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….