La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 6 September 2023
The weather seems to be on a yo-yo as summer draws to a close! After last week's cold snap and snow fall the beginning of September has been marked by unusually hot weather for the time of year. The 0°C isotherm is once again soaring above 5000m and rock fall has resumed in the high mountains, particularly on the west face of the Drus, which had been relatively spared since 2011! Although the snow fall has very temporarily improved conditions for the few snow routes that were still being done, things are changing fast and not in a good way.
Conditions are fine on the normal route on the Aiguille du Tour. The Col Supérieur du Tour is starting to go black again. Beware of the instability reported and observed near the the Aiguille Purtscheller: it is recommended to go around it low down before heading to the Aiguille du Tour rimaye, which is crossable in the middle on a snow bridge. The Petite Fourche and the Tête Blanche are also doable.
Argentière & Charpoua
The refuges have not been staffed since September 1 and August 25 respectively. Consequently, there is little information on these sectors.
The normal route on the Aiguille du Moine is still in good condition! It's a bit more complicated for the east face routes, where the rimayes on the Contamine-Labrunie and Aureille-Feutren are opening up more and more. The Nonne-Evêque traverse was busy, as was the Moine ridge on the Verte for the first time in a while! On the latter, the rimaye is fine, but the ridge is quite dry with rock fall in places.
It's all over for the rock on the north face of the Grandes Jorasses. Despite the current heat, it's not dry enough at this time of year. But everything else is good! The west face of the Petites Jorasses and the Aiguille de Leschaux are dry and approaches are still possible for good climbers. All the routes around the refuge are dry too, and the non-glacial approaches are well-suited to this warm end of season weather! And now more than ever: call before going up to make sure the warden hasn't gone for a walk ;)
Envers des Aiguilles / Requin
There’s plenty of climbing up here! The rimayes are crossable and on the whole everything's being done!
The Tacul satellites are all dry. The classics (Entrèves, Marbrées) are being climbed, with a nice rock fall reported this morning below the Aiguilles Marbrées (see photo below). On the Dent du Géant, we once again have to watch out for rock falls on the approach to the Salle à Manger - which is also very dry. Plenty of people on the normal route on the Dent du Géant, as well as on the traverse of the Rochefort arête, where the conditions were inevitably worthy of a September: fairly dry on the whole, but bullet hard snow/ice in the morning. No info on the Grandes Jorasses traverse, but we'd love to hear from you!
Aiguille du Midi
Even though the recent snow has been good for the arête, it's still quite technical with a good section of ice under the rocks and several crevasses to get round. And it's not going to get any easier. The same goes for the Cosmiques arête: it's dry again and there's a real risk of it collapsing. Although very crevassed at this time of year, the Vallée Blanche traverse is still possible in the early morning for good climbers. The Mont Blanc du Tacul normal route is being climbed in decent conditions, although a few serac falls have crossed the route in recent days. On the Trois Monts route, we're having trouble getting precise feedback on the Maudit. The ramp used to cross the large rimaye on the face collapsed a few weeks ago and a new route has been opened on the far right, under the rocks. However, the passage is very technical, steep and exposed to both seracs and falling rocks.
Plan de l'Aiguille
Another great place to climb in these hot weather conditions!
Mont Blanc via the Goûter
Conditions had improved very temporarily with the snowfall, but it didn't last! The rock falls were back with a vengeance in the Goûter couloir. There is snow on 2/3 of the spur below the refuge. Above, the conditions are fine, although you still need to be careful when crossing crevasses and snow bridges, which are weakened by the positive temperatures all the way to the summit during the day!
Bionnassay / Tré-la-Tête
The Durier refuge has been unguarded since yesterday. The approach to the hut has been made tricky by rock falls on the spur: plan to climb early! On the traverse of the Aiguille de Bionnassay, conditions are good with good steps and no ice. Around the Conscrits/Miage, the traverse of the Dômes is in good condition (no ice) with an out-and-back via the Bérangère. Mont Tondu also looks possible!
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.