La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 13 July 2023

The dreaded heatwave has arrived, with the expected consequences: rock falls have started, the mountains are drying out and some glaciers are beginning to open up...

To see the glass as half full (it's always better), these temperatures are good news for hikers, who can now enjoy almost all the routes with dry feet. Only a few areas above 2400m remain tricky: see the dedicated article.

Getting back to the high mountains, in addition to the heat, it's blowing hard and a freeze is having trouble establishing itself these days. 

Le Tour 

Only a tiny névé left on the ascent to the refuge. The classics are still being climbed in good conditions: Aiguille du Tour via the Arête de la Table and normal route, Tête Blanche, Petite Fourche. It's getting tricky on the Chardonnet, where ice is emerging little by little on the “bosse". On the descent, the Col Adam Reilly rimaye has collapsed and longer abseils are needed (allow 50m) on the left bank, which involves a tricky traverse. 


No choice but to use the ladders to access the basin! Be careful at the foot of the ladders: unstable rock. A new fixed rope is in place to cross the snow slope behind (good path). Soon there'll be nothing but rock to get your teeth into up here! The Glacier du Milieu on the Aiguille d'Argentière is now reserved for experienced climbers. About ten metres of rock in the ‘narrows", with a 25m abseil to cross on the way down. The Jardin arête on the Aiguille d'Argentière can still be considered in decent condition (snow everywhere for bivouacs), but the Flèche Rousse and Charlet-Straton arêtes, as well as the Whymper route, are now finished.


Everything's good around the new hut! The American Direct is still busy (watch out for falling rocks in the current heat - there's snow in the niche) and the Drus traverse is still here (there's still a bit of snow to reach the Flammes de Pierres arête). The Contamine route on the Grand Dru is dry, with the exception of a small steep névé before the "characteristic roofs" of pitch 14, for which crampons may be useful when leading. On the abseils of the Grand Dru, one belay is under the snow. 

Talèfre Basin

The Moine is being done by all routes. Everything is good, except for the Contamine-Labrunie rimaye, which is starting to open up. We'll say it again: it's all over for the Whymper and the S couloir on the Col Armand Charlet. The Arête du Jardin is still possible but is reserved for very good climbers. The Moine arête has not yet been done, so we're still waiting for motivated climbers to take it on! The Droites have dried out and some of the teams who set out for the traverse have turned back. Good climbers who can keep to schedule might consider the Courtes traverse. Pointe Isabelle is still all snow, with the exception of the mixed section, which is dry but goes fine. 

Finally, the balcony path to the Leschaux is virtually dry, with only the occasional snow patch remaining.

Leschaux Sector

Apart from the Eboulement where the SW couloir is finished, the classic routes in the area are in good condition. This is particularly true of the approaches to the Aiguille de Leschaux and the W face of the Petites Jorasses. On the Grandes, the Walker is being done. When temperatures are high, a lot of water flows under the triangular nevé and into the red chimneys. The advantage is that if you want to see the glass completely full, all you have to do is hold it out! For the descent via the normal route, the snow is fine and the crampons are taken off at the Boccalate. 

Envers des Aiguilles / Requin

No significant changes in the sector since the last updates: the rimayes are all relatively easy. To get up to the Requin, it's still on the left or right bank, then you have to descend into a blocked crevasse before finding some brand new ladders (9m)! The Chapeau à Cornes Ridge on the Dent du Requin, the Ryan Ridge and the normal route on the Aiguille Pierre Allain are busy: good conditions. Beware of the torrents for the access to Congo Star, go early. The ascent of the Vallée Blanche is still fine. 


The Kuffner rimaye has collapsed and the ridge has dried out a lot: good conditions are no longer there! Conditions were a little better for the Diable Traverse although the access couloir is far from ideal (sections of loose rock, watch out for the teams below!) and you absolutely need a good refreeze to cross it. Then it's all good. There is climbing on all the satellites of the Tacul (although beware of possible instabilities at the bottom of the Bettembourg-Thivierge at Pointe Adolphe Rey). Otherwise, the classic mountaineering routes in the area are being done (Tour Ronde via the SE ridge and back, Entrèves, Toule, Flambeaux, Marbrées, etc.) For access to the Dent du Géant, the first rimaye is starting to cause problems: prefer a passage via the rocks on the right bank (on the left as you climb up). Good conditions and plenty of people for the Rochefort - Jorasses traverse. For the descent see the Leschaux report.

Aiguille du Midi 

After the Mallory, it's now the end for the Frendo and therefore the routes on the N face of the Aiguille du Midi. A little above, Midi-Plan is still passable, although some of the sections are dry and make the route a little more technical than usual. Some teams on the Chamonix aiguilles traverse, done in good conditions: a few short passages on ice, otherwise snow on the N faces and dry on the S faces. There's snow to make water at the Col du Caïman bivouac. For the descent, the Spencer is dry and loose: prefer abseiling (x5) via the spur on the left bank. To get back to the Col du Midi, you can still climb just about everywhere on rock, but it's getting late for the mixed routes and gullies on the Triangle du Tacul. Serac falls have been observed on the N face of Mont Blanc du Tacul. The Trois Monts can still be climbed by those with good crampon skills (plan to abseil 2x50m or 2 ice axes for the descent from the Col du Mont Maudit).

Plan de l'Aiguille

Little has changed in this sector since the last update. However, beware of the Nantillons glacier, which is getting worse by the day: plan to get there early! 

Mont Blanc via the Grands Mulets

Not many people left in the area, the Jonction still passes through a few zig zags, then there are a few traces of snow below the refuge and finally the N ridge is ice. All good above!

Mont Blanc via the Goûter

Not much change here either: the sentier des Rognes is still covered in snow and is not a shortcut at the moment! The runnels in the Goûter couloir still mean that you lose time crossing it, but there is now a good track. Of course, the current temperatures mean that there are more rockfalls: get there early and of course be careful! Above the Dôme du Goûter, conditions remain good, although there are some crevasses to negotiate on the N face of the Dôme du Goûter.

Dômes de Miage / Bionassay

From now on, we won't be walking in the snow at all to get up to the Conscrits! It rained all the way to the top of the Dômes last night, but conditions remain good on the traverse. Still OK at the Bérangère and Mont Tondu, although it's starting to open up after the col below the Pyramide Chaplan. It's all over for Tré-la-Tête and the Mettrier arête. The conditions are still good for the traverse of the Aiguille de Bionnassay.

Gonella / Aiguilles Grises

Little change, watch out for the freeze...


Provided the freeze is good, good conditions around here! Pilier Rouge du Brouillard, Innominata, Central Pillar of Freney... are regularly climbed! On the Peuterey Ridge: a few snow patches allow you to make water before the bivouac at the summit of the Noire. More snow at the Dames Anglaises bivouac. Lots of snow from the Blanche onwards, but all goes well. 



Translated with permission from an original report by La Chamoniarde.

Readers are reminded that conditions in mountain environments are prone to (sometimes rapid) change and that they should use their own best judgement when visiting them.