La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 16 June 2023
Autumn is just around the corner! Oops no! There's summer first :)
Hiking and Trail Walking
With most of the valley's ski lifts now open, the hiking season is well under way! Most routes are now accessible, with the exception of those at the highest altitudes.
Although the snowpack is gradually melting in the mid-range mountains, there is still plenty of snow above 2,200/23,00m on the south-facing slopes and 2,000/2,100m on the north-facing slopes. Good boots, crampons, poles and a good mountaineering head are essential if you want to climb safely above these altitudes! Good navigation skills are all the more essential when the paths are obscured by snow.
The following are NOT yet accessible (except for the most experienced among you):
- Lac du Brévent - Lac Cornu / Lac Noir - Lac Bleu
- The Albert 1er refuge
- Le Buet
- La Jonction
- Le Brévent and the col du Brévent
More information about the Tour du Mont Blanc and hiking in general here.
As is often the case at this time of year (lots of snow, short nights), activity in the high mountains is highly dependent on refreezing conditions (which in turn depend on the presence of wind or clouds during the night...).
Tré-la-Tête / Miage / Bionnassay
The Conscrits hut can still be accessed via the glacier, but it is not advisable to climb up the snow slope on the right bank (on the left as you climb up): the torrent flows strongly underneath and the snow bridge becomes fragile. Instead, you need to head rightwards to reach the left bank of the glacier (see illustration below). The summer footbridge should be in place this weekend. There are still good conditions on most of the routes in the area (traverse of the Dômes, Tré-la-Tête traverse, etc.)
The Plan Glacier and Durier huts have also got their season off to a good start. A slight change of route on the classic Mettrier ridge (see image below). The intégrale could be considered! The direct ascent to the Durier is not recommended in the afternoon, because of the numerous purges from mid-day onwards. With a good freeze, conditions will be good on the Durier - Bionnassay - Goûter traverse.
The refuge opens today! Access is almost dry (a 10m section of névé with a handrail in place that should melt quickly). Crampons are still useful if you are coming from the Col des Chasseurs.
Here too there is a lot of snow at altitude and the activity depends on the refreezing. The Aiguille Croux and the Punta Innominata (crampons and ice axe needed for the approaches) are possible.
No one has climbed to the Eccles yet. It's too early for the Ratti-Vitale on the Aiguille Noire de Peuterey. On the other hand, we're all set for the S ridge.
On the Italian side, the Gonella refuge is open and there's snow halfway up the Miage glacier. The normal Italian route is in good condition: good refreezing, good tracks, the glacier passes well.
There was snow on the exit to the Col des Aiguilles Grises. The Piton des Italiens ridge is in good condition (not too narrow, no ice). Some teams headed for the Tournette spur, but no further information!
On the French side, the Tramway du Mont Blanc is inaugurating its new trains this weekend! There will be 3 mountaineering shuttles a day to and from the Nid d'Aigle (reservations must be made in the refuge): see the timetable here, under the mountaineering shuttles tab. Some additional information, to be confirmed: "The shuttle will stop between the two tunnels at the paravalanche. Take the path outside the last tunnel, then a new path in the moraine above the track work (start next to the old TMB chalet, follow the cairns)".
Otherwise, there are good conditions on the classic French routes (voie normale via the Aiguille du Goûter, Trois Monts, Grands Mulets/arête N du Dôme). On the last-mentioned route (on foot and skis), be careful at the Jonction: the glacier is gradually opening up.
Plan de l'Aiguille / Aiguille du Midi
Things are starting to happen around the Plan de l'Aiguille, with teams heading for the Aiguille de l'M (dry NNE ridge, couloir de la Bûche + approach and descent in snow) or the Papillons ridge (crampons and ice axe required).
Some keen climbers got their boots out on the W face of Blaitière, but unsurprisingly it's still quite wet!
Regular ascents of the Mallory-Porter, in good conditions. The window of opportunity for the Frendo Spur will open soon, but a good refreeze is essential: many of the teams failed last week...
Higher up around the Aiguille du Midi, no significant change in the sector since last week's update.
The Vallée Blanche has a good track. The classics of the sector are widely climbed when the refreeze permits:
- Arêtes de Rochefort in good conditions. It's too early to consider crossing the Jorasses.
- Dent du Géant ok but there's still a bit of snow and in particular névé on the second pitch.
- Traverse of the Marbrées and the Aiguilles d'Entrêves: Okay
- Tour Ronde via Freshfield or the full SE ridge okay, Gervasutti okay too. A rock fall on the left side of the N face, but apparently it's still possible to climb it.
- Daily teams on the Kuffner arete (see the cahier de course).
- A few teams on the Aiguilles du Diable traverse. Rimaye and access couloir OK. There's quite a bit of snow on the rock, so crampons stay on a lot.
- Satellites du Tacul: all the rimayes are fine! Probably a bit more snow on the terraces of the Suisse/O Sole Mio routes (Grand Capucin).
Requin / Envers des Aiguilles
The Requin hut is open! The ascent of the Vallée Blanche has been done! The Envers du Plan glacier too! The rock looks dry (Chapeau à Corne ridge, Aiguille de Pierre-Alain, still névé on the descent of the Dent du Requin but probably not a problem).
The refuge de l'Envers is also opening this weekend! The lower sectors are in good condition: Tours Rouge and Verte, the first Pointe des Nantillons... There's still quite a bit of snow on the upper slopes.
Leschaux / Talèfre / Charpoua Basins
The Mer de Glace balcony path as far as Couvercle is virtually dry: only a steep and exposed 10-metre section of névé remains to be crossed. Watch out for the last snow slope just below the refuge! There's still a lot of snow on the balcony path as far as Leschaux, so crampons and ice axe are a must! Alternatively, you can get to the refuge - which opens this weekend - without stepping foot in the snow, via the Leschaux glacier!
The snow routes around Les Périades and the Aiguille de l'Eboulement are in good condition, when the freeze is right, of course. Visually, the west face of the Petites Jorasses is dry! Headlamps have been spotted on the N face of the Grandes Jorasses, a matter to be followed up...
A few teams on the Courtes traverse with good conditions overall, although there are still a few small cornices. No news from the Droites for a few days, but there are still a lot of people on the Verte and especially on the Whymper. The rimaye has changed over the last few days (see photo below) and the first couloir is increasingly bottlenecked with stones sticking out, but it's still going well. The Jardin ridge is still waiting for some motivated people to clear it!
The Charpoua refuge is still under construction. Opening planned for 29 June if all goes well!
The refuge is open! Plan Joran lift: one lift at 7.45am and one lift down at 4.30pm. The gondola will run continuously from 1 July. On the N side of the Verte, the Couturier is in good condition (of course, you need to get to the top very early). For snow routes a little further afield, the Col du Tour Noir and the Pointe Supérieure des Améthystes are in good condition. On the Aiguille d'Argentière, climbing the glacier du Milieu requires experience of steep snow slopes (40°). The Flèche Rousse ridge is in good condition and most of the rock routes around the refuge are dry!
The access paths from Charamillon and les Autannes still have steep névé: they are therefore reserved for mountaineers equipped with crampons and ice axe! Otherwise, not much has changed up here: most of the snow routes are in good condition, particularly the classics in the Aiguille du Tour sector (normal route, arête de la table), Tête Blanche and Petite Fourche.
Good conditions also on the Aiguille du Chardonnet. Some teams on the Forbes arete, although the large quantities of snow sometimes limit the possibilities for protection. The ice is not far away at the top of La Bosse, ice screw placement possible. The Migot spur is also crowded. The access ramp after the rimaye is made of loose rock: make sure you space your teams well apart and don't climb below each other on this passage to avoid unpleasant surprises! Otherwise, the conditions are still good higher up. The Charlet-Bettembourg gully is being done in good conditions. The normal descent is still well covered in snow, but you should plan a 25m abseil to get past the rimaye.
The Trient hut is open! No information on the Aiguilles Dorées traverse. We'll have to climb on the S face instead.
With the opening of the ski lifts, the climbing season in the massif has begun! Most of the routes are dry, but you'll need to bring crampons and ice axe for the approaches!
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.