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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 7th May 2021

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).

 

 

 

 

Report 27 April 2021

MOUNTAIN CONDITIONS 27 April 2021

 

Some information following a sunny weekend even if the weather is now due to deteriorate.  

In general, the snow cover at altitude is good, despite the warm period having removed the snow lower down.  The faces remain dryish. 

 

Bérard Valley:  Skiing still starts at the level of the buvette, but some rocks are appearing along the side of the torrent.  Above this it is spring snow.

Skis can be used not far from the road  for the climb up to the col de l'Encrenaz from the south.

Tour Sector: the approach to the Albert 1er hut is by the moraine or via the col du Passon from Argentière. The Aiguille du Tour, Tête Blanche (N face tracked), Petite Fourche are popular. All the classic cols are passable.  The normal route on the Chardonnet was skied on Sunday, 25th. On the descent to le Tour, the skiing ends at the bridge, (keep to the true left bank low down.)  The skiing is not great nearer the valley due to avalanche debris and heavy snow.  The descent from the Passon, other than if returning from a route,  is no longer worth it.  

Skiing conditions are good on the Swiss side, Trient/Saleina/ A Neuve.

Argentière Sector : it is still possible to ski from the start of the Pierre à Ric. Nothing of note for the glacier and the approach to the hut, (it was crowded last weekend, the stove is out of action, take a sleeping bag.)  The cols du Chardonnet, du Tour Noir and Argentière are skiable. The big N faces remain dry. The Couturier has been tracked in ascent, no further information. There have been some parties on the Lagarde Couloir (Droites), a long and technical route would should not be underestimated, (see  Facebook page PGHM de Chamonix). Lots of ski tracks on the NE face of the Courtes,  less on  the Col des Cristaux and the Pointe Eales.  For the Aiguille d'Argentière:  Glacier du Milieu is OK with no problems at the bergschrund and the narrows.  The Y couloir is tracked in ascent, lots of ski tracks in the Barbey.

Mer de Glace Sector : Access is still from Les Bois. The passage by the Mottets is chaotic.  It is better to go via the  Montenvers ladders even if this does involve an extra height gain. Skiing still starts at the base of the ladders even if the Mer de Glace is already lacking snow.

Aiguille Verte : Y couloir was done on Saturday 24 (see route book).  The Whymper couloir is also in condition, the bergschrund passable on the true right, (left looking up). The approach to the Talèfre sector by the central gully is deteriorating, (skis off in one place.)

Valley Blanche/Noire, Brèche Puiseux are still feasible. A rope is recommended for the Salle à Manger.

Mallory-Porter : some ice on the traverse below the Aig du Midi ridge, soft snow lower down.  The Eugster direct is too dry, not recommended. The ski descent of the Cosmiques couloir is OK.

There is no information for the gullies in this sector.

Glacier des Nantillons  was skied in good conditions.

Mont Blanc by ski via the Grands Mulets : The skiing still starts at the level of the old station.  To cross the Jonction,  take the lower track, (safer than the higher path which is threatened by frequent serac falls.)  The Plateaux is in good condition.  There is ice below the Vallot, ( there is a track which avoids going straight up to the hut with crampons.)  Fingers crossed that the snow promised at altitude for this week will improve conditions on the Dôme N ridge and the N face of Mont. The descent by the true left bank of the Bossons glacier is no longer feasible.


There is still some skiing in the Trappier couloir sector with the snow ending around 1600m for the moment.  

Dômes de Miage / Bionnassay sector:  As a reminder, the Tré la Tête hostel is  open. The appoach to the  Conscrit hut by the Mauvais Pas is OK with crampons. In general, the traverse of the Dômes de Miage is in good condition.

The Mettrier ridge is being done regularly, (take gaz and a down jacket if planning to sleep at the  Plan Glacier). The traverse of the Aiguille de Bionnassay was also tracked last weekend, descent by the Plateaux.

Notre Dame de la Gorge : skiing now starts at the flat area halfway between Nant Borrant and the Balme. Good spring conditions higher up, for example: the col des Chasseurs and the Enclave and Mont Tondu sectors.

In Brief:

The Via Ferrata de Curalla has been opened on 24th April.
Hiking possibilities remain restricted to below 1700m ( facing north) and 1900m (facing south) due to the snow. The via cordas at Mottets and the Via Damou are popular, (cf route book)

 

Report 20 April 2021

MOUNTAIN CONDITIONS 20 AVRIL 2021

 

A quick update, given that the general situation has not changed much since the bulletin of 13th April
Last week’s weather was fairly atypical, being mainly cold and with some snowfall, which allowed for some nice skiing, but also a cloud cover that was difficult to predict.  


The principal activity is still ski touring. When temperatures allow, valley crag climbing is popular. There is still too much snow on most of the hiking trails. However, the paths along the floor of the valley or the small hikes up to 1500m, (north facing), or 1800m, (south facing), are feasible.

Conditions remain good for ski touring in the Bérard valley, (with a short section of carrying just up to the buvette).

The approach to the Albert 1er hut by the moraine is now possible, (the slopes overlooking the path are dry, only the gully still has snow.) Skiing starts at the level of the EDF water intake. For the descent from the Passon, the skiing ends at the level of the Bisme bridge, (10 mins walking from the carpark.) 

It is still possible to put on skis at the start of the Pierre à Ric. All the classic routes are tracked (Col du Passon, Col du Chardonnet, Aiguille d'Argentière by the Glacier du Milieu, Col du Tour Noir, etc.)  Also, activity at Barbey, Y Couloir, Lagarde couloir, Col des Cristaux and the Courtes NNE (skied on good snow, NNE fairly dry high up as has often been the case in recent years.) 

No change for the approach to the Mer de Glace/Talèfre sector, other than the 4x4 track from Planards to the Mottets/Caillet/Les Bois crossroads is closed by municipal order until 24th May because of work being done on the Montenvers railway.   It is, therefore, necessary to start from Les Bois, which in any case is the better option, (unless you have an electric mountain bike!)

Tracks on the Mallory Porter, no further information.  

Mont Blanc by the Grands Mulets : skiing starts at the level of the old cable car station.  There is a difficult section between the Glaciers station and the glacier.  The Jonction is OK.  It is still icy below the Vallot.  The N face remains unadvisable, the Corridoris very awkward, (rock hard ice, recommended to downclimb.) The possibility to descend by the true left bank of the Bossons glacier is coming to an end,  (lack of snow in the gully above the Plateau des Pyramides).

Activity continues at the Trappier couloir, Pointe Inférieure Tricot, Armancette cwm and the Dômes de Miage.

Enjoy the current situation and do not hesitate to inform Chamoniarde of the conditions you experienced.

 

Report: 13th April 2021

Some brief information for mid-April.

The mountains are unusually quiet!

As a reminder, the Grands Mulets and Requin huts remain open. The Albert 1er hut is open from Fridays to Tuesdays. It is even more important than usual to make a reservation, (by internet or telephone,) because the wardens are organising themselves, (like everybody in these times), from one day to the next.

The Argentière hut closes on 15/04, with the re-opening foreseen for between the 1st and 10th May. Waiting for information for Lognan hut.

The winter rooms remain accessible.

After yet another wintry spell, there was a small amount of fresh snow down to low altitudes between Sunday and Monday.  About 15cms fell at 2000m and 20 to 30 cms  above this in certain sectors, (Aiguilles Rouges and the Mont Blanc massive,) and without wind. However, this will not have improved conditions much in the high mountain as it is not sticking.  The glaciers, however, are well filled in.


Ski touring remains the main activity, though as to be  expected, the snowline is receding.

In the Bérard valley, skis  can be put on at the Berard café.  The main routes are popular, (if you can say that given how few people are about!). It is still possible to start skiing from the col des Montets, or the small parking area just before the Buet village, for the col de l'Encrenaz sector.

As a reminder, access to Charamillon is forbidden due to work being done on the upper station of the new ski lift. Therefore, to get to the Albert 1er hut it is best to go by the col du Passon. The classic descent from the Passon is still in condition, as is the normal route on the Aiguille du Tour. The Migot Spur was done about 10 days ago.

The artificial snow means the Pierre Ric is still OK and provides access to the Argentière sector. Harscheisen, (ski crampons), may be necessary if there has been a hard frost. The classics in this sector remain in condition: col des Grands Montets, col du Chardonnet (start on the true left, right looking up; 60m of fixed rope in place on the Saleina side), Glacier du Milieu ("the narrows are very narrow” this year, for those on ski), col du Tour Noir, col d'Argentière.

For steep skiing, the Barbey couloir and the SE coulior of the Chardonnet (take care with the timing and changes in condition for the latter), are being done regularly. No reliable information for the Y couloir, (a 30m pitch of mixed low down,) which, nonetheless, is OK in ascent. The N faces remain very, (too,) dry.

No info for the Lagarde couloir. The Couturier couloir should be feasible even if it looks to be well purged high up, (take care with the timing for the descent by the Whymper).

 

Mer de Glace/ Valley Blanche sector, A lot of ski carrying. The best option seems to be to start from Les Bois by the Filia path. Skis can be used for the first time where the return from Valley Blanche reaches the Mottets snack bar. Further carrying is needed to reach the Mer de Glace and up to about 300m above the ice caves.

Access to the Talèfre sector is still by the central couloir. Crevasses are appearing at the level of the  Salle à Manger.

The Valley Blanche, (there and back a real challenge!) and the Brèche Puiseux are still in condition. Solitude guaranteed!

The latest news is that the Whymper couloir is just about OK for the time of year, (secondary couloir is very dry, the bergschrund passable on the true left).

The Y couloir was done on 01/04, no information since.  A party did the Naia gully on 04/04 (crux hardly formed but well protectable).

The Pointe Isabelle was said to be in good condition, (the Courtes glacier is without problems, as is the upper section, the bergschrund is impressive but goes OK on the left).  

There has been little activity on the Mallory since the last update. It will be necessary re-track it.

 

For the Mont Blanc by the Grands Mulets, skis can be put on at the old Para lift station. The Junction is OK.  

On the other hand, the N ridge of the Dôme du Goûter remains desperately icy. The slope below the Vallot is like glass and on the Bosses Ridge there are some crevasses not normally seen there, (but passable). The N face remains “complicated”.

The good news is that the recent snowfall without wind means good skiing at the Plateaux and the Para. (It is also possible to go on the true left side of the Bossons glacier by the "Jonction" and the Plateau des Pyramides).

Skiing starts at the Maison Neuve (Les Houches) to access the Rognes/Trappier/Tête Rousse sector.

 

Further west, the snow level is at the Miage chalets for the Plan Glacier sector. This can be linked with a “there and back” to the col de Miage or the Mettrier ridge (good conditions, descent by the Armancette because the top third of the N face of the Dômes is bare ice). 

The Dôme traverse is still in good condition (the ridge is broad and without ice).  It is best to go up the true right side of the Tré la Tête glacier to avoid being exposed to serac fall from the N face of the Aiguille Tré la Tête.

There is no information for the snow quality for descending the Armancette, (some carrying above the lake and then on the return to La Frasse).

Still a little bit of activity, (but with carrying, skiing from about 1400m) in the combe d'Armancette sector, (Chaborgne or Bérangère couloirs,) and starting from  Notre Dame de la Gorge (skis on at the Roman bridge).

 

Very little has changed for hiking since the last update on 30th March. Patience is needed! Nonetheless there are still plenty of possibilities. For example: Miage chalets, Ayères chalets, Chailloux chalets, Mottets snack bar, Floria/Flégère, Loriaz chalets. 

The season is finished for snowshoe trails.

Report: 30th March 2021

Some news from the mountains after a few days of good weather.

It is no surprise that ski touring is still the main activity and most of the routes have been re-tracked since the (small) snowfall at the end of last week. As a reminder, one should  take both ski and normal crampons and respect the time of day.

As for alpinism, the gullies remain dry and it is rare to find good conditions.


It is very important to make a reservation before staying at a hut , guarded or not.

 

The  Bérard valley towards the Mont Buet is popular, as is the Col de l'Encrenaz from the Col des Montets. It is necessary to carry the skis for a bit when going to Loriaz and the Col de la Terrasse from Granges.

The Argentière sector is also popular.  Ski crampons are quasi essential when going up the Pierre à Ric early in the morning.  All the classic cols have been tracked and are generally in good condition. The Col du Passon (care with the timing, especially on the ascent,) the Trois Cols and the Tour Noir are OK. There is no fixed rope in place on the Col du Chardonnet.

Ice has been reported on the Glacier du Milieu and the start of the Y couloir, (mixed).

The Barbey Couloir has been skied but the first 50m were hard snow/ice. The Col des Cristaux and the NE des Courtes face have been tracked.

The N faces are generally dry. No information for the Couturier, the upper part and the dome look to be wind affected. Some parties have been on the Lagarde couloir (Droites) and the Petit Viking (Pré de Bar).

The Whymper couloir on the Verte was tracked on 29/03 in mainly good conditions, but this could change rapidly.

 

Mer de Glace sector : The Requin  hut  is open. The Brèche Puiseux is being done frequently. There is a 50m abseil on the Leschaux side then powder snow down to about 2,800m. As usual, the Mallet glacier is complicated and with few tracks; take care. Some parties have gone up towards the Col de Midi, (descent via the Cosmiques couloir or the Valley Blanche) and the Col d'Entrèves, (descent by the Combe de la Vierge.)

The Sorenson-Eastman above the Requin was very “technical” but the party got up it, (other gullies not in condition). The Valéria on the Petit Capucin is in OK condition. There is no information for the Tacul east face or the Triangle. The Mallory-Porter on the Aiguille du Midi has been tracked in ascent, no further information.

The return by the Mer de Glace to Chamonix is starting to deteriorate and is likely to get worse with the hot weather over the next days .

 

Mont Blanc  is being  climbed, (the Grands Mulets is open); ascend via the Para (some ski carrying), traverse the Jonction and then go up via the Plateaux,  (the N ridge of the Dôme is very icy.)  Most parties leave their skis at the Vallot, (some ice below the observatory). The N face has been skied but it is not really in condition.  The descent by the true left side of the Bossons glacier has been well frequented but a serac collapse has damaged the traverse to the Pyramides plateau.

 

Val Montjoie sector: There is still a lot of activity in the Armancette  basin, (Charborgne, Bérangère) with, for the moment , not too much ski carrying. For the Plan Glacier/Durier starting from Gruvaz,  it is possible to put on skis from about 1500m. The last 200m of the Mettrier and the N face direct of the Dômes de Miage look to be icy.


The Conscrits area is popular (hut open; reservation by email as the phone is not working).  Ski crampons are especially useful on some sections of the ascent; the Mauvais Pas is OK. The traverse of the Dômes de Miage and descent by the Armancette is in OK condition, (no ice). Mont Tondu is tracked.

 

Further afield, the normal route on the Dolent is tracked from La Fouly, (more info in the OHM route book). The Marécottes/Dents du Midi sector is popular!

 

Hikers are reminded  again that  that it is not yet the season for the high paths, such as the Chéserys/Lac Blanc, the Grands Balcons Nord and Sud, Brévent, Bel Lachat , etc. It is necessary to be content with certain routes at the base of the valley.  It is a good idea to contact Chamoniarde for guidance on the best options, which depend on the latest conditions, your experience and your equipment.

Report: 22nd March 2021

 

Though it is officially spring, winter is still with us due to the heavy snowfall, down to the valley floor, at the start of last week, and the recent low temperatures.
 

Ski touring, therefore, remains the main activity. It is possible to put on skis at 1000/1200 m, depending upon the orientation. Practically all the classic  tours, (and less classic,) at mid altitude were done this last weekend. Snow conditions were variable. The NE wind has affected the snow cover in some areas. On slopes facing the sun, the snow is crusty and is being transformed. On shaded slopes, the conditions are either very good or very bad; i.e. either powder or slabby/crusty, (danger of wind slab and risk of knee damage.)  

There has been a lot of activity in areas that are normally quiet/untouched.

Less information is available for the high mountain and the glaciers, where it is assumed the wind effect will have been more important. There has been some ski touring at the Grands/Trient glacier, Tour glacier (Passon, Trois cols), Argentière sector (col du Tour Noir etc.), Dôme de Miage sector (Dôme traverse, descent by the Armancette). 

Due to the  large amounts of fresh snow and the wind, the gullies and alpine routes are not in condition for the moment.

As a reminder, the Conscrits hut opens this Monday.  The Argentière and Trient huts are already open.
 

A proof that winter is still with us, ice climbing is still possible on the true left bank of the Argentière glacier (Déferlante sector).

Snowshoeing remains possible, (the marked trails of Granges to Vallorcine and Barmus to Plaine Joux, as well as up to the Loriaz hut and the Chailloux chalets.)  Snowshoes are becoming less necessary as the snow on the path gets more compacted with use.