La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 17 August 2023
As in life, things can move very quickly in the mountains... We thought we'd got away with it, but the heatwave has caught up with us.
It's been very hot for a few days now, and conditions on snow routes and on glaciers are deteriorating! Watch out for the quality of the refreeze (fortunately the nights are longer than at the beginning of the summer) and for rock falls in exposed areas!
Here's some brief information sector by sector, bearing in mind that the situation can change very quickly and that a route may no longer be in good condition from one day to the next! We can only recommend that you focus your choice of outings on solid rock without too many complicated glacier approaches!
Little has changed so far, apart from the rimaye on the normal route on the Aiguille du Tour, which is starting to open up.
The Charpoua glacier is still okay low down. Drus traverse and Contamine on the Grand Dru okay. Descend by the right hand abseil line (looking at the mountain) which is shorter and takes you higher up the glacier (it seems obvious NOT to leave crampons and ice axe at the bottom when you go to Les Drus!). There have also been teams on the Evêque (Contamine SW ridge route).
There are no aids (handrails etc) to cross the torrent (below the Aiguille du Moine) on the balcony path leading to the Couvercle hut, so good footwork is essential!
The classics of the Aiguille du Moine are being done in good conditions (normal route, S ridge, etc.). The rimaye below the Contamine is becoming increasingly tricky to negotiate, you may have to go down inside it.
Nonne and Evêque have been climbed in decent conditions. Pointe Isabelle is still a possibility for very good climbers (crevassed glacier, poor refreezing, icy at the top...)
Few changes here.
The N face of the Jorasses (see photo above) is very dry. Some climbers are currently on the Cassin on the Walker spur: complicated rimaye depending on where you go (we'll see how it develops), dry rock but little snow to make water. The descent via the normal route was still in fairly good conditions on 16/08 (good route but crevasses starting to appear, just a tricky traverse across a slab to reach the Rochers Whymper): to be continued with the hot weather.
Petites Jorasses and Aiguille de Leschaux: Okay approaches and dry faces!
Envers des Aiguilles / Requin
At the Envers all the main rimayes are crossable.
Be careful, you'll need to abseil (on the way down) a minimum of 55m to pass the République Bananière rimaye, otherwise you'll be left hanging!
Most of the routes from the Requin are in good condition, with crowds on the Chapeau à Corne ridge, the Renaudie spur, the Dent du Requin, the Aiguille Pierre-Allain and more. One team failed on Eden de la Mer because of a difficult rimaye. The ascent of the VB is being done, the glacier is mostly dry and fairly easy to read.
The ascent to the Salle à Manger is completely dry, so take care. A few teams on the Jorasses traverse. There's quite a lot of ice and some poor rock, and beware of the poor refreezing (soft snow) on the Rochefort arête. The rest after the Canzio is better (without crampons until Pointe Croz).
Things are changing a little (snow bridges) on the VB crossing (see the "Lotus Confort" report in the cahier de course on the website) where you should always favour the lower track.
No particular rimaye problems were reported on the Tacul satellites. The high point of a belay (spit) pulled out on the Lifting du Roi route (Roi de Siam) but it was changed today.
Aiguille du Midi Sector
The Aiguille du Midi arête continues to deteriorate. There's ice and a “bloc" to climb over (you can place an ice screw above): not suitable for beginners!
The snow bridge/ramp over Mont Maudit collapsed on 15/08. So it's no longer possible to cross it. You can force your way over, but all the other options are technically very difficult, so the Trois Monts route is no longer really relevant... Mont Blanc du Tacul is seeing daily ascents.
Plan de l'Aiguille
It's not too hot -)
You don't need crampons to climb the red pilllar on the Blaitière!
That's it for the Nantillons!
Mont Blanc via the Aiguille du Goûter
It's hot and dry below the Goûter refuge. For the moment, there have been no major rockfalls in the couloir, but we urge you to get through as soon as possible. Situation to be monitored, but it's not going to get better!
Miage / Bionnassay
"A bit of ice on the Dômes Traverse, just before the ascent to the Bérangère. Either protect with ice screws or go around it on the rocks. (See photo below).
Otherwise, the rest of the route is still in good condition but the ice is not far away and it can change fast. Watch out for snow bridges on the Tré la Tête glacier if it doesn't refreeze.
Mont Tondu: quite a bit of ice but it's okay for people who are good on their crampons".
A rock fall last night at the abseil on the Dômes de Miage side to access Durier: good bye belay!
Conditions are still fine on the Aiguille de Bionnassay traverse if it refreezes.
Still crowded on the Ratti Vitale (the fashionable route for summer 2023!) and on the Croux or Punta Innominata.
No more information other than this report in our cahier de course from the Eccles bivy, a number of roped parties are climbing there today, so more to come!
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.