MOUNTAIN CONDITIONS 7 MAY 2021
A quick update for the coming weekend.
There has been a lot of rain this week with snow and wind at altitude, especially on Thursday and Friday. There will be more than 60cms of fresh snow above 2000m. It is difficult to estimate the effects of the wind high up. (There is a photo from Grand Mulets showing one side of the hut completely plastered the other side stripped bare.)
The avalanche risk is no longer being reported but expect it to be “high” this weekend.
On top of this, the forecast for the weekend is not encouraging, (rise in temperatures, wind, and the foehn on Sunday.)
Therefore, care is needed in choosing an outing. For those recently restricted by the 10km rule, avoid the temptation to “rush in”. For the others, the high mountain is also not in condition! The old local saying: "en Mai ne fait pas ce qu'il te plait" rings true. (In May you can only do what May allows you to do)
The reality is we are between two seasons. Skiers need to go high and, because the lifts remain shut, it is difficult to complete tours in a day.
Due to the snow, hiking is limited to below 1700-1900m, depending upon the aspect, (see the last report).
Rock climbing and biking remains as popular as ever in the valley.
Ski Touring :
There is a need to carry the skis a bit further in the Berard valley.
There has been little change in the Le Tour sector. The approach to the Albert 1er is either by the moraine, ski carrying as far as the EDF water intake, or via the Col de Passon.
From Argentiere, it is still possible to start skiing almost from the foot of the Pierre à Ric. However, it is in poor condition with large moguls and some sections of walking: "only for good skiers". The Argentière hut should be open on Saturday 8th May until the 16th May. Conditions for the classic routes in the area will have improved with all the snow over the last two weeks but there is currently an avalanche risk.
For the Mont Blanc by the Grands Mulets, (but be aware of the poor weather at altitude foreseen for the weekend,) it is possible to start skiing just above the old cable car station. Extra care is needed on the traverse between the upper station and the glacier. The route has not changed much at the level of the Jonction. The last ascent on 3rd May went by the Plateaux, (the N ridge is still not tracked this season and even though it now has snow, the upper slopes will have a high avalanche risk.) The latest information is that there is a technical section between the first and second “Bosses” near the level of the crevasse, which can be avoided on the left.
For the Dômes de Miage sector, the skiing starts at the exit of the forest at the level of Nant du Tour. Care is needed near the Mauvais Pas and on the final slope below the hut. The upper part of the Armancette glacier is likely to be heavily loaded with snow!
If you enjoy Swiss French humour, see the French version of this report for comments from the warden of the Pannossière hut, Grand Combin, on the current conditions there, (which are similar to the Mont Blanc massive).