David Baldock

We are sad to announce the death on 30 September of David Baldock, a member for almost 50 years who contributed a great deal to the club.

AC South West Events for 2023/24

AC South West Events for 2023/24

This autumn and winter, Alpine Club members in the south-west will be running a programme of six lectures/events. Two lectures and a mountain poetry evening are confirmed for 2023 with three more events planned for 2024.

The lectures will take place once a month from October to March, starting at 7:30pm, normally in the upstairs room at the Nova Scotia pub in Bristol. The planned dates and speakers are below:

11 Oct : Dave Wynne-Jones – ‘An Approach to Expeditions’
10 Nov: Bristol Climbing & Mountain Poetry Evening (Venue: John Sebastian Lightship, Bathurst Parade, Bristol, BS1 6UB)
13 Dec: Simon Richardson - Looking Around New Corners in the Alps and Canada
10 Jan: TBC
14 Feb: TBC
13 Mar: TBC

We hope to see you there!




Report: 27 September 2023

La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 27 September 2023

We are having a beautiful Indian summer. Winter came back for a bit (details in last week's bulletin) but now the sun and mild temperatures are back at all altitudes. 

Most high mountain huts are now without guardians, including the Cosmiques, those on the normal route on Mont Blanc and the Conscrits, which are all in winter mode. Only the Couvercle (until the end of this week), and the Torino are going onto the bitter end. 

This fine spell will please granite climbers who still haven’t had quite enough. South facing rock exposed to the sun has dried pretty well and there are lots of places like this at altitude including: the Charpoua basin, Aiguille du Moine (with the exception of the East face where the rimaye is very tricky), Aiguille de Pierre-Joseph, Envers des Aiguilles, Aiguille du Peigne, S face of the Aiguille du Midi, Tacul satellites etc. 

For those with an appetite for snow or mixed routes there are still a few to be done including: the classics of the Le Tour basin (Aiguille du Tour, Tête Blanche, Petite Fourche), around the Aiguille du Midi (Cosmiques Arête, Pointe Lachenal traverse), around the Helbronner (Entrèves, Marbrées, Dent du Géant).

In spite of the fact that the huts on the normal route on Mont Blanc are closed, conditions have significantly improved thanks to last week's snow fall. Watch out for overcrowded winter rooms. Snow stability also needs to be a serious consideration. There was a partial burial under the shoulder of Mont Blanc du Tacul on Sunday and some glacier snow bridges are fragile. The Tacul has not been re-tracked, nor has the Trois Monts route. 

Lower down the off-season is great for walking sport climbing, cycling etc. 



Translated with kind 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: 22 Septmeber 2023

La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 22 September 2023
Autumn is coming! It’s snowing high up, variable amounts but lots of wind: watch out for avalanches and sluffs. Be careful on glaciers with tricky crevasses and potentially fragile snow bridges.

Here are the few snow reports we were able to gather today (it was white down to 2400m yesterday morning):

- At the Goûter, there was a lot of SW wind and we recorded 10/15cm with large areas of accumulation. It's all plastered down to the Nid d'Aigle.

- Torino: 20/30 cm fell. The Dent du Géant, Entrèves and the Marbrées are plastered.

- At the Couvercle it’s all white, but the Moine is still doable.

- Cosmiques: 20cm of wind blown snow fell (foehn gusts, but no thunderstorms). The Tacul is loaded! Everything is covered and the old tracks are no longer visible.

- At the Conscrits, not much has fallen; it rained last night and this morning there was 5cm of snow on the terrace.
- The Bérangère is plastered but the rocks are poking out. Mont Tondu has been done, good underfoot on grey ice. The Miages traverse has been done out and back from the Bérangère (too many crevasses on the glacier). The ice at the Col de la Bérangère is all covered up. The hut switches to winter mode on Monday: there's gas, washing-up facilities and a chemical toilet, but no water (stream 50m away). Access will be complicated after the mid-October footpath work as the footbridge will be removed. The mauvais pas will not be crossable.
The Cosmiques and Conscrits huts will be closing this weekend.

In the high mountains, only the refuges on the Mont Blanc normal route, the Couvercle and the Torino remain open.

There are no worries about hiking in the “moyenne montagne". It is now important to be equipped with good shoes and poles: even if the snow has not yet affected these altitudes, some paths can be greasy and wet.

The refuges at Plan de l'Aiguille, Lac Blanc, Loriaz, Des Prés and Moede-Anterne are still open.

As far as lifts are concerned, the Aiguille du Midi cable car, the Montenvers train (as well as the glacier lift for mountaineers) and the Tramway du Mont-Blanc are still operating.

Translated with kind 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.




2023 Piolets d'Or 'Significant Ascents' List Includes Routes by AC Members

2023 Piolets d'Or 'Significant Ascents' List Includes Routes by AC Members

Paul Ramsden acclimatising in the Jugal Himal. The line of his new route 'The Phantom Line' (1300m ED) is visible in the background
Photo: Tim Miller

The Piolets d'Or have released a list of what they consider to be "significant ascents" from 2022. Among the noted routes are several by Alpine Club members:

  • The first ascent of Gulmit Tower (5810m) by AC member Will Sim and Fabian Buhl.

  • The first ascent of the east summit of Barnaj II (6303m) by Tom Seccombe and AC members Callum Johnson and Matt Glenn.

  • The first ascent of Jugal Spire (6563m) by AC members Paul Ramsden and Tim Miller.

  • The first ascent of 'The Pace of Comfort' (950m, 5.10 A3+ M6 70°) on the north-west face of Kichatna Spire (2739m) by David Allfrey, Whit Magro and AC member Graham Zimmerman.

The complete list of ascents is available to view on the Piolets d'Or website.

This list, as the website makes clear, does not represent the nominees for this year's Piolets d'Or Awards, but rather it is a record of significant or innovative ascents climbed in alpine or capsule style during 2022.

The 2023 Piolets d'Or awardees will be announced in due course and will receive their awards at a special ceremony on 15 November in Briançon, France.




AC Peak Lectures Return for 2023/24

AC Peak Lectures Return for 2023/24

Having taken a pause at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, our popular Peak District lectures have taken longer to return than we would have hoped. However, thanks to the hard work of AC vice-president Adéle Long, they are now back with a full schedule for the autumn and winter of 2023/24.

The lectures will take place once a month from October to March, either at The Sir William Hotel in Grindleford or Outside Café in Hathersage. The planned dates and speakers are below:

5 Oct : Charlene Gibson - Climbing Cho Oyu
9 Nov: Catherine Moorehead - In conversation with Jeremy Windsor about her biography of Doug Scott.
7 Dec: Simon Richardson - Looking Around New Corners in the Alps and Canada
11 Jan: Mick Fowler - Chombu: 'The one that got away'
8 Feb: Kasia Piatek - An Expedition to Sikkim
14 March: Ronnie Legg - Ama Dablam by an Average Josephine

Some of the venues are yet to be confirmed, but will be added to the listings in due course. The first two lectures will take place at The Sir William in Grindleford.

We hope to see you there!




2023 AGM & Annual Dinner

Date: Saturday 25 November 2023

By popular request of members, we are returning to The Castle Green Hotel, Kendal, LA9 6RG. The hotel is 2.75 miles from Oxenholme station.

The order of events is:

15:00  AGM in the Kendal Suite.

16:30 - 17:30  Presentations on the 2023 Photograph competition and on the Development of the Aspirants’ Meet 2015 – 2023.

18:30  Cash bar open in the Function Suite (where the dinner is taking place. Cumbria's finest real ales will be available.

19:30  Dinner.


Our principal guest at the dinner is Fay Manners who is one of Britain's finest young alpinists. In 2022 she made the first female ascent of the Phantom Direct route on the south face of the Grandes Jorasses. Fay has climbed the North Face of the Eiger, American Direct of the Dru and the Walker Spur, and this year climbed difficult new routes in Norway, the Karakorum and Greenland.


Fay climbing in Pakistan's Trango Group - Photo: Hermanos Pou


Tickets for the three course dinner are £40.00 per person, reduced to £25.00 for those under the age of 40 on the date of the dinner.

I have been able to negotiate favourable B&B room rates as follows: £145 for a double/twin room for one night, and £245 for two nights. £115 for a single room for one night, £210 for two nights.  These discounted rates will be held until the end of October, so you are encouraged to book soon. Call 01539 734000 and quote Alpine Club.

Members can now buy dinner tickets for themselves and their guests, and book bunkhouse accommodation, paying in either of the following ways:

  • By cheque, made payable to Alpine Club, and sent in the post to the Honorary Secretary at 55 Charlotte Road, London EC2A 3QF

  • Or online by logging into the AC website, navigating to the 'Events' tab and selecting 'AGM & Dinner Booking' from the drop-down menu.

When applying for tickets, please specify any dietary requirements.

Tickets will be posted to members in the two weeks before the event. 

Further details of the event will be circulated in due course on the website, in our next Newsletter and by Alpinet.


- William Newsom, Dinner Organiser




Report: 14 September 2023

La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 14 September 2023
Although the temperatures have dropped a notch, the snowfall forecast for this week was actually quite light and didn't really change the conditions in the high mountains. Two to three centimetres of wet snow fell at the Cosmiques, and around ten centimetres above 4000m.

A few more details to add to last week's update

Le Tour: All the “tat” that has built up over the years on the descent from the summit of the Aiguille du Chardonnet has been removed and replaced with bolt/chain belays. The right-hand line (on the descent) allows you to avoid the rimaye of the col Adams Reilly if this is impassable. Not surpisingly there's no information on the state of the ascent routes! The Albert I refuge closes on September 18. 

Mer de Glace / Leschaux: The lower route across the Charpoua glacier is still passable (see photo below), although the glacier is particularly jumbled and regularly hit by rockfalls. Lots of people on the Drus traverse and on the Contamine-Bastien route, which was climbed in good conditions (see the cahier de course).

The rimaye on the Moine normal route is open across the entire width of the face and is starting to be tricky to climb, but it can be done! The same goes for access to the routes on the E face.
Weather permitting, we'll be here until 30 September at the Couvercle refuge! At the Leschaux, on the other hand, it's the last weekend to take advantage of the guarded refuge. 

On the left bank, the end-of-season clean-up has already begun and the Envers des Aiguilles hut will close on 15 September! The Requin hut has been in winter mode since the beginning of the month.

Aiguille du Midi / Glacier du Géant / Helbronner: As we said at the start of this update, there hasn't been that much snow at altitude. So not much has changed in this sector. The Plan de l'Aiguille, Cosmiques and Torino huts remain open! The Grandes Jorasses traverse has been well-travelled, with decent but often “mixed" conditions. The Tronchey arête was also climbed in good conditions. On the other hand, every one is agreed: the descent via the normal route is no longer the stuff of dreams, with almost constant rock falls during the day both in the Whymper couloir and the Planpincieux glacier, which is wide open. 

Mont Blanc via the Goûter: After a short break, the guides from the Chamonix and St Gervais - Les Contamines companies are back on the Mont Blanc normal route. As always, be careful about the timing of the traverse of the Goûter couloir. 

Bassin de Tré-la-Tête: The Conscrits hut is still open but has telephone problems: contact them for the moment by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Aiguilles Rouges: This is the last weekend to take advantage of the ski lifts at Planpraz/Brévent and La Flégère!

Translated with kind 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: 6 September 2023

La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 6 September 2023

The weather seems to be on a yo-yo as summer draws to a close! After last week's cold snap and snow fall the beginning of September has been marked by unusually hot weather for the time of year. The 0°C isotherm is once again soaring above 5000m and rock fall has resumed in the high mountains, particularly on the west face of the Drus, which had been relatively spared since 2011! Although the snow fall has very temporarily improved conditions for the few snow routes that were still being done, things are changing fast and not in a good way. 

Le Tour 
Conditions are fine on the normal route on the Aiguille du Tour. The Col Supérieur du Tour is starting to go black again. Beware of the instability reported and observed near the the Aiguille Purtscheller: it is recommended to go around it low down before heading to the Aiguille du Tour rimaye, which is crossable in the middle on a snow bridge. The Petite Fourche and the Tête Blanche are also doable. 

Argentière & Charpoua

The refuges have not been staffed since September 1 and August 25 respectively. Consequently, there is little information on these sectors.

Talèfre Basin
The normal route on the Aiguille du Moine is still in good condition! It's a bit more complicated for the east face routes, where the rimayes on the Contamine-Labrunie and Aureille-Feutren are opening up more and more. The Nonne-Evêque traverse was busy, as was the Moine ridge on the Verte for the first time in a while! On the latter, the rimaye is fine, but the ridge is quite dry with rock fall in places.


It's all over for the rock on the north face of the Grandes Jorasses. Despite the current heat, it's not dry enough at this time of year. But everything else is good! The west face of the Petites Jorasses and the Aiguille de Leschaux are dry and approaches are still possible for good climbers. All the routes around the refuge are dry too, and the non-glacial approaches are well-suited to this warm end of season weather! And now more than ever: call before going up to make sure the warden hasn't gone for a walk ;) 

Envers des Aiguilles / Requin

There’s plenty of climbing up here! The rimayes are crossable and on the whole everything's being done!


The Tacul satellites are all dry. The classics (Entrèves, Marbrées) are being climbed, with a nice rock fall reported this morning below the Aiguilles Marbrées (see photo below). On the Dent du Géant, we once again have to watch out for rock falls on the approach to the Salle à Manger - which is also very dry. Plenty of people on the normal route on the Dent du Géant, as well as on the traverse of the Rochefort arête, where the conditions were inevitably worthy of a September: fairly dry on the whole, but bullet hard snow/ice in the morning. No info on the Grandes Jorasses traverse, but we'd love to hear from you!

Aiguille du Midi
Even though the recent snow has been good for the arête, it's still quite technical with a good section of ice under the rocks and several crevasses to get round. And it's not going to get any easier. The same goes for the Cosmiques arête: it's dry again and there's a real risk of it collapsing. Although very crevassed at this time of year, the Vallée Blanche traverse is still possible in the early morning for good climbers. The Mont Blanc du Tacul normal route is being climbed in decent conditions, although a few serac falls have crossed the route in recent days. On the Trois Monts route, we're having trouble getting precise feedback on the Maudit. The ramp used to cross the large rimaye on the face collapsed a few weeks ago and a new route has been opened on the far right, under the rocks. However, the passage is very technical, steep and exposed to both seracs and falling rocks.
Plan de l'Aiguille

Another great place to climb in these hot weather conditions! 

Mont Blanc via the Goûter

Conditions had improved very temporarily with the snowfall, but it didn't last! The rock falls were back with a vengeance in the Goûter couloir. There is snow on 2/3 of the spur below the refuge. Above, the conditions are fine, although you still need to be careful when crossing crevasses and snow bridges, which are weakened by the positive temperatures all the way to the summit during the day! 

Bionnassay / Tré-la-Tête

The Durier refuge has been unguarded since yesterday. The approach to the hut has been made tricky by rock falls on the spur: plan to climb early! On the traverse of the Aiguille de Bionnassay, conditions are good with good steps and no ice. Around the Conscrits/Miage, the traverse of the Dômes is in good condition (no ice) with an out-and-back via the Bérangère. Mont Tondu also looks possible!

Translated with kind 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.




2023 Boardman Tasker Award Shortlist Announced

2023 Boardman Tasker Award Shortlist Announced

The judges of the Boardman Tasker Award for Mountain Literature have announced the shortlist for this year's competition.

© Boardman Tasker Charitable Trust

The shortlisted titles are: Sherpa by Pradeep Bashyal and Ankit Babu Adhikari, Unraveled by Katie Brown, The Hidden Fires by Merryn Glover, British Mountaineers by Faye Latham and Closer to the Edge by Alpine Club member Leo Houlding.

The Boardman Tasker Award, now in its 40th year, was set up in memory of Pete Boardman and Joe Tasker who were tragically lost while climbing on the north east ridge of Mount Everest in 1982. It continues its efforts to pomote mountain literature through this annual award and associated monetary prize. 

The winner(s) will be announced on 17 November as part of an event with the shortlisted authors at Kendal Mountain Festival.




Silvan Schüpbach and Peter von Känel Open New Line on the Eiger Nordwand

Silvan Schüpbach and Peter von Känel Open New Line on the Eiger Nordwand

French publication Alpine Mag report that Swiss climbers Peter von Känel and Silvan Schüpbach have succeeded in opening a new route on the Eiger's north face, climbing from the Stollenloch to the west flank. 'Renaissance' climbs close to the Ghilini-Piola line and shares some pitches with this 1983 route.


The pair established the line over five days from the 24 to the 29 August, climbing free on trad gear and encountering difficulties up to 7c.




Report: 28 August 2023

La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 28 August 2023

After the heatwave, the snow and the cold! It’s all very confusing.

A little "inter-season" update after the storm!

There is:
  • 80cm of fresh, windblown snow at the Aiguille du Midi / Refuge des Cosmiques. 
  • 40cm at Conscrits - 60 cm at the Bérangère 
  • Around 60cm at the Refuge du Goûter.
  • 30cm at the Couvercle hut.
  • Around 10cm at 2500m.

The snowfall was accompanied by strong winds favouring the formation of accumulation zones and wind slab in the high mountains. The risk of avalanches should therefore not be underestimated, particularly over the next 48 hours with the forecast return of clear skies.

The glaciers, which have suffered from the recent hot weather, are going to be treacherous. This layer of snow has potentially formed weak snow bridges hiding the crevasses.

Before this episode, the mountains were very dry and most of the snow/mixed routes were impassable or in poor condition. Whilst the snow will improve certain routes, it won't bring others routes back into condition.

Classic routes such as the Aiguille du Tour or Mont Blanc via the Aiguille du Goûter will soon be retracked.

The Charpoua and Requin refuges now operate in winter mode. The Argentière hut closes on 1 September and the Durier hut on 5 September. 

The snow line has temporarily dropped to around 2200m. The hiking trails are already drying out and can be done with good boots.

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 Statement on the Death of Mohammad Hassan

Alpine Club Statement on the Death of Mohammad Hassan

Recent events on K2 have prompted several members to contact the Club to express their concern at the fate of Mohammad Hassan, a Pakistani high-altitude porter who died high on the mountain in late July.

While the circumstances of Mohammad’s death are still not wholly clear, the Club wants to express its condolences to Mohammad’s family and its concern to the Pakistani authorities at how K2 is being managed. From what we do know, it seems clear that Mohammad was ill-equipped for such an environment and that no serious rescue attempt was made, with many climbers continuing to the summit while Mohammad remained in a perilous position.

It can never be right that a local porter should be abandoned in this way if something could be done and there are vital questions to be answered about how this situation could be allowed to occur.

We share the concerns of those in the guiding world who have expressed their alarm at what happened on K2 and await with interest the promised enquiry from the Pakistani authorities.




Report: 22 August 2023

22 August 2023: Urgent Update on Mountain Conditions in Chamonix

The following is a translation of the La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for the Chamonix area, originally published on 22 August 2023:

In case you hadn't noticed, it's hot!

Very hot, particularly at altitude, with the zero isotherm hovering around 5000m for several days now. No refreezing below 4000m.

This is having a major impact on snow conditions, which are deteriorating rapidly (Aiguille du Tour, normal route on Mont Blanc, etc.) and becoming increasingly technical or even impracticable. The glaciers are also suffering and the snow bridges are weakened: there have been several crevasse falls recently (Dôme du Goûter, Col du Géant, Mont Maudit...).

There has also been an upsurge in rock falls over the last few days in certain areas ("All aspects are affected, although the W, NW and N sides are predominant, and between 3300 and 3800m. Even ’solid' areas have been affected"): Grands Mulets, Cosmiques arête (on both sides), W face of Blaitière, Goûter couloir (a rescue this morning following a major rock fall at 5:30AM), Courtes, Droites, Nant Blanc & Pic Sans Nom NW sides, access to the Durier hut from the Domes de Miage, Rochefort, Dent du Géant area, Aig. du Tacul, W face of the Drus, N face of the Grandes Jorasses (Croz spur).

Make enquiries, adapt your choice of activities and outings and don't hesitate to postpone certain climbs.



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 August 2023

La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 17 August 2023

As in life, things can move very quickly in the mountains... We thought we'd got away with it, but the heatwave has caught up with us.

It's been very hot for a few days now, and conditions on snow routes and on glaciers are deteriorating! Watch out for the quality of the refreeze (fortunately the nights are longer than at the beginning of the summer) and for rock falls in exposed areas!

Here's some brief information sector by sector, bearing in mind that the situation can change very quickly and that a route may no longer be in good condition from one day to the next! We can only recommend that you focus your choice of outings on solid rock without too many complicated glacier approaches!

Le Tour

Little has changed so far, apart from the rimaye on the normal route on the Aiguille du Tour, which is starting to open up.


The Charpoua glacier is still okay low down. Drus traverse and Contamine on the Grand Dru okay. Descend by the right hand abseil line (looking at the mountain) which is shorter and takes you higher up the glacier (it seems obvious NOT to leave crampons and ice axe at the bottom when you go to Les Drus!). There have also been teams on the Evêque (Contamine SW ridge route).

Talèfre Basin

There are no aids (handrails etc) to cross the torrent (below the Aiguille du Moine) on the balcony path leading to the Couvercle hut, so good footwork is essential! 

The classics of the Aiguille du Moine are being done in good conditions (normal route, S ridge, etc.). The rimaye below the Contamine is becoming increasingly tricky to negotiate, you may have to go down inside it.

Nonne and Evêque have been climbed in decent conditions. Pointe Isabelle is still a possibility for very good climbers (crevassed glacier, poor refreezing, icy at the top...)


Few changes here.

The N face of the Jorasses (see photo above) is very dry. Some climbers are currently on the Cassin on the Walker spur: complicated rimaye depending on where you go (we'll see how it develops), dry rock but little snow to make water. The descent via the normal route was still in fairly good conditions on 16/08 (good route but crevasses starting to appear, just a tricky traverse across a slab to reach the Rochers Whymper): to be continued with the hot weather.

Petites Jorasses and Aiguille de Leschaux: Okay approaches and dry faces!

Envers des Aiguilles / Requin

At the Envers all the main rimayes are crossable.

Be careful, you'll need to abseil (on the way down) a minimum of 55m to pass the République Bananière rimaye, otherwise you'll be left hanging!

Most of the routes from the Requin are in good condition, with crowds on the Chapeau à Corne ridge, the Renaudie spur, the Dent du Requin, the Aiguille Pierre-Allain and more. One team failed on Eden de la Mer because of a difficult rimaye. The ascent of the VB is being done, the glacier is mostly dry and fairly easy to read. 


The ascent to the Salle à Manger is completely dry, so take care. A few teams on the Jorasses traverse. There's quite a lot of ice and some poor rock, and beware of the poor refreezing (soft snow) on the Rochefort arête. The rest after the Canzio is better (without crampons until Pointe Croz).

Things are changing a little (snow bridges) on the VB crossing (see the "Lotus Confort" report in the cahier de course on the website) where you should always favour the lower track.

No particular rimaye problems were reported on the Tacul satellites. The high point of a belay (spit) pulled out on the Lifting du Roi route (Roi de Siam) but it was changed today.

Aiguille du Midi Sector

The Aiguille du Midi arête continues to deteriorate. There's ice and a “bloc" to climb over (you can place an ice screw above): not suitable for beginners!

The snow bridge/ramp over Mont Maudit collapsed on 15/08. So it's no longer possible to cross it. You can force your way over, but all the other options are technically very difficult, so the Trois Monts route is no longer really relevant... Mont Blanc du Tacul is seeing daily ascents.

Plan de l'Aiguille

It's not too hot -)

You don't need crampons to climb the red pilllar on the Blaitière!

That's it for the Nantillons!

Mont Blanc via the Aiguille du Goûter

It's hot and dry below the Goûter refuge. For the moment, there have been no major rockfalls in the couloir, but we urge you to get through as soon as possible. Situation to be monitored, but it's not going to get better! 

Miage / Bionnassay

"A bit of ice on the Dômes Traverse, just before the ascent to the Bérangère. Either protect with ice screws or go around it on the rocks. (See photo below).

Otherwise, the rest of the route is still in good condition but the ice is not far away and it can change fast. Watch out for snow bridges on the Tré la Tête glacier if it doesn't refreeze.

Bérangère okay.

Mont Tondu: quite a bit of ice but it's okay for people who are good on their crampons".

A rock fall last night at the abseil on the Dômes de Miage side to access Durier: good bye belay!

Conditions are still fine on the Aiguille de Bionnassay traverse if it refreezes.


Still crowded on the Ratti Vitale (the fashionable route for summer 2023!) and on the Croux or Punta Innominata.

No more information other than this report in our cahier de course from the Eccles bivy, a number of roped parties are climbing there today, so more to come!



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.




2023 UIAA Mountain Protection Award Nominees Announced

2023 UIAA Mountain Protection Award Nominees Announced

The International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation (UIAA) have released profiles of the twelve nominees for the 2023 Mountain Protection Award. The MPA, which has been awarded annually since 2013, provides funds to projects to allow them to "build key infrastructures, conduct vital research and fulfil pending project goals" relating to the protection of the mountain environment, wildlife and mountain culture.

Among this year's nominees are: a project from the American Alpine Club which analyses the impacts of warming winters on ice climbing activities and the professional lives of guides; a Brazillian initiative to recycle a higher proportion of disposable gas cannisters and Mountaineering Ireland's work to repair paths and restore habitat on the popular peak of Croagh Patrick. 

In-depth profiles of all twelve nominees are available to view on the UIAA website.

The winners of the 'Best New initiative' and runner-up prizes will be announced in early October, with the overall winner being confirmed on 21 October at the 2023 UIAA General Assembly in Trabzon, Turkey.




Report: 11 August 2023

La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 11 August 2023

Summer is back!

The wind was out in force again this week at altitude and it has dried out the mountains, especially the rock routes!

Le Tour

Not much change, still plenty of people on the classics (Aiguille du Tour, Tête Blanche, Petite Fourche).

Argentière Glacier

There is still no telephone signal at the refuge due to a lightning strike on a relay station at the top of the Grands Montets: book by sending a text message (or come straight up) and bring some cash to pay!

To get to the refuge, follow the red route (image below) at the foot of the ladders.

Climbing is back on the agenda! The Arête du Jardin is an option for good climbers, who can abseil down the "La part des anges" route. The col du Tour Noir still a possibility.

Charpoua / Talèfre / Leschaux

A number of climbers on the Drus traverse, even though there's still a bit of snow on the Grand Dru. The glacier is still going well.

All the rock routes are possible from the Couvercle hut, with quite a bit of activity on the Aiguille du Moine (S ridge, normal route: still a bit of snow at the top, Contamine and MissTique routes on the E face: the rimaye still needs a bit of gymastics to cross). No one on the Moine Arête on the Aiguille Verte. A few teams, however, on the Pointe Isabelle.

Leschaux: the hairdryer worked well: "Hello, following numerous requests and against all expectations the north face of the Jorasses dried very quickly and the Cassin on the Walker spur seems feasible! Otherwise around the Leschaux not only the Grandes Jorasses, Petites Jorasses, Aiguille de Leschaux super conditions glacier still very good! Excellent climbing routes from the Pierre à Joseph and the balcony path! See you soon". 

Envers des Aiguilles / Requin

The sector was well plastered with snow at the start of the week but has gradually dried out.

The République normal route is once again possible. A few teams climbed Grépon Mer de Glace and the Bec d'Oiseau S spur (complicated rimaye). The Nantillons glacier is becoming very problematic (you have to abseil - Abalakov - into the crevasse below the serac, which is getting bigger all the time, and the bottom of the glacier is also in poor condition, with tottering boulders). Teams on 'République Bananière' and 'Le soleil a rdv avec la lune', amongst others.


Access to the Salle à Manger is dry again: you need to be sure-footed and follow the right route (roughly on the spur) or you risk causing rockfalls on other teams.

Arêtes de Rochefort still in good condition (read the outing). Dent du Géant well travelled. A number of teams on the Jorasses traverse (OK visually) now that the wind has died down. Lots of people on the Marbrées and Aiguilles d'Entrèves traverses. The snowfall did not get the Kuffner and the Aiguilles du Diable traverse from getting back into good condition. There’s climbing on the Tacul satellites. Be careful on the crossing of the Vallée Blanche: best to take the lower track between Pointe Adolphe Rey and Helbronner.

Aiguille du Midi

This is the end for the Lachenals (it’s totally ice, it may be possible to do the last point just there and back). Due to unstable boulders and rock falls in the abseiling area, the Compagnie des Guides is no longer selling the Cosmiques Arête.

Midi-Plan, Triangle du Tacul still out of the question, especially with the hot weather forecast. There's still some activity on the normal route on the Tacul (the route has been changed due to the collapse of a snow bridge) and on the Trois Monts for good climbers (most teams descend via the Goûter). There’s climbing on the S face of the aiguille. 

Plan de l'Aiguille

The rock has dried out and it's still a good sector for cool climbing!

There is no more snow to reach the red pillar of the Blaitière.

The Nantillons glacier is no longer in good condition (see above).

Mont Blanc via the Aiguille du Goûter

Perfect conditions for August! Provided you cross the couloir early. To be continued with the hot weather forecast.


Still good conditions on the traverse of the Dômes de Miage and the Aiguille de Bionnassay.


Still climbing: (Aiguille Noire, Aiguille Croux, Punta Innominata, etc.)

Given the weather, there has been no recent activity from the Eccles hut. The ascent to the bivouacs via the glacier goes well. Access to and especially the return from the red pillar of the Brouillard can be a problem (large crevasse, passable by abseiling). No news on access to the Freney pillar.

Some teams are heading for the Intégrale du Brouillard. With a good freeze, the Innominata is certainly a possibility!



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: 6 August 2023

La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 6 August 2023


It almost feels like Autumn this morning, but it's great to see the mountains looking so beautiful on the 7th of August!

The ground was white this morning up to an altitude of 2000m! Above that, it's plastered and we're seeing between 5 and 40 cm depending on the sector and altitude (10-15cm at the Goûter and Cosmiques, 4cm at the Couvercle, 5cm at the Conscrits and up to 40 cm on the traverse of the Dômes de Miage, 5cm at the Index, 0.5 cm at the Brévent). We estimate around 30-40 cm at 4000m. There has been a lot of wind, with the potential for decent accumulations (watch out for the risk of slides over the next few days).

This nice dusting of snow will no doubt improve the conditions for the snow routes that were still being done (Miages traverse, Bionnassay traverse, Mont Blanc via the Goûter or the Trois Monts, Rochefort Arête, Cosmiques Arête, Pointe Isabelle, Aiguille du Tour etc.) but it won't be enough to restore the conditions for those for which it was already too late. We're going to have a month of August with good conditions on the glaciers and on the snow routes for a summer in the 2020s!

As for the rock, we're going to have to be patient and adapt: it's going to dry out slowly because it's going to stay cool up there with the wind forecast.

Webcams can help you get a feel for the conditions:



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.




Up Close with AC Vice-President Nick Kekus

Alpine Club Vice-President Nick Kekus has been at the heart of the British climbing scene for several decades. He’s climbed with a host of famous faces and attempted some of the most sought-after lines in high-altitude mountaineering. We caught up with Nick to talk about his ‘80s expeditions, his career as a mountain guide and his plans for his time as VP.

The North Face of Shivling - © Nick Kekus Collection

Hi Nick. Thanks for sitting down with us. I’m always interested to ask this question of mountain guides: what did you do before you started guiding?

So I started out as a Civil Engineer working in construction and then got into guiding, but I’ve always kind of run the two in parallel. Sometimes I’ve done more guiding than my “proper job”. I always refer to myself as being “semi-retired from guiding” but the last two years I’ve probably done more guiding than I have for a long time.


And do you still find guiding rewarding?

I think if you’re doing an awful lot, it can be very physically demanding and quite stressful. But doing the bits that I do now makes a nice contrast to my other work. So yeah, I think I find it more rewarding now than when I was always looking for the next job.


When people ask you about it as a career, what do you tell them?

Many years ago I worked in Canada and the guy who ran the business, a Kiwi called Dave Begg, he always said: “When you get into guiding, you have to have a plan for how to get out”. Because it has a finite life. You’ve got to have a plan for the future.


© Nick Kekus Collection

© Nick Kekus Collection


In the 1980s, you went on a lot of expeditions to the Himalaya – the NE Ridge of Everest, the SE pillar of Annapurna III – were you consciously seeking out these routes that are often referred to as “last great problems”?

I probably was [seeking them out] but I don’t think it was that conscious. There was a great groundswell of enthusiasm at the time with what people like Boardman and Tasker and Alex Macintyre were doing. And I always had this idea of aspiring to take alpine climbing, in its purest sense, to the Himalaya.

The route on Shivling in 1982 with Richard Cox, which sadly ended tragically when Richard was killed, it was such an aesthetic peak and such an aesthetic line, that north face. I think for me it felt like a logical step from things I’d done in the Alps.

The previous year I’d been to the Nanda Devi sanctuary and 3 of us climbed Kalanka by the regular route. We climbed light. It wasn’t very technical. But it set my ambition to try harder things in the Himalaya in lightweight style.

I went to Ganesh II with Rick Allen in ‘84 and that was kind of the epitome of what I’d been trying to do. Just the two of us on this great face that had quite a lot of technical climbing. And we basically went with minimal gear; 2 ropes, a big rack and a bivvy tent.


You climbed quite a lot with Rick, who was tragically killed on K2 in 2021, do you have any particular memories of him you’d like to share?

Rick was a member of the Midland Association of Mountaineers, and they had a hut down in Coniston, and we always used to arrange quite a few pre-expedition meetings there. And on a few of these occasions Rick, coming down from Aberdeen, would bring this very talented young Aberdonian climber. But I don't think Rick wanted to climb with him because he was always wanting to do really hard routes. So Rick would always point at me and say: “you go climb with the brat”, and “the brat” would drag me up these horrendous routes on Scafell and Dow Crag.

There were lots of aspects to Rick's life. He was a committed Christian and he had lots of interests in charities and other organizations, not just in the UK, but around the world. He was certainly not a one-dimensional person by any means.

 The team below south face Ganesh II in 1984, Rick Allen on the right, Nick on the left, with their Sidar, LO and Cook - © Nick Kekus Collection



You’ve recently become one of the Alpine Club’s Vice-Presidents alongside Adéle Long. Is there anything in particular you’re hoping to achieve in your time in post?

I'm taking my steer from Simon [Richardson] and Simon's obviously very enthusiastic and really looking to take things forward. One of the areas where he's really keen to do something is in developing the future direction of the ACG. It’s not really as dynamic as it used to be and lots of people have talked about wanting to resurrect it or to develop another organisation that speaks to young alpinists. A group of young climbers, not necessarily people climbing at the cutting edge, but people who have just got a real passion and interest in alpinism. I think both Simon and myself are really keen to encourage and develop that.


I think I’m right in saying that you originally met Simon in the infamous Snell’s Field. Do you have any stories of our President from that time that you could share?

We always used to call Simon “Mr Mega” because whenever he talked about something it was always “mega”. He did some amazing things with all sorts of people, and he was really enthusiastic at recruiting people to his objectives and his ideas.

When Simon was working for Shell in Holland, myself Mark Miller and Sean Smith got the ferry over and Simon picked us up. The idea was to do the north face of the Eiger, which we didn’t do, but we did climb a super route on the Mönch – the Lauper Rib.

We drove into Grindelwald really late at night and parked the car in the railway yard. We had nowhere to sleep and there were these old railway carriages, like cattle trucks, in the sidings and someone noticed that they were open. So we all jumped in, got our bivvy bags out and slept in there, because this was the middle of winter.

And then, in the early hours of the morning, we felt this carriage start moving. And we all panicked, thinking the train was off to Interlaken. And we open the door and we’re all throwing our sleeping bags out and trying to get our shoes on. And we suddenly see that there’s no train attached to the carriage. It’s just this little old man pushing the carriage, getting everything marshalled in the yard as we’re trying to get out!



This interview originally appeared in the Summer 2023 issue of the Alpine Club Newsletter. Previous issues of the newsletter are available to read here.




Simon Richardson Accepts 2023 Pelmo d'Oro Award on Behalf of the Alpine Club

Simon Richardson Accepts 2023 Pelmo d'Oro Award on Behalf of the Alpine Club

On 29 July 2023, Alpine Club president Simon Richardson was in the Provincia di Belluno, Italy to accept the 2023 Pelmo d'Oro Award on behalf of the Alpine Club.

The Club was nominated for the award by the Dolomites UNESCO World Heritage Site to mark the link between the region and the first president of the Alpine Club, John Ball, who made the first ascent of Monte Pelmo in 1857.

In a speech during the ceremony, Simon commented that Ball had chosen to climb the mountain because he considered it to be the most beautiful of all of the peaks in the Dolomites. Having climbed the peak the day prior as part of the Pelmo d'Oro celebrations, Richardson commented that he could "only agree" with Ball's assessment.

He was also keen to highlight the link between the province, the Dolomites UNESCO World Heritage Site and the Alpine Club who all share the goal of protecting mountain environments for future generations to enjoy. As a symbol of this, he presented Roberto Padrin, the President of the region and Vice-President of the Dolomites Unesco World Heritage Site with a print of an Elijah Walton painting of Monte Pemo. Walton was a friend of John Ball and the the print was produced from an original painting from the Alpine Club's collection.


The Alpine Club would like to thank the Dolomites UNESCO World Heritage Site for the award and the Club Alpino Italiano and Provincia di Belluno for their hospitality. We hope that this event will rekindle a strong and lasting relationship between all four organisations.