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Report 15th June 2018

A weekend update to the report from the 12th  June, (which for the most part is still valid).

 

Most of the lifts in the valley opened on the 16th June, (more info here) but there is still a lot of snow above a certain altitude.  Check that your chosen footpaths are passable and have the right equipment with you.

 

The work at the Grand Balcon Sud between Planpraz and Flégère is finished and the footpath now open.  There is still a lot of snow on the way to Lac Blanc, (from the Index and Flégère: crampons essential).  No problems to get to the Chéserys lakes and to descend to Trè- le-Champ or the Col des Montets

The Grand Balcon Nord, between Montenvers and the path descending to Chamonix via Blaitière is OK.  However, there are steep snow fields to cross to reach the Plan de l’Aiguille.

 

The large boulder which was blocking the path up the Berard valley has been cleared (dynamited!)  Above 1700m there is still a lot of snow.

 

At Loriaz, the snow is still causing problems both towards Emosson and the col de la Terrasse: crampons and ice axe needed.

 

For the Tour du Mont Blanc, there is still snow at the Col de la Croix du Bonhomme but there is a good track.  The Fours variation is only feasible with crampons.   The bridge at the level of Arnuva is not yet in place.  For the moment crampons are necessary for the Grand Col Ferret, because of the exposure on some sections, (though the track is improving with each day.).

 

Crampons and ice axe advisable for those wanting to access the rock climbs in the Aiguilles Rouges.

 

The return of good weather on Thursday, has encouraged activity in the high mountains.

The Grands Montets lifts opened on Saturday.  The Petite Verte looks to be in good condition.  The Couturier has been done in good conditions, (glacier approach OK, a small vertical section at the bergschrund, no ice but very firm snow for the whole of the couloir), descent by the Whymper.

 

The Leschaux hut is open. The SW couloir of the Eboulement is in good condition and popular.  The rock climbs above the hut are dry.

 

The damaged ladders on the way up to the Envers hut have been replaced.

 

The N ridge of the Dôme du Gouter is tracked.

 

Concerning the 3 Monts route, there is quite a lot of fresh snow, (20cms at the Cosmiques), making the avalanche risk on the Maudit too important. (Tacul tracked).  Patience needed.

A party turned back on the Midi Plan Ridge, (no further info). Chéré, Cosmiques Ridge, Laurence Ridge and Pointes Lachenal traverse are all popular.  

The annual Mont Blanc Unlimited pass is valid on the Skyway (Courmayeur) while the Aig du Midi lift is closed.  

 

Concerning the Gouter route up Mont Blanc, the MB Tramway is open as far as the col du Mont Lachat.  It is forbidden to go up the rail tracks to the Nid d’Aigle. Either take the path by the Chalets de l’Are or by the Dérochoir (lots of snow, crampons and ice axes essential). More info here

 

On the Italian side, the Monzino and Gonella huts have opened for the season.  To get to the Monzino, there is 80m of hard snow at the exit of the equipped section, (a rope is in place and with good boots it is OK).  Climbing on the Aiguille Croux (Ottoz, some snow on the normal route descent,) and the Aiguille Noire (S ridge, Ratti). The Freney glacier is OK.  No tracks yet up to the Eccles bivvy but the glacier and the Innominata ridge look to be in good condition.  Too early for the Brouillard ridge, (too much snow).

 

No specific information for the Voie des Papes , (Mont Blanc from the Gonella), but with all the snow this year one would expect it to be in good condition, (if there is a good freeze.)  

Report 12th June 2018

Changeable weather, unreliable refreezing, rain up to 3600m, Aig du Midi lift closed…..  Despite all this, things are still getting done in the mountains.   Lower down, the snows are slowly receding, though there is still a significant amount in the cwms and below the cols.

The Aiguille du Midi and Plan de l’Aiguille cable cars will be closed until 7th July.  The Planpraz cable car opened today (12th).  Montenvers is open and most of the other lifts will open this coming weekend (16th).  More info at  Compagnie du Mont Blanc.

 

However, just because the lifts are open does not mean that all the footpaths above are possible.  There is still a lot of snow in places, together with the associated dangers.

 

Albert 1er :

It is still best to get to the hut by the moraine path, (crampons not necessary as far as the hut.)  Be aware of stonefall danger when crossing the gully after the Combe de la Vormaine.

 

No major changes since the last update.  When the weather permits, the classics are being done, despite often a lack of refreezing: Aiguille du Tour, Tête Blanche, Petite Fourche, Aiguille du Chardonnet (Forbes Arête, Migot Spur, descent OK).  The S ridge of the Aiguille Purtscheller is dry.

The narrows in the Table Gully on the Aig du Tour are dry.

 

Mer de Glace Hut approaches :

The prepared paths (new Charpoua route, Egralets, Leschaux) were damaged this winter and are slowly being put back in order.  The approach to the Envers hut is not recommended because a ladder is detached and many of the metal footsteps are deformed.  There is avalanche debris covering the route to the Requin hut.  The moraine at the foot of the Montenvers ladders does not present problems.

 

Couvercle

Despite the lack of refreezing these last 10 days, snow shoes are no longer necessary, the snow being firm enough.  The bergschrunds are opening up and though often awkward, are still passable.  

The wake-up calls are earlier than usual because early starts are essential.

The Contamine and Miss Tiques (Moine) are dry, (risk of resurgences after rain/storms.)

Whymper: a fixed rope is in place to cross the bergschrund.  Soft snow in the secondary couloir and on the traverse back into the main couloir, where conditions are good.  More info in the  Chamoniarde Route Book).

 

Col Armand Charlet: The bergschrund here is better than the others.  The couloir in good condition.  Still a lot of snow on the summit ridges.

Still too early for the Jardin Ridge, one needs to find the right window, (i.e bergschrund still OK but the rock dry), which is likely to be small.

 

The normal route on the Droites in good by the diagonal gully (bergschrund goes on the true left), mixed section in good condition.

There and back by the normal route on the Courtes OK.  The traverse looks feasible but the descent from the Col des Cristaux could be problematical depending on the time of day and the freezing level, only for fast parties!

Pointe Isabelle, on foot, in good condition.

 

For experienced hikers, there are still some snowfields on the approach by the Egralets and on the new path to Charpoua hut. Crampons and ice axe necessary for the traverse to the Leschaux hut, which is in reasonable condition, (access to the glacier is made easier with the snow, but some steep snow to traverse, notably in the gorge just before the hut.) 

 

Torino

The amount of refreezing varies from night to night, (never below -1°C.)  It rained at 3500m!  

 

Dent du Géant : crevasses on the glacier filled in, the approach to the Salle à Manger in good condition,. Still some snow and ice in some of the cracks but not bad.

 

Rochefort Arete in very good condition, but it is too early for the traverse of the Jorasses, (normal route in good condition.)

 

Tour Ronde: the bergschrund on the Gervasutti  is open but passable.  SE ridge and the Col Freshfield OK.

 

Küffner has been done but not recommended unless there is a good freeze.

 

Rock climbing on the satellites, (including the Grand Capucin).

 

Cosmiques

The approach is from the Punta Helbronner (Skyway open). The ascent up the Valley Blanche is awkward, especially as the Requin hut is shut, (due to open 15th June).  Rain and wet snow at the beginning of the week.  The track on the Tacul, however, was recovered by snow.

 

Some parties attempted the 3 Monts at the weekend but were turned back by the weather, (strong winds at altitude.) The Tacul is in good condition but the Maudit is awkward, (a breaking crust over 40cms of granular snow).  The parties escaped by the Corridor route.  The Cosmiques Ridge, Pointe Lachenal traverse and Chéré gully are in condition. The routes on the N face of the Aiguille du Midi are awkward due to the lack of freezing.  Crampons necessary on the rock sections of the Frendo.

 

Goûter/Tête Rousse

The normal route up Mont Blanc in good condition. As elsewhere, the problem is with the unstable weather. There is no snow as far as the Nid d’Aigle (approach by the Chalets de l’Are or the rail track.)  The snow is receding on the way up to the Gouter but crampons are still necessary.  The cables are beginning to reappear, making things more agreeable

 

The Bellevue cable car and the Mont Blanc Tramway, (only as far as the Col du Mont Lachat,) open on 16th June.   

 

Grands Mulets

The Plan de l’Aiguille cable car is shut for work, (re-opening foreseen for 7th July).  The approach to the hut is by the Para path.  The snow starts just below the Gare des Glaciers (count on carrying the skis for 1h30-2h from the tunnel). The hut warden has remarked the way at the Jonction with poles, one only needs to remove the skis for about 40m.

 

The N ridge of the Dôme du Goûter is in good condition, with virtually no ice. The way is tracked both on foot and by ski and in descent.   

 

The N face was skied on 10/06 in the mist.  Despite the lack of refreezing, the ski conditions are OK, (hard snow) down to the Jonction.

 

Conscrits

There is no longer snow at the hut.  The approach is tracked on foot is by the glacier, (the summer path still not passable.)

 

The Dômes de Miage traverse is in good condition, the ridge is well tracked and broad.

 

The Aiguille de Tré-la-Tête, (there and back,) has been done.  There is still a lot of snow, a bit of “ploughing” but basically in good condition, with no ice.

 

The Bérangère cwm is also in good condition. 

 

Some ski alpinists traversed the Bionnassay ridge to the Dôme du Goûter. Good conditions but a long approach. 

 

The warden thinks that if the current weather continues, the N face of the Lée Blanche will be in excellent condition for skiing.

 

The Gonella and Monzino are due to open the 15th June.

 

Plan de l’Aiguille

NNE Ridge of the Aiguille du M, traverse and SW pillar of the Petits Charmoz, Papillons Ridge, Minettes Spur, and the normal route on the Peigne have been done, (no further info.)  The cable car is shut but the Plan de l’Aiguille hut remains open.  The paths beneath the lift cables are closed. The approach is by Blaitière and the Pré du Rocher.

 

Report 4th June 2018

The Aiguille du Midi cable car is closed again, for technical reasons.  It is due to reopen on 7th July, (to be confirmed.) The first leg, (to Plan de l’Aiguille,) will remain open until 17th June. However, the Grand Bois and Pré du Rocher footpaths are currently closed for work by a council byelaw.

 

Albert 1er Sector:

On the approach via the moraine, the snow starts around 200m below the hut. The approach from Charamillon is not recommended, (steep snowfields).

The classic normal routes on the Tete Blanche, Petite Fourche, Aiguille du Tour, as well as the Forbes Ridge and Migot Spur are in good condition. No particular problems for the descent by the normal route on the Chardonnet.  The lower part of the Table Couloir has a narrow section of rock, after which it is snow.

 

Argentière Sector:

The lifts are still closed and the footpaths beneath Lognan and Plan Joran/Lognan are closed for work by a council byelaw.  Access is therefore complicated.  Nonetheless, the Couturier has been done in good conditions even though the "coude" (bend) is ice; descent on the Whymper side.

 

Couvercle Sector:

The approach is by the new path or the Egralets.
Parties have turned back after the bergshrund on the Whymper and on the Aiguille du Jardin due to lack of freezing.
The Courtes up to the top of the NE slope was in condition.
Pointe Isabelle has been done with skis and snowshoes.

The Contamine on the Moine and Miss Tique have been climbed.  The descent by the Moine normal route still has some snow; exposed.

 

Torino Sector:

The classics in this sector are popular: Aiguilles Marbrées, Aiguilles d'Entrèves, and the Tour Ronde, SE ridge or by the Freshfield Col, (because the“normal winter route”is not in condition),  Gervasutti Couloir and the N Face.

Good conditions for the Rochefort Arete and at the Dent du Géant, (some of the rock is still wet and likely to be further affected by the storms over the next few days).  Climbing has restarted on the satellites.  It is probably too early for the Küffner (cornices).  The Brenva Spur looks feasible. 

 

Cosmiques Sector:

Approached from the Requin or the Skyway, as the Aig du Midi lift is shut.   There have been parties on the Triangle du Tacul: Petit Frounet, Contamine-Negri and Chéré.
The 3 Monts route has been done with skis and on foot.

 

Plan de l'Aiguille:

There has been activity on the NE Ridge of the “M” and the traverse of the Petits Charmoz.

 

Grands Mulets:

Take the lower route between Plan de l'Aiguille and the Gare des Glaciers.  The Jonction is crossed on foot.
Mont Blanc was popular last weekend by Plateaux route and by the N ridge of the Dome, where conditions are a bit better, though crampons and ice screws are still essential.  The N face of Mont Blanc was skied in good conditions last weekend.

 

Goûter:

The tramway and cable car are still closed.  Nonetheless, the normal route up Mont Blanc is well frequented.  The snow starts around the level of the Nid d'Aigle.

 

Conscrits Sector:

The approach is by the Tré la Tête glacier.  There is still too much snow for the approach via the footbridge.
Dômes de Miage traverse is being done on foot and with skis; exposed section on the ridge between the col and the Aiguille de la Bérangère.
Mont Tondu was climbed in good conditions.
N face of the Tré la Tête was climbed, with a ski descent on the Petit Mont Blanc side.
N face of the Dôme de Neige des Glaciers has been skied.

 

A quick word on the hiking trails:

The snowline is receding, but there is still a lot of snow in certain sectors.  
Care, experience and the right equipment remain essential.
Some works are in progress and so certain paths are closed by Council byelaw.
There is still a lot of snow on the Tour du Mont Blanc and some passages require caution. More info here.
Do not hesitate to contact Chamoniarde for more information.

 

Report 31st May 2018

For a change, this report starts with the information for hikers.

 

There is still a lot of snow at mid altitudes for the time of year. Many of the footpaths and cols are remain affected and there can be a serious risk of snow slides.
For example, the Grand Balcon Nord between Montenvers and Plan de l'Aiguille still has too much snow, (even though the cable car is soon to reopen.)
One needs to be properly equipped, (good boots, crampons, hiking poles etc) and have the correct experience for the route chosen.

In the Chamonix valley the paths are gradually being put back in order after the hard winter, but this still needs more time in some places.

Amongst others, this is the case for the Grand Balcon Sud, (where the path has been washed away for about 40m), the paths in the Argentiere sector and the access path to Lac Vert-Châtelet d'Ayères, making detours necessary.

In the Aiguilles Rouges, the lakes remain covered in snow and difficult to access, as are also the cols in this sector.
In the Bérard valley, the snow level is at about 1700m. The Tour of Aiguilles Rouges is not practicable for the moment.  A large boulder has fallen onto the path, blocking it completely.
For the fell runners, you are recommended to check the Vallee du Trail site, or Facebook "Vallée du Trail" or contact La Chamoniarde directly.

 

Some paths are closed for work.  These can be found on  arrêtés en cours.

 

For the Tour du Mont Blanc, there is snow on all the cols from above about 1800m. The "himalayan" bridge and the footbridge below Bionnassay are in place.

 

For the alpinistes, there has been little information, due to the capricious weather and access difficulties, (lifts closed, paths closed for work… )

The approach to the Albert 1er hut is OK by the moraine but not yet from Charamillon.
For the Couvercle hut, the approach by the Egralets is OK. There is snow on the traverse towards the hut. The warden will be back there from Saturday, 2nd June.
The bergschrund on the Whymper Couloir is open but passable.

The Aig du Midi is to re-open on 2nd June, (to be confirmed.)
Some parties have attempted Mont Blanc by the Gouter, but with the lifts being closed, this is a much longer route than usual.
The Grands Mulets route remains possible with skis, the Jonction now being  crossed on foot. Conditions on the N ridge of the Dôme appear to have improved. Ask the warden for more information.
 
Conditions are changing rapidly.  Contact the hut wardens in the sector you are visiting and do not forget to give your feedback to La Chamoniarde afterwards.  

 

Report 18th May 2018

Here is an update following the return of better weather, (though still cold with the north wind.)

 

Couvercle Sector: The Whymper has been redone.  The bergschrund is OK and the couloir is not a problem. Despite the recent snowfalls, there still no more snow in the couloir.   The approach to the hut is by the central gully.  Approaching by the ladders is not yet recommended.

 

Requin Sector: (The hut closes 21st May evening).  The Brêche Puiseux is tracked, (no further info).  Traversing the Salle à Manger is still OK but be careful at the start below the hut.

 

Grands Mulets Sector: the Mont Blanc is tracked by Plateaux and North Ridge. The Jonction is OK.  The 40cm of fresh snow is slowly settling, and is good to ski, thanks to the low temperatures.  N ridge of the Dôme; despite the recent snow the ice is still present, (foresee adequate equipment for 3 to4 pitches of about 30/40m). The N face has been skied, (good conditions).

 

Plan de l’Aiguille Sector: A party left this morning, (Friday), for the Eugster Diagonal, (awaiting info).

 

Aiguille du Midi Cable Car: following an anomaly with one of the cables, the Plan de l’Aiguille / Aiguille du Midi stage will be closed until 27th May. The Chamonix/Plan de l’Aiguille stage remains open until the 21st and then both stages will be closed 22nd to 27th May.

The Cosmiques hut remains open and can be accessed from the Torino.  The approach to the Grands Mulets hut is on foot from the valley floor.

 

The Planpraz lift will open temporarily to compensate for the closure of the Aig du Midi lift.  Note: the footpaths at this altitude are still not doable due to deep snow, (risk of slipping and snow slides).  

 

Report 14th May 2018

A quick conditions update, though the weather forecast for the coming week is not good:   

 

There has been a lot of activity since the last update but the conditions have changed following the recent snowfall together with winds at altitude.
Skis are still the best way to approach/ return from the routes.

Do not forget to contact the hut wardens to check that they are open and to make a reservation!

 

This morning, 14th May, there was between 5 to 20 cm of fresh snow between 2100 et 2700 m and an average of 30 cm above 3000 m. With the wind at altitude, expect drifting.

 

The following was done last week:

- Dômes de Miage, (walking now as far as the Tré la Tête)

- Arête Mettrier

- Mont Blanc by the 3 Monts and the Grands Mulets (ice is still present on the N ridge.)

- Contamine-Negri, Goulotte Chéré (little ice), M6 Solar, Pellissier et Gabarrou-Albinoni (crux pitch dry).

- Couloir Gervasutti on the Tour Ronde, the bergschrund goes on the true left.

- Traverses of the Pointes Lachenal, the Cosmiques and the Aiguilles Marbrées

- Activity also in the Argentière sector, (Swiss Route, Austrian route, Y Couloir….)  Due to work expected to last until Autumn, the approach via the Pierre à Ric and a part of Lognan-Plan Joran closed by local bye law. Please respect the restrictions in place.

 

- Ski touring still popular in the Mont Buet sector. It is necessary to walk as far as the Vordette bridge and then several sections above that.  An early start is essential!

 

- The road up to Emosson is now open, giving access to some good ski touring.

 

For hikers, there is still a lot of snow at mid altitudes.  Most of the paths above 2000m (S side) and 1700/1800m (N side) will not be practical for several weeks. (Grands Balcons North and South, lakes at altitude…) Also, as winter has only just ended some paths have not been re-equipped, (bridges, chains or ladders.) or simply  closed for work.
Check before you start.