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! 

Join Us
 

Report 24th April 2018

The latest update on conditions:

 

Spring has finally arrived in the valley along with a pleasant rise in temperature. The snows are receding up to 1400 m/1600 m depending on the aspect.  However, above 2000 m, the residual snow is 1 to 2 metres deep.  Do not be fooled by conditions in the valley floor.  The state of the hiking trails can be checked by looking at the webcams: https://www.montblancnaturalresort.com/en/webcams.

 

Snow shoeing remains possible if you are willing walk the first part and start early to avoid the heat of the day, (avalanche risk.)

 

The good weather has resulted in a lot of activity at altitude this week.  Approaching routes on foot is not yet practicable, skis being essential given the high temperatures.

 

Mont-Blanc:  The Grands Mulets route is popular: Skis on at the Plan de l’Aiguille, taking the higher track to reach the Jonction, which remains good for the moment.  The N ridge of the Dôme has some ice sections which require pitching, (2 technical axes, ice screws, good crampons). The 3 Monts traverse is tracked (good conditions, Tacul with skis and ski crampons, Maudit half on skis then on foot to the col, Mur de la Côte with crampons.)  The N Face of MB has been skied. The Aiguilles Grises route is tracked, (1 party), good conditions, crevasses closed, no ice on the traverse between the Piton des Italiens and the Dôme du Goûter.

 

Aiguille du Midi:  In addition to the comments in the last update, note that rock climbing has restarted on the S face of the Aig du Midi (Rebuffat).  The Jager Couloir looks to be dry.  The Valley Blanche remains feasible.  The ridge and the “Z” track are still equipped.  The snow is still OK but some of the snow bridges are weakening with the heat.  There is about 5 mins of walking to reach Montenvers. 

 

Tour Ronde:   North Face: The bergschrund is OK. The crux pitch up the narrows is hard, grey ice but protectable.  The snow on the exit pitches is inconsistent. The Gervasutti looks to have been skied several days ago.  There is a 20m abseil on the descent by the normal route.  Avoid being too late in the day, some stonefall has already been reported.

 

 Requin: the Brêche Puiseux and col du Tacul remain popular.

 

Charpoua: Verte - Y couloir in mediocre condition, the lower steps lacking ice and very difficult to protect.  The bergschrunds are complex, (lots of zig-zagging.)  It is only higher up in the true left branch that the snow is firm.

 

Couvercle: The hut approach is by the central couloir, (respect the time of day) and by the Pierre à Bérenger (which is starting to degrade.). There is regular activity in the Whymper Couloir, (not skied yet,) some ice at the exit.  On descent, either cross the bergschrund on the true left, (30m abseil) or well to the right.  Pointe Isabelle is popular. A party is to attempt the normal route on the Droites on 25/04.  Some activity on the Col de Talèfre.  NE of the Pierre à Joseph was skied 2 days ago.  

 

Argentière: The Lognan and Grands Montets cable cars, as well as the Argentière hut, close on the 1st May.  The Petite Aiguille Verte has been skied and climbed on foot by the normal route.  The Chevalier couloir has been descended, (1st third on foot, the lower two thirds skied, no problem with the bergschrund).

 

Aiguille Verte: has been climbed daily, by the Couturier Couloir, the “Z” route and one party by the Nant Blanc face, (see the route book). Les Droites: A party attempted the Legarde today, 24th, (awaiting news). Les Courtes: The Austrian Route has been done several times (see route book,) descending either on the Couvercle side or by the NE slope of the Dolent– voie Charlet Couturier (see route book). The Arête Gallet is tracked. Aiguille d’Argentière - Y Couloir climbed, small step at the bergschrund, exit by the right branch.

 

All the ski touring routes in this sector are in condition; col des Cristaux – d’Argentière – du Tour Noir – Glacier du Milieu (good footsteps in the snow leading up to the summit,) – 3 cols – Passon.

As well as this, rock climbing is slowly restarting behind the hut.  

 

Albert 1er: The hut is due to close at the end of the month. Chardonnet: The gullies are dry. The Eperon Migot has been done by one party, black ice throughout the route (complicated).  The normal route is in good condition, the crevasses on the shoulder glacier are filled in and the bergschrund is OK.

 

Aiguille du Tour: Normal route in good condition, Table Couloir a bit dry at the start, then good snow to the summit. There are no problems for the Cols Supérieur du Tour – du Midi des Grands.  Normal route on the Petite Fourche is in good condition.  It is still possible to descend all the way to La Tour village on skis.  

 

Aiguilles Rouges: In the Berard Valley there is skiable snow almost down to the Cascade Cafe.  The cols de Bérard, Salenton and the Buet are without problem, as long as one respects the time of day, (start between 5 to 6 am to get the Buet in good conditions.)

 

Have a good outing !

 

And a big thank you to all the people who contributed to the route book, thus allowing the Chamoniarde team to make more regular updates!

 

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.

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.

 

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.

 

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

.

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".