Some information for the weekend!
The good weather this last week or so has encouraged activity both in the high and mid mountain.
Ski Touring :
This has proved popular with most of the routes being done. The snow quality varies a lot from one sector to another. Depending on the time of day and the aspect, some slopes have spring snow while on others the snow is very hard. It is increasingly important to respect the timing, especially for slopes with early exposure to the sun.
There are no problems for the signposted “upski” routes at Prarion, Le Tour and Lognan, other than the crowds.
Loriaz, Col de la Terrasse, Bosse des Charmoz, Col de Bérard, Salenton and Mont Buet are well frequented. Do not forget ski crampons (harscheisen) and take care, especially in the Berard valley where there is a lot of verglas and also numerous snowshoers. The Col de l’Encrenaz from Col des Montets and the Crochues-Bérard from the Chamonix golf club are being done, but allow plenty of time,
In the high mountain, the routes in the Argentière sector are also being done but some sections high up can be awkward due to either lack of or inconsistent snow. This is true for the Glacier du Milieu, where there is a lack of snow in the narrows making it more like an ice gully. On NNE of the Courtes and the Col de Cristaux the snow is unstable above 3400m.
There is little information concerning the Mer de Glace sector . The Col du Tacul was done a few days ago, with a 60m abseil was needed to get into the couloir. No tracks were visible on Brèche Puiseux on 25/02. The Mallet glacier appears to be very chaotic, (as seen from a helicopter). Some bold, (and very fit!) people have gone up the Valley Blanche from Chamonix.
There is no information for the Mont Blanc by the Grands Mulets, other than the traverse of the Jonction is OK, (reconnaissance made by the warden up to the hut).
A lot of people are starting to ask about the Mettrier ridge and the N face of the Dômes de Miage, but nobody has reported back on these. The entrance to the Plan Glacier hut appears to have been cleared several days ago.
There has been regular activity in the Contamines-Montjoie sector, which has mixed snow quality. Several parties have been up to the Conscrits hut and on the Dômes de Miage traverse. It is necessary to carry the skis part way to the Tré la Tête hut and, apparently, the descent by the Armancette is not too bad.
Crampons are recommended for the roman road, (icy.)
Be aware some of the winter rooms in the CAF huts are overcrowded
Alpinism/Ice Routes :
Due to the lifts being closed, there has not been as much activity reported as usual. Several parties have been on the E face of the Tacul. e.g., Gabarrou-Albinoni, Super Couloir, Lafaille and Jager.
In the Argentière sector, parties have climbed the Lagarde direct (the bergschrund is awkward, then good conditions until the exit on inconsistent snow,) Petit Viking (the gully section OK but difficult to place ice screws and the upper section too dry,) Y Couloir and the Couturier (climbed on 25/02 in good conditions, easy to protect ice , exit direct and descend by abseiling down the Whymper.
In the Plan de l’Aiguille sector, there has been no information back for the Fil à Plomb or the Mallory-Porter. Parties have turned around on the Rébuffat-Terray (first 5 pitches OK but then too dry) and Beyond Good & Evil (not good, too dry.)
Snowshoeing/ Hiking :
The snow is slowly going from the valley floor and most of the routes described in the « Raquette à neige au Pays du Mont-Blanc » brochure, (free from tourist offices etc,) can be done without snowshoes, if you have good footwear and poles. Some sections are very icy, crampons could prove useful if not wearing snowshoes.
The only mountain lake accessible to hikers or snowshoers is the Lake Vert above Servoz, (giving the possibility to continue towards the Mollays and Barmus chalets.)
The summer paths to the other lakes at altitude are not suitable for winter hiking.
The Loriaz hut, ( open for takeaways during the holiday period, ) is a good option for those seeking a bit of altitude and excellent views. Keep to the forest track, there and back, as the summer path that branches of right just above the Granges is not to be recommended.
Flégère, there and back, from the Chamonix golf club is also feasible, but it is not recommended to go further, as the terrain is not very suitable for snowshoeing.
The Chailloux chalets are also accessible, starting from Bettey and the Plan de la Cry.
Snowshoers can go up the pistes at Le Tour and Prarion but be aware that there will be a lot of ski tourers about.
If you have doubts about a route, do not hesitate to contact Chamoniarde for advice. Many of the well-known summer paths are not practical in winter.
With this atypical winter, it has been difficult to collect information on conditions The Office de Haute Montagne/Chamoniarde is counting on you to report your experiences, either directly or through the online route book. (notre cahier de course en ligne.)