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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 16th June 2021

MOUNTAIN CONDITIONS 16/06/2021

Summer is here !

Despite the clear nights with a reasonable amount of freezing, the days rapidly become hot and « sweaty . However, this morning (16th) there was no re-freezing and a lot of the parties turned back.  With the high temperatures and a tendance for foehn winds the next few days, conditions are unlikely to be good.  There have been many (snow) avalanches between the 2800 et 4000m altitudes, (N face Aiguille Argentière, N face Aiguille du Midi, Dolent), indicating an unstable snow cover, ( a cocktail of weak layers, little re-freezing, and high daytime temperatures. )

The snow routes are generally in good condition if there is a night-time freeze. It is probably over for the technical mixed routes, and for skiing, (apart from Mont Blanc.) The rock routes are becoming feasible just about everywhere. 

 

Tour Sector

Generally good conditions in this sector.  The normal routes on the Aiguille du Tour, Tête Blanche, Petite Fourche and the Aiguille du Chardonnet (Forbes Arete + Migot Spur; descend early), are popular.

The Table ridge is becoming more popular than the Table Couloir.  

The rock on the Dorées S Face is being climbed, (the traverse still has quite a bit of snow.)

 

Argentière Sector

The hut opens this weekend. Snowshoes are still useful in this sector until the tracks become more established.  The Couturier couloir, Y couloir (conditions will quickly change) and the glacier du Milieu are popular.

The rock here is waiting to be climbed  :)

 

Mer de Glace Sector

It is advised not to visit the Moulins and the Bédière because a glacier lake has formed on the Mer de Glace below the Envers des Aiguilles.   

The Leschaux and Requin huts are due to open this weekend.

A lot of people on the Whymper and by the Jardin ridge, (bergschrund OK but for how long?).  An early start is imperative, to be able to descend in the morning.

No news for the Pointe Isabelle, the normal route on the Droites or the Aiguille du Moine (still snow on the normal route?)

The rock is slowly drying in all this sector, (crampons and ice axe for the approach.)  However, it is perhaps too early for the long routes and ridges, (Moine ridge on the Verte, Walker, Grepon-Mer de Glace etc). Maybe the Ryan ridge will be possible if it freezes enough to overcome the bergschrund.

 

Helbronner / Monzino Sector

It did not freeze this morning, (16th), most of the parties returned early to the hut!

Otherwise, conditions are generally good with plenty of people for the Dent du Geant, (the approach to the Salle à Manger still has a good snow cover,)  the Marbrées traverse, the Aiguille d'Entrêves traverse, the N face Tour Ronde (the “normal route” is no longer being done , it is necessary to pass by the col Freshfield and it is for the  Gervasutti couloir); the Brenva Spur; the Kuffne Ridger and the Aiguilles du Diable traverse.

The Rochefort Arete was done yesterday (15th) there and back.  It is a bit too early to attempt the traverse of the Jorasses; (the Boccalatte hut is closed all summer.) 

On the approach to the Monzino hut, the via ferrata has cleared but there is still snow below the hut.  The Pointe. Innominata and the Aiguille Croux (normal route, Ottoz, SE ridge; snow on the abseils but not a problem), are being climbed. 

Nobody has gone up to the Eccles and there is still a lot of snow, The Pilier Rouge du Brouillard looks to be dry.  It needs a good freeze and someone well-motivated to break the trail!  

 

Aiguille du Midi Sector

As a reminder, the top station of the Aig du Midi is not a refuge and overnighting there is forbidden.

The Cosmiques ridge remains in good condition, (but crowded !). The Pointes Lachenal traverse is being done (though the passage near the abseil remains unstable.) The Contamine-Grisolle and Contamine Negri are also being climbed. The traverse from the summit of the Triangle to the Tacul  normal route is OK.

Generally good conditions for the Trois Monts, (fragile ice below the Col du Mont Maudit, no ice on the traverse towards the Brenva col and improved conditions on the Mur de la Côte due to the snowfall during the storms last week. There is a good foot track. It is more awkward on ski, (better to carry them, which avoids spending time to take on and off skis or crampons while below the seracs.)  Remember this is a route exposed to serac fall, and is technical, especially in descent,  (snow stake for possible abseil in place at the Col du Mont Maudit.)  To get the best ski conditions, one should think of doing the Mont Blanc in three days, with a night at the Grands Mulets on the descent.

The Midi-Plan ridge is tracked, there are still some large cornices and snow mushrooms.  It is necessary to leave from the hut to be early enough on the route.

The S face of the Aiguille du Midi, the Cosmiques Spur and the S face of the Lachenal are being climbed.

 

Plan de l'Aiguille / Grands Mulets Sector

The infamous sérac between the Frendo Spur and the Mallory has become unstable and threatens the base of the N face.  It is advised not to climb the Mallory, (the end of the ramp would be exposed if the collapse was bigger than foreseen.)  Use the lower track to access the Grand Mulets.  The Frendo Spur is feasible as long as one keeps well to the left on the approach.

To get to the Grands Mulets, it is necessary to go along under the N face of Aiguille du Midi  and keep low to pass the moraines where it is vegetated. Then go up via a flat area below the attack gully for the Mallory. After this, there are still two options to cross the Jonction (high or low.) 

Conditions for skiing remain generally good. The N ridge of the Dôme is being done and stable for the moment, (no ice, one axe suffices, but two more comfortable.)  The snow on the  N face remains “cold”,  the snow at the plateaux has transformed, or hard if one descends early to cross the Jonction at a good time.

Climbing on the Aiguille de l'M and Pilier Rouge de Blaitière should be feasible. No info for the Papillons Ridge. Crampons and maybe an ice axe are useful for the approaches.

 

Mont Blanc by the Aiguille du Goûter

Fairly good conditions , though the stone fall has started in the Grand Couloir. Think to cross it as early as possible, both in ascent and descent.

 

Miage / Bionnassay Sector

If the works go well, the footbridge on the approach to the Conscrits hut should be in place by the beginning of July.

The traverse of the Dômes de Miage is in good condition.  The ridge up to the Aiguille de la Bérangère is thin.  

Mont Tondu is being done but take care on the slopes underneath the Pointe des Lanchettes.

The N face of the Aiguille de Tré la Tête is in good condition.  The traverse has not yet been tracked, (two large avalanches on the decent from the Col des Glaciers).

Gonella Sector

A recent report in the OHM route book:

https://www.chamoniarde.com/montagne/cahier-de-courses#

There are parties planning to do the Tournette Spur, waiting for their info!

 

Aiguilles Rouges

Crampons and ice axe necessary for the approaches to the rock routes .

 

Hiking and the Tour du Mont Blanc

Find the latest updates ici !

 

Report 10 June 2021

MOUNTAIN CONDITIONS 09/06/2021 with updates from 10/6

After some good weather last week, followed by a few days of instability, it looks like summer is finally starting tomorrow, (Thursday.) The ski season is giving way to alpinism.

However, there are still significant quantities of snow  on the approaches, (glaciers), the slopes and the ridges, (cornices)  There is a risk of snow sluffs, especially as it warms up.

The rocks in the high mountains still have snow on the ledges and ice in the cracks. 

Also there is the issue of re-freezing, which is a problem typical for this time of the year, (short nights and often the need for very early starts.)

On needs to take account of all these factors when choosing a route, and to be flexible. Skis or snowshoes remain useful for certain approaches.

Ski touring season has probably come to an end.  It remains possible at the Emosson dam sector or starting from the Aig du Midi, (upper part of the Valley Blanche, there and back to col d'Entrèves etc).

Mont Blanc is still feasible on skis by the Trois Monts or  Grands Mulets (see below for details).

The significant amounts of snow still limit hiking to below 2000/2200m, depending on the sector and orientation. Above this, one needs to be properly equipped, (good footwear, gaiters, poles, crampons.)  

More information on recommended hikes is here.

People are starting to do the Tour du Mont Blanc.  This is two weeks later than in recent years, partly due to Covid but mainly due to the large amount of snow. All the “high” parts are completely under snow, (not just snow in patches.)  This means the path markings are buried, so knowing how to use a map is necessary. Walking in snow makes the stages tougher than usual, especially if a good track has not yet been formed  Some of the sections are exposed, where a slide could have serious consequences.  For these reasons, the TMB is only suitable for people with mountain experience and equipment, (good footwear, gaiters, poles, crampons.)

 

Some information by sector :

Tour Sector

The lifts open this weekend.

The approach to the hut, (open since 4/06) by the summer path, as usual for this time of the year, has snow and is exposed in places.  It is suitable only for alpinists for the moment. When approaching by the moraine, the snow starts near the junction with the summer path at around 2400 m.

The classics in this area have been tracked on foot, e.g. Table Couloir and normal route on the Aiguille du Tour, Tête Blanche, Petite Fourche. The Migot has been done several times over the last few weeks and when there has been a good freeze. There are no problems for the descent by the normal route. Due to the large amount of snow, the Forbes ridge has not yet been done.

 

Argentière Sector

Skis (starting below the Lognan at about 1660/1700m) or snowshoes are useful in this sector which remains quiet.  The hut opens on 19th June.

There is little information for this sector.

The classic cols should be feasible with skis. (Tour Noir, Argentière) as well as the Aiguille d'Argentière by the Glacier du Milieu.

It should be possible to ascend the Y couloir, the Couturier couloir and the Courtes NE.  No information concerning the more technical, mixed routes.

The rock is gradually drying and should soon be ready for climbing soon!

 

Charpoua Sector

There is still a lot of snow above the ladders to reach the hut which should open on 24th June. The rock is not yet dry.

A party climbed  Naia on 1/06 in good conditions, but these have likely changed since then. No info for the Y couloir.

 

Talèfre Sector

There is still snow in the central couloir and at the Pierre à Bérenger. ( approach on ski possible from the Aig du Midi if you set of early.) The approach to the hut, which is closed all summer due to works,  is by the Egralets ladders, (probably still snow higher up.)

The  Whymper couloir should be feasible, given a good freeze, (not always possible to judge with the midnight start needed in order to descend before midday!) Snowshoes useful for the approach.

A good freeze and snowshoes are also needed for the snow routes, (Pointe Isabelle, Courtes normal route) or easy mixed (Droites normal route) in this sector.

As each year, one needs to be cunning and choose the right moment to do the “Grande Courses” in this sector, (e.g. Jardin Ridge)  

 

Leschaux Sector

The hut opens 18/06.

No information for this sector.  SW couloir of the Eboulement probably. As in other sectors, the rock is gradually coming into condition.

 

Envers des Aiguilles/ Requin Sector

The is a lot of snow on the approach to the Envers hut, (due to open 26/06). It is probably possible to rock climb in the lower sectors.

The Requin hut opens 19/06. It seems to be finished for the Brèche Puiseux. No information for the rock routes yet.

 

Helbronner Sector

The classic routes are tracked on foot and in good condition, e.g. Marbrées traverse, Aiguille d'Entrèves traverse (no abseil in descent), Tour Ronde (normal route, Gervasutti couloir, N face). Take care to descend the normal route on the Tour Ronde early.  (Info of 10/6 : the Gervasutti couloir bergschrund is no longer passable, parties turned back the  morning of 10/6, soft snow which prevented taking 1m50 step, or very difficult)

Dent du Géant is feasible but in “winter” condition.  There is  snow with a good track to reach the Salle à Manger, (a positive), then some verglas/snow/ice on the rocks. The Rochefort Arete is not yet tracked and looks to be challenging. There are large cornices which oblige one to pass on the N side, which is often icy.  (The snow has either not stuck or was blown off. ) 

The Kuffner will be in condition once the snow stabilises, (and with a good freeze.)  Likewise, for the Aiguilles du Diable, once the snow goes from the rocks. ( looks to be dry, though there will certainly be snow on the N side. A party went to try it on 10/6)  The bergschrunds look to be well filled in. 

The satellites are drying quickly, (see photos). Still snow on some ledges.  Parties on the Pyramide du Tacul.  The traverse of the Valley Blanche is tracked on foot but it is best not to leave  the track!

 

Aiguille du Midi Sector

The routes near to the lift are tracked on foot.

Good conditions for the Cosmiques ridge.

Several parties turned back last week at the abseil on Pointes Lachenal traverse, (suspicious noises and stone fall.)   The mixed section below the west summit is in good condition. Possible to do the two summits, there and back.

The Contamine-Negri  is still in good condition, (mixed low down, then all on snow, abseil points in place).  There have been some parties on the Contamine-Grisolle, where conditions are thin but OK.  The Chéré couloir remains dry low down.

Some parties did the Vent du Dragon last weekend, (P1+P2 OK, P3 a bit dry, P4 thin but protectable.)  Conditions here could changequickly.

The Gervasutti Coulior on the Tacul  was skied early morning 08/06 in spring snow, with an abseil to cross the bergschrund.  Here also, conditions could quickly change.

There has been regular activity on the Trois Monts. A short ice step remains at the level of the Tacul bergschrund, crampons needed. Nothing special thereafter, the exit is by the shoulder. The traverse line is fairly high up under the lower serac of the Maudit face.  There is an easy ramp on the left to overcome the middle serac.  A good track then leads to the Mont Maudit col, (tracked on foot 10/6).  The bergschrund is crossed on the far right, which avoids some friable ice. (Maudit not re-traced on 10/6 but an old track is still visible on the upper part.)   There are a few metres of ice after the col.  Be aware of some treacherous, lengthways crevasses on the traverse to the Brenva col.  The Mur de la Côte alternates between hard snow and ice.  Again, there are some treacherous crevasses between the Rochers Rouges and the Rochers des Mulets.

 

Rock climbing is starting on the S face of the Lachenal, which is drying quickly though still some ice in the cracks. Some parties on the Cosmiques Spur and the Aig du Midi S face. It is wet in places and some snow/ice in the cracks.

The  Midi Plan ridge is coming into condition. There is still a lot of snow, especially on the thin section after the Rognon (a party turned back recently.) Not re-tracked on 10/6

 

Plan de l'Aiguille Sector

The Mallory-Porter and Eugster Diagonal were popular last week in ascent and remain feasible, given a good freeze and sleeping at the Plan. (Mallory done on 10/6 from the hut in good conditions, a bit dry in the mixed section before the ramp.) The Frendo has not been done yet. 

The rocks have a lot of snow remaining in this sector.

 

Mont Blanc by the Grands Mulets

Still good skiing conditions !

From the tunnel, the skiing starts at about 2000m. There is plenty of snow on the approach from the Plan de l'Aiguille, even if you have to bypass the moraine either low down, (preferable) or high up.  

The Jonction high up is OK, (especially in descent which avoids putting the skins back on,)  even if there is some walking at the Jonction proper.

The good news is that the N ridge of the Dôme du Goûter was tracked on Wednesday morning. 15cm of snow now covers the previously icy section.  One ice axe suffices, (two to be extra cautious.)

The N face remains in good condition, (see photo.)

 

Mont Blanc by the Aiguille du Goûter

The Bellevue cable car and the TMB as far as Bellevue opens this weekend.  The TMB up to the  Nid d’Aigle is foreseen for the end of the month.

For the Nid d'Aigle, the approach by the chalets de l'Are is recommended.

Conditions are good for the start of the season; all on snow and a track which will improve with use.

 

Miage/Bionnassay Sector

The  Plan Glacier and Durier huts open on the 12th June.  Skis or snowshoes are still useful in this sector.  

It is possible to use skis at around 1700m above Miage and after the Mauvais Pas.

The Mettrier ridge was done on 06/06, in good conditions.

The Dômes de Miage is in good condition and is popular on ski or on foot  both as a traverse or there and back, (no ice and the ridge is broad.)

For the ski descent of the Armancette, the walking starts at around 2100m above the lake.

Mont Tondu and the Aiguille de la Bérangère, (there and back) have also been done. 

 

Mont Blanc S side

The Monzino hut, (crampons useful for the approach,) opens on 11/6, the Gonella on 12/06.  More information soon.

 

Aiguilles Rouges

The lifts open this weekend.  As one can see on the webcam de l'Index, there is a lot of snow remaining.  It is possible to find some snow free rock routes, but crampons and ice axes will be needed for the approach and descent.

 

Report 9th June 2021

MOUNTAIN CONDITIONS 09/06/2021

After some good weather last week, followed by a few days of instability, it looks like summer is finally starting tomorrow, (Thursday.) The ski season is giving way to alpinism.

However, there are still significant quantities of snow  on the approaches, (glaciers), the slopes and the ridges, (cornices)  There is a risk of snow sluffs, especially as it warms up.

The rocks in the high mountains still have snow on the ledges and ice in the cracks.  

Also there is the issue of re-freezing, which is a problem typical for this time of the year, (short nights and often the need for very early starts.)

On needs to take account of all these factors when choosing a route, and to be flexible. Skis or snowshoes remain useful for certain approaches.

Ski touring season has probably come to an end.  It remains possible at the Emosson dam sector or starting from the Aig du Midi, (upper part of the Valley Blanche, there and back to col d'Entrèves etc).

Mont Blanc is still feasible on skis by the Trois Monts or  Grands Mulets (see below for details).

The significant amounts of snow still limit hiking to below 2000/2200m, depending on the sector and orientation. Above this, one needs to be properly equipped, (good footwear, gaiters, poles, crampons.)  

More information on recommended hikes is here.

People are starting to do the Tour du Mont Blanc.  This is two weeks later than in recent years, partly due to Covid but mainly due to the large amount of snow. All the “high” parts are completely under snow, (not just snow in patches.)  This means the path markings are buried, so knowing how to use a map is necessary. Walking in snow makes the stages tougher than usual, especially if a good track has not yet been formed  Some of the sections are exposed, where a slide could have serious consequences.  For these reasons, the TMB is only suitable for people with mountain experience and equipment, (good footwear, gaiters, poles, crampons.)

 

Some information by sector :

Tour Sector

The lifts open this weekend.

The approach to the hut, (open since 4/06) by the summer path, as usual for this time of the year, has snow and is exposed in places.  It is suitable only for alpinists for the moment. When approaching by the moraine, the snow starts near the junction with the summer path at around 2400 m.

The classics in this area have been tracked on foot, e.g. Table Couloir and normal route on the Aiguille du Tour, Tête Blanche, Petite Fourche. The Migot has been done several times over the last few weeks and when there has been a good freeze. There are no problems for the descent by the normal route. Due to the large amount of snow, the Forbes ridge has not yet been done.

 

Argentière Sector

Skis (starting below the Lognan at about 1660/1700m) or snowshoes are useful in this sector which remains quiet.  The hut opens on 19th June.

There is little information for this sector.

The classic cols should be feasible with skis. (Tour Noir, Argentière) as well as the Aiguille d'Argentière by the Glacier du Milieu.

It should be possible to ascend the Y couloir, the Couturier couloir and the Courtes NE.  No information concerning the more technical, mixed routes.

The rock is gradually drying and should soon be ready for climbing soon!

 

Charpoua Sector

There is still a lot of snow above the ladders to reach the hut which should open on 24th June. The rock is not yet dry.

A party climbed  Naia on 1/06 in good conditions, but these have likely changed since then. No info for the Y couloir.

 

Talèfre Sector

There is still snow in the central couloir and at the Pierre à Bérenger. The approach to the hut, which is closed all summer due to works,  is by the Egralets ladders, (probably still snow higher up.)

The  Whymper couloir should be feasible, given a good freeze, (not always possible to judge with the midnight start needed in order to descend before midday!) Snowshoes useful for the approach.

A good freeze and snowshoes are also needed for the snow routes, (Pointe Isabelle, Courtes normal route) or easy mixed (Droites normal route) in this sector.

As each year, one needs to be cunning and choose the right moment to do the “Grande Courses” in this sector, (e.g. Jardin Ridge)  

 

Leschaux Sector

The hut opens 18/06.

No information for this sector.  SW couloir of the Eboulement probably. As in other sectors, the rock is gradually coming into condition.

 

Envers des Aiguilles/ Requin Sector

The is a lot of snow on the approach to the Envers hut, (due to open 26/06). It is probably possible to rock climb in the lower sectors.

The Requin hut opens 19/06. It seems to be finished for the Brèche Puiseux. No information for the rock routes yet.

 

Helbronner Sector

The classic routes are tracked on foot and in good condition, e.g. Marbrées traverse, Aiguille d'Entrèves traverse, Tour Ronde (normal route, Gervasutti couloir, N face). Take care to descend the normal route on the Tour Ronde early.

Dent du Géant is feasible but in “winter” condition.  There is  snow with a good track to reach the Salle à Manger, (a positive), then some verglas/snow/ice on the rocks. The Rochefort Arete is not yet tracked and looks to be challenging. There are large cornices which oblige one to pass on the N side, which is often icy.  (The snow has either not stuck or was blown off. )  

The Kuffner will be in condition once the snow stabilises, (and with a good freeze.)  Likewise, for the Aiguilles du Diable, once the snow goes from the rocks.  The bergschrunds look to be well filled in. 

The snow is gradually going from the satellites.  More info soon.

 

Aiguille du Midi Sector

The routes near to the lift are tracked on foot.

Good conditions for the Cosmiques ridge.

Several parties turned back last week at the abseil on Pointes Lachenal traverse, (suspicious noises and stone fall.)   The mixed section below the west summit is in good condition. Possible to do the two summits, there and back.

The Contamine-Negri  is still in good condition, (mixed low down, then all on snow, abseil points in place).  There have been some parties on the Contamine-Grisolle, where conditions are thin but OK.  The Chéré couloir remains dry low down.

Some parties did the Vent du Dragon last weekend, (P1+P2 OK, P3 a bit dry, P4 thin but protectable.)  Conditions here could changequickly.

The Gervasutti Coulior on the Tacul  was skied early morning 08/06 in spring snow, with an abseil to cross the bergschrund.  Here also, conditions could quickly change.

There has been regular activity on the Trois Monts. A short ice step remains at the level of the Tacul bergschrund, crampons needed. Nothing special thereafter, the exit is by the shoulder. The traverse line is fairly high up under the lower serac of the Maudit face.  There is an easy ramp on the left to overcome the middle serac.  A good track then leads to the Mont Maudit col.  The bergschrund is crossed on the far right, which avoids some friable ice.   There are a few metres of ice after the col.  Be aware of some treacherous, lengthways crevasses on the traverse to the Brenva col.  The Mur de la Côte alternates between hard snow and ice.  Again, there are some treacherous crevasses between the Rochers Rouges and the Rochers des Mulets.

Rock climbing is starting on the S face of the Lachenal, which is drying quickly though still some ice in the cracks. Things are a bit more complicated for Cosmiques Spur and the Aig du Midi S face, (snow on the ledges and on the summit ridge. )

The  Midi Plan ridge is coming into condition. There is still a lot of snow, especially on the thin section after the Rognon (a party turned back recently.)

 

Plan de l'Aiguille Sector

The Mallory-Porter and Eugster Diagonal were popular last week in ascent and remain feasible, given a good freeze and sleeping at the Plan. The Frendo has not been done yet.  

The rocks have a lot of snow remaining in this sector.

 

Mont Blanc by the Grands Mulets

Still good skiing conditions !

From the tunnel, the skiing starts at about 2000m. There is plenty of snow on the approach from the Plan de l'Aiguille, even if you have to bypass the moraine either low down, (preferable) or high up.  

The Jonction high up is OK, (especially in descent which avoids putting the skins back on,)  even if there is some walking at the Jonction proper.

The good news is that the N ridge of the Dôme du Goûter was tracked on Wednesday morning. 15cm of snow now covers the previously icy section.  One ice axe suffices, (two to be extra cautious.)

The N face remains in good condition, (see photo.)

 

Mont Blanc by the Aiguille du Goûter

The Bellevue cable car and the TMB as far as Bellevue opens this weekend.  The TMB up to the  Nid d’Aigle is foreseen for the end of the month.

For the Nid d'Aigle, the approach by the chalets de l'Are is recommended.

Conditions are good for the start of the season; all on snow and a track which will improve with use.

 

Miage/Bionnassay Sector

The  Plan Glacier and Durier huts open on the 12th June.  Skis or snowshoes are still useful in this sector.  

It is possible to use skis at around 1700m above Miage and after the Mauvais Pas.

The Mettrier ridge was done on 06/06, in good conditions.

The Dômes de Miage is in good condition and is popular on ski or on foot  both as a traverse or there and back, (no ice and the ridge is broad.)

For the ski descent of the Armancette, the walking starts at around 2100m above the lake.

Mont Tondu and the Aiguille de la Bérangère, (there and back) have also been done.  

 

Mont Blanc S side

The Monzino hut, (crampons useful for the approach,) opens on 11/6, the Gonella on 12/06.  More information soon.

 

Aiguilles Rouges

The lifts open this weekend.  As one can see on the webcam de l'Index, there is a lot of snow remaining.  It is possible to find some snow free rock routes, but crampons and ice axes will be needed for the approach and descent.

 

Report 31 May 2021

MOUNTAIN CONDITIONS  31/05/2021

Some information after a weekend where activity returned to the high mountain, following a reasonably long spell of good weather.  In general, there is a lot of snow, in the process of transforming, with re-freezing, the slopes progressively purging, and the glaciers  and bergschrunds well filled in. Skis or snowshoes still prove useful for moving about high up, except in the popular areas near the Aig du Midi or Helbronner. The season of the “Grand Courses” is starting, as the snow cover settles and given a good re-freezing.

Ski touring remains possible in the Emosson dam sector.  The road up to the dam is open, where the skiing starts. For the Berard valley, the skiing starts at the large flat area below the hut at around 1700m, (good snow cover above this.)

 

Le Tour Sector : generally good conditions.  The hut opens on Friday 4th June. The classics of the area are tracked, (Aiguille du Tour, Migot Spur Migot on the Chardonnet etc). The descent by the Passon is no longer attractive.

Argentière Sector: The skiing starts at around 1400m on the Pierre à Ric.  The hut is closed until 19th June.  There is not much info for this sector other than the Aig d'Argentière by the glacier du Milieu and the Couturier Couloir on the Verte (ice at the bend and on the dome) have been done.  The  NE des Courtes looks to have plenty of snow.  

Talèfre Sector:  The hut approach by the central gully has deteriorated. Some parties have gone via the Egralets ladders. The Whymper couloir was done on 27th May, with other parties doing it the day after.  The bergschrund goes on the true left, (right looking up).  Some ice in the secondary couloir otherwise nothing special. Skis or snowshoes needed for the approach.  Some parties have skied in the direction of the Pointe Isabelle and the col des Droites.  

Plan/Aiguille du Midi Sector :  The Plan and Cosmiques huts are open. The col du Plan gully has been climbed, the bergschrund is well filled in.  After a lot of ski activity last week, the Mallory Porter should be feasible in ascent.  It is too early for the Midi-Plan ridge, but this should quickly change given the current temperatures.

It is possible to approach on foot for the routes near to the Midi station.  The Laurence ridge, Cosmiques ridge (a lot of snow which in some place makes it easier, but elsewhere requires alternatives and short roping making the route overall more difficult,) Pointes Lachenal traverse are all tracked.  The Midi S face is being climbed but there is still snow on the ledges.

The traverse of Valley Blanche is well filled in.  Skis or snowshoes remain useful.  The Valley Blanche was skied at the weekend The crevasses are covered higher up and it is spring snow. Crevasses are starting to appear at the Salle à Manger where a rope recommended.  The descent by the Valley Noire is not recommended because, as is usual this time of the year, there is a lot of frozen avalanche debris.

The Trois Monts was done on Monday morning. On the normal route on the Tacul, there is a short, steep  section of ice low down and a recent serac fall also low down, exit by the shoulder.  For Mont Maudit, the lower part of the face is also not in good condition but goes OK, the bergschrund below the col is OK, no ice.   There may be some ice on the traverse to the Brenva col.  Hard snow on the Mur de la Côte.  

The Chéré Gully is in average condition, (brittle ice.)  The Contamine Negri is in good condition, (some mixed low down, then all on snow.) The traverse from the summit of the Triangle to regain the normal route looks to be OK. 

The Jager Couloir was done on 30/05. The Gervasutti couloir has been skied but take care, the heat will quickly change conditions.  

Some of the Pointes Lachenal S face gullies have been climbed. The gullies on the E face of the Tacul (Modica Noury, Gabarrou-Albinoni) look to be fairly dry.  A part turned back on the Supercouloir, (brittle ice).

Helbronner Sector :  the Marbrées and Aiguille d'Entrèves traverses and the Dent du Géant have been done, approach on foot.  There has been activity on the Tour Ronde: the normal route by the Freshfield col , the N face, (all snow except for the central gully) and the Gervasutti couloir, (bergschrund OK).   It is too early for the Kuffner.

Mont Blanc by the Grands-Mulets : little change since the last report. The amount of ski carrying is increasing, 1h30 from the tunnel. The snow is going from the moraines when starting from the Plan de l'Aiguille.  The Jonction passes OK.  The N Face of the Dôme du Goûter is tracked parallel to the ridge, (hard snow, still some ice, 2 bergschrunds that need a rope,)  The classic N face was skied at the weekend, (hard snow high up then cold and changeable).  At the plateaux it is more like spring snow, (it does not soften before midday).   

Mont Blanc by the Goûter : The Tête Rousse hut opened on Monday night and the Gouter on Tuesday.  The TMB and the Bellevue are closed.   There is a lot of snow.  It is recommended to go by the Are Chalets and the Nid d'Aigle (take care on the slopes below the equipped section.)  The Goûter couloir is filled with snow and for a change it is snow slides, not stone fall that could cause problems.  Try and pass early in the day, both in ascent and descent.  It is already tracked, and the path will improve with use.  

Aiguille de Bionnassay : The NW  face from Tête Rousse (there and back,) from the  Durier and the Mettrier ridge were done this weekend. The N face of the Dômes has good snow cover and has been skied, (the skiing starts about 2200m, above Miage.)   No recent information for the Dômes de Miage travers, which should be in condition, the skiing starts above the Mauvais Pas.

 

Report 26 may 2021

MOUNTAIN CONDITIONS 26/05/2021

There has been little recent information  on conditions in the high mountain.  It is a case of “go and see” and keeping one’s options open. Chamoniarde is awaiting your feedback!

Skis and snowshoes are currently essential for moving around in the high mountain.

The Aiguille du Midi and Skyway cable cars are open. The Montenvers train will open on Saturday 29th May, (the lift down to the ice cave opens on 5th June.)  Reservations necessary !

The following huts are open: Grands-Mulets, Cosmiques, Torino (from Thursday 27th). Only the winter rooms are open in the other huts. (There is a risk of overcrowding, especially at the Argentière).

Due to the impressive amount of snow at the Emosson dam sector, ski touring is still possible there.  The same is true for the Aiguilles Rouges (Bérard valley), though some ski carrying is necessary.  

Likewise, some ski carrying is needed on the approach to the Albert 1er hut by the moraine and on the lower part of the Pierre à Ric to access the Argentière sector.

The only sector with regular activity is the Aiguille du Midi, thanks to the cable car. All the main, steep skiing  routes on the N and W faces are being done.  There is even a risk of overcrowding.  At this time of the year conditions can change drastically from one day to the next, not least due to the passage of other skiers and the strong May/June sun.  Keep something in reserve when nearing your level.  

There and back to the Col d'Entrèves or into the Maudite Cwm are good ideas for an outing at altitude, to make a few turns and get the red blood cells working.

The ladder down to the Toula glacier is closed and its use forbidden.

The Cosmiques ridge, Pointe Lachenal there and back (or even the traverse,) and the Laurence ridge are feasible. As has often been the case in recent years, the Tacul Triangle looks very bare, (grey ice.) Likewise, the descent by the Tacul normal route does not look inviting. Once the snow cover stabilises it should be OK.  No information on the N face of the Maudit.

The approach to the Grands Mulets hut from the Plan de l'Aiguille was re-traced on Tuesday 25th May.   On Wednesday, there was an attempt on Mont Blanc (probably ended at the Vallot due to the wind)  by the plateaus. (It looks like a serac fall has cut across the track at the level of the little Plateau).  The N ridge of the Dôme is not tracked and does not look good, (still with ice and heavily windblown snow).  From the tunnel, the skiing starts at the old cable car station.

For anyone thinking of doing Mont Blanc by the Goûter, expect winter conditions with a lot of snow. The snow starts at the Bellevue and just above the Are chalets.  The approach to the Tête Rousse hut remains complicated, (in effect an alpine route). The huts plan to open on the 1st June (Tête Rousse) and 2nd June (Goûter).

There has been no change in the options for hikers. Generally, it is necessary to remain below 2000m.  Check this list of suggestions.

 

Report 15 May 2021

MOUNTAIN CONDITIONS 14 MAY2021

 

Unreliable weather at the moment, (wind, rain, snow, some sunny spells etc.)

Very little has changed since the last update, (7th May).  The weather windows have been too short to allow for much activity in the high mountain and there has been little improvement with the hiking trails (see ici).

The road up to the Emosson dam opened on Thursday the 13th, giving ski tourers access to this sector, if the weather allows.   Elsewhere , despite the low temperatures , the amount of ski carrying necessary is gradually increasing.

The good news is the Aig du Midi cable car opens on 19th May, (must have a reservation, use this link). The Park Merlet also opens on the 19th, (reservation needed at the weekends and bank holidays)

Consult the Chamoniarde site for up-to-date information on the hut openings (ici).