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.