The Alpine Club, the world’s first mountaineering club, was founded in 1857.  For over 150 years, members have been at the leading edge of worldwide mountaineering development and exploration. 

With membership, experienced and aspiring alpinists benefit from a varied meets programme, regional lectures with notable guest speakers, reduced rates at many alpine huts, opportunity to apply for grants to support expeditions, significant discounts at many UK retailers, extensive networking contacts, access to the AC Library and maps - and more! 

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News

Mark Vallance

It is with great sadness that we report news of the death of Mark Vallance, in Switzerland, on the 19th of April.


 


Members are invited to send their tributes to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. so that they can be posted on the website

Bob Allen

We are saddened to receive news of the death on the 18th April of our member, Bob Allen.

A memorial service will be held at St Oswalds Church, Grasmere, on 10th May at 1pm.

 

Members would be welcome to send their tributes to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  so that they can be posted on the website.

Report 17th April 2018

 A mixed bag of information from the latest reports received by Chamoniarde.  Be warned, despite the clear nights the slopes facing south or sheltered from the wind rapidly heat up in the warm weather.  For some routes, it is best to set off early from a hut than take the first lift.

Argentiere:  Very popular for ski touring.   For alpinists, the Couturier has a section of about 60m of ice. The Courtes NNE is OK. The Austrian route was done on Sunday with good snow, ski descent by the Cordier (Courtes).  The Swiss route does not look to be well formed.  The Petit Viking also is not properly formed.  There was an attempt on the Charlet Couturier gully.

Albert 1er Sector: the normal route and the Table Gully on the Tour have been done. Likewise, the Migot spur, but the Chardonnet gullies are dry

Couvercle: The Pointe Isabelle was done, and there was activity in the Whymper Couloir. (N.B. the hut telephone is 06.87.99.01.66)

Requin: The Brèche Puiseux and the Col du Tacul, (descending the Capucins glacier) are popular.  The gullies « Ice is nice » and, « Sorenson Eastman » have been climbed: ice not in good condition and the exit awkward!

Cosmiques: The Chéré is being  climbed each day but the ice is not good.  The Contamine Négri was climbed this morning (17/04), take care with holes hidden by the new snow.  Descent on ski by the Gervusutti Couloir, (jumped the bergschrund.) A party tracked Mont-Blanc du Tacul this morning, (17/04).  The Eugster diagonal on the N face of the Aig du Midi has been climbed, the start being fairly dry, then snow.

Grands Mulets: Good conditions up to the hut.  At the moment Mont Blanc is being done by the Petit and Grand Plateau. The N face has been skied.   The N ridge of the Dôme (which is going to be attempted tomorrow, 18/04) requires two axes, ice screws and needs pitching on the ice sections. From the Plan de l’Aiguille take the lower track to cross the Pélerins glacier.

Conscrits: There is about 1h30 of walking from Cugnon, before using skis.  It is recommended to cross the Mauvais Pas early in the day. Good conditions for the Dômes de Miage and the descent of the Armancette glacier to just below the Armancette lake.  The Aiguille de la Bérangère has been done there and back from the hut.  The Col des Glaciers and Mont Tondu has also seen activity.

Francois Edwards

News has reached us of the death of Club Member Francois Edwards, who died on the 3rd of April. 

Francois joined the Alpine Club in 1959.

Members are invited to send their tributes to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  so that they can be posted on the website.

Report 12 April 2018

This prolonged period of unstable weather is frustrating…

 

With the recent strong, mostly foehn winds and the Spring temperatures, it is necessary to be particularly careful over the next few days!

 

The latest information:

- Conscrits: Last weekend ski tourers were active on the Dômes de Miage, Mont Tondu, Bérangère and the Col des Glacier. The Dômes ridge was exposed and corniced, some parties preferring to descend on the Tré la Tête side. The descent by the Armancette was in good condition. Be careful not to be too late in the day, especially for crossing the Mauvais Pas!

 

- Cosmiques/Requin: The gullies are still not in good condition however, the Chéré, M6 Solar, Pas d'Agonie 1 + 3 and Sorenson Eastman have been climbed. The routes are generally more technical than normal, requiring short ice screws and rock protection.

There is still enough snow to ski the Valley Blanche.  However, for the last 3 days the Aig du Midi lift has been closed due to strong winds and the conditions are unknown.  The snow is likely to have been very affected by the wind. The descent back to Chamonix via Les Mottets remains possible, though walking is necessary in several places.

 

- Le Couvercle: The way up to the hut is in good condition, but there has not been much activity above due to the bad weather. Some parties have gone to the bergschrund on the Whymper and towards Pointe Isabelle and more recently to the Col de Talèfre, Angélique Couloir and to the Brèche des Droites. Avoid being late in the day and be aware of deep snow in places.

 

- Argentière:  The main activity remains ski touring though some attempts have been made on the gullies.  Conditions reported OK for the Ravanel-Frendo, but bad conditions reported for the Claire Chazal.  The Petit Viking was very technical, (thin, black ice).  A party retreated from the Couturier last weekend; too dry and with a lot of bare ice.

Ski crampons are recommended, (essential?) for the Col du Chardonnet.

 

- Mont Blanc: The Grands Mulets hut is open and guarded; remember to contact the warden to make a reservation and get the latest information on conditions.  The summit was reached by the Plateaux route last weekend, no further information.

 

- Aiguilles Rouges:  the Flégère has been closed for several days so no information from this sector. The col de Bérard was tracked this morning (12/4) from the Buet village.  Generally good conditions with several centimetres of fresh snow at the col.  The Loriaz hut is closed for the moment.

 

- Hiking / Snow shoeing: It is still possible to do some snow shoeing at  Bérard,  Loriaz ,Chailloux and Prarion.
There is still a lot of snow at altitude with about  2 metres, (more in places,) at 2000m.

At the risk of repetition, it is far too early to hike along the trails above 1400m. Conditions are going to remain awkward for a long time this Spring, especially in certain sectors.

Do not expect to be able to walk the Grands Balcons north and south, or the paths leading up to the mountain lakes during the Spring holidays or the May bank holiday weekends.  

 

Whatever the activity, care is needed. Warm, Spring temperatures are foreseen and the avalanche risk, which remains important, is evolving during the day. Early starts essential to avoid being caught out. Frequent slab avalanches down to ground level have been observed.  This is the case at Charamillon, where the ski touring route is currently closed.

 

Livia Gollancz

It is with sadness that we report the news of the death of our member, Livia Gollancz.

Livia had become a member of the Ladies Alpine Club in 1966. She was also a member of the LAC Committee in 1966 and Archivist from 1989 to 1999.

 

Livia died on the 29th March, aged 97.

 

Members would be welcome to send their tributes to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  so that they can be posted on the website.

Alpine Club Young Alpinists Polish Exchange

The Alpine Club is working with the BMC to look at ways of helping young, talented British climbers to improve their skills and knowledge about expedition climbing. This group is known by various names including the ‘Young Alpinists’ and will hopefully transform in the near future into a revitalised Alpine Climbing Group within the Alpine Club. I have been willingly roped in to process to act as an expedition mentor for anyone willing to listen to the ‘Old Bloke’.

Report 31 March 2018

Winter is still very much with us.

The recent lack of stable weather has made it difficult for alpinists.

 

Furthermore, there were frequent snow falls last week.  This morning, (31/03,) there was about 40cms of fresh snow at 3500m and 30cms at 2700m.  This snow fell at night following a foehn wind the day before. These strong winds will have caused some major drifting in places.

The avalanche risk remains 3/5, so take care this weekend 

 

Despite the capricious weather, ski touring remains popular.  This includes the Haute Route and the classics in the Aiguilles Rouges, the Argentiere sector, the Valley Blanche and the area near the Conscrits.

The Dômes de Miage , with a descent via the Armacette,  was done 26/03, (the Dômes ridge was airy.)  The Bérangère and Tondu are also tracked.
Mont Blanc was tracked on Sunday (25/03) as far as the Plateaux, descent by the N face in bad snow conditions, (hard and windblown).  The Junction is in good condition.

 

The high mountain huts are slowly opening.  Do not forget to contact the warden to make a reservation and check on the latest conditions.
The snow quality is very variable, depending on the sector.
The Couvercle and Conscrits are open. For Grands Mulets and Albert 1er, contact the wardens first to check if they will be there, (and so                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 that they can prepare a warm welcome.)

 

There has been a little bit of activity in the gullies but in general they not properly formed and conditions are awkward. No information for the Argentière N faces.

 

It is still possible, (walking in one or two places below the farm) to descend the Valley Blanche right down to Chamonix.

 

No changes in conditions for snow shoeing. One can start from the valley floor but below 1500m you are probably better off with good boots, poles and, maybe, walking crampons.

 

Further information is available in the Chamoniarde                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      online route book, and you are invited to add your own experiences there.

 

Up Close with Lindsay Griffin

Interview by Adele Long

How long have you been a member of the AC?

I became a member of the Alpine Climbing Group in 1972, which was then part of the AC. It wasn't until 1977, when someone asked me to propose them for the AC and the membership secretary at the time said ‘you can't do that, mate, you’re not an AC member!’, that I joined the AC.

Report 16th March 2018

March has been decidedly capricious and does not likely to change in the coming days.

 

The snow fall at altitude was significant with about a metre of snow settling at 2500m at the beginning of the week.  This was followed by a beautiful day, then a period of strong foehn conditions.

The wind gusts at altitude were over 140km/h at times, causing drifting. Given the general conditions this winter it is important to stay vigilant.


The Valley Blanche was skied on Wednesday and again today (Friday), some people reported there was” too much snow”. A very high level of skiing ability is essential.

 

Concerning the gullies; at last, some information:
- Pas d'Agonie 1 on the Rognon was OK but with a lot of snow at the exit.
- Mercier-Lucena on the Pointes Lachenal was also OK

- The Chéré was climbed but no further information.
- Pas d'Agonie 2 and 3 appeared to be climbable.

 

The season for ice climbing on the cascades is coming to an end, although conditions at the Cascade de Bérard, the Crèmerie and Déferlante remain OK for the moment.  One should remember that it is now the second half of March.  

 

Ski touring is still the main activity for the moment.  

The tunnel at Emosson is impassable, (blocked by snow).
The season for the Haute Route is starting, but with the bad weather, there have been no reports yet.

The Argentière hut is open.

The Conscrits hut was due to open this weekend but this has now been delayed for several days.

 

Snow shoeing remains practicable in the Bérard Valley, les Granges, Loriaz, Samoteux, Chailloux, Prarion, Les Ayères...
The footpaths along the valley floor are mostly accessible but good boots and hiking poles are essential and possibly also crampons.

 

Given the number of phone calls and emails the Chamoniarde has received, it is felt that a clarification is needed concerning hiking.
Though Spring has arrived in the plains, this is not the case in the mountains.

 

It has been a hard winter with large quantities of snow still present at altitude.  Hiking above 2000m is not an option and is unlikely to be so before the end of May and even then, not on all trails.

 

Unless there is a particularly warm, sunny, Spring, the lakes at altitude, like Lac Blanc or the Grands Balcons Nord and Sud will not be practicable during the Easter holidays nor the May bank holidays.  The lifts at Brévent-Flégère remain open until 23rd April and the change from winter to summer does not happen in the blink of an eye.


The same applies to the Tour des Aiguilles Rouges and the Tour du Mont Blanc where complete autonomy and the correct equipment is essential. Signposts and waymarks may be buried, and snowfields hard packed.

Most of the huts will not open before mid-June.
Other hikes are possible, so you may need to modify your plans..  Consider getting advice before and during your trip.

 

As usual, the Chamoniarde asks you to give them feedback on your outings/experiences

.

Jack Jackson

We are saddened to receive news of the death of our member, Jack Jackson.

Members would be welcome to send their tributes to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  so that they can be posted on the website.

Donald Barr-Wells

It is with sadness that we report the death of Club Member Donald Barr-Wells.

Members are invited to send their tributes to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  so that they can be posted on the website.

Report 8 March 2018

The recent, unsettled weather has prevented activity at altitude, where there have been significant snowfalls together with strong winds.

 

On the morning of 8th March there was about 60 to 70cmsof fresh snow above 2500m, the wind remaining strong from the W/SW in the high mountain, causing drifts.

 

There have been virtually no reports received since the last update.

 

Some ski tours will be possible during breaks in the weather, but the selection of routes will be limited. It is necessary to adapt to the daily conditions and use the information from B.E.R.A.

 

The Valley Blanche was skied on 08-03, lots of fresh snow but no other information.

 

No recent information about ice climbing.

 

The signposted trails for snow shoeing are accessible, though remain with hard snow or ice in places.  For the most part, snow shoes are only useful to stop slips.  Good boots, poles and even crampons are often more suitable.

 

Some high mountain huts will open soon for the ski touring season. The "refuges" page has the dates.

 

Please do not forget to write up your outings in the Chamoniarde route book (cahier de courses") or your observations on conditions in the online app "Obsalp".

Avellano Towers

The Avellano Towers are an incredible place in the Patagonian wilderness of Chile. Taking Jim Donini up on his offer of, “something a little different”, 5 years ago is one of the best things I’ve ever done.

Up Close with Becky Coles

Interview by Stuart Worsfold

How did it all start for you with climbing? Did your parents climb as well or were they just walkers?
I got into the outdoors through walking with my parents, but they didn't do any climbing. Walking up Snowdon would be an extreme expedition for them. In fact, I didn't really like walking when I was small, especially if I could see how far I had to walk, so they find what I do now quite amusing. 

Report 2nd March 2018

The very cold conditions at the start of the week gave way to warmer weather together with strong winds and a couple of centimetres of new snow.

On Friday 2nd March about 20cms of fresh snow fell at 2000 / 2500m and 40cms at the Aig du Midi. The wind is still present above 2000m, causing snow drifts.

The new information received since the last update:

Ski touring remains the main activity, with a good cover of snow, though the conditions are now very variable.

 

Brèche Puiseux was in good condition on 26-02.   There is a rope in place at the col.  
Two 60m abseils are necessary to descend from the Col du Tacul to the Capucin glacier.

 

Information on other activities at altitude are anecdotal.

The Aiguille Verte was climbed on 27-02, up the Couturier and down the Whymper.  More information in the OHM route book , in which you are invited to record your own outings.

The gullies remain very dry.  However, the Pellissier on the Pointes Lachenal was done on 27-02, friable ice at the start then sections of dry.  Another party was on M6 Solar, where the conditions were not good.

Claire Chazal was done om 25/02, no further information.  

 

The Valley Blanche is OK but take care as the recent snow will have hidden some of the crevasses.  It is still possible to ski to Chamonix, with only a couple of walking sections on the descent from Les Mottets.

 

Cogne remains popular for ice climbing, the options being limited in the Chamonix valley.

On the Argentière true left bank, (rive gauche), Déferlante is OK but Mini Couloir is “grise mine”, (rock hard grey ice).
The ice climbing venue at Bérard is OK.

 

The snow on Friday will have improved conditions for snow shoeing.  A lot of the trails had become very icy, better suited to crampons than snow shoes!  

 

The Cosmiques hut is now open.  The Simond bivouac is no longer accessible.

The Argentière hut should open on 9th March, the Albert 1er on 17th March and the Grands Mulets on 27th March, to be confirmed, depending on the weather.

Link to the latest   B.E.R.A.

Report 21 February 2018

Latest mountain information :

 

Ski touring remains the main activity despite some bad weather at the end of last week. The snow/rain limit went as high as 2300m, with a lot of fresh snow above this.

 

The avalanche risk remains at 3/5 and not all the classic tours have been retraced yet. Caution is still needed.  The snow remains cold on the north facing slopes but is beginning to transform on those facing south. 

 

 

Argentière Sector : the cols du Passon, du Tour Noir, du Chardonnet (3 Cols) and d'Argentière are tracked.  The Glacier du Milieu is tracked up until the base of the final slopes, (20/02).  No information for the north faces or gullies in this sector.

 

Mer de Glace Sector:  the Valley Blanche has been popular these last few days. Conditions are mainly good but it still for expert skiers only.  The crest of the ridge and the “Z” track are equipped.  Take care selecting the correct way into the “Salle a Manger” area. The descent to Chamonix via Les Mottets is still very good, despite some sections with poor snow cover,

The exit from the Pas de Chevre is awkward, with a lot of stonefall once the sun hits it.  One is advised not to do this route.

.
The Col du Tacul, the Brèche Puiseux and the way up to the Couvercle hut are tracked.
The Talèfre basin looks to be OK. As to be expected, there is a bergschrund at the base of the Whymper.

 

Aiguilles Rouges : a popular sector. The Bérard valley has hard snow/ice but goes OK.  The Buet is tracked.  

 

There has been very little activity concerning “classic” alpinism or the gullies.  Only ascents of the Cosmiques Ridge and the Chéré couloir have been reported.  For the Chéré, the first two pitches are more technical than usual, (difficult to place ice screws due to the ice being too thin or too hard.)  Conditions improve above this.

 

The snow on the marked paths for snow shoers tends to be very hard/icy. Though OK, snow shoes or crampons + poles are essential.

 

 

Report 6th February 2018

Since the last update, there was snowfall on 2nd February of about 30cms at 2000m.

Ski touring has since been very popular in the Argentière, Tour and Aiguilles Rouges sectors.

Chamoniarde has received the following information:

- when descending the true left bank of the Tour Glacier, (e.g. from the Col du Passon), it is best to exit to the right, (below the glacier.)

- Valley Blanche conditions:  the snow quality is bad, (crusty / corrugated).  The wind has caused numerous crevasses to reappear, often partially hidden by “cock’s combs”, (icy ridges.)

- at the entry into the “salle à manger” under the Requin hut, there is a particularly treacherous crevasse, take care! 

- there are now 2 ropes installed on the Aig du Midi ridge and the descent with crampons goes well. The « Z » track is still under construction.