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Report 22nd April 2017

Some updates for the massive:


No major changes for the hikers. The altitude limit for safe walking remains at 2000m, (S facing) and 1800m (N facing). It will take several weeks before the higher trails are in condition, for example to the lakes, (still under snow) and the Grand Balcons, N&S.  
At altitude, the recent wind and low temperatures have hardened the snow and caused drifting in places.  Caution is advised.

  
- Albert 1er Sector: 
The best approach is by the moraine, skiing starting/finishing at the level of the water intake.  The normal routes on the Aiguille du Tour, the Tête Blanche and the Petite Fourche are being done. The Table Couloir has a rocky section low down and is being climbed on foot. The 3 cols, the Forbes Arete and the Migot Spur are in condition.  The party on the Migot descended by the Forbes Arete, but the normal descent route on the Chardonnet looks OK.  


- Argentière Sector: 
Ski touring remains popular in this area, but conditions are slowly deteriorating, notably for the Passon, where the moraine presents problems. Crampons/ice axe and ski crampons are necessary for certain routes.  The Y couloir has been done, but the bergschrund is awkward.
The snow is thinning on the Courtes NE and the Col des Cristaux.
The lower part of the Lagarde Gully is no longer in condition and parties have turned back.
The Vivagel and Bettembourg/Charlet gullies have been climbed recently, albeit proving more difficult than normal.
Mont Dolent has been climbed from La Fouly by the Gallet ridge and the normal route, (about 30mins of walking).  

- Couvercle/Mer de Glace Sector:
The Y Couloir on the Verte was done on 21st April.  Conditions OK, but with some deep snow in the gully.  Exit by the left branch on granular snow, then hard neve on the ridge. In descent, the Whymper has plenty of snow, though take care near the top as the ice is not far away.
Good track on the Talèfre glacier, crampons needed to descend the “central” couloir.  Approach by the Egralets is also possible.
The normal routes on the Droites and Courtes are in condition. Nobody has been to the Pointe Isabelle for the moment.  Aiguille de Talèfre N face is very dry.

- Requin/Torino/Cosmiques:
The Valley Blanche is still being done by the classic route, as well as by the Little and Middle, (true VB), Envers.  Conditions OK as far as the Requin hut, then care needed, with weak snow bridges crossing Salle à Manger and 30 mins walking to reach the ice caves below Montenvers. The Valley Noire, (Italian side), is still doable.  

Near the Torino; the Dent du Géant, Rochefort Arete, Aiguilles Marbrées, Entreves and Toule are being done.  On the Tour Ronde some parties have climbed the SE Ridge, and the Rebuffat and Gervasutti gullies.  The N face is dry but feasible. Rock climbing on the Tacul satellites is also possible.
The normal route on the Grandes Jorasses has been done recently in reasonable conditions.

Near the Cosmiques; the Laurence ridge, the Cosmiques ridge and the traverse of the Pointes Lachenal, (some ice) are being done.  
Concerning the gullies, most of the activity is on the Chéré and the Contamine-Mazeaud.  The Gabarrou-Albinoni and Pellissier are also being climbed, albeit in very dry conditions, (set of Friends advisable.)

The 3 Monts is tracked, no further information, other than there are sections of bare ice, making it unsuitable for a “light” ascent.  Col du Plan gully, Eugster Diagonal and Mallory-Porter have been climbed recently in generally good conditions.


- Grands Mulets:
Mont Blanc is being climbed either by the Plateaux or N ridge of the Dôme. There are still passages of ice on the N ridge, requiring good equipment and technical ability. The approach from the Plan de l’Aiguille to the hut is OK.  The descent from the summit by the N face no longer looks feasible due to ice.
For those tempted to start from the Tunnel entrance, (roadhead), there is at least 600m height gain, then hard neve, requiring crampons rather than skis with ski crampons, to reach the Gare des Glaciers.

- Conscrits:
No major changes, it is a on foot as far as the glacier then good conditions for the rest of the approach to the hut. The Mont Tondu, Bérangère, Dômes de Miage traverse are being done. Still some ice on the Domes traverse. It is possible to ski down the Armancette until about 1900m. The Mettrier Ridge is very dry.  The Bionnassay ridge is tracked, no further information.

 
In the Aiguilles Rouges; the Flégère lifts are closed and the Planpraz lift closes at 13h on Sunday, 23rd April.
Mont Buet and the cols in this area remain accessible, with about 45mins of carrying your skis in the Berard valley.

With the good weather, there will certainly be a lot of activity this weekend. The Chamoniarde ( http://www.chamoniarde.com/?page_id=1857&lang=en ), looks forward to receiving your reports.

 

Report 13th April 2017

An overview of what is happening:


The snow is rapidly receding as a result of unseasonal high temperatures. 
No problems hiking up to 1800/2000m, depending on the aspect but above this there is plenty of snow blocking the paths.  
The Grands Balcons North and South, as well as the high routes at altitude. (for example, to lakes Noir, Blanc) are not feasible to do safely!

The following “high points” are accessible without notable danger: the Aiguillette des Houches, (via the Chalets de Chailloux), the Loriaz hut, the Aiguillette des Posettes and the Prarion.

Alpinism and ski touring:

- Albert 1er sector:
The approach to the hut is best by the Col du Passon (little snow at the start)  crampons, ski crampons and ice axe necessary.
The descent to Vormaine is becoming awkward lower down, need to walk in several places.
The approach from Charamillon is not feasible for the moment.
The Chardonnet remains very dry, nobody is climbing the gullies, the Forbes Ridge “looks” feasible.  The other classic routes in the area remain in condition, with the exception of the N face of the Tête Blanche.

- Argentière Sector:
Ski touring is popular and conditions are good if you respect the time of day.
Do not forget crampons and ski crampons.
The Y couloir is still being done, 2 axes necessary for a steep section at the exit to the right of the summit. 
No special problems for the Glacier du Milieu, the NE Courtes (still dry near the summit) and the Col des Cristaux.
There is 50m of fixed rope at the Col du Chardonnet, from which a further abseil of about 25m is necessary.
Couloir Lagarde: bergshrund technical and the 2nd pitch difficult to protect, conditions OK after that. Descent by 6 abseils on the Talèfre side.
Couloir Couturier is more technical than usual because of an ice section at the bend.  The exit by the dome and descent by the Whymper OK for the moment.

Conditions basically good for the Petite Aiguille Verte despite some ice at the bergschrund.  The N face is ice. Couloir Chevalier in good condition, (in ascent)

The gullies remain very dry and not appealing. Vivagel, however, was climbed in reasonable conditions.
The rock behind the hut is free of snow and is being climbed.


- Mer de Glace / Couvercle sector
The Valley Blanche is still being done, though the conditions are deteriorating, especially in the lower sections, about 20 minutes of walking.
The Brèche Puiseux and the Col du Tacul, (there and back,) are being done, but best avoided later in the day.  A party has gone for the Fou S face, (see the route book on the OHM website.) The approach to the Couvercle is by the Egralets ladders. Lots of activity in Talèfre bowl, you need to make a reservation if youy wish to stay at the hut.
The Whymper, Col des Droites, Col de la Tour des Courtes and the Col de Talèfre are in good condition.
A party has done the Pointe Isabelle; route all on snow but with a difficult crevasse to cross.  The bergschrund goes on the left.   The Angélique and Aiguille Croulante gullies are dry in their upper sections.

- Torino / Cosmiques sector:
The Dent du Géant, the Rochefort Arete. Aiguilles d’Entrèves traverse and the Aiguille de Toule have been done.
The SE ridge and the Gervasutti Couloir have been climbed on the Tour Ronde.  The N face is still very dry but has been done, conditions appear to be better on the left, but the climbing is much more difficult than usual.

The Supercouloir and the Jager couloir were done a few days ago.  The start of the Supercouloir is totally dry and very technical.

The gullies on the Triangle du Tacul and Pointes Lachenal are dry but some are still being climbed. The rock faces that catch the sun such as on the Pyramide du Tacul, Grand Capucin, Pointes Lachenal and Aiguille de Midi are being climbed.
A party went for the Midi-Plan traverse, awaiting further information.

Eugster diagonal is basically in good condition, no footprints visible on the Mallory
Cosmiques Ridge and the Pointes Lachenal traverse are tracked, some ice on the Pointes Lachenal.

- Mont Blanc
3 Monts Route: there are technical sections with ice on the Tacul, (bergschrund and exit to the left), on Mont Maudit and the Mur de la Côte. Crampons, (steel) and technical axes recommended.  
Grands Mulets Route:  The approach to the hut from Plan de l’Aiguille is OK.  The routes by the Plateaux and the N ridge of Dôme are tracked and should improve with the passage of people.  3 Abalakovs in place, crampons (steel) and a technical axe necessary.

Some sections of very hard snow/ice on the N face descent.  Some parties have also descended by the Corridor.
Tracks have been seen on the normal route by the Gouter, no further information.

To summarize:  conditions are basically good but “reserved” for good skiers and alpinists.



- Conscrits
One has to walk as far as the Tré la Tête glacier, the Mauvais Pas and the approach to the Conscrits hut is OK.
There is a section of about 12 metres of ice on the traverse of Dômes de Miage (crampons (steel) and ice screws perhaps useful.)  Descent by Armancette to Covagnet, then you have to walk.

Aiguilles Rouges: the main activity is on the Crochues-Bérard traverse and Mont Buet.
Some skiers have gone towards the Belvédère and the Col des Dards but the return to Flégère is becoming awkward.

Good ski touring conditions have been reported for the Mont Dolent normal route starting from La Fouly (20min walking) and also for the Gallet Ridge (some ice in places.)

The Grand Paradis is popular, the skiing starting at Pont.  However, the snow is not particularly good at altitude.

 

The Chamoniarde ( http://www.chamoniarde.com/?page_id=1857&lang=en ), looks forward to your reports to help with future updates.

Report 6th April 2017

For a change, this update starts with the conditions for hikers.  Spring is fully here.  However, despite initial appearances, there is still lots of snow at altitude. Below 1800/1900m, on the south side, and 1600/1700m, on the north side, there are numerous hiking possibilities. The trails above this altitude, such as Lac Blanc, Grands Balcons North and South, Mont Buet, Bellachat and the Albert 1er hut are not yet feasible for hikers.

 

For snow shoers, the possibilities are limited, but here are some suggestions: the Charme circuit near the Prarion (easy), Brévent Lake, there and back, from the top of the Brevent cable car, (difficult)), the signposted footpaths at the Index and the Raverettaz at Flégère (easy) and the Aiguillette des Posettes, there and back, from the top of the Vallorcine lift (easy).
You are reminded that going uphill on the ski pistes is forbidden.


For the high mountain and alpinists:
Ski tourers must be prepared to walk quite a bit on the lower parts of the routes and to respect the timing, (early starts.)   Do not forget crampons and ski crampons.


The classics in the Aiguilles Rouges are still popular, though returning to Flégère is becoming more and more complicated. The Bérard valley is still OK for the moment, with only a limited amount of ski carrying. The road up to Emosson will not open until 14th May.
Despite the recent, (but brief), period of snowfall and wind at altitude, conditions are basically the same as last week.  The Argentière sector continues to attract people (crampons and ski crampons strongly recommended). The Brèche Puiseux and the traverse of the Valley Blanche are tracked.  The approach to the Couvercle hut is best by the Pierre à Bérenger and not too late, (stonefall risk).  A party turned back on the Whymper today (6th April), due to strong winds. No other activity reported for this sector.

No notable changes in the Conscrits sector.
Mont Blanc is being done by the Grands Mulets and then the N ridge of the Dôme or the Plateaus, depending upon conditions.  The N ridge is technical with two, 50m pitches of hard snow/ice, requiring two technical axes for the leader and ice screws

In the Albert 1er sector, the descent from the Passon is still OK, by keeping to the right, (looking down,) the lower section is gradually becoming more awkward.
The Table Couloir has footsteps.  There is a rock barrier in the lower part that goes OK.  The normal routes on the Aiguille du Tour, the Tête Blanche and the Petite Fourche are tracked.
The Tête Blanche N face is very dry, as are the Chardonnet gullies. The Forbes Ridge “looks” feasible.

The Chamoniarde ( http://www.chamoniarde.com/?page_id=1857&lang=en ), looks forward to your reports to help with future updates….

Report 30 March 2017

The blue skies and above average temperatures continue for the moment, though a passage of unsettled weather, (Foehn,) is forecasted for the weekend.

 

Here follows the latest information on mountain conditions, (and thank you to all those who have contributed to this.)
Albert 1er Sector: the approach is via the col du Passon.   Some people doing the Haute Route are using this way. The Couloir de la Table, (passage on rock near the start,) the Normal route on the Aiguille du Tour, the Tête Blanche/Petite Fourche and the Col du Midi des Grands are being climbed.

Argentière Sector: Y couloir is in condition. The Barbey couloir has been skied, descent “delicate”, with ice hidden under a thin layer of snow near the summit. Return via Fenêtre du Tour down to Vormaine, taking the skis off once at the moraine.

The Lagarde couloir : Bergschrund awkward due to inconsistent snow. Thin ice in the lower part, better mixed climbing higher up.
Couturier couloir: was done again on 28 March, good snow for half of gully, ice at the “kink” and exit by a dome of deep snow. Descent in good conditions down the Whymper, (if you are early enough.)  The way down onto the Leschaux glacier is either by the Central couloir or the Pierre à Béranger. 

Aiguille du Midi Sector: the snow in the Valley Blanche is still good. The Valley Noir, (Italian side) is OK. There is about a five minutes walk to reach the approach for Montenvers, (ice cave area.) The Fil à Plomb has been done, the Mallory skied and rock climbers on the S Face of the Aiguille du Midi.
Brèche Puiseux: Good conditions for the most part.  There is a fixed rope at the breche, (col).  You need 2x40m if you descend directly from the Périades bivouac.  The ski down the glacier is not inspiring!
Since the last snowfall, the Tour Ronde face now looks white, (i.e snow not bare ice.) The Gervasutti couloir is feasible, with descent either by the normal route or, if it is getting late, by the SE ridge.
A group of ski tourers left for the Trois Monts, (Mont Blanc) yesterday.  On the normal route up the Tacul there were sections of hard nevé, it is necessary to alternate between skis and crampons. No further information on the route, though the snow looks deep on the climb up to the Col du Mont Maudit.  Returned by the same route.


Grands Mulets sector:   The hut is now open with a warden. The route via the Dôme du Goûter, N ridge was done this morning. It is preferable to be roped up for the traverses of the Bossons glacier and the Jonction; conditions OK.


Conscrits Sector: Obviously, there is a lot of ski carrying on the way up to the Tre la Tête from Cugnon.  The rest of the way up to the Conscrits hut goes well. There is a small section of ice on the traverse of the Dômes de Miage. Good snow conditions for the Aiguille de la Bérangère and Mont Tondu. The Armancette glacier is skiable, down to about 1800m.

With the rise in temperatures, the signposted ski touring trails, except for the Col du Balme, from Charamillon are no longer feasible.  
Please remember, it is forbidden to go upwards, (skinning, snow shoeing etc,) on the ski pistes.

 
The strong winds in the valley, together with falls of wet, heavy snow have resulted in numerous trees being uprooted, often with stones/boulders coming onto the paths.  Mountain bikers be warned !  The responsible services in the Chamonix valley are working, bit by bit, to put the paths back in order.

Report 21 March 2017

Now Spring has arrived the conditions are evolving rapidly.  It is important to respect the timing (early starts) and take on board the latest information on conditions.


Here are the results from reports received since the last update:
The Valley Blanche is still popular, now ending at Montenvers, using the cable lift and train to get back to Chamonix. The Valley Noire, on the true right bank of the glacier, is still OK.   Ski tourers are regularly doing the Col d’Entrèves, the Brèche Puiseux and the Col du Tacul.
Stonefall has been reported on the normal route of the Tour Ronde.

The gullies remain very dry, though there has been some activity near the Cosmiques Ridge.

Conditions are OK on the Aiguille de l’Eboulement and the Whymper Couloir. The approach, (and descent,) to the Couvercle hut from the Leschaux glacier is best via the central gully.

A party has climbed the Frendo Spur, (with a bivvy), no further info.

A party also climbed the Eugster Diagonal in difficult conditions.
There was a party on Lesueur, N face Drus and another on Rolling Stones, N Face Grandes Jorasses.  The routes were very dry, but were not a problem for the climbers involved.
Argentière sector:  the classic ski tours are popular, e.g. the cols Argentière, Tour Noir and Passon.  It is important to respect the timing, especially on slopes that get the sun early in the day. There is a fixed rope on the descent from the Col du Chardonnet but, apparently, it does not quite reach the foot of the gully
Some parties on the Aiguille d’Argentière by the Glacier du Milieu and the Y Couloir.
Conditions on the NE des Courtes and Col des Cristaux are also OK.
Couloir Couturier: the bergschrund goes on the right, which is then followed by snow with some sections of ice, 50m at the kink and 30m hard ice to exit.

On the Droites, the Rhem-Vimal and the Lagarde Gully have been climbed.

In the Aiguilles Rouges the snow varies, depending upon aspect and time of day.  The slopes warm up rapidly, so it is important to get away early.

The Dômes de Miage and Mont Tondu are tracked.  Likewise, the cols in the area, e.g.  Cicle, Chasseurs, Bonhomme.
One needs to gain about 400 to 500m in height before skis can be used towards the Tré-la-Tête. The roman road is still OK, though crampons maybe necessary soon.


The Grands Mulets hut should open on 28 or 30 March, depending on conditions.

 

There are less options for snow shoers.  However, the Prarion plateau, the Loriaz hut, the Bérard valley and the Aiguillette des Posettes, (from the Vallorcine bubbles,) remain feasible.
Hikers are recommended to stay below 1500m, to avoid risks. 

It looks like the weather is going to be unsettled for the next few days, which will limit the activity at altitude.
We encourage you to report to the OHM the conditions experienced on your outings.

Report 15th March 2017

At the moment, ski touring is the main activity, with a reasonable snow cover above 2000m.  Snow conditions are becoming spring-like, so it is important to respect the time of day, especially on routes exposed to the morning sun, in the lee of the wind and regardless of altitude. Hard packed snow exists on the shaded slopes sometimes either polished or sculptured by the wind.
Despite already a lot of avalanches, more are to be expected, either spontaneous or from weighting, (e.g. skiers).

 

Some recently received information:
- Albert 1er Sector: the Couloir de la Table was done on 13/03, no further information other than a rock barrier near the bottom.
Nobody on the Chardonnet, the gullies are all very dry, but the Forbes Ridge looks feasible.

Be warned, some of the slopes near the Signal Reilly look to be still unstable.  Do not take the summer route from Charmillion to the hut. Snow conditions gave difficult skiing down from the Col du Passon on 14/03. The telephone is not working at the hut, use the mobile number to contact the warden.
- Argentière Sector: The cols in this area are been done regularly but the conditions are variable and not as good as last weekend. 

No news from the N faces, which remain very grey looking.
Col des Cristaux is tracked, the bergschrund being passed on the right, (looking up.)

- Vallée Blanche Sector: 
The Pas de Chèvre has not been practicable for several days now!

There was a party on the Drus N Face, (no further info.)
The Valley Blanche is still OK, but do it early.  The descent by Mottets, (snack bar open,) is still possible for a few more days.  You have to walk some bits, about 20 mins in total.  Since the large avalanches last week, the Brèche Puiseux and the Col du Tacul have been re-tracked, (no further info.)
Whymper done on 12/03 in poor conditions, (inconsistent snow).

- Aiguille du Midi / Torino Sector:
Pointes Lachenal, the Cosmiques Ridge, the Marbrées and the Normal route on the Tour Ronde have all been done recently.
The gullies are still very dry.  However, the Chere, (1st pitch dry, better above.)  the Contamine-Mazeaud, the Pellissier Gully and M6 Solar have been climbed, though placing ice screws can be difficult.
The Tour Ronde N Face is black ice. None of the gullies near the Torino have been climbed recently.
- Aiguilles Rouges Sector: there is activity in this sector but sadly the OHM has not received any feedback on snow conditions.  An early start is, again, important! 

Concerning snow shoeing, the information remains the same as in the last update of10/03.