MOUNTAIN CONDITIONS 13/07/20
Here is some information on conditions for the beginning of this week. Note: the forecast is for unstable weather.
Despite the absence of a major heatwave, the mountains are very dry. This is partly because there was not much precipitation in Spring and early summer.
Over the last two weeks the conditions for the snow and mixed routes have generally degraded, as is nowadays normal for July. However, freezing conditions have been good. The snow cover is well settled and supportive, often even later in the day.
From the Albert 1er, the Aiguille du Tour, by the normal route and the Table Ridge, is popular.
It is perhaps over for the Migot Spur, (a mixed section with mediocre rock and a risk of stone fall from other parties.) Conditions are slightly better for the Forbes ridge though it is technically more difficult than usual, (a steep bergschrund to cross and 25m of ice at the mound). A lot of snow has gone from the descent, giving a risk of stonefall, especially as it can be busy. Below the Adams Reilly col, the descent track goes over a very narrow snow bridge.
Reminder : during the week, people with a reservation at the Argentière hut can go up with the Plan Joran lift at 8h00 and descend at 17h00, (it is possible to buy a ticket online at the Mont Blanc Natural Resort site or from the vending machine at Argentière).
The Flèche Rousse ridge, Jardin Ridge and Charlet Straton are in good condition. Good crampon skills are needed above the Glacier du Milieu bergschrund, (the narrows on snow without an obvious track, several metres of ice between the col and the summit.)
Quite a few parties have done the Tournier Spur on the Droites, (in good condition except for the mixed section higher up).
Good conditions for the Drus traverse. Follow the glacier high up, (descent track,) before re -descending to the starting ledge, (best to check outthe way the night before.)
In the Talèfre area, crampons are needed on the approach to the Moine (normal route, S ridge. No information on the bergschrund for the Contamine, (E face.)
The Moine Ridge is being done, take care to make an early start to avoid bad snow, especially on the descent. The Whymper is still feasible in descent, if early.
Lots of parties doing the Jardin Ridge and the normal route on the Droites, (the approach gully looks very dry and uninviting, perhaps best avoided by going via the slope to the Droites col). No information for the Courtes traverse. The Courtes glacier is OK, as is the bergschrund for the Pointe Isabelle, (for the moment.)
The rock routes near the Leschaux are being climbed. Several parties have done the Cassin Route on the N face of the Grandes Jorasses, (Walker Spur).
Good conditions in the Envers sector, the bergschrunds are mostly OK and the rock is dry. Crossing the bergschrund for the Grepon-Mer de Glace and the République normal route is complicated, (sketch available at the hut!). The descent of the Nantillons glacier remains feasible, (below the serac, which appears to be unstable, there is some ice.)
A party turned back on the Ryan (bergschrund impassable.)
The Frendo spur remains popular but there is a lot of ice on the exit. Crampons are useful for the approaches to the Red Pillar de Blaitière and the routes on the Gendarme Rouge du Peigne.
The Charmoz-Grépon and the traverse of the Chamonix Aiguilles are popular
The ridge down from the Aig du Midi is in good condition.
Overall, the bergschrunds for the rock routes in this sector are OK, (parties were sen on the Gervasutti pillar, no further information.)
More and more crevasses are appearing on the Valley Blanche traverse, (the higher track crosses quite a few snow bridges which might soon pose problems.)
The lower part of the Triangle du Tacul is now ice, (the Contamine-Grisolle and Chéré remain popular).
Many parties on the traverse of the Pointes Lachenal and the Cosmiques Ridge but these routes are also becoming dry, (take care at the abseils.)
No major changes for the Trois Monts route. There is a crevasse opening up in the middle of the face which could pose problems and there is a bergschrund to cross below the shoulder of the Tacul. Also there is a steep ice gully to get past the Maudit, requiring 2 ice axes and some ice screws and lastly, some ice on the traverse to the Brenva Col.
The approach gully to the Salle à Manger, (Dent de Geant), still has snow but higher up it is dry. Take care to stay on route and of stonefall from other parties. Avoid descending too late.
There has been a lot of parties on the Rochefort-Jorasses traverse, which remains in good condition. The descent by the normal route is fairly OK. There has also been activity on the Hirondelles ridge and the Tronchey, (no further information.)
The Marbrées and Aiguilles d'Entrèves traverses continue to be popular, (no ice on the descent.)
On the Tour Ronde, the SE ridge and the N face look to still be feasible but it is probably finished for the Gervasutti Couloir, (bergschrund fragile and the upper part very dry.)
It is probably also over for the Kuffner ridge, which has dried considerably, exposing several sections of rotten rock.
Even though the approach gully is dry, conditions are good on the Aiguilles du Diable, which remains popular.
From the Monzino, the Innominata is mainly dry but feasible, given a good freeze. The Freney and Brouillard Red Pillar are being climbed. Rock fall is becoming more frequent on the Brouillard Ridge and it is necessary to respect the time of day.
Be aware that the approach path to the Borelli bivouac is now officially closed, (council order of 19th July,) following an avalanche there. On the Peuterey ridge, the climb up the GPA, (Grand Pilier d’Angle) is dry, (start early). There is 30m of steep, blue ice on the final ridge, 2 axes recommended.
For the Mont Blanc, the Italian normal route by the Aiguilles Grises and the N Ridge of the Dôme du Goûter (30m of ice) remain feasible. No comments for the normal route via the Aig du Goûter, other than, (as always,) cross the Grand Couloir at the right time of the day.
For the Dômes de Miage traverse, the glacier is OK. Conditions remain good throughout the traverse. The ice is never far away on the climb up the 3rd Dome. The descent to the Bérangère col is steep and again the snow cover is thin over the ice, (good crampon technique needed.)
Mont Tondu: the conditions are becoming drier but it remains popular.
Good conditions continue for the Aiguille de la Bérangère, there and back.
The Aiguille de Bionnassay traverse remains in good condition.
Crampons are no longer needed for the Perrons traverse.
The Cornu lake and the Noir lakes are now accessible from Planpraz and Col Cornu. It is advised not to pass by the Col de la Glière as there is a short but steep and exposed snow slope there.
Poles and good footwear suffice for the normal way up the Buet.