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9 December 2016

The period of high pressure continues, giving no new snow and very dry conditions.  
The dryness combined with the higher than usual temperatures means the icefalls have not formed yet, both at Cogne and the Chamonix valley.  Best to leave your axes and crampons in the cupboard for a bit longer!
N.B. The area around the “Fallo di Plutone” icefall is out of bounds for the season because of bird nesting.  (Bearded vulture).

There has not been much information concerning the mountain routes.  Most areas remain very dry and so the gullies are not in condition.

  

The Aiguille du Midi remains closed until the 17th.  The Skyway and the Torino hut has been open since last week.
It has been reported that the Aiguilles Marbrées and the Aiguilles d’Entrêves have been traversed in wintery conditions, (hence more technical.) The N face of the Tour Ronde has been climbed in OK conditions, the bergshrund not presenting a problem, especially on the left. The gully section contains “aerated” ice, but is still protectable. The final 30 to 40m are on very hard snow.  The descent was by the “true” normal route, with one short abseil.  This route is also being done in ascent.  The Gervasutti Couloir does not look inviting and the Rebuffat Gully looks very dry.

The Valéria gully was done on 4/12 in difficult conditions.  The Maudit sector is dry, the crux on the Baxter gully, (Mt Maudit) is bare, Laratoune, (behind the Grand Cap) dry and the SuperCouloir is as dry as it was in August.

 
As for the Albert 1er sector, one can start skiing at around 2000m, but conditions are reported to be poor. A party did the Grand Fourche on 4/12, mainly on crusty snow, though conditions were a bit better on the exposed slopes.   

A party was seen leaving for the Chardonnet, but no further information.

Concerning the Argentière sector, the Grands Montets top station is open.
The gullies in this area look dry and there is no information about recent ascents.  

The Col d’Argentière appears to be the best choice for ski tourers.  The Col du Tour has also been done, though the snow cover is poor at the level of the moraine.  The return down the glacier to Lognan is awkward and requires taking off the skis in places.
The Dolent was done 8/12 from La Fouly/La Léchère.  There is about 30min walking before one can put on the skis. Conditions were generally good.  The traverse between the Col du Petit Ferret the Bivouac Fiorio was in good condition.  The rest of the route was also OK, with hard snow in the upper part and the final slope to the summit being done on foot.  The ski back down in the afternoon was reasonable.  
The Y gully on the Aiguille Verte was climbed on 6/12. The bergschrund went on the right, and there was no snow at the foot of the gully (smooth slab of 1.5m). This was followed by a series of ice steps for 100m then a steep snow gully on the left for 20m before exiting on the left on mixed ground.  The descent was by the Whymper, without major problems.  The bergschrund was crossed on the true right.  Lower down on the glacier there is a huge crevasse which was by-passed by going up towards the start of Moine Ridge.  Return by the Egralets.

For the moment. snow shoes are unnecessary at the mid altitudes. However, good hiking boots and sticks are needed and crampons could prove useful, or even essential, in places.  Below 2000m on southern slopes and 1700m on the northern ones, there should be no problems.  The areas around the Lac Vert/ Ayères, the Prarion, the Chailloux chalets and Loriaz huts are all feasible for hikers.  There is potentially some danger higher up, for example: Lac Blanc and the Chéserys, and these areas are not recommended during this period of seasonal change.
Walks in the valley floor such as the Petit Balcon Sud, the Floria, Charousse as well as Mottets or Chapeau, are perfectly OK for the moment.
The same is true for climbing at Barberine and at the Gaillands.

Fresh snow is not expected in the immediate future, so it may be necessary to adapt your plans accordingly.

As always, the OHM looks forward to receiving your route reports so that they can be included in the next update.

Report 3rd Oct 2016

There is an autumnal feeling to this first week of October.  This morning, (Monday), it was distinctly cool and the Chamonix Aiguilles had a dusting of snow.  The snow descended yesterday down to 2300m. At the higher altitudes there were strong winds as the snow fell, with a dozen cms of fresh snow near the Cosmiques Hut and 40 cms near the Torino hut. The wind makes it feel very cold at altitude.  During this change in the weather the conditions are slowly evolving but the gullies and ice runnels are not in condition yet.  However, those rock routes exposed to the sun remain very pleasant.
At lower altitudes conditions are ideal for hiking.  Attention:  some work is being done in certain sectors. Consult the Chamoniarde website for more details:  http://www.chamoniarde.com/?p=45
Currently we are between seasons. The huts that are still open with a warden are: the Cosmiques until 8th October, the Torino and the Plan d’Aiguille until 1st November and the Loriaz until 15th October. The Aig du Midi and the Skyway (Courmayeur) cable cars will remain open until the 1st November.  All the other lifts in the valley are shut. 

The ladders leading from the Mer de Glace to the Couvercle are in the process of being partially dismantled

Report 16 August 2016

Conditions are generally very good throughout the massive.


- Albert 1er : Most of the peaks in this area are being regularly climbed. This includes the Forbes ridge, despite some ice on the “Bosse”.  2 x 50m ropes are necessary for the descent.  

- Argentière : The conditions remain good for the summer classics in this sector, especially the Aiguille d’Argentière.  The Petite Aiguille Verte is also in good condition.

- Charpoua : The old approach directly opposite Montenvers has been dismantled.  The approach is now by the new path, which starts after about an hour’s walk up the Mer de Glace.  However, the approach for the Flammes de Pierre is via some rock climbing just below the first ice pinnacles opposite Montenvers, (you can see the topos on the Chamoniarde.com website.)  For the Normal route and the traverse of the Drus you need to go very high up the Charpoua glacier and cross it before descending to the start of the routes. The rock climbing near the hut is in condition, e.g. Sale Athée. 


- Couvercle : There has been nobody for several days on the snow routes on the Droites and the Courtes.  The Jardin Ridge to the Aiguille Verte is in good condition, descent by abseilling down the Whymper if it is well frozen.  Some parties have done the Grands Montets ridge, likewise for the rock climbs near the hut.  The bergschrund below the Armand Charlet S gully is no longer passable.

- Leschaux : A party did Manitua in 3 days, another party went for the Shroud, (no further information.)  The W Face of the Petites Jorasses is dry. The rock climbing near the hut is also good, notably on the Aiguille Pierre Joseph.

- Requin : the descent from the Midi-Plan to the Requin is still OK; likewise for the ascent or descent of the Vallée Blanche. The Renaudie and the Pierre-Alain are being climbed.

- Envers des Aiguilles : Parties continue to go for the E Face of the Grépon, the Aig de la République and the routes near the hut.  However, the bergschrund for Subtilité Dulférienne, and Amazonia are very difficult to cross.  No news concerning the Ryan, though it appears to be OK.

- Torino : Generally very good conditions for this sector, with lots of parties going for the Rochefort Arete and the traverse of the Jorasses.  The Kuffner Ridge, (2 axes recommended for the direct gully at the start,) and the traverse of the Aiguilles du Diable are also popular. The N face of the Tour Ronde and the satellites of the Tacul have been done recently.

- Monzino : a lot of activity on the Peuterey integral, the Pilier Rouge, the Pointe Baretti and the Brouillard.  2 parties on the Central Pillar of Freney, 14/08.

- Cosmiques : the Contamine on the Triangle du Tacul and the 3 Monts traverse are being done regularly. Some parties have also done the full traverse from Durier hut.
The rock climbs on the S face of the Aiguille du Midi and the Pointes Lachenal are also popular.

- Plan de l’Aiguille : The Frendo Spur and the rock routes in this sector are popular.  Crampons recommended for the approach to Nabot Léon and neighbouring routes.

- Grands Mulets : conditions remain good and the hut is guarded, (do not forget to reserve.)

 
- Durier : the traverse of the Bionnassay is still in condition.


- Les Conscrits : the traverses of the Dômes de Miage and the  Aiguilles de Tré la Tête to the Lex Blanche are both in condition. The descent by the Col des Glaciers is still OK.  

For the hikers there are not really any problems, except for a patch of steep snow at the Col de la Glière, as well as patches of snow near the Col de Salenton on the Bérard side and beneath the summit of the Buet.

Report 5 August 2016

There have been no big changes since the last update. Conditions generally remain very good.

The recent bad weather has put down a dozen or so centimetres of fresh snow at the Cosmiques and Gouter huts.  This was combined with strong winds which are likely to continue through the weekend.  Be warned, this could result in windslab and wet snow avalanches at altitude.
It will be necessary to wait several days for certain routes to come back into condition.

 

Albert 1er :  Table Ridge, the normal route on the Aiguille du Tour, Tête Blanche, Petite and Grande Fourche are being done regularly. For the Chardonnet, the Forbes ridge remains feasible but the approach to the Migot Spur has become seriously complicated.

 

Argentière : Climbing is still popular behind the hut.  The Jardin ridge, Flèche Rousse, Glacier du Milieu and the traverse of the Tour Noir are also popular.

Mer de Glace Basin: Rock climbing is popular in this area, as well as near the Talèfre and the Leschaux.  The Whymper is no longer recommended and the Moine ridge still has a lot of snow.  The Moine is OK.


Torino : the conditions are generally good with numerous parties on the Grand Capucin, the various satellites, the Diable Ridge and the Gervasutti Pillar.
Good conditions also for the Italian side of the Mont Blanc starting from the Monzino, Gonella, Dalmazzi and Boccalatte huts. The Quintino Sella bivouac, (for the Tournette Spur,) is closed for repair work.

Cosmiques : The rock routes are feasible but the 3 Monts will certainly be out of condition for the next few days due to risk of windslab avalanche. The Frendo remains very popular, however there is still a passage of ice to exit the route.
Conditions were recently excellent for the Grands Mulets route via the N ridge of the Dôme. Contact the hut warden for more information regarding the best route across the Jonction.

Conscrits : generally good conditions. The traverse of the Aiguilles de Tré la Tête, the traverse of the Dômes de Miage and the traverse to the Bionnassay have all been done recently.

For hikers ; the situation has much improved, though there are still some snow patches which might cause problems, for example at the Cols de la Glière and Salenton, (heading for  Mont Buet.)

The snow/rain level will have dropped today, (5th August).  This means, as mentioned above, it will be several days before normal conditions return.

 

Please do not hesitate to inform the Office de Haute Montagne of the details of your outings

Report 28 July 2016

Conditions are generally very good for the time of year, though early starts are needed to get the best from the night time freezing, which is not always that good.

- Albert 1er : There are no problems with the normal routes on Tête Blanche, Petite Fourche and Aiguille du Tour, (including the bergschrund on the latter.)  The Couloir de la Table is now very dry and not recommended, but the Arete de la Table is in good condition.  There is a very large bergschund at the foot of the N face of the Tête Blanche which almost certainly makes access to this climb impossible. The Purtscheller and the Col du Pissoir are being climbed. The Forbes ridge is in good condition.  The bergschund on the Migot is awkward but still possible on the left.  For the descent from the Chardonnet, 2 ropes of 50m are recommended.

- Argentière : lThe rock routes are in good condition, as are the Glacier du Milieu and the Flèche Rousse Ridge. The Jardin ridge is also being done. The Tournier Spur is dry.
The Tour Noir traverse is very dry and no longer to be recommended.
No problems with the approach to the hut from the Grands Montets.  
Petite Aiguille Verte is OK but ice is starting to appear in some places.

 
- La Charpoua : The rock routes are mostly free of snow.  Some parties have done the Drus traverse.

- Le Couvercle : The rock routes are popular.  The Whymper is not in condition, but the traverse of the Courtes is.  Nobody has been on the Droites for more than a week.  The route up to the Pointe Isabelle is becoming more and more awkward. The Grands Montets ridge was done, descending by the Moine Ridge.

- Leschaux : The approach is OK for Anouk and the  Contamines on the  Petites Jorasses. The abseil points onTonton Daniel have been renewed.
4 parties left for the Walker on the 28th, making rapid progress.

- Boccalatte : The normal route on the Grandes Jorasses is still in good condition, parties passing below the serac without a problem.  The rocks at the Reposoir are dry. The traverse from the Canzio bivouac was done recently. Abseilling down the Rochers Whymper is possible with a 60m rope but better with 2x 50m.


- Envers des Aiguilles : The bergschrund for the Grépon has become very awkward, but no problems for the other approaches, except for the Ciseaux. A party went for the Ryan on the 29/07.

- Le Requin : The descent from the Midi-Plan is OK for the moment, as well as the approach to the Pierre-Allain. Nobody has gone for the Renaudie recently. Good conditions in both directions for the Vallee Blanche, on foot.)


- Torino : Generally ggod conditions for this sector.  The approach to the Dent du Géant is becoming very dry, danger from stone fall; likewise for the gully on the Aiguillettes au Grand Capucin and for the approach to the Aiguilles du Diable.
Tour Ronde is feasible by the SE ridge “intégrale” and by the Gervasutti Couloir.  The N face is OK if there is good freezing.  
The approach to the Pyramide du Tacul looks awkward.

- Plan de l’Aiguille : The Frendo Spur is in good condition and is (over)popular, (14 parties in one day !).  The left exit has some ice patches.

  An important rock fall has been reported at the level of the 2nd abseil on the Epéron des Minettes.  Crampons not needed for Lépidoptère.  However, crampons still needed for the Pilier Rouge de Blaitière and for the decent of the Peigne snow field.

- Cosmiques : If there is good night time freezing then the Contamines, Grisolle, Negri and Chéré on the Triangle du Tacul are popular. The 3 Monts to Mont Blanc is in condition with just a little ice after the Col du Mont Maudit, ice screws useful.  
A party went for the Gervasutti Pillar on 28th.
On the traverse of the Pointes Lachenal there is an unstable zone at the foot of the abseil, but it is easy to avoid.

 

 - Grands Mulets : The traverse of the Jonction is best done by the lower track. The N ridge of the Dôme is in excellent condition but the descent by the Plateaux is not recommended due to a lot of open crevasses. Contact the hut warden for advice on the best route to take.


- Mont Blanc : Good conditions on the  Bionnassay Ridge and the normal French and Italian routes. There is stonefall danger in the Grand Couloir in the heat of the day or if there has not been good night time freezing
- Les Conscrits : The approach via the glacier is not recommended.  The footbridge path was closed due to damage by storms but should be repaired and re-opened by the 29th July.
The Mont Tondu, the traverse of the Aiguilles de Tré la Tête and the traverse of the Dômes de Miage are being done regularly. Nobody on the Lex Blanche for more than a week.

-Other Areas : The fixed ropes on the  Pointe Dufour, Mont Rose have been stripped away by rockfall, foresee two abseils of 40m. (belays in place.)
The Grand Paradiso is in good condition.
Still a lot of snow on the Hornli ridge, Matterhorn making it a bit awkward, (though apparently no problem for Pippa Middleton !).

Hikers are advised to avoid the Col de la Glière and Lacs Noirs sectors as potentially dangerous snow fields remain there. Mont Buet still has snow, so proper equipment is essential.

Emosson sector: there is still a lot of snow in this sector, though the dinosaur tracks are now mostly visible.

Report 18th July 2016

The snow that fell a few days ago has mostly melted, but could still cause problems in a few places at altitude. Reports from the recent outings indicate generally good conditions in the massive.

- Albert 1er : The gullies on the Chardonnet are dry.   The Forbes ridge is being done regularly but not so for the Migot where the bergschrund is difficult.
The bergschrund on the Aiguille du Tour goes on the right, the Table Gully has a dry section in the middle and is not to be recommended.  The Table ridge is in good condition, likewise the Tête Blanche et Petite Fourche.

- Argentière : Very good conditions for the Glacier du Milieu, the Flèche Rousse ridge, the Jardin ridge,  the Col du Tour Noir and for the descent from Grands Montets.
The Charlet Straton and the Col d’Argentière have been climbed, as well as the traverse of the Tour Noir, descending by south pillar with two abseils of 50m and one of 30m.

The N faces are out of condition, having an air “cannyoning” about them

- La Charpoua : The Drus traverse was done in guidebook time on 18th July

Routes on the Flammes de Pierre are being done but with the heat the Sans Nom is no longer in condition.


- Le Couvercle : The rock climbs are back in condition and proving popular.  The normal routes on the Droites to the Nonne-Evêque, the Pointe Isabelle and the Moine have been done.  The traversée of the Courtes was done on 18/07 in very good conditions.

 
- Leschaux : 2 parties did the Anouk and the Contamine on the Petites Jorasses.  The Comte route on the Aiguille Pierre Joseph has also been done.
The Aiguille de l’Eboulement was climbed on 16/7 in good conditions.

The Walker is drying well and should be in condition soon.


- Envers des Aiguilles : Climbers are active on the Tour Rouge, Tour Verte and the Pointes des Nantillons. Bienvenue au Georges V, Amazonia et les Fleurs du Mal have been done recently.  There were also parties on the Mer de Glace face of the Grepon and the Aiguille de la République on 18/7.  The Ryan does not look like it will be in condition for several days.

 
- Le Requin : The rock routes behind the hut are in condition. Parties are going up the Vallee Blanche without major problems.


- Torino : A very popular sector for both rock and snow/mixed routes.  Generally good condition which might change as the temperatures rise.

The approach to the Kuffner remains by the taking the direct gully and not via the Fourche The Aiguilles du Diable traverse is also being done; there is little snow remaining.

- Les Cosmiques : The rock routes on the S face of the Aiguille du Midi and the Pointes Lachenal are being climbed.  The Contamine Mazeaud, Negri et Grisolle and the Chéré have been popular these last few days, as well as the Cosmiques Ridge and the traverse of the Pointes Lachenal.
For the Midi-Plan it is best to sleep at the hut to take advantage of the freezing conditions, (if indeed it does freeze,) during the night.  The 3 Monts route up Mont Blanc is not presenting any problems, just some ice at the Col du Mont Maudit.

- Les Grands Mulets :Parties foreseen to do Mont Blanc from here on 19/7.  The crossing of the Jonction is best by the lowest track.

- Plan Glacier / Durier : There is snow on the last 100m vertical on the approach to the Durier hut, crampons probably essential.  Some parties left for the Bionnassay ridge on 18/7, no further information.

 
- Les Conscrits : The Dômes de Miage and Mont Tondu are in good condition. Parties also have done the Aiguilles de Tré la Tête and the Lex Blanche.  (Some ice low down, ice screws useful.)   The approach to the hut via the glacier has become complicated but remains possible by the true right bank for the moment. There are a couple of snow patches remaining on the approach via the footbridge which might need crampons early in the morning.


- Boccalate : There is a warden now at the hut and conditions for the normal route up the Grande Jorasses are good.

- Monzino : The Aiguille Croux, the  Pointe Innominata and the Innominata Ridge are being climbed.  Parties have also been seen on the Peuterey ridge heading for Mont Blanc.

- Gonella : The normal route up Mont Blanc from the Italian side is being done regularly, without any bad feedback.


The weather forecast is for an important rise in temperatures over the next few days, beware of stonefall later in the day!

Conditions in the Aiguilles Rouges have improved, but crampons may still be necessary in certain areas.
There is still a lot of snow on the approaches to the Cornu lake and the Noir lakes and so these walks are not yet to be recommended. Care is also needed on the descent from the Brevent Col on the Anterne side and from the Col du Salenton on the Berard side, crampons useful early in the morning.  There is also still snow on the Buet, so you need to be properly equipped, (crampons and ice axe.)

 
The Col de la Terrasse from Loriaz is doable but there is still snow in the last section. The Veudale Gorges are still snowed over as are also the dinosaur tracks.

 
Concerning the Tour du Mont Blanc, there is snow at the Col du Bonhomme, care needed. The rest of the route is without any special problems, though be careful when crossing the mountain streams when in spate.