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The Club produces a regular English translation of the Chamonix conditions report from La Chamoniarde to help climbers without an understanding of French to access up-to-date information on conditions in the valley. An archive of these reports can be seen below: 

 

Report: 13 January 2022

Some news in this anticyclonic period!

The lifts are open. The snow cover is overall OK. The cold has returned. There is some fog in the plains. An almost "normal" situation for a month of January!

The main activity remains ski touring. Even if the snow cover is good, you have to be careful below 1,600m as here you can easily touch the ground or frozen avalanche debris. Since the last snowfall last weekend, there has been quite a lot of NE wind but in a very localised way. Some areas are trashed while others have remained protected. This is where you have to be good at choosing your route!

As a consequence, you have to be wary of the presence of wind slab here and there. Similarly, the quality of the snow varies greatly from one sector to another (from powder to sastruggi and everything in between)! The southern slopes are starting to warm up. Watch out for the isotherm rising from tomorrow!

All the classic sectors are frequented but we are struggling to get precise feedback, especially on the lower parts of routes (whether you need to carry skis...).

Very good conditions are reported around Les Contamines (around Lac Jovets and Cols Fenêtre, Cicle and Chasseurs). The Roman road is ok and you can ski to the car park. The new refuge des Près is open.

 

Pointe Noire de Pormenaz from Plaine Joux: The Chorde couloir is ok, wind affected snow above the lac de Pormenaz.

 

Aiguilles Rouges: The classics are getting tracked.

The traverse between the Col des Crochues and the Col de Bérard is again reserved for good skiers (alternating frozen snow and wind affected snow).

 

Generally speaking, the Bérard valley remains fairly protected from the wind except at the top: the further down you go, the better it is. On the steep slopes, we were told that there was a lot of ice, which was not recommended according to the feedback we got. The bottom of the valley is relatively easy even if the snow cover is quite poor.

Crampons are useful to access the Pointe Alphonse Favre. The top of the glacier du Mort has very hard snow, 50m side slip necessary; packed powder below.

Quite a lot of tracks at the col and at the brèche de Bérard (very good snow).

Le Buet is tracked without more information.

The col de Beugeant was tracked today. Tracks also on the N side of the Belvedere pass.

The Lac Blanc sector (Col des Dards, Col du Belvédère) and the Col de l'Encrenaz were very affected by the wind.

 

Loriaz: You can ski from Le Couteray, either by the 4x4 road or the summer path. Pointe des Charmoz and Col de la Terrasse are tracked, good ski conditions.

 

Bel Oiseau sector: some portage in the forest, good conditions above in the sector. Carraye, croix de Prelaye, pointe Ronde: OK

 

Bassin d'Argentière sector: Col du Passon tracked, better skiability by going back the same way (lots of wind damage on the Le Tour side even if the snow cover is good).

Col du Tour Noir and Argentière have been tracked.

No activity yet to our knowledge on the Col du Chardonnet/Trois cols.

No one back on the N faces either (Col des Cristaux etc...).

 

Vallée Blanche: Arête still not equipped (expected early February, to be confirmed) but in fairly good condition (no ice; however, reserved for ski mountaineers). All routes except the "vraie vallée" have been tracked. The snow quality was good at the beginning of the week, the upper part was a bit windy between yesterday and today but it was still quite good. The salle à manger is ok.

 

One team has been to the Brèche du Tacul with a descent on the Mont Mallet glacier which went quite well on 12/01. Brèche Puiseux tracked today without more information.

The mer de glace is quite dry, you have to be careful not to scratch your skis too much. You can stop at the grotto or continue to Les Mottets (there too there is still a lack of snow). The refreshment bar is open! The descent to Chamonix is OK except for the few turns before the farm where you have to go slowly due to a lack of snow.

 

A bit of activity on the glacier Rond and the couloir des Cosmiques but only for the elite.

 

You will scrape your skis on the lower part of the Pré du Rocher.

 

Concerning the gullies: Regular activity on the side of the Aiguille du Midi (Jottnar; Vent du Dragon), the Triangle du Tacul (Chéré), the E face of the Tacul (Gabarrou-Albinoni/Modica- Noury: be careful with the rimaye which collapsed in part ten days ago), Pointes Lachenal (Pellissier), the Petit Capucin (Valeria gully). Probably some lines formed in the Combe Maudite (Filo D'Arianna...).

Nothing heard from the Argentière basin but there will be soon because of the good weather that is coming!

The return of cold weather has meant that ice falls have reformed! No detailed information but there must be scope on both the rive gauche and the rive droite of the Argentière glacier.

 

Snow shoeing routes are accessible. The more experienced can go up to the chalets de Chailloux and to the Loriaz refuge (unmarked routes).

 

Report translated from La Chamoniarde.

 

 

 

Report: 31 December 2021

A brief overview of conditions: the last one of the year!

As expected, the heavy rain (it rained up to at least 2,700m, on top of wet snow) and the wind did some damage.

The quality of the snow for off-piste and ski touring is generally irregular and not very good, sometimes dangerous (breakable crust: for the knees, hard: watch out for injuries). There have been many avalanches which have ravaged cwms (“combes”) and couloirs. The snow cover is still good for the season, you can still skin from the valley floor.

On the northern slopes, the snow is crusty (will it break, won't it?), which hardens as you go up in altitude. Above 2,000m, there is icy snow in places, be careful when it's steep or exposed. It is better above 2,700 m (wind blown, compacted snow, sometimes powdery), with for example some good turns at the top of the Vallée Blanche. The latter is more than ever suitable only for very good skiers in these conditions (sometimes very hard snow) and with mountaineering skills (Midi arete still not equipped, early season glacial conditions).

On sunny slopes, you can find a little spring snow that softens in the sun but you have to aim right (the right time, the right altitude). Otherwise it's “croute” (crust) but without the “fromage” :) which is tough on body and soul. The refreeze is limited to the surface of the snowpack and you must not be too late (wet snow slides).

In short, ski touring and off-piste skiing at the moment are for good skiers and those who know how to find the best conditions. And don't forget your “couteaux” (ski crampons)!

For the rest, you can always go up by the marked routes and go down by the pistes!

Everyone will find a way to enjoy the good weather and the mountains!

Reagarding the goulottes, we don't have any feedback yet, you will have to take advantage of the good weather forecast and the lack of wind to go and see this weekend. It is possible that you will find even on steep ground crust, fresh snow etc.

The icefalls have been very affected by the rain and the thaw. The managers of the artificial site of Bérard has asked that nobody climbs there until further notice (for safety reasons and to preserve the remaining ice). At the Crémerie, there was already no ice before! Bad conditions also reported on the left bank (Mini Couloir: all dry; Déferlante: a big shower, 1 dry passage...); to be continued!

The marked routes for snowshoeing at the bottom of the valley remain practicable, those at altitude (access via the lifts) will be more pleasant (less icy snow, more open landscapes).

Report translated from La Chamoniarde.

 

 

 

Report: 23 December 2021

Some feedback after this period of good weather.

The main activity has been ski touring. The last snowfall was a while ago. The sun and the wind have had a big effect on the quality of the snow, you will have to be crafty to have a good descent! All the classic itineraries are being done, from les Contamines to the Pointe Ronde. Reasonable snow cover but not always optimal skiability! The only important information is that the crossing between the Crochue and Bérard cols is bullet hard and very exposed. It is therefore reserved for excellent skiers with sharp edges.

As far as the glaciers go, the Aiguille du Midi opened last weekend. The Midi arete is beautiful but very thin, steep and icy, you will need the feet of a mountaineer! Good conditions (here too, variable snow quality, still quite good at the last news on the slopes of Rognon and Petit Envers) on the whole on the Vallée Blanche even if it is reserved for experienced skiers on the glacier (knowledge of the terrain). At the Salle à Manger level, take the lower track which is safer. The descent to Chamonix via the Mottets (refreshment bar open!) is fine. Some skiers have been towards the Brèche Puiseux but bad snow conditions are reported. A bit of activity also on the Argentière side: Col du Passon (bad snow quality on the descent towards the Tour : sastrugi, breakable crust!!!); col du Tour Noir, col d'Argentière.

Some resumption of activity in the gullies. Teams in the Chéré couloir and on the S face of the Pointes Lachenal (no more information), in the Modica-Noury and the Gabarrou- Albinoni (good general conditions but sometimes thin ice, take short ice screws) or on Valéria (last two pitches quite dry). No news from the N face of the Aiguille du Midi (Fil à Plomb, Vent du Dragon...) or the N faces of the Argentière basin. Don't hesitate to give us your feedback!

Ice climbing: You can climb on the left bank (rive gauche) of the Argentière glacier (Mur des Dents de la Mer/Déferlante sector). Crémerie (no ice), EMHM and Ressac in bad conditions. Teams seen on the right bank (rive droite) but no more information (except Mer de Rêve is said to be in good nick). By eye, the cascade des Pétoudes (Trient) could go (not the case for the Loriaz cascades (no refreeze at the hut for a week!).

Report translated from La Chamoniarde.

 

 

 

Report: 17 December 2021

A few bits of information before the weekend and the holidays.

A high pressure system has replaced the unsettled weather of the first half of December and seems to be set to stay for a while. The weather in the mountains is pleasant, with mild temperatures, especially on the sunny slopes.

The snow cover is very good for the season, at least below 3000m and at the bottom of the valley. Above 3000m, it is generally quite dry.

Most of the slopes and lifts will open tomorrow (18/12). You can find the schedule and information here. As we are at the beginning of the season, please beware of rocks off-piste!

The Loriaz, Lognan and Les Prés (les Contamines) huts also open tomorrow.

Generally conditions are good for ski touring even if the snow quality can be variable due to the effects of wind and sun.
Skinning is possible from car parks thanks to good snow cover at the bottom of the valleys.
There is some activity around les Contamines (lacs Jovets, Chasseurs, Cicle etc), on the Aiguillette des Houches, on the Argentière glacier (col des Rachasses, col du Tour Noir: the descent on the left bank of the Argentière glacier is said to be technical with some bits on ice and slabs), around le Tour (Aiguillette des Posettes), on the col des Montets (col de l'Encrenaz). No news from the Vallon de Bérard or the Bel Oiseau sector but there has probably been some activity. The opening of the Aiguilles Rouges lifts will get the ball rolling in this area.

The opening of the Aiguille du Midi cable car and the mild temperatures should also allow a resumption of activity in the high mountains. The arete is said to be “narrow, steep, smooth and icy" and there is no handrail in place.
The north face of the aiguille du Midi, looks relatively dry (Mallory-Porter, Fil à Plomb: they should go but only just, see photo). There might be a bit more on the East side of the Tacul or on the North side of the Argentière basin: you'll have to go and see and let us know!
The glaciers are relatively well filled in but we remind you that we are at the start of the season and crevasse bridges are fragile. The Vallée Blanche, like the other glacier routes, is very technical at this time of year. Good experience in reading the terrain is essential.

As far as ice climbing goes, it's possible to climb on the left bank of the Argentière (as a reminder, access is only possible on skis as pedestrians are not allowed on the Plan Joran cable car).

The snowshoe and walking routes are all practicable and marked (info here). For the more independent amongst you, you can go for a walk near the chalets de Chailloux or Loriaz by the forest track (unmarked and unsecured off-piste itineraries) as long as the avalanche risk does not increase.
All the pistes of the three Nordic areas (Chamonix, Argentière, Servoz) are open. Note that in Les Houches and Servoz, the multi-activity areas (cross-country skiing/hiking/snowshoeing) are also groomed and (soon) marked out, and access to these is free!

Report translated from La Chamoniarde.

 

 

 

Report: 8 December 2021

Winter is here! 

One storm has followed another and there is now good snow cover, even on the floor of the valley. Excellent news then: 

- The ski areas will be able to open up gradually. 

- You can go ski touring, cross-country skiing or snowshoeing. 

 

On the other hand, it snowed a lot and as usual it was windy. The risk of avalanches is high. On the eve of the opening of some of the lifts, we call on you to be very careful. It is also important to follow good habits: 

- Careful preparation of the outing: read the “BERA” (avalanche bulletin) carefully, consult the weather forecast, find out about the conditions, study the route, choose your companions. 

- Once in the field: observe - analyse - discuss - decide - adapt or even give up. 

We are all keen to get out there, but we need to give ourselves time to get back into the swing of things and to get back into shape physically! 

 

Here is the schedule for the opening of the lifts in the valley: 

- Friday 10 December: Grands Montets ski area open continuously 

- Saturday 11 December: Part of the Les Houches ski area in continuous operation 

- Saturday 11 December: La Flégère ski area only for the weekend (continuous opening from 18 December). 

- Saturday 11 December: Plan de l'Aiguille cable car (second section opens on 18 December) 

- Saturday 18 December: Domaine du Brévent + Balme/Vallorcine. 

 

The ski areas are currently being prepared. The groomers are working, sometimes using a winch. Be careful with the cables and that you don’t find yourself on a slope with a snow groomer pushing the snow from above. Please respect the work of the operators!  

After a snowfall, PIDAs (Plan d'Intervention de Déclenchement des Avalanches – controlled avalanche release sometimes involving explosives) are put in place (usually in the morning, which sometimes requires delays in opening). Signs prohibiting access for the duration of the operations are put in place. For the "early bird" ski tourers, please respect these prohibitions! 

 

The marked ski touring itineraries are practicable, (except when there is a high avalanche risk; ask for information!) but they are not necessarily marked yet. You can download this little booklet which includes all the itineraries in the Mont Blanc region, while waiting for the brochure which will be available soon. 

 

Remember: 

- These marked routes, although close to the slopes, are not secured by the ski patrol. The activity is done under your own responsibility. Remember to equip yourself accordingly (avalanche transceiver/probe/shovel, phone) and to plan your outing (avalanche risk, weather, etc). 

- Although they are not opened or closed by the ski patrol, a ban on access can still be put in place at the start of the route by the commune concerned or the operating company in the event of a high avalanche risk or PIDA. 

- They are not maintained on a daily basis and their technical difficulty varies according to the conditions (icy passages, lack of snow etc.) and the amount of traffic they have had. 

- Although separate from the slopes, they are accessible only during the opening of the ski area as the descent is made via the slopes. 

- Beware of dogs running loose. 

 

For those who leave the marked routes, we ask you to be extremely careful and to choose your route carefully. 

 

 

The Nordic area opens this Saturday 11 December. 

The marked routes for snowshoes and pedestrians can be used, but they are also being marked out. You can find the map here! For those who would like to leave these routes, you will have to wait for better snow conditions. 

 

 

What about ice climbing? All this snow isn’t good for ice formation at the Crémerie. On the right and left banks of the Argentière glacier, you will have to go and see once the conditions allow it! 

 

Report translated from La Chamoniarde.

 

 

 

Report: 17 November 2021

It’s still inter-season in the valley.

Ski lifts are closed except for the Flégère gondola (access to Lac Blanc and the Chéserys lakes OK but a little snow on the top and signposts not in place; Via Ferrata des Evettes OK).

You can find the opening dates of the lifts and ski areas on this page of the Mont Blanc Natural Resort website.

The snow that fell at the beginning of the month quickly melted in the “moyenne montagne”. So at the moment no skiing, but let's keep our fingers crossed! The fog has been sitting on the valley floor for the last few days but above it's much more pleasant, with nice sun and pleasant temperatures. 

You can hike (on foot!) with no worries below 2200-2300m depending on the orientation. As a reminder, a large part of the signposting is no longer in place. There may be some snow/ice and slippery paths, so it is important to be well shod.

These anti-cyclonic conditions allow for good activity in the high mountains with generally good conditions in the gullies/mixed routes. Some classic routes (Aiguille du Tour, Mont Blanc by the Goûter, Dômes de Miage...) could also be doable but we have no feedback. Snowshoes are still very useful to get around on the glaciers. Beware of snow bridges which remain fragile at this time. 

Many people on the Pélerins side (Rebuffat-Terray, Beyond Good and Evil) or in the Rebell Yell goulotte: the Plan de l'Aiguille winter hut is full every night, think of bringing a sleeping bag and even a mat.

Many people at the Albert 1er (no more wood) and on the Chardonnet. The latest news is that the Charlet-Bettembourg (the rimaye was committing because of variable snow, pitches 1 and 2 are mixed) and the Escarra are in good general conditions, but not the Aureille-Feutren. No news of the Gabarrou 79. The Aiguille du Tour normal route, Tête Blanche or Petite Fourche should be possible for those looking for an adventure!

No news yet from the Argentière basin but no doubt there must be something to do (Lagarde couloir? Ginat?).

 

Report translated from La Chamoniarde.