La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 1 February 2024.
As far as ski touring is concerned, not much has changed since last week's report (carrying skis, unpleasant Bérard valley, etc.).
It hasn't snowed again and the snow is generally hard, even bullet hard at certain altitudes, aspects and times of the day. Aim for slopes that will have softened a bit (this depends on the temperature, wind and cloud cover).
Generally speaking, it's 'best' at altitude on slopes that don't get too much sun (above 2500m) with cold snow and a good grip.
Once again, we urge you to be careful and not to forget your couteaux and boot crampons to avoid falls and sliding.
On the other hand, there has been some good gully activity despite rather dry conditions (or the new "normal"). Here's some feedback (many thanks to those who filled in our cahier de course), which is tricky because it always risks increasing the risk of overcrowding: if one or more roped parties are already involved in a gully, it's better to go for plan B, "choice involves giving something up!"
Beware also of the weather and the NW wind at altitude.
Argentière glacier :
The Passon, Chardonnet, Tour Noir and Argentière cols are getting regular traffic. The bottom of the Passon has not improved, nor has the gully above Les Pétoudes (the latter should be avoided).
The couloir en Y on the Aiguille d'Argentière is probably OK. The rimaye on the Glacier du Milieu is filled in, so it’s easy. The narrow section is very dry (descent in 3 abseils of 20m, belays on flakes/spikes which need to be checked, newish tat) then a little snow above until the col (ice but which can be avoided, therefore preferable to leave the skis at the bottom of the gully). Looks like ice between the col and the summit.
One team baled at the rimaye of Petit Viking, a "big glide crack with loose snow". The rest of the route is in good condition by eye.
Looking at it, the top of the NE face of Les Courtes is too dry to ski.
The Lagarde couloir was climbed last weekend in good conditions.
Some teams seen on the Ravanel-Frendo, but no further information.
Claire Chazal (Pointe Farrar): the rimaye can be crossed 100m to the right of the gullly. Fairly good conditions (just the right amount of ice, mixed sections are protectable) except for the dièdre which is dry and hard.
Still plenty of activity on the modern routes on the Aiguille de Bochard.
Plan de l'Aiguille
Still a lot of teams on Mini Blast, still a cornice at the top of Rébuffat-Terray.
Still a few teams on "Nouvelle Génération" but it's the end (mixed passage on pitch 1 and a 75 m pitch very difficult to protect + last two pitches after the dry traverse). The belays have been reinforced.
The belays on Cécile and la Mésange (Peigne) have been re-equipped so that you can abseil down them (60m). On the whole an easy gully on squeaky snow/ice that is quite difficult to protect (1 to 3 points per pitch) + a dry pitch in the middle with some very tricky moves that can be easily protected.
Fil à Plomb doesnt look doable: numerous dry passages (exposed slabs) above the key pitches.
On the face of it, the Mallory could be an option, but the quality of the snow is a big unknown (often loose sugar snow at these altitudes and orientations at the moment).
Glacier du Géant area
The Cosmiques arete and the Marbrées traverse are in good condition and accessible on foot.
One team turned back on the Cosmiques icefall (more water than ice).
Triangle du Tacul as dry as ever.
Goulotte Pellissier fairly dry.
Numerous teams on the Gabarrou-Albinoni: good conditions, fairly well filled (pitches 1 and 2 a bit thinner). There is a lack of bolted belays (summer rockfalls) and sometimes a bit of moving together is needed. Modica-Noury has plenty of ice.
Good conditions (direct start via mixed pitches, then a relatively well-filled gully) on the Supercouloir, but obviously a lot of people.
Goulotte Lafaille in good conditions.
Valeria gully: the approach under the serac (which looks threatening) is "scary" (recent ice fall). Goulotte "pretty dry but it's done".
One team turned back at the Ratoune rimaye ten days ago (no ice, sugar snow).
Requin sector: fairly good conditions in Ice is Nice (last pitch dry, abseils re-equipped at 60m) and in Eastman-Sorenson.
Few changes to the skiing in the sector (Vallée Blanche, Col d'Entrêves, Brèche Puiseux busy).
Couvercle sector: access and descent OK via the central couloir. The Whymper on the Verte can be considered (alpine conditions).
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.