Some information for this Whit weekend.
Some of the lifts open on Saturday, 8th June: Bellevue cable car, Prarion telecabins (only at the weekends until 23 June), Planpraz telecabins, Brevent cable car, Charamillon telecabins and Autannes chairlift. The Montenvers train, Aiguille du Midi cable car and the Skyway Monte Bianco remain open.
Specific information for hikers: The opening of the lifts allows one to easily gain altitude. However, despite the start of the thaw, there is still a lot more snow above 2000m than usual for the time of year. There is a risk of slipping/falling, the paths and waymarks are often not visible and there are weak snow bridges over fast flowing streams.
Warning: Some of the classic hikes are not currently feasible, being more like alpine climbs e.g. Lac Cornu and Lacs Noirs, Lac Blanc, Grand Balcon Nord, Jonction, Albert 1er, Buet, Lac de Pormenaz, Col d'Anterne.
Other hikes are possible if one is “surefooted” and properly equipped, e.g. Mont Lachat, Chalet des Pyramides, Montenvers /Signal Forbes via Les Mottets (via Caillet is not feasible), Lac des Chéserys from the Col des Montets, Grand Balcon Sud, (note: the Flegere cable car is closed as are most of the paths leading to La Praz), Pierre à Bérard hut.
Other safe hikes have been suggested in previous updates. The Charles Bozon piste/track is closed until mid-June due to work in progress. The path leading up to the Barberine waterfalls has been cleared of fallen trees but there is still work to do there, (crossing 2 gullies).
Tour du Mont Blanc, TMB
Since the start of the week the route is being done. There is still a lot of snow, so it is suitable for experienced hikers only; one needs good boots, hiking poles and to take crampons. The way is becoming more obvious with the passage of hikers but there are still long sections where the path and waymarks are under snow, navigation skills are needed. The variants, (except for the Col de Tricot, footbridge in place) are not yet practical.
Rock Climbing in the Aiguilles Rouges
Crampons and ice axe necessary for the approaches and descents. Be aware of closed paths e.g. Charles Bozon piste and the Flégère sector . Climbing in the sun possible at Cheserys, Montenvers and Mottets. It is still too early for Mont Oreb.
For the alpinists, the weather remains unstable (south westerlies). It is probably best to keep to routes that are not too committing and with escape options. The SW wind and cloudy nights means the freezing level will be unpredictable for the next few days.
The approach to the hut is by the moraine. The summer path still has lots of snow and is not tracked. With the opening of the lifts it will almost certainly be tracked at the weekend and alpinists should not have a problem, (attention: snow slides and cornices!). However, hikers are strongly recommended not to go this way. Snowshoes could be useful on the glaciers, depending on the night-time freezing and the time of the descent.
Aiguille du Tour is popular by the normal route. Table Ridge and Table Gully, (15-20m section of mixed low down.) are OK Mediocre conditions for the Chardonnet but it is still being done. There is lots of snow on the Forbes Ridge and the upper part of the Migot Spur fairly dry with ice showing through in places. The descent is on snow, more or less supportive. The bergschrunds below the Adam Reilly col are OK.
No information for the rock routes e.g. Dorées traverse, Aiguille de Purscheller S ridge.
Little information for this sector as the hut and lifts are still closed. Some parties have done the Couturier: icy narrow section, ( possible to bypass by the lower part of the Z/Washbrum route,) and ice showing through in the upper part, (a crevasse blocks the way by the snow dome, so it is necessary to continue higher up the gully than usual.)
A party turned back from the Ginat (unstable snow and no ice for ice screw protection.)
Flammes de Pierre
The routes are becoming “dry”.
The hut is due to open on the 15th, (no gas left). The last information is from 03/06: a lot of snow to reach the hut, tracked on foot but would have been easier with snowshoes, (no re-freezing.) Good conditions for the Y couloir, lower bands well formed, good snow in the left branch.
The hut approach by the Egralets is now almost free of snow, (take care on the moraine below the ladders.) There has been little re-freezing over the last few days. Skis no longer recommended, too much carrying for little skiing and poor snow quality at the time of descent. Snowshoes are still perhaps useful.
The Aiguille du Moine is not yet in condition: S Ridge intégrale and E Face are dry but the normal route (descent) is dangerous. (wet, loose snow). Likewise, for the Évêque (there will certainly be snow in the chimney).
The Whymper on the Verte: bergschrund remains OK on the left or centre, the secondary gully is virtually dry. Higher up the snow alternates between being very hard or very soft.
A week ago, a party turned back on the Droites normal route between the exit of the couloir and the mixed section, (unstable snow). Nobody has tried it since.
A party has done the Courtes normal route. They descended by the NE face, (a lot of snow following the ridge.)
Pointe Isabelle is OK (with snowshoes!)
The ridge routes, (e.g. Moine, Jardin, Courtes traverse,) should be in condition soon, once the snow is fully transformed.
The hut opens on Saturday 8th June.
Latest information from the hut’s Facebook page: “still a lot of snow patches on the on the balcon path, crampons and ice axe essential. The recent good weather has dried the rock climbs. Crampons and ice axe are needed to reach the routes. Excellent conditions for the snow routes e.g. Aiguille de L’Eboulement, Périades, Mallet, as long a s there has been a good freeze. “
Plan de l'Aiguille
The hut can be reached by hikers via the Grand Bois (two thirds of the snow fields can be avoided by taking to the rocks). The Pré du Rocher path is not feasible. There is still too much snow on the Grand Balcon Nord.
The Mallory-Porter and the Eugster Diagonal are being done regularly but check the freezing level.
It is still too early for the Papillons Ridge and the other rock routes in the area, (Peigne, Pilier Rouge de Blaitière).
The Aiguille de l'M and Petits Charmoz should be feasible but in mixed condition, (snowshoes useful for the approach, crampons and ice axe essential.)
Aiguille du Midi
As stated in a previous update, the Three Monts route is very awkward this year and is for excellent alpinists only, (a lot harder than the given grade PD+). An imposing serac barrier has made crossing the Maudit very difficult. One needs to go the left of the face. 4 pitches of 50m are necessary, (foresee at least 5 ice screws and some nuts). The first two pitches are very hard snow and virtually impossible to protect. The next pitch is up a small gully of mixed, (ice screws and rock protection possible). The last pitch is more enjoyable. An easier line up the serac/bergschrund may have been created following a partial collapse, no further information.
Conditions are OK for the Chéré and the Contamine-Grisolle. There is a lot of ice on the Contamine-Mazeaud. The Contamine-Negri has been done, no further information. (take care of the serac low down.) It is necessary to sleep at the hut, as an early start is needed. Stonefall has been observed, a result of the bad snow conditions, (re-freezing poor to not at all).
The Midi-Plan Ridge has been done, (there and back,) but the snow conditions were not good.
The Pointes Lachenal traverse is in good condition.
The Cosmiques ridge has become more difficult, as the area near the abseil, (where there was a large rockfall last year,) no longer has snow. A chimney on the N side, (10m abseil) should make it possible to reach a gap where a second abseil leads back to the terrace on the usual route.
The Aig du Midi S face, Pointes Lachenal, Pyramide du Tacul E ridge, (Ottoz route,) are in good condition, (bergschrund OK).
Still good conditions here. Good snow already from the Plan de l'Aiguille, the Jonction is OK, there is snow all the way on the N ridge and the N face skiable. It is also possible to go and down by the Corridor route. However, the weather is not stable for the moment.
There is now a foot track up to the hut and then on up the N ridge, giving a good, early season, alternative to the normal, (Gouter,) route for Mont Blanc.
MB normal route, Aiguille du Goûter
The Bellevue cable car opens on Saturday, 8th June.
Note: the 4 road up to Bionnassay from the valley will be closed all day on the 11th and 12th June, (Tuesday, Wednesday until 17h).
For a recent report on the MB normal route click ici.
The railway track is in the process of being cleared of snow and still has sections which are very exposed, (possible to go up via the Are chalets)
The Prefect legislation concerning the new rules for the normal route are available ici.
An artic le in Montagne Magazine on this subject is interesting.
Miage / Bionnassay Sector
The Plan Glacier and Durier huts open on Thursday 13 June.
Good conditions are expected for the Durier hut approach and the Mettrier Ridge.
Some parties have done the Aiguille de Bionnassay (either as a traverse or from the Gonella hut). The ridge is narrow but apparently free of bare ice. Snowshoes are still useful at the Conscrits, depending on the amount of re-freezing.
Mont Tondu is tracked, by skis only.
The N faces are still “white”, (i.e. no bare ice), but better re-freezing is needed.
The Dômes traverse (or there and back) and Aiguille de la Bérangère are in good condition.
Opening dates for the main huts:
- Rifugio Gonella: 7/06
- Rifugio Monzino: 14/06
- Rifugio Boccalatte: 15/06
- Rifugio Dalmazzi: 22/06
There has been little change in conditions since last week’s update for Punta Helbonner sector. The Marbrées traverse, Dent du Géant/ Rochefort Ridge, Aiguille d’Entrêves and Tour Ronde (N Face still in good condition on 05/06) remain popular. (There are foot tracks to and from the routes. It is also possible to use skis or snowshoes).
The rock climbs on the Satellites are should soon be free of snow, (assuming they are not affected by the forecasted storms.)