A Remarkable Winter in the Alps

A Remarkable Winter in the Alps

It has been a prolific season in the Alps. So much so that, at times, it has been hard to keep track of all the first ascents, first solo ascents and first winter solo ascents that have been achieved.

An extended period of high pressure has allowed alpinists to commit to long, challenging routes and, more often than not, to succeed in their attempts. Below we lay out the timeline of this extraordinary season, with links to more detailed reports.

The season really kicked into gear over the weekend of 28 – 29 January when two teams, operating on opposite sides of the Alps, both succeeded in establishing new routes on iconic peaks. On Saturday 28, Giuseppe Vidoni, Richard Tiraboschi and Tommaso Vection, made the first ascent of 'Happy Birthday' which climbs the south face of the Grandes Jorasses to the Aiguille de l’Évêque via a 1,000m couloir. Vidonia and Tiraboschi had attempted the line a few days earlier but had been forced to retreat when warm conditions on the face above sent a stream of meltwater down the couloir. On returning with Vection, they were able to take the route to the summit, offering a grade of A1, IV, M6, ED.


At the same time, on the Barre des Écrins, Benjamin Védrines, Nicolas Jean and Julien Cruvellier were busy on another 1,000m couloir. 'La Gorge' on the mountain's south face is prone to rockslides in warmer weather and so, despite being an obvious line, it has waited many years for a first ascent. With good, cold conditions, the team of three climbed the route over the weekend, surmounting difficulties of M7, A1, V+, ED+. The trio dubbed their new route 'De L’Or en Barre'.


Just a few days later, on 03 February, Italian climbers François Cazzanelli, Emrik Favre and Stefano Stradelli put up a new WI4+, M7 line on the east face of Mont Blanc du Créton. 'Sognando l’inimmaginabile' was a line that Cazzanelli had been considering for some time but had avoided trying due to concerns about the feasibility of its upper half. With strong winds ruling out their first choice of objective, the team of three chose to give it a go and discovered not just a viable route, but an enjoyable one. Speaking to PlanetMountain, Cazzanelli described the route as “Overall a pleasant outing, difficult, with several demanding but incredible pitches.”

While the three previous routes were first ascents, achieved by strong trios of climbers, Thibault Sibille’s repeat of the Rebuffat route on the northwest face of the Grand Pic de Belledonne was a solo affair. The 32-year-old climbed the line over three days in early February, with two bivouacs on the face. This was the first time that the line had been climbed solo in winter.


Sibille’s was far from the only extended stay on the north faces. The following week, Symon Welfringer, Charles Dubouloz (returning to the Grandes Jorasses after his solo ascent of Rolling Stones in 2022), and Clovis Pauline spent five days on the north face of the Grandes Jorasses, making the first repeat of Patrick Gabarrou and Herve Bouvard’s 1986 route ‘Directissime de la Point Walker’. The route was originally climbed in summer with some aid, but the French team succeeded not only in making the first winter ascent, but also in climbing the line free.

At the same time that this French threesome were finding success on the Grandes Jorasses, the Italian trio of François Cazzanelli, Emrik Favre and Stefano Stradelli re-teamed to establish a 600m line on the western flank of the Aiguille Noire de Peuterey. The ‘Isiah Couloir’ was established over two days (including a very damp spindrift-laden bivy) and breached difficulties up to M8, 7a/7a+ and WI 5.

Also returning to the headlines at this point was Benjamin Védrines, this time climbing with Leo Billón to make the first single-day winter ascent of the 1,100m ED/+ ‘Gousseault-Desmaison’ on the Grandes Jorasses. The pair set off from Chamonix at 1AM on the morning of 15 February, reaching the summit at 4:38PM. There was even time for the ascent to be reported on the same day!


We may yet see more historic achievements before the winter is through. But even if this list of ascents remains unchanged, it will still have been a remarkable season. We cannot know exactly what it presages for the future. Will conditions like those found in 2023 persist in future years or will this prove to be a one-off? What we can be more certain of is that many of these climbers are at the beginning of their alpine careers and we can look forward to seeing much more from them in the coming years.

Edit: In the period since this article was published, news has broken that Jerome Perruquet and Stefano Stradelli have made the first repeat and first winter ascent of 'Diretta allo Scudo' on the Matterhorn.


These were far from the only notable ascents from this extraordinary winter, but they are the most significant in terms of “firsts” and are likely to be the ones remembered in the years to come. However, if we have missed anything, don’t hesitate to let us know.




Report: 17 February 2023

La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 17 February 2023

Spring seems to be coming earlier and earlier! 


The thaw has allowed a relative improvement of the skiing conditions on south facing slopes, where melt/refreeze processes are now well in place (hard snow in the morning, softening during the day) - subject to new weather conditions. On shady faces, it's not the same: alternating between hard snow (often with a good grip), crust and sastrugi. Demanding skiing! Be careful, on hard snow falls are difficult to arrest. Couteaux (harscheisen), and even boot crampons depending on the itinerary, should be an integral part of your equipment list. 

In the valley, all the marked ski touring routes are open - except for the Nants and Les Praz pistes. The snow is starting to disappear at the bottom of the Prarion track. 

The lack of snowfall for a month now has not improved the condition of the glaciers either. The 'Z' on the Aiguille du Midi arête is icy. The Vallée Blanche is 'tracked' snow, that is to say smooth and hard with good grip, sometimes bumpy. Sizeable holes are opening up in several places, notably below the Petit Rognon and at the level of the Salle à Manger.

Speaking of opening, the Requin refuge is also open and that's more pleasant news! Conditions for the climb to the Brèche Puiseux haven't changed too much compared to our last update, but the Mont Mallet glacier is more and more open. One crevasse in particular is tricky to cross and may soon become problematic (see photo below). Always be careful on the Mer de Glace, the track still passes by deep “moulins". It’s no better past the grotto where where rocks are more and more visible on the way to the Mottets buvette. 

Lognan: the final part up to the Col des Rachasses is tricky although a track has been cut with a shovel. Beware of the rimaye at the Col des Grands Montets! The passage under the moraine des Rognons, on the left bank of the Argentière glacier, has become very technical. In the glacier basin, many itineraries are being skied in more or less good conditions (it's up to you to evaluate them, it's often preferable to go up and look): 

- Chevalier: Some ice in the middle of the couloir 

- NNE face of the Courtes and SW of the Brèche de l'Amône: No more information, especially on the rimayes 

- Cols d'Argentière and Tour Noir: Nothing to report 

- Aiguille d'Argentière: Y (the top of the left branch is quite dry) and Glacier du Milieu (dry gully at the bottom, summit ridge OK) 

- Col du Chardonnet: Very dry at the top, 1 or 2x30m abseils on the north side. 3 cols climbed without more info. 

- Col du Passon: Moraine on the right bank of the Argentière glacier tricky (rockfalls during the day), difficult snow conditions on the lower side of Le Tour (crust). 

In the Aiguilles Rouges/Haut-Giffre, little change. The classic routes are all being done. In the lower Bérard valley, the footbridge has been renovated and the closure order ends today. A little further on, our Swiss friends have warned us that ski tourers have been seen crossing the Emosson reservoir. With the new pumping station at Nant de Drance, the level of the Emosson and Vieil Emosson lakes is changing much faster than before, making the ice very fragile. It has therefore become extremely dangerous to venture onto the two lakes, even if they are completely frozen! 


Keeping with the theme of ice, this wonderful ice climbing period is coming to an end. Routes exposed to the sun are gradually cracking and collapsing. A few protected high altitude ice falls are still possible, notably on the left bank of Argentière (Mur des Dents de la Mer, Crèmerie, EMHM OK but the bottom is not good/hard to protect, better to abseil down the left bank of the icefall and top rope the first pitch), Armancette, Stassaz... As always, be careful about the conditions and their evolution! There's still climbing at the Bérard artificial site (reservations here)

The goulotte season is starting. Beware of overcrowding! There are frequently more than 5 teams on the same routes, so be creative! The Plan de l'Aiguille sector is a good example with a lot of people on the Mallory-Porter and Fil à Plomb. The Col du Plan goulotte has been done (variable snow, difficult to protect). Mini Blast is also being done a lot (double rimaye OK for the moment, very well tracked gully, be careful during the abseils as the belays in place are 60m long or even a little more). 

Géant/Vallée Blanche: Several reports in our “cahier de courses". The Tacul triangle is quite dry, Goulotte Chéré certainly OK). On the Pointe Lachenal, the Pellissier is still acceptable, and the rimaye still tricky. Scotch on the Rocks climbed - 1st pitch hard to protect, rest rather well supplied with ice. The Modica-Noury is rather deficient in ice but still OK, whilst the Gabarrou Albinioni is relatively well supplied (last pitch still rather dry). Supercouloir OK by eye. The Valeria rimaye is complicated, conditions OK in the gully, last pitch dry. The north face of the Tour Ronde rimaye is also tricky, conditions OK in the narrows (some ice), upper slopes are black ice, descent by SE ridge and E face in good conditions.

Activity on the Verte! The Whymper was skied in OK conditions but must have deteriorated a lot this week. Rimaye OK (passes well to the right), narrow summit ridge. Some big purges are reported during the day, as always watch out for the timing of the descent. The Couturier has been climbed: the rimaye also passes well on the right, 15/20m of ice in the lower narrows. Further on in the Argentière basin, Petit Viking was climbed but the rimaye is very complicated (a step of M4/M5) then fine ice and snow without cohesion at the top.


Finally, no change for snowshoe lovers: All the marked routes in the valley are practicable. Most of them can be done with crampons and poles, the snow having been well-packed by lots of people.



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: 09 February 2023

La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 09 February 2023

With high pressure in situ, things in the mountains aren’t changing much. 



The wind has continued to affect the snowpack and you need to be canny to find good skiing. Powder is rare, but you will find hard snow, sastrugi, crust...etc. Make sure you have couteaux/harscheisen to hand.  

The ‘Z" is in place on the Aiguille du Midi arête. The Vallée Blanche has been well worked by the wind, but the skiing is not so bad as long as you are competent. The exit couloir of the Grand Envers behind the Requin hut (which is now open!) is steep and the passage is very delicate: rocks and ice on the surface. The vallée noire is also tricky: compact snow meaning it’s a no fall zone, only for good skiers!

Regular activity around the Brèche Puiseux, descent by the Mont Mallet glacier (which is very open!) in 60m or 2x30m with intermediate belay at the fixed rope level (which is quite damaged, do not use it). The Col du Tacul/Couloir du Capucin has been skied (see our cahier de courses).

We repeat, be careful when you get to the Mer de Glace, the track passes 1m from “moulins” (deep holes)! It gets really rocky below Montenvers and up to Les Mottets, basically you walk from the ice grotto. There are more and more rocks on the James Bond track on the way back, skis on and off several times. Depending on your timing and the love you have for your skis, taking the train may be a wise decision!

Argentière/Grand Montets: couteaux are recommended for the climb to the Col des Rachasses. Like many northerly aspect slopes, the Rognons glacier has been well trashed by the wind. The Col des Cristaux has been partially skied, in poor conditions. The N/NE faces of the basin are dry.

Aiguille d’Argentière: the milieu glacier is tracked on the right bank, no information on the upper slope (or the narrows?). The summit ridge (it changes from year to year) is also tracked. The Argentière and the Tour Noir cols are tracked, as is the Col du Chardonnet, the top of which is very dry. 30m abseil on the north side (+ crampon descent, rimaye OK).

Fenêtre de Saleina: tricky rimaye but OK. The Passon is being done regularly, variable snow on the descent to le Tour, even very bad at the bottom (crust).

Aiguilles Rouges: (and the “moyenne montagne" in general - Contamines, Plaine-Joux, Bel Oiseau, Col de la Forclaz...), most of the routes have been tracked. Rocks at the bottom of the Vallon de Bérard, and beware of the walkway between the Fontaine Froide bridge and the waterfall, which is closed by municipal decree. On the way up, a temporary footbridge has been set up to cross the river just before the closed one. On the way down, do not cross the Fontaine Froide bridge and stay on the left bank until you reach the temporary footbridge. Also be careful at the bottom of the roman road "Voie Romaine” in Contamines which is sheet ice and whose access is blocked by ribbons. A diversion is in place, plan to put your skis on your sac when going up and down. 



With the thaw, medium altitude ice climbing and those areas exposed to the sun have taken a beating! It goes without saying, but be sure to check the state of the ice before setting off. There is still climbing around Trient (Pétoudes), near Loriaz, on the right bank of Argentière (Shiva has collapsed, OK from Frénésie to the Mur des Jumelles. Good conditions on the left bank of Argentière (Dents de la Mer wall, EMHM...), Crèmerie sector (now well formed) and Dalles de l'Envers (Tout Shuss). The Bérard artificial crag is back in good shape! Always remember to book your slots.

Leaving the valley, there is also climbing at the Ruisseling of Notre-Dame-de-la-Gorge and at Armancette, at Stassaz, at Plan Désert, at Nant Burgeat, in the valley of Sixt, Cogne... With the forecast thaw, conditions are likely to change quickly.

A rise in temperature is at least a good thing for gully lovers! Activity above Plan de l'Aiguille (Mallory tracked, Fil à Plomb, Mini Blast regularly climbed), on the E side of Mont Blanc du Tacul, Modica & Gabarrou OK, Valeria OK), Pointe Lachenal (Pellissier OK - the crux is the rimaye passage), in the Argentière basin (no more info). As always, beware of heavy traffic.



Finally, all the marked snowshoe itineraries of the valley are practicable. Most of them are possible with crampons and poles, the snow having been well packed by lots of traffic.



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.




Details Announced for 2023 Rick Allen Memorial Lecture

Details Announced for 2023 Rick Allen Memorial Lecture

The University of Birmingham Mountaineering Club and the Midland Association of Mountaineers have announced that the 2023 Rick Allen Memorial Lecture will take place on 22 February at the Teaching and Learning Lecture Theatre 2 of the University of Birmingham.

Rick Allen climbing on the Aiguille du Chardonnet

The lecture, 'The Anatomy of a Himalayan Climbing Expedition' will be given by experienced expedition climber Surgeon Rear Admiral Andrew S Hughes and will focus on the key elements involved in climbing a new Himalayan objective.

The talk will start at 7:30PM and will be broadcast live on Zoom for those who are unable to attend in person. Interested parties can sign up for the Zoom link via the UBMC website.

Rick Allen was tragically killed in an avalanche on K2 in 2021 while attempting a new route on the mountain's south-east face. Rick was an Alpine Club member and one of the most accomplished mountaineers of modern times. He was perhaps best known for making the first complete ascent of Nanga Parbat's Mazeno Ridge with his long-term climbing partner Sandy Allan.




New Routes Established in the French Alps

New Routes Established in the French Alps

At the end of January two strong teams, operating at opposite ends of the French Alps, both established new lines on iconic alpine peaks.


on 28 January, Giuseppe Vidoni, Richard Tiraboschi, and Tommaso Vection, made the first ascent of 'Happy Birthday' which climbs the south face of the Grandes Jorasses to the Aiguille de l’Évêque via a 1,000m couloir. Vidonia and Tiraboschi had made an intiial attempt on the line a few days earlier, but had been forced to retreat when warm conditions on the face above sent a stream of meltwater down the couloir. On returning with Vection, they were able to take the route to the summit, offering a grade of A1, IV, M6, ED. The route name was chosen to mark Vection turning 30 the day after the team's ascent.


At the same time, on the Barre des Écrins, Benjamin Védrines, Nicolas Jean and Julien Cruvellier were busy on another 1,000m couloir. 'La Gorge' on the mountain's south face is prone to rockslides in warmer weather and so, despite being an obvious line, it has waited many years for a first ascent. With good, cold conditions, the team of three climbed the route over the weekend of the 28 and 29 January, surmounting difficulties of M7, A1, V+, ED+ with Jean reportedly dispatching an extremely commiting pitch just as the team was about to admit defeat. The trio have dubbed the route 'De L’Or en Barre'.




Report: 27 January 2023

La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 27 January 2023



As we said in the last update, the snowfalls of the last week have allowed ski touring to really get going. It's a pity that the wind spoiled the quality of the snow in the most exposed places but the skiability remains generally very good. 

All the classic routes in the Aiguilles Rouges have been done.

Couloir de la Chorde OK near the Pointe Noire de Pormenaz.

Aiguillette des Houches: you can skin from le Bettey, the Combe de la Vogealle is seeing a lot of traffic.

Be careful at the bottom of the combe du Pouce: somebody went through a snow bridge above the stream in the gorge (there is still a lot of water in the streams at the moment). Variant on the left bank in the alder bushes “varosses" for those who know it (exposed).

There are some “rimayes" between which it is necessary to navigate at the foot of the steep slope on the N side of the Col Belvedere (see cahier de course).

No fixed rope at the top of the Col de Beugeant. A new belay has been installed for those who are not comfortable (40m descent).

Trè les Eaux: stay on the right bank of the gorge (short ascent, a small 1m jump, then a short 15m abseil, but “not scary"). Then the snow cover is good in the woods to get back to Les Granges.

You can skin from Le Buet/Couteray. As a reminder, there is now a charge for parking at Le Buet: one more reason to take the train!

There is also plenty of activity around the Bel Oiseau and the Col de la Forclaz, Pointe Ronde, Croix de Prélaye).

The glaciers have had a good whitewash! The summer took its toll and some are still very chaotic. We are still at the beginning of the season and the snow bridges can be fragile.
Activity on the glacier des Grands, Passon, Col du Tour Noir, Col du Chardonnet. No information about the Trois Cols.

There is a lot of activity in the Vallée Blanche (only for good skiers). The arête is equipped (stakes, fixed ropes on each side) but not the kink half way down. Crampons are therefore recommended. It is always better to stay on the classic route or the slopes of the Rognon (less crevassed). The wind has been blowing but it's still pleasant to ski (soft sastrugi, better snow in the sheltered parts). The salle a manger is fine and then you can swoosh gently to Montenvers. Be careful not to fall asleep on the Mer de Glace, the track passes 1m from “moulins” (deep holes). A fall there last week miraculously ended not too badly. The most resourceful who don't have new skis can always do the "integral" by descending to the buvette at les Mottets (lots of ski scraping on the glacier).

In strong winds, the gondola may be closed. In this case you have to go back up on foot by the stairs and then follow the diversions set up because of the closure of the classic path linked to the work on the new lift which has become dangerous.

The Pas de Chèvre exit couloir was disfigured by the hot summer. We can only advise against it at the moment until it is better covered with snow.



Gully activity was quite reduced because of the cold and the wind but it's starting again. We have very little information since 10 January except good conditions in the Pellissier gully (cahier de course) and in the Gabarrou-Albinoni ("not too deep snow at the bottom, firm nevé + ice at the top"). Mini Blast ok too (one of the abseils is a bit more than 60m). Teams have done Petit Viking, Modica-Noury, Lafaille without more info.

The return of the cold weather allows a nice resumption of the ice climbing activity. We can now find something to fiddle around on at the Crémerie.

Bérard: some lines can be climbed, remember to book your slots on the Compagnie des Guides website.

There is climbing around Trient (Pétoudes), Loriaz, Rive Droite (from the mur des Jumelles to the Frénésie, Icelander perhaps OK) and Rive Gauche (Mur des Dents de la mer, EMHM) off the Argentière glacier, Les Houches (Bellevue waterfall, Sainte-Marie viaduct), Notre Dame de la Gorge (Ruisseling), Cascade Armancette, Stassaz...



There is snowshoeing on the marked routes or around Loriaz/Chalets de Chailloux.



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.




Deadline Approaches for GRIT&ROCK Funding

Deadline Approaches for GRIT&ROCK Funding

Applications to the 2023 GRIT&ROCK First Ascent Expedition Award will close on 28 February. Now in its seventh year, the award provides funding to female-led expedition teams with the aim of encouraging greater female participation in pioneering alpine ascents.

2022 Exploration grant recipients Isidora Llarena, Rebeca Cáceres and Nadine Lehner in Patagonia

The award is split into three categories: Performance which focusses on ambitious high-altitude projects, Exploration which supports smaller-scale projects in remote regions and Apprenticeship which funds initiatives whose primary aim is the development of alpine skills and greater independence. 

In total $10,000 US is split between these categories. Past recipients include alpinists Priti Wright, Nasim Eshqui and The French National Female Alpine Team. Applications from mixed gender projects are welcome.

Further details on the categories and the application process can be found via the Grit&Rock website.




Roadworks to Affect Access to George Starkey Hut

Roadworks to Affect Access to George Starkey Hut

Following on from the disruption at the end of 2022, access to the George Starkey Hut in Patterdale will once again be rendered more difficult by resurfacing work.
From 18 January to 07 February, the A592 will be closed between Waterfoot Junction and Rheged. The closure will take place Monday through Friday between the hours of 08:30AM and 4:30PM. Outside of these hours, access will be maintained where possible, but motorists are reminded that they use the road at their own risk during this period.
More information is available here.

Road closures are also expected on the Kirkstone Pass, commencing with work on traffic signals on 13 February and progressing to a complete 24/7 closure for four weeks from 06 March. 





Report: 20 January 2023

La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 20 January 2023

Finally snow and cold weather to bring a smile to your face! We have about 30cm on the valley floor in Chamonix. It finally looks like winter!



The higher you go, the better (more normal) the snow cover is. Brilliant piste conditions! Look out for rocks off-piste.

Ski touring will be able to start again. You can skin from the valley floor but on the way down the cover may be a bit thin at the bottom. All the classic itineraries will be getting done: Aiguilles Rouges (Crochue Bérard traverse done today in good conditions), Argentière Glacier, 3 cols, Contamines.

As a reminder, the Fantana Fredda footbridge in the Bérard valley is closed (read the arrété decree).

The descent to Le Tour from the Col du Passon was done today. Beware of the avalanche risk though.

The glaciers are getting better, but snow bridges are still weak.

The Vallée Blanche is still a serious trip!
The aréte is snowy, stakes and a fixed rope are in place. The ‘Z’ bit is being worked on. 
The descent is for the moment reserved for good skiers with good experience in glacial terrain.
Grand Envers and Moyen Envers: quite a few slots and hard-packed snow in places. It's better on the classic side and the slopes of the rognon.
The salle à manger is fine. Lots of sidestepping which can be tricky for those snowboarders who are less technically adept.
You can ski down to Montenvers. The most determined (“débrouillards”) skiers who are not in love with their skis can ski down to the Buvette des Mottets (buvette open this weekend) but you will be scraping your skis on the glacier and on the last few turns before Les Planards.  

Be careful on the flat bit of the Mer de Glace, the central track passes near (1m) to some “moulins” (vertical holes in the ice). The first one is visible, someone fell in the second one this morning.



The cold will help the ice climbing. There is climbing on the Rive Gauche (Déferlante). The Rive Droite and further down (EMHM) will need more time. The Crémerie must be buiding up but it's under snow at the moment.

The Bérard artificial site is also on standby (not enough ice). Some people cut the water supply and the pipes froze. Result: we have to wait for the end of the cold spell to be able to produce ice.

Gully activity: it will be very cold the next few days up high. We don't have any feedback since the snowfall but before there was climbing in the Chéré Couloir, Pellisier (very good conditions), Gabarou-Albinoni (good but no more: a lot of snow on the approach slopes; several belays not found on the descent for abseiling). Goulotte: good but not incredible either (brittle ice, thin in places), Modica-Noury (looks thin but doable), Pinocchio (no more info), a few teams on the Super Couloir (very dry at the bottom, the rest of the route looks nice), Lafaille (looks thin in places). The rimaye on Valeria is tricky, quite a lot of snow in the gully and little ice, not great.

The N face of the Tour Ronde has also been climbed (rimaye crossable, then straight up, hard nevé (squeaky snow- neige couic) all the way.



The return of the snow means snowshoeing is back, either on the marked itineraries at the bottom of the valley or at altitude with access by the ski lifts.

The most experienced can escape outside these marked routes (Chalets de Chailloux, Refuge de Loriaz...etc). 



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: 06 January 2023

La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 06 January 2023
Happy new year to the young and young at heart!
Where do we start...
The snow cover is not great, especially below 1,800/2,000m where there is practically no snow. It's better up high but it's still not enough to make up for the damage done last summer. Although things are gradually getting better, the North faces remain rather dry and the glaciers are still tricky.

The ski areas are waiting with impatience for possible snowfalls expected next week. A good number of the slopes in the valley are however well and truly open, like the Aiguille du Midi and the Montenvers train. Even more than usual, you need to ski carefully on the pistes (low snow cover, bumps, ice patches) and off-piste (rocks).

Ski Touring
We are also crossing our fingers for ski touring because low snow cover lower down limits activity and you have to use the ski lifts (or carry!)
The marked valley itineraries are not practicable (except for the Charamillon itinerary, which is a lot shorter than normal). Outings are possible mainly around Lac Blanc (Col des Dards, Col du Belvédère) and back. Portage is needed in the Bérard valley or from the Col de Montets. Another very popular area is the Col des Rachasses from the Herse or Bochard lifts. The descent by the old “Point de vue” Piste is in fairly good nick (the direct exit by the couloir onto the glacier isnt good at the moment). Further on (Glacier du Rognon), is okay but beware of crevasses. Trips to the Col du Tour Noir and the Col du Passon and back are feasible (not enough snow to consider going down Le Tour). Two "tricky” bits on the left bank of the Argentière glacier on the way back (classic bit between the slabs and the glacier, okay for good skiers).
For the time being, the descent of the Vallée Blanche is only suitable for good ski-mountaineers returning from a climbing route. The arête is not equipped with ropes. The snow is good up to the salle à manger (watch out for slots, the snow is quite good up to the Géant seracs and then hard/crusty snow) by the classic route. The salle à manger is quite easy (the higher track is better). Then it gets complicated and you need to walk for between 45 min and 1 hour to reach the grotto. The ratio of skiing + pleasure / danger + walking is not really optimal so for skiing it’s better to wait for more snow.  

There has been a bit of gully activity (there were a few slots in the high mountains between the heavy snowfalls): Some teams on Petit Viking without more information. Pépite, Frendo-Ravanel in good ice conditions. Gullies on the N face of the Aiguille du Midi (Vent du Dragon etc) too dry. Chéré OK. Pellissier very good. Gabarrou-Albinoni and Modica-Noury probably OK. Pas d'Agonie done but no info (the III looked filled in). Valeria, Lafaille, Filo d'Ariana, you will have to go and see and tell us!

Déferlante is probably the only water ice in the valley (let's add Mini Couloir as well) but beware of overcrowding. There is ice in the Cogne area as well.  

Even if the media has highlighted the lack of snow, there is still some and unlike some massifs, you can't hike everywhere. Practically none of the classic summer hikes (lakes, balconies etc) are practicable!

Hikes that are currently possible if you are properly equipped are:

- The Charousse Alpage.
- The “Petit Balcons” paths (North and South).
- The "Buvettes" (Floria, Chapeau, Dard/Cerro/Chalet du glacier des Bossons) .
- The Chailloux Chalets (Last part snowy).
- The Chalets Loriaz (refuge open) by the forest road (last part snowy) from Vallorcine.
- Lac Vert via Les Trois Gouilles and the Ayères Chalets from Servoz.

Snowshoeing is also limited because of the poor snow short, it's either too much or not enough... !!!!
The following are currently possible:

- Autannes near the Col de Balme
- The Raverettaz and the Index at Flégère
- A circuit round la Charme, Petit Prarion and Bellevue at Les Houches

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.


Andrew Wilkinson

We are saddened to have recently learned of the untimely death of Andrew ‘Wilkie’ Wilkinson on 11 September.  He was admitted to the Club as a member of the ACG in March 2021.

Report: 09 December 2022

La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 09 December 2022

It is snowing in the valley!

At the beginning of the afternoon, there was between 30 and 40 cm of fresh snow at 2,000m. There was a lot of wind high up.


Ski Areas

It is now the turn of La Flégère to open up (partially) its ski area continuously from tomorrow (Saturday 10 December).

Lognan - Les Grands Montets will also be open this weekend and then continuously from Thursday 15 (there is a road closure near La Poya on the hill between Chamonix and Argentière on 12, 13 and 14 December from 9am to 1pm).

The rest of the ski areas (Les Houches, Brévent, Balme) and the Aiguille du Midi will open next weekend.

Be careful off-piste: Risk of avalanche & rocks (early season snow cover).

This snowfall and the opening of Flégère will really launch the ski touring season! Be careful not to get caught out at the beginning of the season.


Snowshoeing and Cross-Country Skiing

The snowshoeing season is about to begin. The marked itineraries of the Flégère domain are closed for the moment!

Snow cover is still insufficient for the marked snowshoeing routes at the bottom of the valley ( which can be done with good mountain boots and poles.

The cross-country ski trails in Chamonix will also be partially open tomorrow!


Climbing has started on the left bank (rive gauche) of the Argentière basin (see the cahier de courses on the La Chamoniarde website for more details).

It is still too early for the artificial site of Bérard. This year, a reservation system will be put in place, we will tell you more when it is operational!



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.




Gabriel Loppé Exhibition Planned at Fort Bard

Gabriel Loppé Exhibition Planned at Fort Bard

An exhibition on the life and works of Gabriel Loppé is set to open at Ford Bard in the Aosta Valley, Italy on 17 December 2022. The exhibition, which is curated by the Alpine Club's Keeper of Pictures William J. Mitchell and Anne Friang of Amis de Gabriel Loppé is titled 'Gabriel Loppé, painter, climber and traveller'. 

The Glacier and the Dent du Géant
Oil on paper, 45 x 60 cm, dated: August 1881
(Collection Amis du Vieux Chamonix)

Loppé, an Alpine Club member from the age of 39, was one of the first artists to bring back representations of the high mountains to the public, regularly painting the view from the summit of Mont Blanc. He considered himself to be a chronicler of his time and later branched out into photography, earning fame with his photograph of lighning striking the Eiffel Tower. As the exhibition title suggests, he was a prolific traveller, visiting much of Western Europe at the dawn of the 20th Century. 

This new exhibition brings together more than 90 of Loppé's paintings, drawings and photographs, exhibiting them alongside a selection of his climbing equipment which is shown here publicly for the very first time.

Crevasses on the Mer de Glace below the Grands Charmoz
Canvas 100 x 78 cm, dated 19.09.1885
(Collection Amis du Vieux Chamonix)


'Gabriel Loppé, painter, climber and traveller' is open daily until 14 January 2024, with entry costing €8.00 (€7.00 for concessions) and includes access to the Alpine Museum. Further details can be found on the Fort Bard website.  




Report: 02 December 2022

La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 02 December 2022


Winter is certainly here but it’s being a bit shy. 


Snow cover is relatively good above 2,000m. There are still a lot of rocks at this altitude, especially in our massif. 

Ski touring is possible around Le Tour and the Col de Balme. You can just about ski from the car park. Follow the 4WD track up to Charamillon: watch out for rocks and especially for people who are going up.   

Some activity on the Bel Oiseau and probably elsewhere too. You will have to carry skis for a bit. 


The Grands Montets is opening partially from tomorrow (forfait 31€ for the Bochard lift). The run is not pisted and it is artificial snow. So definitely for good skiers and just for this weekend (03 - 04 Dec). Information for the weekend 10 - 11 December will follow depending on snow cover. Complete opening will be from 15 December. 

The snow cover is thin and there are still a lot of rocks.   Off-piste skiing very much not advised. For those who are skinning into the Argentière basin watch out for crevasses on the Rognon glacier and on the Argentière glacier. There’s not enough snow for the classic descent from the Col du Passon down to Le Tour. 


Outings (mainly on ski) from the Helbronner are possible but you will need solid glacier experience. Remember that the ladders leading down to the to the Toule glacier are no longer accessible. The Rébuffat goulotte is very (too) dry. The Gervasutti couloir and the Voie Normale on the Tour Ronde could be considered. 


No info concerning the gullies in other sectors. Chardonnet (Albert 1er access by the moraine or the Col du Passon but not from Charamillon and the summer path); Argentière (Petit Viking...), Plan de l'Aiguille etc. Please send us any information if you do go. 

No ice in the valley yet (except in your drinks). If you do go to the rive gauche of Argentière (Déferlante etc) let us know how you get on. 


It’s still a bit early to get out on snowshoes and a bit late for a lot of the main footpaths except below 1,600m (chalet du Chapeau, buvette de la Floria, Cerro). If you’re well-equipped (good boots, poles, micro crampons) and you’re experienced it’s possible to get to the chalets de Chailloux and Loriaz (snow shoes will be useful higher up). 


Unfortunately there is not enough snow for the Nordic ski tracks to open. The planned opening date of 03 December has been pushed back. The opening date will be announced when conditions improve. 


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.




Robert Langford

We are saddened to learn from his son of the death on Sunday of Robert Langford who joined the club in 1960 and was a member of the ACG from 1963.