage, traverse as far as Durier, Aiguille de la Bérangère, Mont Tondu, traverse of the aiguilles de Tré-la-Tête, good conditions everywhere.
 
There's snow at 2600m when climbing up to the Plan Glacier. The Mettrier arete is still passable. The classic ascent to the Durier should only be considered when there's a good freeze and early in the morning!
 
Aiguille de Bionnassay: Be careful on the ridge before the rocky section (cornices, poor refreezing). Beyond that, it's OK (a few cornices in places on the NE ridge).
 
 
Mont Blanc via Gonella
 
Good general conditions: good track, crevasses on the Dôme glacier but goes well, no ice below the Col des Aiguilles Grises or on the way to the Piton des Italiens.
 
 
Monzino sector
 
The refuge opens today!
 
Lots of snow here too. (Photos above).
 
The ascent to the Eccles is untracked (the Pillars are still too snowy).
 
 
Aiguilles Rouges
 
As a reminder, the routes to the left of the Frison Roche are closed until 15 July by a municipal by-law (work on the summit of the Brévent).
 
Crampons and ice axes are required to access the routes. There are a few névés in some of the less steep routes or in the transitions (Hotel California, Cocher-Cochon...).
 
A steep cornice on the Col des Crochues (you can belay the second on a spike on the N side).
 
Voie des Français (Aiguille du Pouce): snow-covered approach, cornice at the Aiguille de la Glière which is easy to avoid. The start is virtually at the second belay (10m below belay no 2, yellow rope). The return via the ridge is complicated (snow, ledges): it's better to wait a little longer!
 
The Perrons traverse is fine (crampons + ice axe).
 
 
Hiking
 
We're starting with some good news: the Bellachat refuge will be open from Saturday 29 June! Bookings only by telephone on 07 75 83 02 70!
 
Most of the hikes are now accessible, but there is still snow on some of them: contact us to check the conditions. You'll need crampons and mountain boots for the Grand Balcon Nord, Lac Blanc from the Col des Montets and the Lacs des Chéserys, Brévent - Refuge de Bellachat section.
 
On the other hand, it's still too snowy for: Jonction, Gare des Glaciers, Mer de Glace balconies, refuge Albert 1er, col de la Terrasse, col de Salenton/Buet, lac Blanc from the Index, col de la Glière - lacs Noirs - lac Cornu - col Cornu, col du Brévent (you can get round this by going up to Brévent on the piste via the Brèche du Brévent).
 
Tour du Mont Blanc: fine for hikers with some experience (still quite a lot of snow but good tracks on the main passes: Bonhomme, Seigne, Grand col Ferret, Balme, Brévent: go around the latter via the piste and the breche du Brévent)... Good boots, poles and micro crampons in the rucksack are still essential. The Tricot variant is fine, but it's still too dangerous for the Fours and Arpette variants (see photo below for the latter). Watch out for slips/falls and river crossings! 
 
 
Tour des Aiguilles Rouges: it's very snowy at the moment. The first (very experienced) hikers have crossed the cols in the last few days. The trail is not very well marked, so it's quite physical. You need to know your way around on a map, as the paths are not visible for long stretches. Proper crampons are recommended. So this is for the most experienced hikers only! For the others, it's best to postpone!
 
 
Tour des Fiz: Here too, there is still a lot of snow on the route (above 2100m), particularly at the col d'Anterne, col de la Portette (photo above) and Dérochoir. The markings are still not very visible, so a navigation tool and appropriate equipment (poles and crampons) are strongly recommended. Flaine and the Varan from the Platé hut is for experienced hikers only.
 
 

Translated with kind permission from an original report by La Chamoniarde.

Readers are reminded that conditions in mountain environments are prone to (sometimes rapid) change and that they should use their own best judgement when visiting them.

 

 

 

Save the Date: 2024 Annual Dinner and AGM

Save the Date: 2024 Annual Dinner and AGM

The 2024 Alpine Club Annual Dinner and AGM will be held at the Castle Green Hotel in Kendal on 23 November 2024.

Further details on the event schedule and booking will follow.

This year's event coincides with the Kendal Mountain Festival, providing members with the opportunity to catch mountaineering and outdoor events over the weekend.

 

 

 

Report: 14 June 2024

La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 14 June 2024.

Great weather, isn’t it? If you were quick off the mark you would have enjoyed blue skies on Wednesday and Thursday but we now have two days of unsettled weather before the next good spell. Metéo France stopped publishing an avalanche report on the 6th of June, but we shouldn’t forget the avalanche risk: lots of wind and fresh snow at altitude, so constant vigilance!
 
 
Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB)

Not much change to report here. The snow is gradually disappearing but over the Cols Bonhomme, Seigne and Ferret there is continuous snow cover. We reiterate our previous advice about what is needed: good physical preparation, ability to analyse the safety of snow bridges and steep sections and adequate kit. We advise you against any TMB variants for the time being.
 
 
Aiguilles Rouges
 
The Plan Praz and Brevent lifts are now open so walking and climbing activity will increase in the Aiguilles Rouges. Axe and crampons are essential for approaches to climbing routes.   Watch out for cornices and ice above you when you are climbing. The mountain lakes are still under snow. There is now a track in to get up to Lac Blanc from Flegere.  Good shoes/boots advised. We advise you against trying to get to Lac Blanc along the footpath from the Index as it is tricky terrain. Some patience will be needed before summer walking conditions arrive.
 
 
Albert 1er
 
Lots going on around here. The snow is gradually melting on the approaches and becoming more weight-bearing so it’s less hard work than last week.  The Migot spur and the Forbes arete are in good condition but lots of snow around the summit.  Lots of people on the classic routes, which are in good condition: Couloir and Arête de la table, Tête Blanche, Petite Fourche, Aiguille du Tour. 
 
As far as approaches to the hut are concerned we advise against the summer path because of steep snowy slopes. It’s better to use the path by the moraine which is dry until you reach the usual summer path. Lots of people expected this weekend with the forecast good weather on Sunday.
 
 
Argentiere 
No recent feedback on climbing. The hut opens on 20 June, so activity will probably pick up.
 
The Plan Joran lift will be open to alpinists from 22 June every day except Sunday. There will be a ticket machine (bank card only).  7h30 - 8h30 / 13h30-14h30 (ascent and descent) and 17h00 - 18h00 (descent only).
 
 
Couvercle
 
From the top of the ladders there are still a few snow patches so it’s still too early for walkers. Generally the snow is weight-bearing depending on the time of day. The rimayes are beginning to open up but nothing to report at present. It’s too early for the normal route on the Moine (very snowy) and for rock climbing in general. Lots of teams in the Whymper couloir yesterday. The approach can be done on foot but on the way back there may be deep snow depending on the timing. The rimaye is starting to open up but at the moment it’s okay.  Classic mistake: lots of teams start too far right at the bottom. All the belays have now been dug out. The S side of the Col Armand Charlet is OK. Far too much snow to consider the arete du Jardin. The classic traverse of the Grande Rocheuse via the normal route is fine.
 
Attempts at the normal route on the Droites but to no avail. One party reached the summit but not necessarily by the right route!
 
There and back on the Courtes can be done, but we'll have to wait for the weather to settle down before we can do the traverse.
 
No-one on the Pointe Isabelle! Snowshoes could be useful!
 
 
Leschaux
 
Lots of people on the Grandes Jorasses. The Aiguille de l'Eboulement and the Périades look to be in good condition. For climbing, the rock looks dry with glacier approaches well covered in snow. 
The Charpoua opens tomorrow, 15 June. It looks as though the Flammes de Pierre should be possible.
 
 
Envers des Aiguilles
 
The Envers des Aiguilles opens tomorrow, June 15. To get to the first rungs of the ladders, you'll have to scramble. New rungs are due to be installed shortly to make access easier. Above, the snow has melted well but there are still continuous sections on the large slabs below the refuge and on the final ascent. Ice axes and crampons are required. It is possible to climb Les Nantillons and La Tour Verte. For the rest, we'll wait for the sun to come out to get a good view. 
 
 
Cosmiques
 
Same as last week on the South faces of Aiguille du Midi and Lachenal: the climbing is going well in the steep pitches at the bottom. In the final pitches that are less steep, it may be preferable to put on big boots and crampons. Here too, beware of falling ice. 
 
A detailed recap of the conditions on the 3 Monts and the descent of the N face here.
 
The Triangle gullies (Négri, Grisolle, Mazeaud, Chéré) have been tracked. 
 
 
Helbronner/Torino Sector
 
A lot of people on the classics (crossing the Marbrées and the Aiguilles d'Entrèves, but beware of the number of teams present).
 
The Tour Ronde routes are still in good condition. Be careful on the "normal route" down (E face) as it heats up quickly and strongly (rock falls from 9-10 am).
 
Good conditions on the Dent du Géant (good route to the Salle à Manger). The Arête de Rochefort (Rochefort ridge) was climbed as far as the Aiguille de Rochefort yesterday (beware of the wind and snow forecast for the near future).
 
A team climbed the Kuffner yesterday, Wednesday 13 June, but there was too much snow (cornices, etc.). We'll have to wait for a spell of good weather for the snow to settle.
 
There’s climbing on the steep routes on the Tacul satellites but beware of falling icicles. Snow on the ledges and sometimes a little ice in the cracks.
 
 
Gouter
 
Conditions for accessing the Gouter are good and you can still leave from Bellevue or Bionnassay via the Plateau de l'Are (the municipal by-law prohibiting the approach via the Rognes and the rails is still in force). The tramway will reopen tomorrow as far as Bellevue, but work is continuing to reopen the upper section. 
 
The couloir below the Gouter is all snow, and with a good load-bearing capacity the approach is quick. Above, the passage through the ice to get a foothold on the “mauvaise arete" is improving, as the snow has stuck at this point.
 
The Tête Rousse and Gonella refuges are having problems with phone signal. For reservations ring the Gouter.
 
 
Plan Glacier
 
Guardian report: 15/06/24: "The access path from Miage is clear up to the junction with the Chemin des Contrebandiers (2600m), access possible in hiking boots with small crampons just in case."
 
On the Metrier, top conditions, good refreeze,  rimaye great  and snow not too deep.  Now there are some good steps....
 
Traversée des Dômes excellent conditions, perfect Chaborgne descent.
 
Bionnassay: south face. Very good refreeze, there were a few centimetres of fresh snow accumulated in the gullies, but otherwise it was perfect! Top conditions for skiing.
 
 
Durier
 
The Durier refuge is open, but the warden hasn't seen anyone yet. Lots of snow and lots of wind. We recommend climbing via the Métrier or the Conscrits. 
 
 
Conscrits
 
Access remains the same as in previous weeks: climb the left bank of the glacier, cross the widest part of the torrent (to limit the consequences if you enter the water). Then navigate by eye to the refuge. 
 
The last few days have been very busy around the refuge: the Dômes traverse, Métrier and descending to the Conscrits, Tré la Tête, Lée Blanche. The approaches are in compact snow. Good conditions on the above routes. Everything has been done on foot and there are no skiers around. It's raining today at the Conscrits. 
 
As for the footbridge, it will be installed next week (check date with hut). In any case as there is so much snow around you need the right kit. Not advised for walkers at present.
 
 

Translated with kind permission from an original report by La Chamoniarde.

Readers are reminded that conditions in mountain environments are prone to (sometimes rapid) change and that they should use their own best judgement when visiting them.

 

 

 

AC Members Receive 2024 RGS Awards

AC Members Receive 2024 RGS Awards

Among the recipients of the 2024 Royal Geographical Society's Medals and Awards are two RGS members. Former AC president Stephen Venables has been honoured with the Patron's Medal in recognition of "his lifetime’s contribution to geographical discovery in the high mountains of the world" and Professor Chris Clark has received the Busk Medal "For profound influence on the understanding of glacial systems through the ‘British-Irish Ice Sheet’ reconstruction." 

Venables on the summit of Ngabong Terong

In typical fashion, Stephen responded to news of the award by downplaying his own achievements, commenting "What a wonderful honour and surprise, to be rewarded for what is essentially having fun – exploring remote corners of the world’s most spectacular mountains, in the company of some of the world’s finest mountaineers.

Congratulations to both Stephen and Chris for these well-deserved marks of recognition.

 

 

 

John Ashcroft

The Club has recenlty been informed of the death of John Ashcroft. John had been a member of the Club for more than 50 years and the committee would like to express our sincere condolences to John's friends and family at this difficult time.

A funeral will be held on 11 June.

 

 

 

Report: 31 May 2024

La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 31 May 2024.

Last update for this month of May-vember!
 
After our short spell of fine weather on Tuesday, it's been yet another wet week!
 
No major changes in conditions. It's still snowing up there and in the "moyenne montagnes", everything is melting very slowly but the snow cover is still substantial for hiking above 2000m.
 
When we woke up this morning, the ground was white up to 2000m.
 
More than 50cm of light snow has fallen at the Goûter and Cosmiques huts, and 30cm of wind-blown at the Helbronner! Watch out for the risk of avalanches/purges over the next few days!
 
So there are no major changes in the high mountains. The transition between skiing and alpinism is proving difficult! Please refer to the previous update or call La Chamoniarde if the information you are looking for is not below!
 
 
The Conscrits refuge is still open. ‘The Conscrits summer footpath will be “open” on 18 June (work on the footbridge is scheduled for 17 and 18 June). In the meantime, you have to access the refuge via the glacier, a route that has become very wet. As in previous years, you now have to climb up the LEFT BANK and avoid the gorge on the right bank (the former Tré la Grande ice slope) where a fall could be fatal. You need to cross the torrent on the flat bit (there's a snow bridge that you can still cross) at the point where, if you go into the water, you will only get wet (and not drown). The rocky bar on the left bank is equipped and goes smoothly. Very soon, the passage through the bar will be reinforced with a rope and a small temporary footbridge will be installed to cross the torrent (see photo below). Up above, probably no changes.
 
 
The Plan Glacier refuge has been open since yesterday. It's dry up to 2300m above the Chalets de Miage. On the way down, you can ski to 1900m. Above, travel is only possible on skis for the time being. The Mettrier arête was done in excellent conditions last weekend, and the N face of Les Dômes has also been skied (last weekend).
 
 
The Durier refuge will open on 15/06. Quite a few skiers on the N face of Bionnassay in recent weeks (access via the Nid d'Aigle/Tête Rousse: don't forget the portage, skis on at the Nid d'Aigle).
 
 
The Nid d'Aigle refuge will open on 3/06. The Tête Rousse and Goûter huts are open. As a reminder, the TMB and cable car are closed (the Bellevue lift will open on 8/06) = you have to walk! Snow clearing and work in progress on the railway line + a ban on walking introduced by the APHN = access via the Crozat and the Chalets de l'Are for most people, no information on the Rognes. There is a good footpath from the Nid d'Aigle, so snowshoes are not essential. On the other hand, you shouldn't try to open up a variant because as soon as you leave it, you will be wading around.
 
The cable has been reinstalled in the Goûter couloir and is accessible, as are those in the upper part of the face below the refuge. Before the snow, there was a good track that will soon be remade. Beyond that, snowshoes were not necessary, but they could prove useful for retracking the route between the Goûter refuge and Vallot (this section is in very good condition). The Bosses ridge remains technical at the ‘mauvais arete’: it is narrow, there is ice on the Italian side and the passage on the N side is not necessarily ideal. There's an abalakov in place (to be confirmed!!!) and it's a 30m pitch: ‘Mont Blanc is still a climbers mountain’!
 
 
If there is a weather window, Mont Blanc on skis via the Grands Mulets refuge is still in good condition. Some bits of skis on/off between Plan de l'Aiguille and the glacier. The Jonction higher path is changing and opening up, but it's still OK for the moment. The Jonction lower path was retracked on 30/05.
 
The North ridge of the Dôme is snowy, with only a short section of ice on the last step. For the Bosses ridge, see above.
 
The most popular route is: plateaus, Corridor and the Mur de la côte (which is skiable). The ascent via the plateaus remains very exposed to serac falls.
 
The descent via the north face of Mont Blanc was made again this week in fresh snow.
 
 
Aiguille du Midi and the Cosmiques refuge area:
 
The Panoramic opened last weekend.
 
For the Trois Monts, we have to solve the equation weather + snowpack stability = not easy lately. But very good conditions when it does!
 
Otherwise no changes (activity on the Lachenal, Triangle, Cosmiques arête)! The approaches (including the crossing of the Vallée Blanche) are being done on foot (they will have to be tracked).
 
There was a big fall of seracs below the Col du Diable in the usual place (between the Pyramide du Tacul and the Pointe Adolphe Rey), so best to keep your distance there.
 
The rock has a hard time drying out between the snow falls, but the S faces will dry out quickly when the high pressure returns.
 
 
The Skyway and the Torino refuge are open. Still lots of skiers in the area. Lots of teams traversing the Marbrées and the Aiguilles d'Entrêves. The Tour Ronde is in good condition: the ‘normal route’ is all snow; the N face was climbed on 28/05 in good conditions (rimaye ok, some black ice on the surface in the gully, beware of the risk of avalanche on the upper slope) as was the Gervasutti couloir (rimaye blocked, all snow). The approaches are tracked on foot.
 
 
The Montenvers train will reopen tomorrow, Saturday 1 June, as will the gondola to the Mer de Glace and all the access paths = back to normal!
 
The Couvercle guardian will be back with the first bookings (perhaps tomorrow or Sunday), until then the winter refuge is accessible. Access is not easy at this time of year: the winter access routes (central couloir, Pierre à Béranger) are no longer passable and it's a bit early to take the path from the top of the ladders (snowy couloirs, exposed to avalanches/purges). The best option is to check with the guardian. Above the refuge, it's as white as everywhere else!
 
The Requin will open on 15/06, Leschaux on 11/06, l'Envers on 14/06, date to be announced for the Charpoua!
 
 
No news (= good news) from the Argentière glacier area (refuge opening on 20/06, there will be mountaineering mechanical uplift this summer).
 
Access to the Albert 1er refuge (open) is still via the moraine path. The summer path from the top of the ski lifts is still too snowy and dangerous (there was an accident last weekend, see photo below).
 
 
The classic routes are being done on foot (which can be quite tricky) and on skis: Aiguille du Tour normal route, Couloir de la Table (currently very snowy), Tête Blanche normal route. There's been no recent activity on the Chardonnet (‘very good snow cover, and good conditions to come once the snowpack has settled’).
 
 
For hiking, don't go above 2000m if you want to be safe! Don't forget to call La Chamoniarde to check out the feasibility of your project!
 
Hiking on the Tour du Mont Blanc is off to a very slow start (refuges are opening and the first hikers are warming up). The cols and high altitude sections are very snowy. These are not névés but long stretches of snow, which means:
 
- Paths and markings not visible = risk of getting lost
- Walking for a long time in the snow = more physical or even exhausting stages if you have to (re)track, have good hiking boots + gaiters (snow gets wet!)
- Risk of slipping/falling: carry and know how to use crampons or even a small ice axe (snow is slippery!)
- Take care when crossing streams and torrents so as not to fall through and get swept away.
 
In these conditions, it is only for very experienced, trained and adequately equipped hikers. Most hikers who set off at the moment turn back (remember to do so before it's too late!).
 
 
Finally, here's some other news:
 
- The opening of the Bossons chairlift has been be postponed (repair work)
- Emosson dam road has been open since Thursday
- A static rope has been installed to access the Vipère etc routes (Barberine), as the existing rope was damaged.
 
 

Translated with kind permission from an original report by La Chamoniarde.

Readers are reminded that conditions in mountain environments are prone to (sometimes rapid) change and that they should use their own best judgement when visiting them.

 

 

 

Report: 24 May 2024

La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 24 May 2024.

We are looking forward to some sun this weekend after a week of unstable weather. A succession of small disturbances have followed each other with showers in the valley and snow in the high mountains. It’s difficult to estimate how much has fallen. There’s been around 5 to 10cm each day at the Cosmiques hut which has packed down quickly. Probably around 15cm at the Grands Mulets hut. Tracks are still visible up around 3500m.
 
Although we are at the end of May the avalanche risk isn’t negligible and needs to be taken into account when you’re going into the high mountains. Skis or snow shoes are still necessary for getting around in the high mountains, except very close to the lifts (Midi/Helbronner).
 
The good weather slot this weekend will allow outings in the high mountains principally around the Aiguille du Midi and on Mont Blanc but also around the Conscrits hut and the Albert Prem.
 
Skiing remains the main activity.
 
In the “lower” mountains the snow cover is  receding slowly as always. There is continuous snow cover above around 2000 to 2200m depending on aspect and area. This will limit walking in the popular areas like altitude lakes the grand balcon paths and access to huts.
 
Despite this there is a lovely contrast between the green in the valleys and everything white above. There is a list of potential walks here. It’s still too early for multi-day walks like the TMB and the Tour des Aiguilles Rouges etc. All the cols are completely snowed up, footpaths and signs aren’t visible, there is a risk of falls when crossing steep snow and rivers, and huts are closed. Things may improve by the beginning of June for experienced teams with the right equipment for managing the snowy conditions.
 
As expected there are excellent conditions for skiing from the Robert Blanc hut this weekend (Dome des Glaciers).
 
The Conscrits hut is guardianed this weekend. Access to the hut is via the right bank of the glacier, from the Mauvais Pas. Not much change up here and overall conditions are good. For the ski descent via the Armancette glacier, skis off at around 2000m (300m above the lake).
 
The Plan Glacier hut has been cleared of snow and will open on 30 May.
 
The refuges on the Mont Blanc normal route (Tête Rousse and Goûter) open today (except for the Nid d'Aigle, which will opens on 30/05). 
The Bellevue cable car and the Mont Blanc tramway are closed. You will therefore have to set off on foot from Les Houches or the hamlet of Bionnassay.
Snow clearance on the railway line will start on Monday 27 May. In addition, slides have damaged the track below the tunnel before the Nid d’Aigle, and repair work will start on 3 June. Access via the railway will therefore not be possible at the start of the season (or afterwards during the Nid d'Aigle operations/terminal works period).
The Tête Rousse refuge can therefore be reached (by mountaineers only) either via the Chalets de l'Are and then the Nid d'Aigle ladders or via the Rognes (both of which are currently covered in heavy snow from the Col du Mont Lachat/ladders under the Nid d'Aigle; beware of sliding/falling, particularly on the descent as you get tired).
There are no tracks at the moment, so you'll have to make your own: snowshoes or snowplates can be useful tools! Dont be late (risk of avalanches on steep sections such as the Aiguille du Goûter).
We don't have any more recent information about the Bosses ridge than we did in our 17 May update.
A lot of people are expected up there this weekend, so the track should be made and we'll have more information about the Bosses ridge afterwards.
 
The Mont Blanc ski season is in full swing! No significant changes around the Grands Mulets, apart from the N ridge of the Dôme du Goûter, which is gradually gaining snow (expect 15-20 m of ice, so bring good crampons and 2 ice axes, the route is being tracked this morning, but no further information is available). The Corridors, the Mur de la Côte and the N face are in good nick, as is the Jonction (here it may change more quickly).
 
Very good conditions on the Trois Monts too (last activity last Sunday, no ice, the crossing of the crevasse on Maudit will have been made much easier with the new snow). An attempt to track the Tacul this morning but no further information (the clearing in the clouds was short!). Beware of the avalanche risk.
The Lachenal traverse and the Cosmiques Arête have been retracked. Some activity in the Triangle gullies (Chéré, Contamine-Mazaud, Contamine-Grisolle, Contamine-Negri) but no news from those further East (they look filled but it's getting hot and fast).
 
The Skyway, Panoramic and Torino hut reopen today. This will allow a resumption of alpine activity around the Pointe Helbronner (the Marbrées traverse in particular). It's too early for the Rochefort ridges (and Midi-Plan for that matter). For the Küffner, we'll have to wait for a period of high pressure and the settling/stabilisation of all this snow!
 
The Montenvers train and cable car are still closed. Work is continuing and access is complicated. Keen climbers can reach the Mer de Glace basin by taking the via corda alpina to Les Mottets, then the moraine path and finally the new access (via ferrata) under the gondola. Information and map on the La Chamoniarde dedicated news page. The refuges in the area are all unguarded.
 
Some activity on the classics in the Tour basin (Aiguille du Tour normal route and couloir de la Table, Tête Blanche, Petite Fourche). The Albert 1er refuge is also opening this weekend! There's a risk that the Migot will be a little too busy and it's too early for the Forbes ridge. Access to the hut is by the moraine path (dry up to 2400m). Skis or snowshoes are still more than useful for travelling up top.
 
The road to the Emosson dam is still closed (landslides in autumn). It is hoped that it will open by the end of the month, but nothing is certain.

 

 

Translated with kind permission from an original report by La Chamoniarde.

Readers are reminded that conditions in mountain environments are prone to (sometimes rapid) change and that they should use their own best judgement when visiting them.

 

 

 

John Wilkinson

We are saddened to announce the death on 14 May of John Wilkinson.  John lived in Todmorden and had been a member for over 50 years.

Report: 17 May 2024

La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 17 May 2024.


Here's some news on the eve of the weekend, with the return of the sun this morning!

The mountains are all beautiful and white!

A good 50cm of snow has fallen recently at the Cosmiques hut. There was 4 cm at the Grands Mulets refuge (which fell without wind).

Watch out for the risk of avalanches in the coming days!

 

A brief overview of conditions in the mountains:

Most lifts are closed. The Aiguille du Midi and the Flégère gondola remain open.

Most of the refuges have switched back to unguarded mode. The Conscrits, Grands Mulets and Cosmiques huts are open! The Robert Blanc refuge opened today!

Above 2000m, it's winter! Skis (or even snowshoes for short approaches) are still the essential means of getting around. Skiing is still the main activity. There's a bit of mountaineering activity around the Aiguille du Midi and in the gullies (Triangle du Tacul), but things warm up quickly and fiercely at this time of year in other sectors (the E face of the Tacul, for example).

Hikers should always stay below 2000m. You can find a list of possible hikes here. While the Flégère gondola is open, the hikes are not practicable (Grand Balcon, Sud, Lac Blanc etc).

Unless something changes, the Bellachat refuge will be closed this summer.

Valley crags are climbable but higher up (Aiguilles Rouges, Mont Blanc massif: Envers, S face of Aiguille du Midi etc), there's still too much snow.

Fine weather last weekend (Ascension) meant that there was plenty of activity in the mountains! It has since snowed again, but that has only improved conditions!

 

Robert Blanc Refuge (open since this morning): it’s a 5-minute walk from the Chalets des Lanchettes car park before you put your skis on! A good opportunity to visit this wild sector!

 

Dômes de Miage: The refuge is open this weekend (one of the guardians went up today!) The latest news is that it's skis on after the Mauvais Pas once you are on the glacier. How long the snow bridges will last that cross the torrent at the bottom of the glacier is anyone’s guess: watch this space!

The traverse of the Dômes was in good condition, as were all the routes in the area (Tondu, North faces).

The Mettrier arete was tracked in good conditions last weekend. The traverse of the Aiguille de Bionnassay is possible if the weather is good and the snow has settled and stabilised.

 

Mont Blanc via the Grands Mulets: From the tunnel, skis on around 1900m. From the Plan de l'Aiguille, it's all fine (follow the summer path that skirts the moraines of the Pélerins glacier from below). The Jonction can be reached from the bottom as well as the top. Last weekend, there were still several sections of ice on the N ridge of the Dôme: ice screws, good crampons and 2 ice axes on the menu!

The conditions on the Bosses arete have improved: 1st bosse: on the crest then left across the ridge, beware there is a small crevasse to cross.

2nd bosse: on the crest

"False" arete: go around a crevasse on the right then a small steep wall of snow/ice to reach the ridge. The ridge is fine and good.

Rocher Tournette: ok! A bit of ice but not too bad, it's flat. Then the steep part, there's a bit of ice but patches of snow allow you to pass.

Final ridge: all snow.

The Corridors are still very easy, as is the N face of Mont Blanc.

 

Aiguille du Midi: The ridge has been de-equipped. The Tacul was retracked this morning. The Trois Monts were climbed last weekend in good conditions. There was a slightly overhanging step to cross a rimaye halfway up Mont Maudit (may have changed with the new snow). The rimaye on the Col du Mont Maudit is completely filled in and the slope above is all snow! The traverse to the Col de la Brenva is in top form, as is the Mur de la Côte, which is covered in snow. (That's rare!)

The gullies on the east face of the Tacul were well exposed to the sun last week: rock falls, "It's not too bad" said the hut guardian. The Lafaille goulotte was in good condition with a very early start ("Rimaye goes all the way to the left. Belay is buried on the approach slope under metres of snow. For the descent, aim for another belay with a bolt on the left bank of the rocky spur below"). The Triangle was climbed on Ascension Day (last weekend): Chéré - Mazeaud - Grisolle: conditions OK. La Negri should also be possible. For the time being, the approaches are more comfortable on skis and/or snowshoes, but the conditions can quickly settle down.

Crossing the Pointes Lachenal and the Cosmiques ridge OK!

 

Helbronner: the Skyway and the Torino hut (winter room only) are closed until 24 May. Activity on the Tour Ronde: normal route, Gervasutti couloir, N face. It looks like an attempt on the Kuffner ridge was made but they turned back (too much snow).

 

Mer de Glace Basin: The Montenvers train and gondola are closed. Work is in progress (dismantling of the temporary lift, the old telecabine and the old stairs). The site is closed (under the hotel: terraces and viewpoint inaccessible) as is access to the Mer de Glace until the 21st. The paths leading up to Montenvers (except the one between Les Planards and the Caillet buvette) will be closed from 20 to 31 May. Access will be possible for climbers via the via Corda. You can follow the closures on La Chamoniarde.

The refuges are all in winter mode. Its an hour's walk to get to the bottom of the new cable car. Access to the Couvercle hut is still via the central couloir (too much snow on the ladder access) but it's dry in the middle (scree). The Whymper couloir on the Aiguille Verte has been climbed in good conditions, as has the Pointe Isabelle. Here too, skis or snowshoes are essential.

 

Argentière Glacier: Here too, access is difficult as the Pierre a ric (home piste) is closed. Otherwise, it's all white!

 

Le Tour: Access to the Albert 1er hut (winter mode) is via the moraine path. There is snow at the water intake at around 2000m. The classics are popular with skiers (Aiguille du Tour, Tête Blanche, Petite Fourche). The Migot spur at Le Chardonnet may be an option once it has stabilised.

 

Some activity on Mont Dolent: Normal route and Gallet ridge.

 

 

Translated with kind permission from an original report by La Chamoniarde.

Readers are reminded that conditions in mountain environments are prone to (sometimes rapid) change and that they should use their own best judgement when visiting them.

 

 

 

 

Steve Swenson Receives AAC President's Award

Steve Swenson Receives AAC President's Award

Alpine Club member Steve Swenson has been announced as the recipient of the 2024 American Alpine Club President's Medal in recognition of 'extraordinary accomplishments in the climbing world'.

Swenson with his teammates on the successful 2019 expedition to Link Sar

Swenson is quoted by Gripped Magazine as finding the award "very humbling", taking the opportunity to thank friends and family for their many years of support.

Originally from Seattle, Swenson has been climbing for more than fifty years and has climbed routes that have twice been recognised by the committee of the Piolets d'Or, as well as making ascents of Everest and K2 without supplementary oxygen.

 

 

 

Report: 3 May 2024

La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 3 May 2024.

"La chance sourit aux audacieux."

Well we have had two storms and an unexpected bit of sunshine inbetween this morning: It rained/snowed most of the day yesterday at altitude: let's hope that it will have finally stuck on some of the faces. This morning there was 20cm at the Conscrits hut, 45-50cm at the Grands Mulets, 20cm at the Argentière hut (accumulations of 1.5m in places, numerous sluffs on N and E aspects). So watch out for the risk of avalanches this weekend!

The Grands Montets ski area closes this Sunday evening, May 5 (large area closed from Monday May 6: Pierre à Ric, glacier de la Pendant, glacier de Lognan and des Rognons, col des Rachasses and Grands Montets). The Aiguille du Midi and Montenvers will remain open (the train will close on the evening of 12 May, with the Flégère gondola opening on Monday 13 May). The Skyway is closed until 24 May!

The Albert 1er and Requin refuges (the latter is manned from 8 to 12 May) have switched to winter mode. The same will apply to the Argentière hut from Sunday.

The Conscrits hut (open throughout May and continuously until September), the Cosmiques hut and the Couvercle hut (the warden sometimes comes down during periods of bad weather) remain open. The Plan Glacier refuge is due to open on 30 May.

Find out more if you're going on the Chamonix-Zermatt haute-route, as some of the huts have also closed.

 

We don't really have any information to give you about the high mountains, as the weather windows have been few and far between: "Fortune favours the bold". It's a real headache for skiers and especially for hut guardians, who have to juggle with cancellations. Skis (or snowshoes perhaps) are essential for getting around in the high mountains. Plan to walk a little to reach the cable car at the bottom of the Vallée Blanche.

 

The walks currently available are listed in this document. We would remind you that most of the classic hikes (as well as multi-day treks) are still not practicable (and that this will be the case for the whole of May). There is still a lot of snow at high altitude, so there is a high risk of slips and falls, as well as the risk of getting lost (invisible paths and markings). Successive storms have caused many trees to fall, and there will be a succession of trail closures to carry out repairs.

 

 

Translated with kind permission from an original report by La Chamoniarde.

Readers are reminded that conditions in mountain environments are prone to (sometimes rapid) change and that they should use their own best judgement when visiting them.

 

 

 

Join Us for the Unveiling of the Newly Restored Mathews Monument

Join Us for the Unveiling of the Newly Restored Mathews Monument

Following a three year project to relocate, restore and rededicate the Mathews Monument in Chamonix it has finally landed in its new permanent home at the entrance to the Couttet Park. Originally, it was dedicated to the memory of CE Mathews (founding member and former president of the Club) but has now been rededicated to also represent the shared history and comradeship between Chamonix and the Alpine Club.

A ceremony will take place at 5pm on 6 July 2024 at the site of the monument in Chamonix and the monument in its restored state will be unveiled by the Mayor.
 
Chamonix is keen to assemble as many members of the AC and the British community in Chamonix as possible for the ceremony. Please join us there to celebrate the close association between he Club and the massif and help us recognise the enormous effort that Chamonix has invested in this symbol of our shared history.

 

 

 

Report: 26 April 2024

La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 26 April 2024.

The mountains look so beautiful!
 
Not much to report compared to our last update...this may change very quickly with the arrival of the föhn!
 
Lifts still open are: Grands Montets, Aiguille du Midi, Montenvers and the Skyway.
 
From Sunday evening, the Albert 1er refuge will be closed, and the Requin refuge will be manned by reservation only. The winter rooms will be accessible .
 
For hiking, there are no changes from our last update.

 
Albert 1er
 
Lots going on here. The Aiguille du Tour, Petite Fourche and Tête Blanche are still being done. The Chardonnet remains very dry, and there is rock at the exit of the Migot spur (not climbed).
 
The Col Supérieur du Tour remains the best option if you are crossing the ridge.
 
To return to Le Tour, descend the moraine towards the "cabane électrique" (electric hut).

 
Argentière
 
Ski touring is still flavour of the month! All the cols are being done. The Aiguille d'Argentière and the Aiguille du Chardonnet are loaded.
 
It felt pretty hot yesterday afternoon when the sun came out.
 
A few purges were observed on the NE face of the Courtes. The Col des Cristaux rimaye looks complicated to cross.
 
 
Couvercle
 
It's best to use the central couloir to reach the refuge.
 
There is little activity in the sector due to bad weather. The couloirs and the rimayes are well filled. Be careful to adapt your route according to your skills.
 
Pointe Isabelle looks magnificent and well-filled. You'll have to trail break.
 
 
 
 
Cosmiques
 
The equipment on the arête will be dismantled over the next few days and the Z will be maintained until May 12.
 
The whole sector is in good condition (as long as the wind doesn't blow!)
 
The Contamines-Grisolle, Chéré, Gabarrou-Albinoni and Lafaille gullies are being done regularly, as well as the Cosmiques Arête and the Pointes Lachenal. Approaches can be made on skis or snowshoes.
 
Note to skiers: some steep slopes are hard, so think about using crampons, ropes etc
 
The Tacul was attempted yesterday, but they turned back at the last rimaye, which is difficult to cross  (see photo above).
 
 
Requin
 
Even if the wind has worked the snow, conditions in the Vallée Blanche are still very good, even from the Col d'Entrèves. The Salle à Manger is still going strong and the Combe du Requin is filled in. You can ski all the way to the gondola.
 
The Brèche Puiseux is still being skied and is in good condition.
 
 
Grands Mulets
 
The ascent of Mont Blanc is still in condition. The route remains the same: Jonction (higher path), Plateaux then Corridor.
 
The N ridge of the Dôme du Gouter and the 2nd "bosse" are still icy. The mur de la cote is also hard, so crampons are needed. The N face has been skied, and conditions are starting to look good in the middle of the slope.
 
 
Conscrits
 
Activity all over the place: on Mont Tondu, Col des Lanchettes and Armancette.
 
The biggest difficulty is the Mauvais Pas, because of ice above it; this should improve with the arrival of the foehn, already present today.
 
 

Translated with kind permission from an original report by La Chamoniarde.

Readers are reminded that conditions in mountain environments are prone to (sometimes rapid) change and that they should use their own best judgement when visiting them.

 

 

 

Ian Clarke

The Club has recently been informed of the death of Ian Clarke, who passed away on 24 March 2024. Ian was a long-standing member of the Alpine Club, having joined in 1975 as an Aspirant Member and graduated to Full membership in 1982. 

Our thoughts are with Ian's friends and family at this time.

 

 

 

Report: 19 April 2024

La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 19 April 2024.

Here's a little snowy update following the return of winter as well as an overview of the routes we've reported on before, when the weather was milder. It's going to snow again tonight, and the wind has been working hard since yesterday: beware of the avalanche risk.

Glacier conditions are generally good to very good.

Lifts open: Grands Montets, Brévent (partially open, closed this Sunday), Aiguille di Midi, Montenvers and Skyway.

 

Albert 1er

20cm of snow fell without wind. The last few days have been busy, particularly on the Chamonix-Zermatt haute route. The Col des Écandies works well to get down to Champex. It's a 20-minute walk to Trient from Arpette. The Col Supérieur du Tour was retracked yesterday.

The Col du Passon is still being done. There is no snow on the normal descent to Le Tour, so you either have to cross over to the Péclerey side or take the moraine path on the right bank (500m descent on foot).

With the exception of the Aiguille du Tour, there were no summits done this week. Before this wintery interlude, Tête Blanche and Petite Fourche were climbed. The more technical routes such as Aiguille du Chardonnet and Grande Fourche have not yet been climbed.

 

Argentière

The Grands Montets lifts are open until 5 May.

The refuge telephone numbers are working.

Few changes in the sector. Ski touring activity on the main cols (Chardonnet, Tour Noir, Argentière) and on the Aiguille d'Argentière (Glacier du Milieu) with no particular problems.

Some skiers on the N-face ski slopes (Col des Cristaux, NE des Courtes), but watch out for avalanche risk over the next few days.

 

Couvercle

Access to the refuge is still via the central couloir.

The Whymper couloir was done last weekend. For those wishing to ski it, as with any steep slope, especially those that take the sun, be sure to gauge the conditions/your abilities.

 

Cosmiques

Since Wednesday, around 40/50 cm of snow has fallen with no wind, but no snow today, and the wind has picked up. It's pretty deep even with skis on!

Lots of fresh snow (accumulations up to 1m) in the Vallée Blanche, which is still going strong: the Salle à Manger is easy to cross, but there's a walk lower down (5 to 15 minutes). Watch out for the opening of two crevasses at the bottom of the Vallée Noire (and for conditions that can rapidly evolve towards hard/frozen snow + slopes swept by avalanche tracks/debris at this time of year).

The Brèche Puiseux is still being done.

The Tacul and the Trois Monts were done last weekend (quite a few sections on foot, but watch out for avalanche risk soon). On Maudit, the route is more complicated than usual (see photo above), a crevasse blocking the route halfway up requires you to climb steeply to the right). There were a few rockfalls below the Col du Maudit following last Sunday's heatwave, so some people turned back.

Thursday's snow filled the gullies up (no activity since), so we'll have to keep an eye on how the wind develops over the next few days. There has been some activity on the Contmaine-Grisolle, the Gabarrou-Albinoni, the first pitch of the Supercouloir is dry, but the rest remains good (you have to start by the Gervasutti pillar) and the Lafaille goulotte (good overall conditions). Good overall conditions on the Tour Ronde (Gervasutti couloir, "normal route", N face a little dry but by eye looks OK).

 

Grands Mulets

A total of 60 cm has fallen this week with little wind, so a new track will have to be put in. For the moment, the snow is of good quality, it's cold but today the breeze is getting stronger. Yesterday, a team attempted the N ridge of the Dôme du Gouter, but it's still very icy, so they turned back (a team did it last weekend, so bring good crampons and ice screws). Some are going to try the summit again tomorrow, via the Corridor route (which went well last weekend, but the Mur de la Côte is tricky to descend). The N face had been skied. Bosses ridge still technical (ice below and above Vallot).

 

Conscrits

No one has been here since Sunday! About 15cm has fallen daily, and yesterday, Thursday, 60cm with a bit of a N wind. The few sunny spells today mean that we're back in winter. You need to carry skis up to the glacier after the Mauvais Pas; watch out for snow on the slabs and ice above for those who will be attempting to cross the Mauvais Pas over the next few days!

The Miage traverse with descent on the Armancette (beware of the avalanche risk over the next few days, so opt for an out-and-back via the Trè-la-Tête glacier), the Tondu and the Col des Glaciers (watch out for the exit at the top, which is getting steeper) have all been completed. A team was seen finishing the Mettrier arête.  The NW face of the Tête Carrée was skied, as was the N face of the Trè-la-Tête (conditions were quite good, snow worked by the wind but no bad ice). For the Lée Blanche, it's better to bypass the ice on the left and join the ridge coming from Tré la Tête, rather than the NW ridge as shown in the topos.

The Royal traverse was done last weekend (they put crampons on a lot). The snow was pretty hard, with bits of ice, and dry overall. No worries about finding the Dômes abseil to reach the Durier refuge, and the Bionnassay ridge was in good condition, with hard snow on the ascent to the Piton des Italiens.

 

For hiking, the document published in the last update is still valid. Don't forget that at the start of the season, the trails are neither marked nor cleaned. Many trees are in the way following storms and torrential floods. It's sometimes difficult to get through, even more so with a mountain bike.

 

 

Translated with kind permission from an original report by La Chamoniarde.

Readers are reminded that conditions in mountain environments are prone to (sometimes rapid) change and that they should use their own best judgement when visiting them.

 

 

 

AC Photographer Featured in John Muir Trust Exhibition

AC Photographer Featured in John Muir Trust Exhibition

Associate AC member Fi Bunn has had her work, 'The Matterhorn Fire', commended as a finalist in the John Muir Trust's Creative Freedom Exhibition. The exhibition, which runs from 18 March - 25 May 2024 at the Trust's Pitlochry Wild Space Visitor Centre, features works in a range of media, including paintings, comic books, photography, movement art, and VR. The included works were selected from over 600 entrants related to the Trust’s belief that society thrives when wild places are given the freedom to repair themselves.


'The Matterhorn Fire' by Fi Bunn

Writing on her website, Fi commented: "In the winter, the Matterhorn presents the well known image of snow and ice on a stunning, iconic peak popular with skiers. In summer, the mountains are now scored with grey as the ice retreats. The glacial tracks are disappearing at 25 metres per year. This is almost unnoticed in a single year, but over the past 2 years Swiss glaciers have reduced by 10%."

For those who can't make the exhibition in person, The Trust have provided a digital gallery of the selected works.

 

 

 

'The Everest Obsession' - New Radio Series Examines How the World's Highest Mountain is Managed

'The Everest Obsession' - New Radio Series Examines How the World's Highest Mountain is Managed

AC member and Mount Everest Foundation Chair Rebecca Stephens, the first British woman to summit Mount Everest, presents a new five-part series for BBC Radio 4 which examines how the mountain is managed a decade on from the 2014 earthquake disaster which claimed the lives of sixteen Sherpa workers.

Speaking with commercial operators, mountaineers, including Sir Chris Bonington, and a number of Nepalis who work on or study the mountain, Rebecca deftly investigates what has and hasn't changed since that tragic day in 2014 and looks forward to how the continuing demand for guided summits looks set to shape the future of Everest and of Nepal.

'The Everest Obsession' premiered on BBC Radio 4 in April 2024 and is available to listen to on-demand via the BBC Sounds App.

 

 

 

Report: 12 April 2024

La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 12 April 2024.

At last some decent weather, lets get out there!

The mercury has been rising for the last 3 days and activity has been picking up. Early starts and early finishes may be needed! And don't forget your sunscreen! Here's an overview of the conditions.

 

Conscrits

Skis on after the mauvais pas. The Dômes traverse is tracked. The glacier is well filled in. The summit of the Dômes is bullet hard. The Armancette descent is hard snow at the top, but then the skiing is quite good. Skis off at the lake at 1700m.

The first team of the season left this morning for the Durier.

The Tré la Tête was done yesterday (no further info).

Mont Tondu: several slides in the area due to the sand layer. A team on the Pain de Sucre earlier this week. The summit of Mont Tondu looks heavily corniced.

 

Grands Mulets

Regular activity on the Mont Blanc route. Access to the refuge via the Jonction (upper path). For those brave enough to set off on foot from the tunnel, access conditions are here. The north ridge of the Dôme is ice. Parties are therefore taking the Plateaux route. The Bosses ridge has some bits of blue ice (good crampons and good crampon technique needed). The north face has not been skied (hard snow).

 

Cosmiques

3 skiers set off this morning on the normal route of the Tacul and turned back below the serac in the middle of the face.

Teams on the Chéré (grey ice), on the Supercouloir. The Lafaille goulotte was climbed today in good conditions. The Modica Noury and the Gabarrou Albinoni (3rd belay damaged) were still going well 3 days ago. Conditions could change rapidly on the east face with the heat forecast.

By eye: small slide to the left of the Lachenal ridge. The traverse has been done on foot. The Cosmiques Arête is being done a lot (access on foot also possible).

Apart from these two routes, all other approaches need to be on ski.

 

Aiguille du Midi North Face

The gullies are dry. On Thursday, a team were seen finishing the Mallory, and this morning another team tried and turned back: hard work to reach the foot of the couloir despite a night in the Plan de l'Aiguille winter room.

 

Vallée Blanche

Lots of people with this beautiful weather window. The snow is changeable all along the route and quickly becomes heavy as the hours go by. Its a 10 minute walk to reach the Mer de Glace gondola (last ascent at 4PM). Last train back: 5PM.

 

Torino

The Aiguilles Marbrées and Aiguilles d'Entrèves traverses have been tracked. Approaching on foot is feasible, but snowshoes are still not a bad idea.

Tour Ronde: the Gervasutti couloir is in good condition, but the rimaye is a little tricky. The same applies to the normal route. The north face is very dry.

The Dent du Géant looks very dry.

Brèche Puiseux: very busy. The conditions of April 6 are still valid.

 

Couvercle

Access to the refuge is via the central couloir.

Activity on the Whymper couloir and Pointe Isabelle. The Aiguille Croulante couloir was skied a week ago.

Lots of people at the refuge this evening making the most of the W/E: so we should get some more info!

 

Argentière sector

No alpine activity in the sector. The faces are loaded. The gullies are dry. A team was seen in the Z on the Aiguille Verte (the Couturier is not in condition). A team has started today on the Lagarde couloir but is making very slow progress, no further info.

All the classic ski touring routes are tracked: Passon (ski de combat to get back to Le Tour) - Chardonnet - 3 cols - Tour Noir - d'Argentière.

The Aiguille d'Argentière was tracked by the Glacier du Milieu (see cahier de course) and the couloir en Y: rimaye OK, a pitch of mixed afterwards on the left bank.

The Barbey couloir was skied yesterday 11/04: good conditions overall, slightly wind-affected/crust at the start. Then powder on a hard base and finally heavy powder/spring snow on the left bank.

The Col des Cristaux (ice at the top) and the NE face of Les Courtes were also skied.

The Chevalier couloir on the Petite Verte is in poor condition.

Beware of the moraines: with the expected heat, beware of possible rock falls.

 

Lift closure: Sunday evening (14/04) for the Planpraz/Brévent - Flégère/Index - Vallorcine / le Tour - Col de Balme lifts. As a reminder, the lifts at Les Houches (Bellevue and Prarion) are already closed. So only the Grands Montets lifts will remain open.

 

Hiking: conditions are changing very slowly. The snow limit is around 1800m on the south-facing slopes and 1600/1700 m on the north-facing slopes. Above these altitudes, snow cover is deep and extensive. Remember it's not the time of year for the grands balcons nord and sud, and mountain lakes (whatever their colour!!). Be patient!

In the meantime, here are a few hiking ideas.

 

Via Ferrata: The Curalla and Bérard via ferrata are open.

 

 

Translated with kind permission from an original report by La Chamoniarde.

Readers are reminded that conditions in mountain environments are prone to (sometimes rapid) change and that they should use their own best judgement when visiting them.

 

 

 

The Long Legacy of ‘53

Incoming Chair of the Mount Everest Foundation’s Committee of Trustees, Rebecca Stephens, reflects on the history of the MEF and considers how its past helps point the way to an active future for this vital grant-giving body.

Rebecca Stephens welcomes the opening of MEF grants to Nepali applicants at the Embassy of Nepal, London

Several remarkable charitable bodies sprung from the 1953 Everest expedition, not least the Mount Everest Foundation (MEF). Founded on the generosity of the expedition members who donated proceeds from lectures, a film, and in Col. John Hunt’s case, his best-selling book, The Ascent of Everest, (a must-have for every stocking that Christmas), to collectively raise an astounding £100,000, equivalent to almost £3.5m in today’s money. All this went into a pot to encourage the ‘exploration of the mountain ranges of the Earth’, an objective that is still honoured seven decades on.

Another charity that sprang from that extraordinary expedition of 1953, was the Himalayan Trust, founded by Ed Hillary to give back to the Sherpas who had played such an instrumental role in making the expedition a success. The two charities, though with different objectives, share values – a love of the mountains, the mountain people and cultures, a sense of gratitude and a desire to give back. So it comes as no surprise that they’ve joined forces to celebrate decennial anniversaries of Everest’s first ascent.

As a trustee of the Himalayan Trust UK, I’ve had the opportunity to get to know many MEF trustees over the years. Thanks to Duncan Sperry I now step into his shoes as Chair, a decision not difficult to make – anything to counter our risk-averse, screen-obsessed culture where a neighbour anxiously informs me that my daughter is up an apple tree.

A Piolet d'Or-winning line. Paul Ramden on the MEF-backed first ascent of Jugal Spire - Tim Miller

I wonder if the founders would recognise much of the world we live in today, particularly if they cared to venture to Everest.  But I think they’d be pleased that the Mount Everest Foundation upholds its initial ethos: to encourage and celebrate the spirit of the pioneer, to take initiative and forge something new. To lead, not just to follow. In climbing, that’s evolved into purer alpine tactics, and, as the impact of tourism increasingly puts pressure on local communities, so it calls for increased sensitivity to the mountain environment and the people who inhabit it, always remembering that we’re visitors in someone else’s land. As such it seems entirely fitting that as well as donating money to young climbers keen to develop skills and awareness in extreme environments, the MEF also makes periodic donations to charities that support local people and the environments in which they’re likely to climb.

Hillary and Norgay climbing on Everest - The Royal Geographical Society

I’m quite sure, too, that the founders would endorse the MEF’s latest initiative, passed under Duncan’s leadership, to extend the eligibility of MEF grants to Nepalis as well as Brits and New Zealanders. After all, it was the citizens of three nations, not two, that put Hillary and Tenzing on the summit, and as the ambassador Gyan Chandra Acharya pointed out at a celebratory gathering at the Embassy of Nepal, “better late than never.” I’m happy to report that, following this announcement, we have already received our first application from Nepal.

MEF-backed scientists at work on the Dona glacial lake in the Nepalese Himalaya

Another timely shift is a renewed emphasis on science; currently, around one third of the MEF’s grants are allocated to scientific research in mountain regions. There was a time when the environmental impact of climbing and trekking was measured for the most part as local: rubbish, pollution of rivers, and the felling of trees for firewood with resultant erosion of thin mountain soils. Today, what happens in the mountains is of global interest. The high mountains of the world are humanity’s water towers. With temperatures at altitude rising faster than at sea level, glaciers are retreating, the bedrock left bare, which in turn amplifies the warming rate and has consequences far beyond the immediate vicinity of the mountains.

The MEF now finds itself at the epicentre of the biggest existential threat to humankind. We are in a position to play a part in supporting scientific research. We support the pioneers – those pushing the limits in mountaineering, and intrepid young scientists in remote and lofty mountain regions who are the spokesmen and women of the effect of climate change. Never has the Mount Everest Foundation found itself in such an important position. As incoming Chair, I hope to see that it continues to rise to that challenge.

- Rebecca Stephens

 

 

 

AC Member Recognised in 2024 Derwent Art Prize

AC Member Recognised in 2024 Derwent Art Prize

AC member Polly Townsend has been awarded second prize in The 2024 Derwent Art Prize for her work 'Ice, Antarctica'. Her work, composed in charcoal, ink and watercolour, was among five awarded pieces selected from over 6,000 entries.

Townsend's Prize-Winning Work - 'Ice, Antarctica'

The work was inspired by Polly's residency in Antarctica in January 2023 and was commended by the selectors both for its "technical perfection and mastery" and "its silent yet commanding presence [which] prompts reflection on the fragile beauty of the Antarctic landscape juxtaposed against the stark reality of its melting ice cap."

The Derwent Art Prize, established in 2012 by art materials manufacturer Derwent, offers prize money and exposure to "the very best artworks made in pencil". In 2024, the five awardees received a total of £13,000 in prize money and art supplies.

An exhibition showcasing the 68 shortlisted works, including Polly's, is free to visit at gallery@oxo from 11AM-6PM from 4-13 April and from 11AM-2PM on the closing day, Sunday 14 April 2024.