Report: 27 July 2023

La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 27 July 2023

Just a few bits of info before the weekend.
Not much has changed in the high mountains, apart from a small snow fall in the middle of this week (whitened ground up to 2300m, between 10 and 30cm above that depending on altitude and sector). The rock has been plastered and is gradually drying out (at this time of year, it's slower on the N faces) but it could snow again tomorrow, Saturday, with the passage of a new rainstorm. These spells of snow will allow the snow routes that were still being done to continue.
Generally speaking, the glaciers and rimayes are still going well, even if it's the end for most of the technical mixed routes.
In short, we've had much worse conditions for the end of July, and we are fine about that!

Le Tour

All's well except that the 10cm of snow that fell has already melted and we now have to concentrate on Chardonnay (wine) as the Chardonnet (mountain) is finished.

Argentière Glacier
Access to the hut via the ladders (2 rungs missing but not a problem). Access is possible via the glacier but it's more tricky so only for those who know how to get out of the labyrinth.
There’s climbing in the sun up here!


Everything's good in this sector! Stay tuned for a possible closure of the refuge for a few days next week due to a technical problem.

Talèfre / Leschaux

Normal route and S ridge of the Moine: nothing to report

Some of the rimayes are starting to suffer and you often have to fiddle around and be a bit daring (climb down and back up) to get over them (Contamine, Nonne-Evêque).

No one on the Moine ridge still (apart from some rock-hunters who didn't make it to the summit a fortnight ago). The rimaye is gaping and seems to be the crux of the route.

Pointe Isabelle is still a decent route.

The N face of the Grandes Jorasses is once again quite white...

Envers des Aiguilles / Requin

No changes here either.

Most recent feedback (last weekend), you had to pass between the rocks on the descent of the Nantillons glacier. We'll have to keep an eye on this as the temperatures drop, but it doesn't look too good.

The glacier de l'Envers du Plan to climb to the eponymous aiguille is still ok.

The traverse of the Jorasses can still be considered when weather conditions allow (normal route still in good condition). The Arêtes de Rochefort and Dent du Géant are still being done a lot (take care when accessing the Salle à Manger).

The S faces of the Tacul satellites have dried out, but watch out for the new snow forecast.

Vallée Blanche traverse: OK.

Aiguille du Midi

The Trois Monts route was retracked yesterday (around 20cm of fresh snow on Maudit) in conditions unchanged from our 21/07 update.

The S faces are dry, with just a little snow on the ledges.

Plan de l'Aiguille

All's well except for the situation on the Nantillons glacier (see Envers sector), which needs to be monitored. If you are doing the traverse of the Aiguilles you should descend down the Blaitière abseils.

The Grands Mulets refuge has closed for the season a few days early!

Mont Blanc via the Aiguille du Goûter

A burst of snow and a drop in temperature that's reassuring! No abnormal rockfalls in the Goûter couloir. Crampons now stay on for the ascent to the Goûter hut after the snow fall. Good conditions for the end of July!

Miage / Bionnassay

Still great conditions on the traverse of the Dômes and the Aiguille du Bionnassay.

Gonella / Monzino

The Gonella refuge closes on 30/08 (winter room open with mattresses and blankets). For the moment, the Dôme glacier is still a good route to the Piton des Italiens. There is still some activity on the Tournette spur in decent conditions.

The S ridge of the Peuterey Noire is dry. Quite a few people on the Ratti Vitale this year (access is now via the Col de l'Innominata).
Access to the Eccles bivi is still OK via the glacier. No one on the “grandes courses" (Innominata, Freney, Intégrale) recently because of the weather.

Translated with permission from an original report by La Chamoniarde.

Readers are reminded that conditions in mountain environments are prone to (sometimes rapid) change and that they should use their own best judgement when visiting them.




Winners Announced in 2022/23 Alpine Club Photography Competition

Winners Announced in 2022/23 Alpine Club Photography Competition

There was a good entry for this year's photo competition with 113 images submitted over the four different categories.

AC member John Cleare, an internationally renowned professional photographer specialising in mountains and landscapes, was the judge, and he selected the following winners in each category:


Alpine Climbing 

'Approaching the NW summit of Mount Waddington, Canadian Coast Range' by Simon Richardson


AC Gatherings

'Regrouping on the Windjoch en route to the Nadelhorn' by Nathan Moore


Mountain Landscape

'Sgurr a' Mhadaidh Ruaidh, Trotternish, Skye' by Andrew Moore


The Unusual 

'Lac Noir, summit fishing with Mont Blanc in view' by Tim MacLean


John chose another nine very strong entries, which together with the four category winners will feature in the 2024 Alpine Club calendar. Details on this will follow. 

There will also be an exhibition of the entries at Charlotte Road from early September to mid-November 2023.

Many thanks to all those members who submitted entries and congratulations to our four category winners.




Report: 21 July 2023

La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 21 July 2023

As anticipated in our last update, a rather exceptional southwesterly weather system (high temperatures, strong winds, poor refreezing) has been in place over the massif for the past week. This has slowed down activity and dried out the high mountains, particularly the snow routes (given initial feedback, it could have been a lot worse).

Because of the low level of activity, we don't have much recent information and you'll have to ‘go see' when the weather permits to see how a lot of the routes are doing! There's still a bit of wind forecast at altitude over the next few days, and the weather isn't exactly perfect, but there are still some slots up for grabs!

Here's some information sector by sector:

Le Tour

It's still OK for the classics. However, it's the end of the road for the Aiguille du Chardonnet: the descent has become very problematic at the Col Adams Reilly rimaye (several rescues).


It's the end of the road for snow routes except for the Col du Tour Noir.

The arête du Jardin (Aiguille d'Argentière) can be considered for experienced climbers if the descent times are respected (bivouac recommended on the arête).

Rock climbing remains the main activity.


The glacier to get to the Drus is still OK (the ascent track is rejoined on the descent after abseiling): one team yesterday on the Contamine.

Unlike last year, the “roture” (gap between snow and rock) on the Evêque is easy to climb.

Access to the Flammes de Pierres via the fixed ropes ("Passage des guides") is not easy this year and it is better to use the 3 pitches on the “roche moutonnee” ( 

Talèfre Basin

As a reminder, access to the Couvercle refuge is only possible via the ladders at the foot of the Moine. The moraine below Les Egralets is very poor.

You can climb on the Moine (normal route, S ridge, Contamine: deep gap between snow and rock), La Nonne, L'Evêque, behind the refuge...

Quite a lot of (soft) snow and big cornices at the top of the Moine arête, which has not been climbed in its entirety.

Curtains for the Droites, the Courtes... Still a few people on the Pointe Isabelle but the end is approaching (the big crevasse is opening up, 10m of ice on the steep bit).


There are still climbers regularly on the Walker on the N face of the Jorasses, which is in good condition, as is the descent via the normal route (a serac fell from the top and cut the track).

The glacier leading to the Petites Jorasses is still easy.

The balcony path is dry.

Envers des Aiguilles / Requin

No particular problems in this sector apart from a major rock fall at the start of the season at the bottom of the 3rd Pointe des Nantillons (route L'homme du Rio Grande").

The rimaye for the République/Grepon Mer de Glace is still going well.

There have been few changes to the descent of Les Nantillons since this report in our cahier de course.


The access to the Salle à Manger is now completely dry. If you stay on the route, it's fine. Otherwise it's very loose. There are still teams on the Dent du Géant and the Rocheforts Arête. A few brave souls on the Jorasses traverse and the Hirondelles Arête (the first 150 metres of the ridge are tricky because of a recent rockfall).

Conditions are no longer good for the Kuffner (overhanging rimaye + dry ridge) and the traverse of the Aiguilles du Diable (dry access couloir + rockfalls).

Nothing to report concerning the rimayes on the satellites, apart from a serac fall that has affected access to the Pyramide du Tacul (ice blocks) but which is still passable.

Traversing the Vallée Blanche is fine. 

Aiguille du Midi

The steep part of the Aiguille du Midi ridge is ice (steps are forming but you need to know how to use crampons well). The rimaye is starting to open up.
It's the end for the Triangle du Tacul and Midi-Plan (except for teams leaving early for the Chamonix Aiguilles traverse: descent via the Blaitière abseils).
The Cosmiques arête is very dry. Ice on the access to the first peak on the Lachenal traverse.
The Tacul is still passable but is not at its best: crevasses are opening up and several seracs have been rather active over the last few weeks (with no consequences for the moment).
There is no ice on the Col du Mont Maudit, but two ice axes are handy. On the way down, a 60m abseil is required. It is also possible to go via the summit of Maudit and the finishing ridge of the Kuffner to get back to the normal route lower down (1 step to cross a rimaye, no ice or abseiling).
The rimaye on the Contamine route on the S face of Les Lachenal is beginning to open up.

Plan de l'Aiguille
You can climb wherever you like.
Crampons are still needed for access to the Gendarme rouge on the Peigne (watch out for the “roture” - gap between snow and rock), the Grutter arête, the red pillar on the Blaitière and even the normal route on the Peigne when there is a freeze.

There's climbing around the Cordier pillar (watch out for stuck ropes on the way down). As long as the Nantillons glacier is OK , so is the Charmoz-Grepon!

Mont Blanc via the Grands Mulets
Almost no man's land!

Mont Blanc via the Aiguille du Goûter
Despite the unusual weather, conditions are holding up for now. There's still a bit of snow in the Goûter couloir and few rockfalls if you go at the right time of day (watch this space). Some slots are opening up on the Dome du Goûter but nothing too serious.

Miage Bionnassay
Conditions are still pretty good on the traverse of the Aiguille de Bionnassay (wide arête with snow). A few sections of both rock and ice on the Piton des Italiens.
The traverse of the Dômes de Miage is holding up well (no ice on the ridge or on the slope above the Col de la Bérangère). Still some snow patches on the descent between the Bérangère and the Conscrits hut making this easier.
The lower slopes are dry but we're still okay on Mont Tondu.

Monzino Sector

You can climb the Aiguille Croux, Punta Innominata, Ratti Vitale to the Aiguille Noire de Peuterey.

Access to the Eccles is still OK with a freeze.

Access to the Pilier Rouge du Brouillard (particularly on the way back if you don't go up to Mont Blanc) is becoming more complicated (watch this space). The most recent info is that the Col Eccles went very well (without abseiling).

It remains to be seen whether the Innominata has withstood the heat. The last feedback was that there is a tricky ice section on the Brouillard ridge, but it could be avoided.

Most of the footpaths are now dry.

Crampons are less and less useful on the Aiguilles Rouges to access the routes.

Translated with permission from an original report by La Chamoniarde.

Readers are reminded that conditions in mountain environments are prone to (sometimes rapid) change and that they should use their own best judgement when visiting them.




Report: 17 July 2023

La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 17 July 2023

An update on conditions up high which are being seriously affected by the strong south-westerly wind.

Even if the sun is shining (except sometimes on the high summits) the wind has been blowing hard since Saturday above 3500m (more than 100 km/h), and is expected to continue until Wednesday inclusive (possible closure of the Midi cable car).

The isotherm is above 4000m.

As a result, refreezing is mediocre below 4000m and there is little activity due to the storm at altitude. It’s advisable to consider rock routes not too high up for the next few days and above all avoid starting on routes where it will be difficult to retreat.

Snow conditions are likely to change quickly and for the worse and may no longer correspond to our report of 13 July. More information is expected when the weather settles down and we can go back up to altitude (we are waiting for your feedback).

Maybe it’s time for crag climbing.



Translated with permission from an original report by La Chamoniarde.

Readers are reminded that conditions in mountain environments are prone to (sometimes rapid) change and that they should use their own best judgement when visiting them.




Report: 13 July 2023

La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 13 July 2023

The dreaded heatwave has arrived, with the expected consequences: rock falls have started, the mountains are drying out and some glaciers are beginning to open up...

To see the glass as half full (it's always better), these temperatures are good news for hikers, who can now enjoy almost all the routes with dry feet. Only a few areas above 2400m remain tricky: see the dedicated article.

Getting back to the high mountains, in addition to the heat, it's blowing hard and a freeze is having trouble establishing itself these days. 

Le Tour 

Only a tiny névé left on the ascent to the refuge. The classics are still being climbed in good conditions: Aiguille du Tour via the Arête de la Table and normal route, Tête Blanche, Petite Fourche. It's getting tricky on the Chardonnet, where ice is emerging little by little on the “bosse". On the descent, the Col Adam Reilly rimaye has collapsed and longer abseils are needed (allow 50m) on the left bank, which involves a tricky traverse. 


No choice but to use the ladders to access the basin! Be careful at the foot of the ladders: unstable rock. A new fixed rope is in place to cross the snow slope behind (good path). Soon there'll be nothing but rock to get your teeth into up here! The Glacier du Milieu on the Aiguille d'Argentière is now reserved for experienced climbers. About ten metres of rock in the ‘narrows", with a 25m abseil to cross on the way down. The Jardin arête on the Aiguille d'Argentière can still be considered in decent condition (snow everywhere for bivouacs), but the Flèche Rousse and Charlet-Straton arêtes, as well as the Whymper route, are now finished.


Everything's good around the new hut! The American Direct is still busy (watch out for falling rocks in the current heat - there's snow in the niche) and the Drus traverse is still here (there's still a bit of snow to reach the Flammes de Pierres arête). The Contamine route on the Grand Dru is dry, with the exception of a small steep névé before the "characteristic roofs" of pitch 14, for which crampons may be useful when leading. On the abseils of the Grand Dru, one belay is under the snow. 

Talèfre Basin

The Moine is being done by all routes. Everything is good, except for the Contamine-Labrunie rimaye, which is starting to open up. We'll say it again: it's all over for the Whymper and the S couloir on the Col Armand Charlet. The Arête du Jardin is still possible but is reserved for very good climbers. The Moine arête has not yet been done, so we're still waiting for motivated climbers to take it on! The Droites have dried out and some of the teams who set out for the traverse have turned back. Good climbers who can keep to schedule might consider the Courtes traverse. Pointe Isabelle is still all snow, with the exception of the mixed section, which is dry but goes fine. 

Finally, the balcony path to the Leschaux is virtually dry, with only the occasional snow patch remaining.

Leschaux Sector

Apart from the Eboulement where the SW couloir is finished, the classic routes in the area are in good condition. This is particularly true of the approaches to the Aiguille de Leschaux and the W face of the Petites Jorasses. On the Grandes, the Walker is being done. When temperatures are high, a lot of water flows under the triangular nevé and into the red chimneys. The advantage is that if you want to see the glass completely full, all you have to do is hold it out! For the descent via the normal route, the snow is fine and the crampons are taken off at the Boccalate. 

Envers des Aiguilles / Requin

No significant changes in the sector since the last updates: the rimayes are all relatively easy. To get up to the Requin, it's still on the left or right bank, then you have to descend into a blocked crevasse before finding some brand new ladders (9m)! The Chapeau à Cornes Ridge on the Dent du Requin, the Ryan Ridge and the normal route on the Aiguille Pierre Allain are busy: good conditions. Beware of the torrents for the access to Congo Star, go early. The ascent of the Vallée Blanche is still fine. 


The Kuffner rimaye has collapsed and the ridge has dried out a lot: good conditions are no longer there! Conditions were a little better for the Diable Traverse although the access couloir is far from ideal (sections of loose rock, watch out for the teams below!) and you absolutely need a good refreeze to cross it. Then it's all good. There is climbing on all the satellites of the Tacul (although beware of possible instabilities at the bottom of the Bettembourg-Thivierge at Pointe Adolphe Rey). Otherwise, the classic mountaineering routes in the area are being done (Tour Ronde via the SE ridge and back, Entrèves, Toule, Flambeaux, Marbrées, etc.) For access to the Dent du Géant, the first rimaye is starting to cause problems: prefer a passage via the rocks on the right bank (on the left as you climb up). Good conditions and plenty of people for the Rochefort - Jorasses traverse. For the descent see the Leschaux report.

Aiguille du Midi 

After the Mallory, it's now the end for the Frendo and therefore the routes on the N face of the Aiguille du Midi. A little above, Midi-Plan is still passable, although some of the sections are dry and make the route a little more technical than usual. Some teams on the Chamonix aiguilles traverse, done in good conditions: a few short passages on ice, otherwise snow on the N faces and dry on the S faces. There's snow to make water at the Col du Caïman bivouac. For the descent, the Spencer is dry and loose: prefer abseiling (x5) via the spur on the left bank. To get back to the Col du Midi, you can still climb just about everywhere on rock, but it's getting late for the mixed routes and gullies on the Triangle du Tacul. Serac falls have been observed on the N face of Mont Blanc du Tacul. The Trois Monts can still be climbed by those with good crampon skills (plan to abseil 2x50m or 2 ice axes for the descent from the Col du Mont Maudit).

Plan de l'Aiguille

Little has changed in this sector since the last update. However, beware of the Nantillons glacier, which is getting worse by the day: plan to get there early! 

Mont Blanc via the Grands Mulets

Not many people left in the area, the Jonction still passes through a few zig zags, then there are a few traces of snow below the refuge and finally the N ridge is ice. All good above!

Mont Blanc via the Goûter

Not much change here either: the sentier des Rognes is still covered in snow and is not a shortcut at the moment! The runnels in the Goûter couloir still mean that you lose time crossing it, but there is now a good track. Of course, the current temperatures mean that there are more rockfalls: get there early and of course be careful! Above the Dôme du Goûter, conditions remain good, although there are some crevasses to negotiate on the N face of the Dôme du Goûter.

Dômes de Miage / Bionassay

From now on, we won't be walking in the snow at all to get up to the Conscrits! It rained all the way to the top of the Dômes last night, but conditions remain good on the traverse. Still OK at the Bérangère and Mont Tondu, although it's starting to open up after the col below the Pyramide Chaplan. It's all over for Tré-la-Tête and the Mettrier arête. The conditions are still good for the traverse of the Aiguille de Bionnassay.

Gonella / Aiguilles Grises

Little change, watch out for the freeze...


Provided the freeze is good, good conditions around here! Pilier Rouge du Brouillard, Innominata, Central Pillar of Freney... are regularly climbed! On the Peuterey Ridge: a few snow patches allow you to make water before the bivouac at the summit of the Noire. More snow at the Dames Anglaises bivouac. Lots of snow from the Blanche onwards, but all goes well. 



Translated with permission from an original report by La Chamoniarde.

Readers are reminded that conditions in mountain environments are prone to (sometimes rapid) change and that they should use their own best judgement when visiting them.




Expedition Essentials for Women Explorers: Tips for Expeditions

In January this year, the Alpine Club, in partnership with the Mount Everest Foundation, the BMC and Montane, hosted ‘Expedition Essentials for Women Explorers’. This first-of-its-kind event, located at Plas y Brenin, was attended by 45 delegates alongside 20 speakers, organisers and sponsor representatives.

All of the obvious expedition information and skills were covered; with advice on destination selection, maps and communication devices, what to eat before and on the trip and greener travel options. Perhaps less obvious were the discussions on how to manage periods and personal hygiene and understanding how to deal with the effects of menopause. There were a series of workshops on how to manage the psychological aspects of being on an expedition, staying safe in remote areas, what to do in an emergency and how to plan a ski expedition.

One of the highlights of the weekend was Paul Ramsden’s session in which he shared his top tips for a hardcore (or not so hardcore) Himalayan expedition. In his talk, Paul managed to perfectly distill the key elements that help lead to happy and successful expeditions. These principles will be useful to anyone planning an expedition, regardless of gender, and are summarised below:

1. Make it about the journey.

You won’t always come away from an expedition with exactly what you planned, but you’ll come away much happier if you’ve spent time somewhere you wanted to visit and kept yourself open to options beyond your primary objective.


2. It’s as tough as you want to make it.

You don’t have to be pushing the limits of the possible to have an enjoyable and worthwhile expedition.


3. If you want to be ‘looked after’, then do so.

It’s about what you want to get out of an expedition and, if the harder elements of basecamp life aren’t something you’re excited for, go to the places where you can employ someone to take them off your hands, such as India or Nepal.


Paul on the way to the Summit of Nyainqentanglha South-East, Photo: Nick Bullock


4. If you can climb VDiff in the rain, navigate in bad weather and understand the basics of crevasse rescue, that is a better test of your capability on an expedition than climbing an E5.

Those bad weather days out in the UK hills often prove to be invaluable experiences, not just traumatic ones. Being able to climb hard in perfect conditions often proves less valuable than being able to get by in bad ones.


5. Choose your partner(s) carefully – trusting them, having a similar sense of humor and shared goals are all more important than being the best mountaineer.

Don’t ignore the personal/human elements. After all, you’ll be sharing a tent with your partner(s) for weeks at a time. Be aware of how situations of stress can affect yourself and your companions and know how to manage them.


6. Research well - Read expedition reports, find out what other people did, (and what they failed on), look at maps.

Journals, the Himalayan Index and report archives like the MEF’s have a wealth of information just waiting to be discovered. Often report writers go above and beyond, drawing their own maps and spotlighting areas where there are potential new routes. For less well-documented areas, Google Earth is brilliant!


Location Finding, Photo: Nick Bullock


7. Allow enough time. 3-4 weeks minimum - maybe more if your objective is over 6,000m.

Weather windows are fickle things. By going for longer, you increase your chances of finding one and you also build slack into the system in case of unexpected problems. Taking a few extra days to acclimatise is a lot less stressful if you have a week to spare and it will get you into better condition for a successful attempt.


8. Put the date in the diary 12-18 months ahead - get others to prepare for you being away.

A month away is a long time. The further in advance you can get things rolling, the less stressful things will be in the period immediately before you depart. Childcare, work and family responsibilities may all need to be handed over to others. This can be mentally and physically prepared for well ahead of departure.


9. Careful what you eat and drink on the way in.

No one wants to abandon an ascent because of an upset stomach, but it happens. Even if you don’t have to bail, sickness will still make the experience less enjoyable overall. Enjoy the local culinary experience on your way home.


10. Acclimatise carefully.

Take your time and you’ll be in better shape higher up. Paul thought ascending slowly and sleeping high, worked best.


Paul descending from Jugal Spire, Photo: Tim Miller


11. Plan your route.

Draw a topo for your intended line, mark on suitable camp or bivouac locations. Consider your descent. Pick objectively safe routes, always remembering that gullies & snow slopes are prone to avalanches and serac fall. Buttress routes are safest.


12. Take a small, lightweight tent.

The difference in weight is more than made up for by the added comfort you get compared to a bivvy bag.


13. If you’re planning a technical route, wear boots warmer than you think you might need. Your toes will thank you!


14. Don’t climb into the dark - stop at 3PM.

You need at least two hours of daylight to set up a camp, melt snow and cook your dinner. Not only does this help to avoid epics and accidents, but it gives you time to rest and recuperate properly in the evening, setting you up far better for the next day.


The vital hanging stove set up, Photo: Paul Ramsden


15. Buy and know how to use a hanging stove.

The weather may preclude cooking outside the tent, so a hanging stove is essential. Practice ahead of time! Pans are very easy to drop and you don’t want to get it wrong at 6,000m!


16. Think about taking a snow hammock if doing a long, steep route.

The many and varied benefits of a comfortable night’s sleep should not be underestimated! A snow hammock is a reliable way of making a decent sleeping platform where otherwise you’d be looking at a cold night sat on a bum-sized ledge.


A Freshly Stamped Snow Hammock Ledge, Photo: Tim Miller


17. Things will break.

Take repair tape with you and use it as needed. Green Betrafol / Rissan tape is a good choice.


Summary by Adéle Long


This article first appeared in the Summer 2023 Alpine Club Newsletter. The Newsletter is published three times a year and, alongside regular trip reports, cultural highlights and news about the Alpine Club, it also features articles on mountain medicine, environmental issues and mountaineering skills. Members receive print copies as part of their membership, but digital copies are also made available to the public via our website with a delay of one issue.




Report: 7 July 2023

La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 7 July 2023

The summer continues - so far we have been spared the heat... An initial period of heat seems to be looming this weekend (isotherm above 4000m, thunderstorms?..). Despite this, conditions are drying out in the high mountains, although a large number of snow routes are still possible provided there are good refreezing conditions (watch out for what happens this weekend...) Naturally, we will be gradually moving towards rock climbing. Be careful, it snowed in the thunderstorms on the south side two days ago and the rock may be plastered.

There hasn't been much change since last week, but here's some brief information area by area (if nothing is specified, it means there have been no changes since our last bulletin). Don't hesitate to give the guardians a call to get the latest information on the route you're planning! And don't forget to give us your feedback once you've downed the beer(s)!

Le Tour

There are a few bits of névé on the way to the refuge, but these are not a problem for most hikers!

It's the end for the Migot spur: the last attempts failed at the rimaye.The Forbes Arête is still in decent condition. The rimaye at Col Adam Reilly is in bad shape. Nothing to report on other routes.

Argentière Glacier

Following a breakdown, the Plan Joran gondola has reopened.

Some people are still using the left bank of the glacier to avoid the ladders, but this may change.

The route via the ladders is also popular. To get back on the glacier, you have to descend a very steep section of snow. A fixed rope is in place under the snow. It is possible to abseil from a bolt at the top. 

Rock routes are getting a lot of traffic (Charlet-Straton, Jardin etc)!

One team has climbed the Grands Montets ridge. Quite a few sections of bad rock. The alternative route to avoid the Pointe Ségogne was not/is no longer possible (loose rock, landslide). On the calotte, there are some very steep rimayes to climb (bring two ice axes). They tried the descent via the Moine ridge (untracked, too much snow). They reached the Whymper but it was a bit late and it felt like the end anyway.


There are still climbers on the American Direct (beware of the heatwave and falling rock fall).

The window of opportunity for the Drus traverse is here (still a bit snowy). The Contamine on the Grand Dru has been climbed (still névé on the route). The glacier is fine.

Talèfre Basin

An attempt to descend the Moine Arête (by a team coming up from the Grand Montets) was abandoned because of the snow and lack of knowledge of the route. It might work for other climbers who know the route. This is the end for the Whymper. The Jardin Arête would be climbable, but there's then the problem of the descent. We're in a bit of a pickle when it comes to all the snow routes (Droites, Courtes), a good freexe is vital and that you're a good climber. However, conditions are no longer optimal.

Moine (S ridge, normal route, Contamine), None-Evêque OK.

Pointe Isabelle is ok if it freezes. 


New website for the refuge!

Top conditions on the W face of the Petites Jorasses (glacier ok, dry rock).

Alert: The Walker spur on the N face of the Jorasses is in (optimal) condition. Dry rock up to the triangular névé, winter conditions above. Beware of overcrowding!

For the motivated, the Brèche des Périades is still a possibility.

Envers des Aiguilles / Requin

The climbing season is in full swing! No particular problems with rimayes or anything else!

The snow is disappearing on the way up to the Envers hut.

Grepon-Mer de Glace and the other routes are OK.

It's complicated to get to the foot of the Ryan Arête (some find it, others don't!). The start is a wet 4c crack. Access also possible from the Requin!

Access to the Requin via the Mer de Glace on the left or right bank is possible.

The Envers du Plan glacier is still accessible (right bank). As for the lower part, following several route finding mistakes, the guardian has drawn up a small sketch for you (see photo below).

Dent du Requin & Aiguille Pierre Alain OK

People are still going up (and down) the Vallée Blanche!


Arête de Jetoula: snow approach to the start of the couloir. All dry. New tat on the abseil points. A little snow on the way to the summit of the Marbrées.

Rochefort-Jorasses traverse: Good general conditions. Access to the Salle à Manger is drying out, a few rockfalls after the 1st couloir.

Rochefort arête: very good conditions.

Pointe Young is dry except for the last 2 pitches where there is still a little snow (climbing with crampons). The couloir below the brèche de la Pointe Marguerite is full of snow. After Pointe Croz, it's all snow: a narrow ridge at first, then a bit easier. Descent via the normal route in good conditions.

Rochers de Reposoir: mixed (snow/rock). Glacier well filled-in with snow but a few large snow bridges to watch out for below the Reposoir. A few teams also on the Hirondelles arête.

Kuffner Arête: continues to dry out. A good refreeze is absolutely essential.

Aiguilles du Diable traverse: access couloir: snow at the bottom, rubble/snow at the top. Good conditions once on the ridge, then poor mixed conditions again on the exit to the Tacul.

Aiguille du Midi

Conditions remain good overall, but the route to Tacul - Maudit - Mont Blanc is becoming increasingly technical: it hasn't snowed recently and you need to be comfortable with cramponing. There are still a few ice blocks falling from the seracs on Tacul. Two ice axes may be useful for the Col du Mont Maudit (particularly on the descent if you want to avoid abseiling, as there is no fixed rope in place).

The traverse of the Vallée Blanche changes according to the snow bridges, but is still OK. 

Plan de l'Aiguille

Grutter: ice axes/crampons for the approach, then it's all dry!

Crampons still needed for access to the main sectors (Peigne, Pilier Rouge etc).

The Nantillons glacier is holding its own!

Crampons no longer needed for the Frête des Charmoz (dry descent).

Mont Blanc via the Grands Mulets

It's all dry from the Plan de l'Aiguille. You can cross the Jonction, you’ll just have to find the right way! A little snow as far as the refuge. Ice on the N ridge of the Dôme (take two ice axes). The plateaux route is also passable. Peace and quiet guaranteed. Climbing the N ridge and descending Trois Monts can be a great combo for those with the necessary skills.

Mont Blanc via the Aiguille du Goûter

The "Sentier des Rognes" is still very snowy.

The conditions in the Goûter couloir are not changing in a good way: big runnels, rock falls during the day or when the freeze is poort. Watch this space! In any event, you'll have to get there early and be careful. It is possible (and advisable) to clip the cable by taking the lower route.

Above, the conditions are still good. The section on the N face around the crevasse on the Bosses ridge is fine.

Dômes de Miage/Bionnassay

Good conditions on Mont Tondu, the Aiguille de la Bérangère, the Dômes de Miage traverse (also fine as a there and back) and the traverse of the Aiguille de Bionnassay. People on the traverse of the Aiguilles de Tré la Tête, but no info at present. Two ice axes recommended for the Mettrier Arête. The summer path to the Conscrits hut is almost completely dry.


Good conditions overall, but still exposed to seracs on one section. Ascent to the Col de Bionnassay fine.


Still a little snow on the S ridge of the Aiguille Noire de Peuterey.

Ratti-Vitale: access to the Freney Glacier via the col Brogliata (15m abseil), the glacier is easy and the bridges seem solid. Rimaye ok (big snow bollard). The route is dry.

The Col Eccles is easy to traverse.

A rockfall has affected the start of the Pilier d'Angle. A V+ pitch on the crest is necessary (good rock, a few pitons in place).

The climb up to the Eccles is still a good one (as long as it's not too warm)! Innominata possible when it refreezes.

It has snowed high up in recent thunderstorms (the Freney pillar looks very snowy, and a rope team was evacuated from Divine Providence for the same reason).



Translated with permission from an original report by La Chamoniarde.

Readers are reminded that conditions in mountain environments are prone to (sometimes rapid) change and that they should use their own best judgement when visiting them.




Johanna Merz

We are saddened to announce the death on 26 June of Johanna Merz.  She joined the club in 1986 and was Editor of the Alpine Journal from 1992 to 1998

Report: 30 June 2023

La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 30 June 2023

Fine weather is favouring activity in the high mountains, but it's all drying out fairly quickly (little rainfall, hot weather).

The glaciers and rimayes are still going well overall. On the other hand, there has been a marked increase in rockfall over the last few days (Goûter couloir, Aiguille du Midi S face, Marbrées W face, Petit Flambeau, Grand Pilier d'Angle, Whymper couloir, Chardonnet N face, Purtscheller). You're going to have to start thinking carefully when choosing your routes and, above all, keep to schedule.

The window of opportunity is closing for the major routes, but today's snow could extend the deadline.

Le Tour

Not much has changed around here. As far as the access path is concerned, there are still one or two névés coming from Charamillon and then the snow slope below the refuge.

Above the refuge, you run into snow fairly quickly. The Col Supérieur du Tour is still easy.

Two rockslides on the S face of the Aiguille du Purtscheller cut off the normal route to the Aiguille du Tour (a route around the area has since been redone). These rockslides do not affect the Purtscheller S ridge.

Still a lot of people on the classics (Aiguille du Tour via the Table ridge and the normal route, Tête Blanche and Petite Fourche).

The Forbes arête is still being climbed. The Migot spur is drying out more and more (rock falls in the lower section). The descent couloir is still covered in snow. The abseils start above the col Adams Reilly. The glacier below is still passable.

Argentière Glacier

The Plan Joran gondola will be opening continuously every day on Saturday 1 July.

Access to the refuge is still via the left bank and then by crossing to the right bank before the refuge. It is also possible to climb the ladders, but there is still snow.

The Whymper route and Glacier du Milieu (Aiguille d'Argentière) are still passable as is the Col du Tour Noir.

The Flèche Rousse ridge has dried out nicely, especially the access slope to the ridge (beware of rock falls, so arrive early). It's almost the end.

Arête du Jardin in very good condition (some snow for water supply).

Co du Tour Noir OK.

The Col des Cristaux is still snow-covered and possible (watch out for rock falls).

Tournier spur on the Droites in generally good condition. The key pitch after the Château is dry but can be bypassed by two pitches of IV+/V. Tricky route finding in the mixed ground at the top.

As announced last week, it's over for the Couturier. Apparently no-ones done the Grands Montets ridge (probably still snow on the northerly aspects).

The rock routes are all dry - tip top! 


Opening of the new Charpoua refuge on Saturday 1 July!

The bivouac sites around the Charpoua are still deep in snow and water. There is currently only one dry spot.

Access path: a few névés, including 2 steep ones under the west couloir of the Moine.

The Glacier de la Charpoua is currently well filled in. There are still some névés on the Drus, and there’s water streaming down the various routes on the south face. A team failed on the Trident route on the south face of the Grand Dru. There's still quite a bit of snow on the way to the Flammes de Pierre col (Drus traverse).

Several teams have returned from the American Direct, which is said to be in good condition at the moment.

Aiguille du Moine: 1 team up Sale Athée and 1 on the Druide route.

There’s climbing on the Flammes de Pierre. Access by the fixed ropes not good, to be avoided.

Talèfre Basin

No snow on the access path.

The normal route on the Moine has dried out nicely, with a few small névés left (but take your crampons with you all the way to the top).

The E face of Le Moine will be fine: rimaye OK, lower pitches dry, maybe a few névés that can be avoided.

Traversée Nonne-Evêque: OK, rasoir and descent dry, an abseil to pass the rimaye on the way down.

Conditions are deteriorating on the Whymper - Col Armand Charlet - and the Arête du Jardin start couloir. The rimaye is more and more open. A good refreeze is imperative, as is a good level of mountaineering.

The secondary Whymper couloir is dry: technical and rocky (be careful even on the descent). The rest of the route is well covered in snow.

Two pitches of gully after the rimaye on the Col Armand Charlet.

Arête du Jardin: tricky rimaye, snowy couloir, tricky descent!

Arête du Moine: dry at the bottom, very snowy at the top, no one there yet.

Normal route on the Droites: this is the end for the oblique couloir (gaping rimaye that can be bypassed by the rocks on the left IV, dry passages in the couloir). You must therefore take the original route via the slopes coming out of the Col des Droites. Climb to the eastern summit OK, good track. Lots of snow on the ridge + cornices. The abseil from the brèche is clear but there is a lot of sand (which damages the descenders).

It's drying out on the Courtes normal route and especially on the traverse (photo above). Be particularly careful on the descent into the couloir below the Aiguille Croulante, which continues to crumble.

Pointe Isabelle: OK, no ice, the large crevasse is still crossable on the left (1m step). 


"The snow has taken a serious beating! Dry rock: Pierre à Joseph, Petites Jorasses, Aiguille de Leschaux...

The Grandes Jorasses is slowly drying out, but we'll have to be patient for the Walker spur, otherwise there's no activity.

The Mont Mallet glacier has been tracked as far as the Brèche des Périades: nothing to report. 

The balcony path to the Couvercle is quite well traversed, with good tracks over the névés, but crampons and ice axes are useful in the morning.

Petites Jorasses, Anouk route: third pitch has partly collapsed but it's not too much of a problem. Still wet in places.

Contamine route in great conditions, all dry.

Envers des Aiguilles

There’s climbing everywhere!

Grepon-Mer de Glace: The rimaye goes well to the right as does the passage to get back onto the rock. Sometimes there's a bit of snow on the ledges, but it doesn't get in the way. Watch out for the snow banks when crossing to the left at the Tour Rouge: "On Wednesday, one broke off above us at around 6am". Descent via the Nantillons glacier: a bit of ice at the top, but the glacier runs smoothly. The rocks are starting to fall (descend early).

A few teams on the normal route of the Aiguille de la République. More gas at the Tour Rouge hut! Warning: 10m missing from the bottom of the fixed ropes leading to the hut.

The arête Ryan has been climbed (two ice axes required). The approach from the Requin is fine with a good freeze. More snow in the couloir then dry rock. Descent from Aiguille du Plan to Requin in good condition.

Requin Hut

Dry rock and ascent of the VB still OK! 


Few changes in the area. Still a lot of people on the classics.

Dent du Géant / Rochefort arête: the climb to the Salle à Manger is drying out, so be careful not to be too late and be careful in the dry sections. A bit of ice on the Rochefort ridge but fixed rope in place.

Still no one on the Jorasses traverse. Teams on the Hirondelles arête with a descent via the normal route, but no further information.

Marbrées and Aiguilles d'Entrêves traverse: lots of people and lots of activity in the sector! "Marbrées, full traverse, small rockfall (3m x 2m?) below the South summit at the foot of the cracks, just below the bolt and ring. It's still Ok but earthy... At the foot of the classic abseils, a tower is also moving near the rimaye right bank".

There was also a rockfall on the Petit Flambeau, but this did not affect the routes.

Tour Ronde: the end of the Gervasutti couloir. No news from the N face except that there's more ice. Full SE ridge and Freshfield col still OK. The winter “normal route" is no longer recommended (boulder falls)!

Kuffner arête: the rimaye is deteriorating (1.5-2 m very steep) and is not expected to last very long. It has dried a lot below the Androsace, but conditions are better above. Be careful, the track passed right over the cornice in several places a few days ago.

Crossing the Arêtes du Diable: Good conditions but lots of (too many?) people.

Climbing on the satellites is fine.

The traverse of the Vallée Blanche is still OK.

Aiguille du Midi

Still lots of people on the Trois Monts (read a review here). However, frequent serac falls on Thursday afternoon at the top of the Tacul (photo below) cut the route.

Lots of people on the Cosmiques arête. Pointes Lachenal: it's better to go around the final chimney to the right.

The goulottes du Triangle (Negri, Grisolle, Chéré) are still possible, with ice here and there.

The Midi-Plan ridge is in good condition but it is better to start from the refuge. If you use the first lift, it's very (too) soft on the way back (small slides). The descent to the Requin via the Envers du Plan glacier is still going well.

We get a tan on the S faces (Lachenal, Eperon des Cosmiques, Aiguille du Midi). Lots of rock fall on the south face couloirs.

The Gervasutti pillar has been climbed, with good conditions in the upper mixed section for the time being, but watch out when the going gets tough (every year many teams are rescued!). 

Plan de l'Aiguille

This time it's all over for the Mallory.

Frendo still ok. Right and left exits possible.

Aiguille du Peigne: crampons and ice axe still needed for the approach. Arête des Papillons and Lépidoptères dry. Normal route: 60m of snow in the couloir below the brèche.

Normal route on the Aiguille des Pélerins: dry rock, some névés not a problem, crampons and ice axe necessary for the approach.

Pilier Rouge de Blaitière: still névé for access, crampons useful in the morning.

Charmoz-Grepon has been done. Good conditions, a little snow in places. Glacier des Nantillons: a bit of outcropping ice at the top, otherwise the glacier goes well. The stones are starting to fall (descend early).

Aiguille de l'M: crampons still necessary. The Couzy route is a little damp.

Mont Blanc via the Grands Mulets

There are still a few motivated skiers but its ski carrying from the Plan de l'Aiguille to almost the Jonction (follow the summer path). Go early. It's also possible on foot and the refuge is much less crowded than those of the VN or the Cosmiques).

The junction is still OK at the bottom but the route changes quickly, with several unwelcoming snow bridges.

Arête N: two passages in ice, a fairly long one at the bottom and a shorter one at the top.

Mont Blanc via the Aiguille du Goûter

Remember, don't walk through the tunnels, take the path.

The path up to Tête Rousse is well cleared of snow. Conditions in the couloir have deteriorated: large gully + rock falls. You need to get there early (also on the way back). The cable is in place. Be careful, a large boulder hangs from the end of a cable (photo below). Good conditions thereafter.

Miage / Bionnassay

Ascent to Durier ok, leave early.

It feels like the end for the Mettrier ridge via the variant (rimaye). Full ascent still possible (gravel at the bottom, top still fairly well covered with snow).

Very good conditions on the traverse of the Aiguille de Bionnassay!

"The Refuge des Conscrits is in summer mode! Access via the summer path is almost dry, there are only a few snowdrifts left in the combes (be careful in the morning if there is a good refreeze), and the flowers and marmots are out in force! For mountaineers, conditions are very good on the routes in the sector."


Access to the refuge: the fixed ropes and anchors are badly damaged.

The track on the right bank under the Aiguille Grises calotte is very exposed to falling seracs (in fact the track passes through the debris). For the time being, we can go over to the left bank but we have to cross large snow bridges.

The access couloir to the Quintino Sella was still in good condition on 26/06.


Climbing on the Croux and the Punta Innominata! A team climbed Ratti-Vitale without any further information, but looks like lots of snow.

Above, it's very hot. Get there early to climb to the Eccles (it's already soft at 10AM). Glacier OK, but watch out for the rimaye below the bivouac. 

Some teams climbed the Innominata in good conditions: good track, stone fall risk at the bottom so leave very early.

Freney pillar and the red pillar of the Brouillard pillar (downclimb from the bivouac, glacier OK).

Bonatti-Oggioni: The 6a+ first pitch is dry. The original start is wet. There's some ice in the 5c crack of pitch 8, but it doesn't hinder the climbing and you can place ice screws. Lots of snow (soft because you can't get there early) on the exit ridge: prefer days with low altitude isotherm.

Brouillard ridge looks untracked. Aiguille Blanche, Grand Pilier d'Angle and Arête de Peuterey tracked from the Eccles with a bivouac at the col de Peuterey (here too it is essential to get to the summit early). Peuterey integral has apparently been done (no further information).

Aiguilles Rouges

Crampons and ice axes are often necessary for the approaches to the Aiguilles Rouges.

It's all dry for climbing on the Brévent or the Aiguille de Mesure.

As a reminder, due to work in the landslide zone beneath the Brévent, the area is off-limits (read the decree). For your own safety and that of the workers (falling rocks), please do not climb in the area!

No crampons are required to cross the Perrons.

For hiking information, see our latest update here!


Translated with permission from an original report by La Chamoniarde.

Readers are reminded that conditions in mountain environments are prone to (sometimes rapid) change and that they should use their own best judgement when visiting them.




Japanese Alpine Club Appoints First Woman Chair

Japanese Alpine Club Appoints First Woman Chair

On 24 June 2023, Shiori Hashimoto made history by becoming the first woman to Chair the Japanese Alpine Club (JAC). 

Shiori Hashimoto

A medical doctor and PhD, Hashimoto has blended her career and her passion for mountaineering: contributing to the International Diploma in Mountain Medicine and supporting cancer survivors who wish to climb in the mountains. 

Her mountaineering CV includes notable successes such as the 1983 first ascent of Mount Sepchukhang (5200m) in Bhutan and leading a female team to the summit of Gasherbum II (8035m) in 1988.

The Alpine Club would like to congratulate Ms. Hashimoto on her appointment and look forward to working with her during her term of office. 




Everest at the Barbican | Opera Review

Everest at the Barbican | Opera Review

An opera dramatising the 1996 Everest Disaster has had its UK premiere at The Barbican in London. Writer, mountaineer and former classical singer Kate Armstrong went along to see how Joby Talbot’s adaptation handled this oft-told tale of mountaineering tragedy.

The BBC Symphony Orchestra arrayed in black across the full stage; the diminutive white-clad figure of the conductor, Nicole Paiement; grey, stepped boxes forming the summit ridge; isolated figures in outdoor clothing; a sound of radio static, then of a moaning, whistling wind – and over, behind and around it all, the contour map of Everest and its surrounding peaks projected onto the back wall. The West Ridge. The South Col. The North Col. The Hillary Step.

Photo: Mark Allan / BBC

This is the opening of Joby Talbot’s opera Everest, based on the ‘96 disaster. The production premiered in the US in 2015, and has now reached the UK in a semi-staged production at the Barbican on 23 June.

It re-tells one of Everest’s most infamous stories – how, on 10/11 May 1996, eight climbers died high on the mountain when a storm hit during their descent. The details have been re-told and debated through at least four books, as well as six films and documentaries. An opera, though, can do something different – focusing not on the facts of the tragedy, but on conveying an emotional essence, through the medium of voice, an orchestra’s full range of colour and rhythm, and, here, a haunting and precise chorus of ‘Voices of the Dead’ – performed to perfection by the BBC Singers.

Talbot and his librettist, Gene Scheer, focus on the stories of three climbers: Rob Hall (sung by Andrew Bidlack), Doug Hansen (Craig Verm), and Beck Weathers (Daniel Okulitch). It flashes on elation at the summit and desperation on the descent, before reaching its emotional core in the much-publicised satellite phone call between Hall, dying on the South Summit, and his pregnant wife, Jan Arnold (Siân Griffiths), back in New Zealand. Further bringing out the dynamic of those left at home, Weathers’ daughter Meg (a luminously innocent Matilda McDonald) appears to him in hallucinations. There are also brief, anguished cameos from Jimmy Holliday as Guy Cotter, manning the radio from base camp, and Charles Gibbs, as Mike Groom gathering the frost-bitten Weathers into his arms in the final moments.  

Photo: Mark Allan / BBC

Photo: Mark Allan / BBC

This telling was far-removed from the media's simplistic mountaineering narratives of heroism or hubris. The rich tenor of Andrew Bidlack (Hall) soared into spellbinding elation at the mountain’s beauty as the summit panorama spooled across the backdrop, before descending into panic at the missing oxygen, and desperate loneliness as he suffers alone. Arnold’s own ascent with Hall the previous year got airspace – she was not, Siân Griffiths sang movingly as she cradled her baby bump, merely like ‘poor Ruth Mallory’ waiting for letters at home. Okulitch (a folksy American-accented Weathers) cited escaping depression as a reason to climb while Verm (Hansen) is given the least chance to express emotional range – he ‘just wants the pain of wanting this so much to go away forever.’

Behind the shifting sentiments the orchestra shimmered, whistled and growled – a constant presence of wind and cracking ice. Brass and percussion heralded the storm’s true arrival. But it was the chorus of the dead that caught the attention most – whispering rhythmically from behind the orchestra from the opening seconds, describing the feeling of ‘letting go into death’ and counting down the time and the remaining oxygen until, in the final moments, Hall and Hansen were absorbed into that chorus and the backdrop filled with the names of all the Everest dead. 

Photo: Mark Allan / BBC

To a mountaineer’s eye this production had a number of distractions – trekking poles rather than ice axes; clothing better suited to a damp day in the Lake District than the Death Zone; a backdrop showing spindrift through sunshine to depict a deadly storm. There’s also something incongruous about deep-chested singing in a setting where the core issue is lack of oxygen and inability to breathe. But these were ultimately irrelevancies in a deeply affecting performance.

In 2023 Everest has recorded one of its deadliest seasons – and though this interpretation can’t provide answers to the eternal questions of mountaineering that these tragedies raise, it does take seriously why people attempt the climb, the stakes, and the effects on those left behind – conveying them with the deep, multi-sensory power that only opera can.


This performance will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on Saturday 8 July as part of Opera on 3 and will be available for the following 30 days via BBC Sounds.




Report: 22 June 2023

La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 22 June 2023

Some bits and bobs of news before the sun comes back this weekend.

As a reminder, the basic rule in the high mountains is not to start on routes when the weather is poor (wind, bad visibility). The PGHM rescuers were "surprised" to see a lot of activity on Mont Blanc (Trois Monts, Gonella) and Bionnassay with the bad weather over the last few days.

A few days of SW wind have certainly stripped off some snow.

The first two photographs (above and below), provided by the Leschaux guardians, are very telling.

The refreeze has been very, very bad and the snowpack has taken a beating in some places, which may have made some sections worse or more technical. It could snow or rain this Thursday on a snowpack that's already very wet, which could lead to special conditions over the next few days (poor snow consolidation).

Let's hope that the refreezing improves quickly so that we can get back to snow routes.

We're entering a period where we'll have to watch out for snow bridges on the glaciers and start looking out for the risk of rockfall.

Le Tour / Trient

There’s still snow on the way up to the Albert 1er refuge. The Trient hut has been renovated and is waiting for you!

The classic routes are all being enjoyed in good conditions: Aiguille du Tour (no more Couloir de la Table, Arête de la Table OK, Voie Normale via Col Supérieur du Tour OK), Tête Blanche (Voie Normale, no news about the N face), Petite Fourche (Voie Normale). The S ridge of the Purtscheller is dry. The Dorées traverse is well-travelled (the Copt Couloir is no longer doable). A 40m abseil on a dead man (in situ) to cross the Col Blanc on the Trient side.

There's also activity on the Chardonnet when the weather permits.

Forbes Arête (info from 18/06): Good route up to the “bosse". A bit of ice on the bosse but OK with 1 ice axe. Lots of snow on the arête: good progress but difficult to protect. Poor conditions over the last few days with no refreeze: soft snow on the arête, serious.

Migot Spur: Still being done but getting worse. Rimaye looks OK but icy higher up.

The Escarra and Charlet-Bettembourg goulottes are drying out.

Descent /Voie Normale: Good conditions, last I heard only 1 abseil of 25 m on bolts to pass the rimaye, otherwise it's possible to down climb but it could change quickly. 

Argentière Glacier

Until the Plan Joran lift opens on 1 July (every day), access to Plan Joran is possible from Monday to Friday by arriving at 8am sharp. Descent at 4.30pm. Ski passes must be purchased from the on-site ticket machines.

Access to the refuge is still possible via the glacier (most teams pass first along the left bank and then along the right bank, which is covered in snow), but beware of crevasses. Another option is via the ladders, which have been cleared of snow, but there is still a lot of snow afterwards. Follow the yellow dots until you see the glacier. Then traverse 200-300m to the right and descend to the glacier over névé. The classic passage under the Rognons moraine is too snowy and steep for the moment.

Glacier du Milieu: OK if it refreezes well, all snow, 20m of ice at the “narrows" above the rimaye, hard snow at the top.

Arête du Jardin (Aiguille d'Argentière): still a bit of snow (and therefore water!) but it's still a bit early. A window of opportunity is sure to open very soon!

Flèche Rousse: a few passages that are drying out but OK.

End of the day for the Y-shaped couloir (Aiguille d'Argentière).

Col du Tour Noir : OK

Nobody on the N faces of the basin and it seems to be over already...

There were still a few climbers a short while ago, but it's the end of the road for the Couturier, which has been washed away over the last few days (400m of ice).

As for rock, it's all dry but access is snowy and often steep (crampons + ice axe). 

Charpoua / Couvercle / Leschaux

A team did the traverse of Les Drus last weekend, but there's still a bit too much snow (same on the N face). The right window of opportunity should be opening soon!

The path up to the Couvercle is almost dry (there is still a névé at the foot of the Moine). On the other hand, you'll need crampons, ice axe and mountaineering experience to continue towards the Leschaux hut (descent to the Talèfre glacier and steep, snowy couloir before Leschaux).

S ridge (+integral) of the Aiguille du Moine is dry. However, don't forget your crampons and ice axe as, despite appearances, the normal route is still very snowy (and quite technical in these conditions). No activity on the Contamine yet, but from what I can see: rimaye OK, first and second pitches dry. The rest of the route is likely to be a bit snowier.

There's still a lot of snow on the Nonne - Evêque traverse (both on the ridge and on the descent paths), so no one's out there yet. A high skill level will be needed for those considering the route.

It's far too early for the Moine ridge on the Verte. The rimayes from the Whymper to the Col Armand Charlet - access couloir to the Jardin ridge are still OK, but they're getting bigger!

Whymper: lower bit of the couloir is “mixed", then main couloir: snow. Summit ridge in good conditions.

There and back to the Grande Rocheuse is fine.

Col Armand Charlet: same as Whymper, mixed at the bottom then snow to the col.

Arête du Jardin: good conditions if there is a good freeze (although the rimaye may change). Couloir is full of snow. Chimney below the ridge is dry. Arête well covered with snow (best if the snow is frozen, more complicated if not).

Droites normal route : the rimaye in the oblique couloir is a little high but still passable (some rock outcrops in the couloir itself). Otherwise, the classic route is fine. Above, the mixed section can be "scary" depending on the conditions as it is very snowy. Watch out for a track that goes round to the right (more technical mixed route). Rappels for the descent OK with 2x50m.

Les Courtes (there and back): OK if good refreeze, good crampon technique needed for the descent in the passage under the Col des Droites (it's steep!). Some teams on the traverse, but you have to keep to schedule and get up early (wake up at midnight in the refuge!). The descent via the Col des Cristaux goes well (snow). On the traverse, the snow is often softer (hence the importance of keeping to schedule).

Pointe Isabelle: good conditions, although many teams bail at the large crevasse below the serac (which can be impressive) or on the plateau (running out of time).

Not much changing at the Leschaux hut. The hot spell signals the end of the mixed climbing on the N face of the Grandes Jorasses (see photo above). For snow routes, there has to be a freeze (Brèche des Périades tracked; glacier du Mont Mallet filled in but keep an eye on your watch). South couloir of the Aiguille de l'Eboulement with a descent of the normal route done in good conditions. Routes behind the hut are dry. The west face of the Petites Jorasses may be in condition soon (still a bit of snow here and there). The glacier approach looks OK. 

Envers des Aiguilles / Requin

There is still snow to reach the Envers hut (watch out for the "snow bridges" which are easy to cross). There’s climbing on the lower crags (crampons and ice axe for the approaches): Aiguille de Roc, Tour Rouge, Tour Verte... A team did the voie normale of the Aiguille de la République (cross rimaye well to the right then traverse to the left, a little snow on the ledges). Descent via the République Bananière abseils (too much snow to be climbed at the moment).

No news from the Grépon-Mer de Glace but here too the right window of opportunity is looming (probably still snowy though). No attempt at the Ryan, so no news! A team failed on the S face of the Fou, but we have no further information.

For the moment, you go up to the Requin via the right bank.

A few climbers have come down from the Midi-Plan. The ascent of the vallée blanche is still fine, with a bit of crevasse dodging. The rock has dried well, and the first climbers are expected this weekend!


Still a lot of people on the classics: Rochefort arête, Dent du Géant, traverses of Marbrées and Aiguilles d'Entrêves.

With the warm spell, things are changing, but not for the better on the N face and the Gervasutti couloir (rimaye) on the Tour Ronde. The SE ridge is still passable when the freeze is right.

The Kuffner is still a popular route, and the procession takes place on days when the weather is favourable: "Good access couloir with 2 rocky passages. Quite a few large unstable boulders at the first rock bastion! L'Androsace goes very well".

The Aiguilles du Diable traverse still has a long way to go (we'll have to see if it snows again in today's thunderstorms).

There’s climbing on the satellites (rimayes OK). Crossing the vallée blanche still OK (for the time being!). 

Aiguille du Midi

A bit less snow here too... Ice is appearing in the Triangle du Tacul. With a good freeze, Contamine-Negri; Contamine-Grisolle; Contamine-Mazeau; Chéré are all possible.

Still some activity on the Trois Monts. It rained at the Cosmiques hut, so we'll probably have to be careful on the Tacul and have good crampon skills. Mont Maudit is still going well (a bit of ice above the rimaye). Two abseils (30 then 45m) on the descent from the Col du Mont Maudit are best (dead man needed).

Some activity on the Lachenal traverse (50m rope sufficient for abseiling, a belay has been added) as well as on the Cosmiques ridge and Midi-Plan.

Rock climbing remains a safe bet around here!

Plan de l'Aiguille Sector

The Mallory has come to an end. It's very soft and, above all, the snow is gradually giving way to passages of (bad) rock.

If we find good refreezing conditions (for the approach and the exit), the Frendo should still be possible (rock sometimes wet). Lots of ice on the left exit. A good pitch of black ice as you exit to the right to find the snow slope below the arête.

Crampons and ice axe are still required to access the rock routes in the area.

Peigne: the Papillons ridge is dry, there's still snow in the couloir below point 3009 and a bit of snow on the quartz ledge. It's too early to consider the Peigne - Pélerins - Plan traverse. No information about the Grutter.

There’s climbing on the red pillar of the Blaitière and the Aiguille de l'M (frêtes des Charmoz, NE ridge, Couzy, normal route...) or the Petits Charmoz. No information yet on the Cordier pillar.

Mont Blanc via the Grands Mulets

It smells like the end! The quality of the skiing is no longer guaranteed, but it's worth checking out!

More and more portage from Plan de l’Aiguille. The Jonction has changed a lot and needs to be re-tracked; the lower track seems to be a better option.

There is more and more ice on the N ridge of the Dôme du Goûter. 

Mont Blanc via the Aiguille du Goûter

The snow is melting gradually on the way up to the Tête Rousse and you now go up via the summer path. You can still descend via the névés on the right bank of the Bionnassay glacier.

The Goûter couloir is still full of snow, but a large gully has formed in its centre as a result of slides caused by the severe thaw (see photo 2). It is currently difficult to traverse.

The cable should be replaced on Friday by the guides from St Gervais. Good conditions above.

Miage / Bionnassay

Some teams heading for the Tricot Arête , watch this space!

Mettrier Arête: access to the ridge via the variant route (see last update) now includes a 25m gravel passage in the middle of the couloir. Otherwise, you will have to do the “integrale” (and again, you'll be wandering through some not-so-great rock at the bottom). The rest of the ridge is mixed (snow/rock) but no ice.

The ascent to the Durier via Plan Glacier and the Miage glacier goes well, you just have to be careful not to be too late.

With a good freeze , with no 100km/h winds or fog, the traverse of the Aiguille de Bionnassay is in good condition (no ice or cornices).

The Conscrits footbridge is in place, but there are still some exposed snow patches. The ascent via the Mauvais Pas and then the left bank as indicated in our last update is still going well. No major changes in sight for the routes in the sector. The route on the Trè la Tête glacier will change depending on the crevasses. Good conditions on the Dômes de Miages traverse. The descent to the refuge from the top of the Aiguille de la Bérangère is still made easier by the snow.

Gonella / Monzino

Mont Blanc via Gonella: No change since our last update.

Eperon de la Tournette climbed in good conditions.

Little change around the Monzino. The rock routes (Innominata, Croux) are accessible if there is a decent freeze. Teams have climbed to the Eccles via the glacier to continue on the Innominata ridge (information on C2C).

The Bonnatti-Oggioni to the Pilier Rouge may still be covered in snow (Gabarrou-Long and Anneaux Magiques, which are steeper, should be OK). It's also a bit early for the Freney pillar.

The S ridge of the Aiguille Noire de Peuterey is dry. The window of opportunity is closing for the complete climb!

Aiguilles Rouges

In the Aiguilles Rouges, crampons and an ice axe are often useful for approaches and descents!

For all the latest news about walking, check out our dedicated news page.


Translated with permission from an original report by La Chamoniarde.

Readers are reminded that conditions in mountain environments are prone to (sometimes rapid) change and that they should use their own best judgement when visiting them.




Report: 16 June 2023

La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 16 June 2023

Autumn is just around the corner! Oops no! There's summer first :)

Hiking and Trail Walking 

With most of the valley's ski lifts now open, the hiking season is well under way! Most routes are now accessible, with the exception of those at the highest altitudes. 

Although the snowpack is gradually melting in the mid-range mountains, there is still plenty of snow above 2,200/23,00m on the south-facing slopes and 2,000/2,100m on the north-facing slopes. Good boots, crampons, poles and a good mountaineering head are essential if you want to climb safely above these altitudes! Good navigation skills are all the more essential when the paths are obscured by snow.

The following are NOT yet accessible (except for the most experienced among you):

- Lac du Brévent - Lac Cornu / Lac Noir - Lac Bleu
- The Albert 1er refuge
- Le Buet
- La Jonction
- Le Brévent and the col du Brévent

More information about the Tour du Mont Blanc and hiking in general here.


As is often the case at this time of year (lots of snow, short nights), activity in the high mountains is highly dependent on refreezing conditions (which in turn depend on the presence of wind or clouds during the night...).

Tré-la-Tête / Miage / Bionnassay

The Conscrits hut can still be accessed via the glacier, but it is not advisable to climb up the snow slope on the right bank (on the left as you climb up): the torrent flows strongly underneath and the snow bridge becomes fragile. Instead, you need to head rightwards to reach the left bank of the glacier (see illustration below). The summer footbridge should be in place this weekend. There are still good conditions on most of the routes in the area (traverse of the Dômes, Tré-la-Tête traverse, etc.)

The Plan Glacier and Durier huts have also got their season off to a good start. A slight change of route on the classic Mettrier ridge (see image below). The intégrale could be considered! The direct ascent to the Durier is not recommended in the afternoon, because of the numerous purges from mid-day onwards. With a good freeze, conditions will be good on the Durier - Bionnassay - Goûter traverse. 


The refuge opens today! Access is almost dry (a 10m section of névé with a handrail in place that should melt quickly). Crampons are still useful if you are coming from the Col des Chasseurs.
Here too there is a lot of snow at altitude and the activity depends on the refreezing. The Aiguille Croux and the Punta Innominata (crampons and ice axe needed for the approaches) are possible.
No one has climbed to the Eccles yet. It's too early for the Ratti-Vitale on the Aiguille Noire de Peuterey. On the other hand, we're all set for the S ridge.

Mont Blanc

On the Italian side, the Gonella refuge is open and there's snow halfway up the Miage glacier. The normal Italian route is in good condition: good refreezing, good tracks, the glacier passes well.

There was snow on the exit to the Col des Aiguilles Grises. The Piton des Italiens ridge is in good condition (not too narrow, no ice). Some teams headed for the Tournette spur, but no further information!

On the French side, the Tramway du Mont Blanc is inaugurating its new trains this weekend! There will be 3 mountaineering shuttles a day to and from the Nid d'Aigle (reservations must be made in the refuge): see the timetable here, under the mountaineering shuttles tab. Some additional information, to be confirmed: "The shuttle will stop between the two tunnels at the paravalanche. Take the path outside the last tunnel, then a new path in the moraine above the track work (start next to the old TMB chalet, follow the cairns)".

Otherwise, there are good conditions on the classic French routes (voie normale via the Aiguille du Goûter, Trois Monts, Grands Mulets/arête N du Dôme). On the last-mentioned route (on foot and skis), be careful at the Jonction: the glacier is gradually opening up.

Plan de l'Aiguille / Aiguille du Midi

Things are starting to happen around the Plan de l'Aiguille, with teams heading for the Aiguille de l'M (dry NNE ridge, couloir de la Bûche + approach and descent in snow) or the Papillons ridge (crampons and ice axe required).

Some keen climbers got their boots out on the W face of Blaitière, but unsurprisingly it's still quite wet!

Regular ascents of the Mallory-Porter, in good conditions. The window of opportunity for the Frendo Spur will open soon, but a good refreeze is essential: many of the teams failed last week...

Higher up around the Aiguille du Midi, no significant change in the sector since last week's update


The Vallée Blanche has a good track. The classics of the sector are widely climbed when the refreeze permits:

- Arêtes de Rochefort in good conditions. It's too early to consider crossing the Jorasses.
- Dent du Géant ok but there's still a bit of snow and in particular névé on the second pitch.
- Traverse of the Marbrées and the Aiguilles d'Entrêves: Okay
- Tour Ronde via Freshfield or the full SE ridge okay, Gervasutti okay too. A rock fall on the left side of the N face, but apparently it's still possible to climb it.
- Daily teams on the Kuffner arete (see the cahier de course).
- A few teams on the Aiguilles du Diable traverse. Rimaye and access couloir OK. There's quite a bit of snow on the rock, so crampons stay on a lot.
- Satellites du Tacul: all the rimayes are fine! Probably a bit more snow on the terraces of the Suisse/O Sole Mio routes (Grand Capucin). 

Requin / Envers des Aiguilles 

The Requin hut is open! The ascent of the Vallée Blanche has been done! The Envers du Plan glacier too! The rock looks dry (Chapeau à Corne ridge, Aiguille de Pierre-Alain, still névé on the descent of the Dent du Requin but probably not a problem).

The refuge de l'Envers is also opening this weekend! The lower sectors are in good condition: Tours Rouge and Verte, the first Pointe des Nantillons... There's still quite a bit of snow on the upper slopes.

Leschaux / Talèfre / Charpoua Basins

The Mer de Glace balcony path as far as Couvercle is virtually dry: only a steep and exposed 10-metre section of névé remains to be crossed. Watch out for the last snow slope just below the refuge! There's still a lot of snow on the balcony path as far as Leschaux, so crampons and ice axe are a must! Alternatively, you can get to the refuge - which opens this weekend - without stepping foot in the snow, via the Leschaux glacier!

The snow routes around Les Périades and the Aiguille de l'Eboulement are in good condition, when the freeze is right, of course. Visually, the west face of the Petites Jorasses is dry! Headlamps have been spotted on the N face of the Grandes Jorasses, a matter to be followed up...

A few teams on the Courtes traverse with good conditions overall, although there are still a few small cornices. No news from the Droites for a few days, but there are still a lot of people on the Verte and especially on the Whymper. The rimaye has changed over the last few days (see photo below) and the first couloir is increasingly bottlenecked with stones sticking out, but it's still going well. The Jardin ridge is still waiting for some motivated people to clear it! 

The Charpoua refuge is still under construction. Opening planned for 29 June if all goes well!

Argentière Basin

The refuge is open! Plan Joran lift: one lift at 7.45am and one lift down at 4.30pm. The gondola will run continuously from 1 July. On the N side of the Verte, the Couturier is in good condition (of course, you need to get to the top very early). For snow routes a little further afield, the Col du Tour Noir and the Pointe Supérieure des Améthystes are in good condition. On the Aiguille d'Argentière, climbing the glacier du Milieu requires experience of steep snow slopes (40°). The Flèche Rousse ridge is in good condition and most of the rock routes around the refuge are dry!

Le Tour

The access paths from Charamillon and les Autannes still have steep névé: they are therefore reserved for mountaineers equipped with crampons and ice axe! Otherwise, not much has changed up here: most of the snow routes are in good condition, particularly the classics in the Aiguille du Tour sector (normal route, arête de la table), Tête Blanche and Petite Fourche.

Good conditions also on the Aiguille du Chardonnet. Some teams on the Forbes arete, although the large quantities of snow sometimes limit the possibilities for protection. The ice is not far away at the top of La Bosse, ice screw placement possible. The Migot spur is also crowded. The access ramp after the rimaye is made of loose rock: make sure you space your teams well apart and don't climb below each other on this passage to avoid unpleasant surprises! Otherwise, the conditions are still good higher up. The Charlet-Bettembourg gully is being done in good conditions. The normal descent is still well covered in snow, but you should plan a 25m abseil to get past the rimaye.

The Trient hut is open! No information on the Aiguilles Dorées traverse. We'll have to climb on the S face instead.

Aiguilles Rouges 

With the opening of the ski lifts, the climbing season in the massif has begun! Most of the routes are dry, but you'll need to bring crampons and ice axe for the approaches!

Translated with permission from an original report by La Chamoniarde.

Readers are reminded that conditions in mountain environments are prone to (sometimes rapid) change and that they should use their own best judgement when visiting them.




Report: 9 June 2023

La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 9 June 2023

Summer’s almost here! Here's a quick look at the current conditions.

Hiking / Trail 

The valley's ski lifts are off to a flying start! The ski areas of Les Houches (Bellevue, Prarion), Brévent (Planpraz, Brévent), Flégère (Flégère gondola, Index) and La Balme (Charamillon, Autannes) all open this Saturday 10 June! 

Although the snowpack is gradually melting in the “moyenne montagne", there is still plenty of snow above 2,200/2,300m on the south-facing slopes and 2,000/2,100m on north-facing slopes. Good boots, crampons, poles and a good mountaineering head are essential if you want to climb safely above these altitudes! Good navigation skills (and of course GPS, map and compass) are all the more essential when the trails are obscured by snow.

More information about hiking and trail running here.


In the high mountains, rising temperatures are allowing the snow to gradually settle, even if this is regularly disrupted by unstable weather, which sometimes causes problems with refreezing. Overall, conditions have changed little since last week's update.

Tré-la-Tête / Miage / Bionnassay

Most of the routes in this sector are in good condition (Dômes de Miage traverse, Mettrier arête, traverse of the Aiguilles de Tré-la-Tête, etc.)

The Durier refuge is currently being cleared of snow and will open on Saturday 10 June. The direct ascent from Plan Glacier (open) has been done, but is not the most advisable route given the current snow depths. It seems wiser to go via La Mettrier. The Durier - Bionnassay - Dôme du Goûter traverse has been done in good conditions.

Mont Blanc

Ditto here, with little significant change to the classic routes on the French side and generally good conditions. On the other hand, our Italian neighbours are gearing up! On the Italian normal route first of all: the Gonella opens this weekend and the Pape route has been done today. Conditions aren't exactly ideal at the moment. A large rockfall from the Aiguilles Grises has wrecked the Dôme glacier and destabilised some (now worrying) seracs. There is also breakable crust with unconsolidated snow beneath as far as the Col des Aiguilles Grises. Better conditions above. The Tournette Spur has been climbed: unsurprisingly, there's a lot of snow on the route! 

Aiguille du Midi / Helbronner / Envers des Aiguilles

All the classics are being done. The Mallory has been done in ascent, while the Eugster is finished (the veneer of snow in the bottom gully has collapsed). It's still too early for the Frendo, but the first attempts have been laborious! On the Midi-Plan traverse, teams have only been going as far as the Rognon. The traverse of the Vallée Blanche is fine on foot and on skis. On the Triangle du Tacul, the Contamine-Mazeaud has deteriorated so much that you can't exit at the top. The Perroux goulotte has been climbed, but not in good nick! The first team to cross the Aiguilles du Diable had to keep their crampons on all the way: it's still a bit early. There were a lot of people on the Kuffner, and the conditions were good, but they had to be careful about the timing: things heat up quickly up there. Most of the teams descended from the shoulder of Mont Maudit, but a crevasse is starting to open up: be careful! Still good conditions on the Tour Ronde on all routes. The “historic” normal route is starting to look bad (rockfalls on the lower left bank), so a descent via the Freshfield couloir or the Col d’Entrèves is preferable. The Dent du Géant is being done, but some pitches are still in near-winter conditions, particularly the second pitch on the normal route. The Rochefort arête has been done as far as the foot of the Aiguille.

If you want to rock climb, the faces with the best exposure to the sun are drying out one after the other. As well as the S face of the Aiguille du Midi, the Eperon Cosmiques and the Pointe Lachenal, we're now enjoying our beautiful granite on the Pointe Adolphe Rey, the Grand Capucin (still a little snow on the less steep sections, a little early for the voie des Suisses for example) and the Trident du Tacul. It's also gradually drying out around the Envers des Aiguilles (Tour Rouge and Tour Verte are dry, and other areas will certainly be in the near future). 

Talèfre Basin

Access to the Couvercle was described in last week's update. Around here, refreezing conditions seem to be more complicated than elsewhere. It's often an act of faith to access the faces! But when you don't stumble on the approach, the conditions above are pretty good! In addition to the route of recent weeks, the Whymper rimaye is now also crossable just below the secondary couloir. The latter is full of snow (two technical axes best). The snow conditions are still good in the main couloir. For the descent, most of the abseil points are in place. The S couloir on the Col Armand Charlet has been climbed in good conditions. Lots of people on the Droites normal route, using both access routes (diagonal or via the glacier). Complicated snow conditions above the ramp (second snow slope via the diagonal), this can be avoided on the left but makes the route more technical. The snow is more supportive higher up. The traverse of Les Courtes has also been done in good conditions (watch out for cornices!). For all these routes, keeping to a decent schedule is obviously crucial! There is still a lot of snow on the Jardin ridge. 

Argentière Glacier

It's always hard to get information when the hut is closed and we don't get any feedback  Just kidding, thanks to all the generous climbers who call us, drop in or fill in the “cahier de courses"! The Couturier was climbed at the start of the week in good conditions (easy approach, rimaye passes well on the right, hard snow above the step). Climbing is starting around the hut (which opens next weekend!), on the Vierge for example. A little further up on the Aiguille d'Argentière, the Flèche Rousse ridge has been climbed.

Le Tour

Here too, the classics are being regularly climbed: Aiguille du Tour (normal route, couloir and Arête de la Table - the narrows in the couloir is easy to bypass), Tête Blanche, Grande Fourche, etc. Good conditions on the Chardonnet too, with lots of people on the Forbes Arête, the Migot Spur and even the Charlet - Bettembourg! On the descent, the rimaye is opening up a little: plan an extra 25m abseil.

Aiguilles Rouges 

With the opening of the ski lifts on Saturday 10, the alpine climbing season in the massif is about to begin! Most of the ridges have already dried out, but you'll need to bring crampons and ice axe for the approaches!



Translated with permission from an original report by La Chamoniarde.

Readers are reminded that conditions in mountain environments are prone to (sometimes rapid) change and that they should use their own best judgement when visiting them.




Alpine Club Receives Pelmo d'Oro Award

Alpine Club Receives Pelmo d'Oro Award

The Alpine Club has been awarded the 25th Pelmo d'Oro Award by the Italian region of Provincia di Belluno. The Pelmo d'Oro, also known as the Dolomites UNESCO World Heritage Special Award, is given annually to an organisation or individual who has helped to promote, protect, chronicle or in some other way contribute to the ongoing history of the Dolomites.

This year's award recognises the contribution of the Alpine Club's first President John Ball who, in 1857, made the first ascent of Monte Pelmo - one of the iconic symbols of the Dolomites.

Monte Pelmo by Elijah Walton (1832-1880), Alpine Club Collection

In explaining their decision, a spokesperson for the Provincia di Belluno said the following:

"The Alpine Club, the first of its kind in the world, was founded in 1857. This initiative was inspired by the venture John Ball had accomplished a few months before: accompanied by a guide from Borca di Cadore, he made the first mountaineering ascent to Mount Pelmo, one of the symbols of the Dolomites. The first mountaineers were also the main observers and communicators of those aesthetic, scientific and landscape values, which are universally appreciated today, and are fundamental to the recognition that UNESCO has given to the Dolomites in 2009."

John Ball (1818-1889), Naturalist, Politician & First President of the Alpine Club

Current Alpine Club President Simon Richardson, who will travel to Italy to receive the award, said: 

“The Alpine Club is very proud to receive the Dolomites UNESCO World Heritage Special Award. At its heart alpinism has always maintained a deep respect for the mountain environment and it is fitting that the Alpine Club, Provincia di Belluno and UNESCO all seek to celebrate and preserve these special landscapes for the enjoyment of present and future generations.”




Report: 2 June 2023

La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 2 June 2023

At last, the seasons seem to be getting their act together! At the start of June, conditions look like...well, the beginning of June. The winter snow is slowly but surely melting in the mid-mountains, while it is settling and transforming in the high mountains.


Although the high altitude classics are still inaccessible (Grand Balcon nord, lacs Blanc/du Brévent/Cornu/Noirs/Bleu/Pormenaz, Buet, Albert 1er, Jonction, Brévent, etc.), more and more routes are becoming accessible. 

You can find more information in our updated hiking article here

On the Tour du Mont Blanc, conditions are still tricky, with heavy snow covering all the cols: Col du Bonhomme - Col de la Seigne - Grand Col Ferret - Col de Balme - Col du Brévent.

Tré la Tête / Miage

No major changes around here. The Conscrits hut is still reached via the glacier, and there's snow once you're past the Mauvais Pas. It's fine on foot all the way to the hut, but it's better to have snowshoes on, especially for the descent. 

The N face of Tré-la-Tête has been done, with 40m of ice below the summit ridge. The traverse of the Aiguilles de Tré-la-Tête was done in good conditions all the way to the Dôme des Glaciers, which is rare enough to be worth mentioning!

On the Miage, the conditions on the Dômes traverse were “formidables". The ridge between the col and the Aiguille de la Bérangère is narrow and snowy, which might be imposing for some people.

The Mettrier arete is also in superb condition (see our “cahier de courses"). The Plan Glacier hut open this week end.

On the Armancette descent, its skis off at 2,100m, or 2,000m for the more adventurous!

The North Face of Mont Maudit, Taken on 28 May 2023

Mont Blanc

Things are off to a flying start on the normal route! The Tête Rousse and Goûter refuges are now open and conditions are generally good. As for uplift in the area, the Bellevue cable car opens this weekend (Saturday 3) but you'll have to wait until the 10 June for the TMB. A special feature this year is that the terminus will be at Bellevue or the Col du Mont Lachat. Only three trains/day will continue to the Nid d'Aigle (departure from Le Fayet 7am, 11am, 3pm; descent from NA 8.10am, 12.10pm, 4.10pm) and these will be reserved for mountaineers with a valid refuge reservation. Departure only from Le Fayet or St Gervais for the moment. As for access to the Goûter refuge, the couloir is filled with snow. It's fine for the ascent, but be careful on the descent: more than ever, you need good crampon technique to avoid slipping/falling. There is a good track from the hut to the summit. The NW face of the Aiguille de Bionnassay has been skied regularly over the last few days, in varying degrees of difficulty (beware, the conditions are changing quite a bit at this time of year).

A start has also been made for the Trois Monts, which can be skied and hiked in excellent conditions (little or no ice, and only one axe needed).

The Mont Blanc ski season via the Grands Mulets is continuing nicely! Little has changed since the last update, we're still favouring the Jonction low down on the way up, and the Dôme's N ridge is still covered in snow (with underlying ice in places) but it's slowly easing off. Bosses arête in motorway mode with the opening of the normal route refuges. Cold snow on the N face as far as the Grand Plateau, the two rimayes at the bottom of the face still going well (the one at the top is crossed on the right). You can ski as far as the Plan de l'Aiguille.

Aiguille du Midi

All the classic alpine routes are being done: Vallée Blanche, Pointes Lachenal, normal route on the Tacul, arête “Lolo” (Laurence) and the Cosmiques Arête. Conditions have deteriorated a little on the Triangle du Tacul, with ice showing a little on the Contamine Grisolle and Mazeaud. Still good in the Négri and the Chéré. A few teams on the Mallory (ascent), but no further information. The Vent du Dragon and Jottnar gullies have been climbed, dry and in decent conditions respectively. There are still a few tracks descending the VB, but the passage through the Salle à Manger is becoming really tricky.

On the other hand, the rock season is gradually kicking off: the Rébuffat on the S face and the Eperon des Cosmiques have been climbed (snow at the end of the 5th pitch on the former, an exit in inconsistent snow to reach the ridge on the latter). The Contamine on the S face of the Aiguille du Midi looks dry (from a distance), and the Contamine on the Pointe Lachenal has also been climbed and is also dry.  


As elsewhere, all the classics are well-travelled, and approaches are being done on foot: the Dent du Géant, traverses of the Marbrées and the Aiguilles d'Entrèves, the Tour Ronde via the Gervasutti couloir, the N face, the "winter normal route" (make sure you descend before 10am as it gets very hot) or via the Col Freshfield or the full SE ridge. Some teams turned back on the Rochefort ridge traverse last weekend: too much snow but no news since. The Kuffner ridge had also been done, looks in good condition (approach on foot, very easy descent from the shoulder to pick up the Trois Monts path).

Envers des Aiguilles

It's slowly drying out up here. Due to glacial retreat, access to the foot of the ladders is not easy. There is snow 150m above the top of the ladders, so take care on some exposed spots to reach the refuge. Average freeze in the area over the last few days. The Tour Rouge and Tour Verte are dry and teams have started to climb.

Talèfre Basin

Access to the Couvercle is still tricky. For the Egralets ladders, you have to go well beyond the ladders to climb up to a big rock on the Leschaux glacier. Be careful about the timing of the climb: snow residue can release rocks balanced on the slabs above! Also be careful on the snow slope below the refuge. Higher is better. Here too, snowshoes are still good to have for the approaches and returns (skis are beginning to be less useful). The Whymper is still in good condition, as is the Pointe Isabelle (all snow). The normal route on the Droites has been done, with a step to get past the rimaye. The traverse of the Courtes is good. Arête du Jardin will soon be OK, but still too early for the Moine.

Argentière Glacier

This area is waking up! There may be a few people using the winter room. The approach is on foot (snowshoes are still far from a luxury!) and on skis. Skis on just above Lognan.

Some people in the Couturier, but no further information. The Y to the Aiguille d'Argentière was climbed in good conditions, the lower step is all snow (2m, steep). Glacier du Milieu can be climbed on foot (down climbing the narrows) and on skis (abseil).

Watch out for construction machinery on the Pierre à Ric during the week! 

Le Tour

Great conditions up here too. The ascent to the Albert Ier refuge is still via the moraine, with snow at around 2,300m. On the Chardonnet, the Migot spur and the descent have been done on foot in superb conditions: a little ice on the spur for ice screws, the rest snow. Average freeze over the last few days, with a few exceptions. The Forbes Arête and the other gullies are untracked. The ridge from the Fenêtre supérieure du Tour to the Grande Fourche has been done out and back in good conditions. Normal route on the Aiguille du Tour, Tête blanche and Petite Fourche on foot, also very good conditions. North face of Tête blanche climbed yesterday, rimaye visible in places. Couloir de la Table and Arête de la Table very good and tracked despite the large amounts of snow. 


You should be able to ski up here for another couple of weeks. The track along the lake after the dam has been cleared of snow, which adds a little portage before heading towards the Veudale gorge. The Perrons traverse could be considered for mountaineering (ice axes and crampons required).

Aiguilles Rouges

The climbing season has started at Les Chéserys! Otherwise, there's still plenty of snow higher up.



Translated with permission from an original report by La Chamoniarde.

Readers are reminded that conditions in mountain environments are prone to (sometimes rapid) change and that they should use their own best judgement when visiting them.




Report: 24 May 2023

La Chamoniarde
 mountain conditions report for 24 May 2023

It's time for a change! Winter is gradually giving way to spring and big boots are bit by bit replacing ski boots. The poor weather of the past few weeks is gradually giving way to better weather for mountain activities.

Despite everything, there is still a lot of snow above 1,900m on north facing slopes and above 2,100m on southerly slopes. For the moment - and this is likely to change relatively quickly - skis or snowshoes still seem to be pretty necessary for most outings in the high mountains, while crampons are often good to have at the bottom of the bag for hikes in the “moyenne montagne" (see the dedicated Spring Hikes article).

Tré la Tête / Miage:

Skis on after the Mauvais Pas to go up to the Conscrits refuge. A poor refreeze and lots of purging around the refuge. A bit of activity on the Dômes de Miage, which are being done there and back. On the Armancette you can ski down to about 2,100m. The N face of the Dômes de Miage is quite white, probably quite loaded as well. The guardian of the Plan Glacier is going up this weekend.

Mont Blanc: 

The normal route is about to get going. The Tête Rousse and Goûter open this weekend (respectively the 26th and 27th). There is a track in on foot and on skis to reach the two huts. As everywhere in the massif, there is still a lot of snow up there! Beware of purges on the slopes of the Goûter, plan to climb early. The Grand Couloir was skied in good conditions a couple of days ago, but it's been hot since. 

Still good conditions for the ski ascent by the Grands Mulets! The low track on the Jonction is good. The Plateaux has been tracked in ascent and descent (beware of seracs...). More people have been up the N ridge of the Dôme (recommended!). There is some ice under the snow for 10 meters on the arête, otherwise it's good. More comfortable with 2 ice axes though. There is no track on the right side of the arête as there is ice in places. A nice ski track higher up, which goes around the ice under the Vallot (bring couteaux, hard snow). Bosses arête OK. Good skiing on the N face of Mont Blanc this morning. 

The Trois Monts are still waiting but it shouldn't be long now. The Maudit north face in particular looks good compared to previous years. Be careful with the large amounts of snow on this route.

Aiguille du Midi:

The snow is starting to settle with a reasonable refreeze at the Col du Midi. For the moment, the sector is about the only one where approaches can be considered on foot. Teams in the Pélissier gully turned back at the penultimate pitch (inconsistent snow difficult to protect and a threatening cornice at the summit), but conditions were OK until then. The Lachenal traverse, the Arête Laurence and the Cosmiques Arête are being done regularly in good conditions. Top conditions also in the Triangle du Tacul, where all the classics such as the Contamines and the Chéré are being climbed at the moment (a bit of black ice in places at the start of the Mazeaud). The north face of Mont Blanc du Tacul has been tracked up and down, on skis and on foot.

A team did the Midi-Plan and came to a stop at the Rognon: lots of snow. Some people on skis on the N face of the Aiguille du Midi: Eugster, Mallory, Col du Plan ... not in super conditions. 

It's almost the end for the Vallée Blanche, now reserved for experienced skier-mountaineers: the Salle à Manger is still passable but it's opening up a lot, lots of purging on the southerly slopes below the Requin hut with brown snow below. Skis off at the bend in the glacier then once at the grotto you have to walk back to Montenvers (grotto and gondola closed).

The N faces of the Aiguilles du Plan and du Midi, and in the foreground the Grand Balcon Nord still entirely under snow
(and therefore not accessible for hiking, as you can see!)


Talèfre Basin:

The "least bad" access to the Couvercle at the moment seems to be the Egralets ladders, the others presenting either risks of purging and falling, or risks of rockfalls. The moraine under the ladders is still unstable and you must be careful. The Whymper was climbed this morning in good conditions (alpine, not for skiing). The S faces of the basin (Droites, Courtes col des Cristaux...) as well as the Pointe Isabelle are quite white and the rimayes are well covered. What about the quality of the snow over there though? And as some people have asked: it's too early for the Moine or other rocky routes in the area, as elsewhere in the massif.

Argentière Basin 

Not much activity and therefore not much information on the area. Skis on just below Lognan. For the rest, the webcams of the Argentière refuge are your friend.

Le Tour

The ascent to the Albert I hut is by the moraine, which is dry until above the water intake. The refuge is reopening this Saturday! Above, tracks on foot (keen people!) and on skis towards the Aiguille du Tour. 


A lot of people in the area since the opening of the road! Towards the gorges de la Veudale / Pointe de la Terrasse : skis on just after the dam and the conditions are pretty good beyond, with the precious spring snow which has been so absent this season.

Aiguilles Rouges / Buet

It's still too early to consider rock climbing in the area. A bit of activity on le Buet, where there is snow just above the Pierre à Bérard refuge.



Translated with permission from an original report by La Chamoniarde.

Readers are reminded that conditions in mountain environments are prone to (sometimes rapid) change and that they should use their own best judgement when visiting them.