La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 27 January 2024.
Here's some news as we approach a period of high pressure!
The snow cover is exceptional above 1800m, but below that it's terrible. There was a bit of snow in places last night at high altitude (Argentière glacier, Vallée Blanche).
The classic ski touring routes are popular. Don't forget your couteaux/harscheisen, as the snow is often hard on all aspects (you need to be a good skier). Also beware of the risk of falls/slides both off and on piste. You will be walking/ carrying skis until you leave the woods if you don't start from a ski lift (Roman road in les Contamines, Plaine Joux, la Flatière, le Buet/Couteray, Finhaut).
The Bérard valley has thin snow cover and has also been devastated by avalanches, so it's not very pleasant! The same goes for the Passon descent towards Le Tour. A large avalanche has gone down the Pétoudes gully (Trient), which should be avoided for the time being!
Bullet hard sections on the descent of the Brévent/Cornu towards the Pont d'Arlevé.
The three Cols is in good condition (apart from the bottom of the Passon, see above). The descent couloir on the N side of the Col du Chardonnet is well filled in.
The Vallée Blanche is being done every day. The Aiguille du Midi arête is equipped (Z not in place). Glaciers generally well filled. The bottom of the Vallée Noire is very icy. The Requin refuge opened its doors on Saturday 27 January.
You can ski as far as the old staircase. The cable car is due to open soon, so keep your fingers crossed. In the meantime, head back up to Montenvers via the old stairs and the path. The descent to Chamonix is out of the question (the bottom of the glacier is chaotic). No news of the Brèche Puiseux but it should go: expect 2 abseils of 30m + exit to the right under the Grandes Jorasses at the bottom of the Mont Mallet glacier and not via the couloir).
Gully climbing is back on the agenda. No news from the Argentière basin. The Couturier looks very icy.
Some teams on Mini-Blast (good conditions) and Rebuffat-Terray: fairly dry conditions + beware there's a big cornice at the brèche overlooking the whole route... Some teams also on Beyond Good and Evil but it's very dry.
A few climbers on the Chéré but it’s pretty dry, especially the first slope below the start. You can climb the Modica-Noury and the Gabarrou-Albinoni but beware of (over)crowding. It might be worth looking a little further afield, even if it's generally dry and we have no information (Supercouloir, Lafaille, Valeria, Ice is Nice; Pellissier: dry).
It won't be a winter to remember for ice climbing. The hot weather finished off the few routes that existed, particularly around Cogne. A few ice climbs are still possible on the rive gauche of the Argentière glacier.
Translated with kind 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.