The Club produces a regular English translation of the Chamonix conditions report from La Chamoniarde to help climbers without an understanding of French to access up-to-date information on conditions in the valley. An archive of these reports can be seen below: 

 

Report: 16 June 2023

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. 




Monzino

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.


Mont Blanc

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


Helbronner

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!


Argentière Basin


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!


Le Tour

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.


Aiguilles Rouges 

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.

 

 

 

Report: 9 June 2023

La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 9 June 2023

Summer’s almost here! Here's a quick look at the current conditions.


Hiking / Trail 

The valley's ski lifts are off to a flying start! The ski areas of Les Houches (Bellevue, Prarion), Brévent (Planpraz, Brévent), Flégère (Flégère gondola, Index) and La Balme (Charamillon, Autannes) all open this Saturday 10 June! 

Although the snowpack is gradually melting in the “moyenne montagne", there is still plenty of snow above 2,200/2,300m on the south-facing slopes and 2,000/2,100m on 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 (and of course GPS, map and compass) are all the more essential when the trails are obscured by snow.

More information about hiking and trail running here.

___

In the high mountains, rising temperatures are allowing the snow to gradually settle, even if this is regularly disrupted by unstable weather, which sometimes causes problems with refreezing. Overall, conditions have changed little since last week's update.



Tré-la-Tête / Miage / Bionnassay

Most of the routes in this sector are in good condition (Dômes de Miage traverse, Mettrier arête, traverse of the Aiguilles de Tré-la-Tête, etc.)

The Durier refuge is currently being cleared of snow and will open on Saturday 10 June. The direct ascent from Plan Glacier (open) has been done, but is not the most advisable route given the current snow depths. It seems wiser to go via La Mettrier. The Durier - Bionnassay - Dôme du Goûter traverse has been done in good conditions.


Mont Blanc

Ditto here, with little significant change to the classic routes on the French side and generally good conditions. On the other hand, our Italian neighbours are gearing up! On the Italian normal route first of all: the Gonella opens this weekend and the Pape route has been done today. Conditions aren't exactly ideal at the moment. A large rockfall from the Aiguilles Grises has wrecked the Dôme glacier and destabilised some (now worrying) seracs. There is also breakable crust with unconsolidated snow beneath as far as the Col des Aiguilles Grises. Better conditions above. The Tournette Spur has been climbed: unsurprisingly, there's a lot of snow on the route! 


Aiguille du Midi / Helbronner / Envers des Aiguilles

All the classics are being done. The Mallory has been done in ascent, while the Eugster is finished (the veneer of snow in the bottom gully has collapsed). It's still too early for the Frendo, but the first attempts have been laborious! On the Midi-Plan traverse, teams have only been going as far as the Rognon. The traverse of the Vallée Blanche is fine on foot and on skis. On the Triangle du Tacul, the Contamine-Mazeaud has deteriorated so much that you can't exit at the top. The Perroux goulotte has been climbed, but not in good nick! The first team to cross the Aiguilles du Diable had to keep their crampons on all the way: it's still a bit early. There were a lot of people on the Kuffner, and the conditions were good, but they had to be careful about the timing: things heat up quickly up there. Most of the teams descended from the shoulder of Mont Maudit, but a crevasse is starting to open up: be careful! Still good conditions on the Tour Ronde on all routes. The “historic” normal route is starting to look bad (rockfalls on the lower left bank), so a descent via the Freshfield couloir or the Col d’Entrèves is preferable. The Dent du Géant is being done, but some pitches are still in near-winter conditions, particularly the second pitch on the normal route. The Rochefort arête has been done as far as the foot of the Aiguille.

If you want to rock climb, the faces with the best exposure to the sun are drying out one after the other. As well as the S face of the Aiguille du Midi, the Eperon Cosmiques and the Pointe Lachenal, we're now enjoying our beautiful granite on the Pointe Adolphe Rey, the Grand Capucin (still a little snow on the less steep sections, a little early for the voie des Suisses for example) and the Trident du Tacul. It's also gradually drying out around the Envers des Aiguilles (Tour Rouge and Tour Verte are dry, and other areas will certainly be in the near future). 


Talèfre Basin

Access to the Couvercle was described in last week's update. Around here, refreezing conditions seem to be more complicated than elsewhere. It's often an act of faith to access the faces! But when you don't stumble on the approach, the conditions above are pretty good! In addition to the route of recent weeks, the Whymper rimaye is now also crossable just below the secondary couloir. The latter is full of snow (two technical axes best). The snow conditions are still good in the main couloir. For the descent, most of the abseil points are in place. The S couloir on the Col Armand Charlet has been climbed in good conditions. Lots of people on the Droites normal route, using both access routes (diagonal or via the glacier). Complicated snow conditions above the ramp (second snow slope via the diagonal), this can be avoided on the left but makes the route more technical. The snow is more supportive higher up. The traverse of Les Courtes has also been done in good conditions (watch out for cornices!). For all these routes, keeping to a decent schedule is obviously crucial! There is still a lot of snow on the Jardin ridge. 


Argentière Glacier

It's always hard to get information when the hut is closed and we don't get any feedback  Just kidding, thanks to all the generous climbers who call us, drop in or fill in the “cahier de courses"! The Couturier was climbed at the start of the week in good conditions (easy approach, rimaye passes well on the right, hard snow above the step). Climbing is starting around the hut (which opens next weekend!), on the Vierge for example. A little further up on the Aiguille d'Argentière, the Flèche Rousse ridge has been climbed.


Le Tour

Here too, the classics are being regularly climbed: Aiguille du Tour (normal route, couloir and Arête de la Table - the narrows in the couloir is easy to bypass), Tête Blanche, Grande Fourche, etc. Good conditions on the Chardonnet too, with lots of people on the Forbes Arête, the Migot Spur and even the Charlet - Bettembourg! On the descent, the rimaye is opening up a little: plan an extra 25m abseil.


Aiguilles Rouges 

With the opening of the ski lifts on Saturday 10, the alpine climbing season in the massif is about to begin! Most of the ridges have already dried out, 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.

 

 

 

Report: 2 June 2023

La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 2 June 2023

At last, the seasons seem to be getting their act together! At the start of June, conditions look like...well, the beginning of June. The winter snow is slowly but surely melting in the mid-mountains, while it is settling and transforming in the high mountains.


Hiking

Although the high altitude classics are still inaccessible (Grand Balcon nord, lacs Blanc/du Brévent/Cornu/Noirs/Bleu/Pormenaz, Buet, Albert 1er, Jonction, Brévent, etc.), more and more routes are becoming accessible. 

You can find more information in our updated hiking article here

On the Tour du Mont Blanc, conditions are still tricky, with heavy snow covering all the cols: Col du Bonhomme - Col de la Seigne - Grand Col Ferret - Col de Balme - Col du Brévent.


Tré la Tête / Miage

No major changes around here. The Conscrits hut is still reached via the glacier, and there's snow once you're past the Mauvais Pas. It's fine on foot all the way to the hut, but it's better to have snowshoes on, especially for the descent. 

The N face of Tré-la-Tête has been done, with 40m of ice below the summit ridge. The traverse of the Aiguilles de Tré-la-Tête was done in good conditions all the way to the Dôme des Glaciers, which is rare enough to be worth mentioning!

On the Miage, the conditions on the Dômes traverse were “formidables". The ridge between the col and the Aiguille de la Bérangère is narrow and snowy, which might be imposing for some people.

The Mettrier arete is also in superb condition (see our “cahier de courses"). The Plan Glacier hut open this week end.

On the Armancette descent, its skis off at 2,100m, or 2,000m for the more adventurous!

The North Face of Mont Maudit, Taken on 28 May 2023


Mont Blanc

Things are off to a flying start on the normal route! The Tête Rousse and Goûter refuges are now open and conditions are generally good. As for uplift in the area, the Bellevue cable car opens this weekend (Saturday 3) but you'll have to wait until the 10 June for the TMB. A special feature this year is that the terminus will be at Bellevue or the Col du Mont Lachat. Only three trains/day will continue to the Nid d'Aigle (departure from Le Fayet 7am, 11am, 3pm; descent from NA 8.10am, 12.10pm, 4.10pm) and these will be reserved for mountaineers with a valid refuge reservation. Departure only from Le Fayet or St Gervais for the moment. As for access to the Goûter refuge, the couloir is filled with snow. It's fine for the ascent, but be careful on the descent: more than ever, you need good crampon technique to avoid slipping/falling. There is a good track from the hut to the summit. The NW face of the Aiguille de Bionnassay has been skied regularly over the last few days, in varying degrees of difficulty (beware, the conditions are changing quite a bit at this time of year).

A start has also been made for the Trois Monts, which can be skied and hiked in excellent conditions (little or no ice, and only one axe needed).

The Mont Blanc ski season via the Grands Mulets is continuing nicely! Little has changed since the last update, we're still favouring the Jonction low down on the way up, and the Dôme's N ridge is still covered in snow (with underlying ice in places) but it's slowly easing off. Bosses arête in motorway mode with the opening of the normal route refuges. Cold snow on the N face as far as the Grand Plateau, the two rimayes at the bottom of the face still going well (the one at the top is crossed on the right). You can ski as far as the Plan de l'Aiguille.


Aiguille du Midi

All the classic alpine routes are being done: Vallée Blanche, Pointes Lachenal, normal route on the Tacul, arête “Lolo” (Laurence) and the Cosmiques Arête. Conditions have deteriorated a little on the Triangle du Tacul, with ice showing a little on the Contamine Grisolle and Mazeaud. Still good in the Négri and the Chéré. A few teams on the Mallory (ascent), but no further information. The Vent du Dragon and Jottnar gullies have been climbed, dry and in decent conditions respectively. There are still a few tracks descending the VB, but the passage through the Salle à Manger is becoming really tricky.

On the other hand, the rock season is gradually kicking off: the Rébuffat on the S face and the Eperon des Cosmiques have been climbed (snow at the end of the 5th pitch on the former, an exit in inconsistent snow to reach the ridge on the latter). The Contamine on the S face of the Aiguille du Midi looks dry (from a distance), and the Contamine on the Pointe Lachenal has also been climbed and is also dry.  


Helbronner

As elsewhere, all the classics are well-travelled, and approaches are being done on foot: the Dent du Géant, traverses of the Marbrées and the Aiguilles d'Entrèves, the Tour Ronde via the Gervasutti couloir, the N face, the "winter normal route" (make sure you descend before 10am as it gets very hot) or via the Col Freshfield or the full SE ridge. Some teams turned back on the Rochefort ridge traverse last weekend: too much snow but no news since. The Kuffner ridge had also been done, looks in good condition (approach on foot, very easy descent from the shoulder to pick up the Trois Monts path).


Envers des Aiguilles

It's slowly drying out up here. Due to glacial retreat, access to the foot of the ladders is not easy. There is snow 150m above the top of the ladders, so take care on some exposed spots to reach the refuge. Average freeze in the area over the last few days. The Tour Rouge and Tour Verte are dry and teams have started to climb.


Talèfre Basin

Access to the Couvercle is still tricky. For the Egralets ladders, you have to go well beyond the ladders to climb up to a big rock on the Leschaux glacier. Be careful about the timing of the climb: snow residue can release rocks balanced on the slabs above! Also be careful on the snow slope below the refuge. Higher is better. Here too, snowshoes are still good to have for the approaches and returns (skis are beginning to be less useful). The Whymper is still in good condition, as is the Pointe Isabelle (all snow). The normal route on the Droites has been done, with a step to get past the rimaye. The traverse of the Courtes is good. Arête du Jardin will soon be OK, but still too early for the Moine.


Argentière Glacier

This area is waking up! There may be a few people using the winter room. The approach is on foot (snowshoes are still far from a luxury!) and on skis. Skis on just above Lognan.

Some people in the Couturier, but no further information. The Y to the Aiguille d'Argentière was climbed in good conditions, the lower step is all snow (2m, steep). Glacier du Milieu can be climbed on foot (down climbing the narrows) and on skis (abseil).

Watch out for construction machinery on the Pierre à Ric during the week! 


Le Tour

Great conditions up here too. The ascent to the Albert Ier refuge is still via the moraine, with snow at around 2,300m. On the Chardonnet, the Migot spur and the descent have been done on foot in superb conditions: a little ice on the spur for ice screws, the rest snow. Average freeze over the last few days, with a few exceptions. The Forbes Arête and the other gullies are untracked. The ridge from the Fenêtre supérieure du Tour to the Grande Fourche has been done out and back in good conditions. Normal route on the Aiguille du Tour, Tête blanche and Petite Fourche on foot, also very good conditions. North face of Tête blanche climbed yesterday, rimaye visible in places. Couloir de la Table and Arête de la Table very good and tracked despite the large amounts of snow. 


Emosson

You should be able to ski up here for another couple of weeks. The track along the lake after the dam has been cleared of snow, which adds a little portage before heading towards the Veudale gorge. The Perrons traverse could be considered for mountaineering (ice axes and crampons required).


Aiguilles Rouges

The climbing season has started at Les Chéserys! Otherwise, there's still plenty of snow higher up.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Report: 24 May 2023


La Chamoniarde
 mountain conditions report for 24 May 2023

It's time for a change! Winter is gradually giving way to spring and big boots are bit by bit replacing ski boots. The poor weather of the past few weeks is gradually giving way to better weather for mountain activities.

Despite everything, there is still a lot of snow above 1,900m on north facing slopes and above 2,100m on southerly slopes. For the moment - and this is likely to change relatively quickly - skis or snowshoes still seem to be pretty necessary for most outings in the high mountains, while crampons are often good to have at the bottom of the bag for hikes in the “moyenne montagne" (see the dedicated Spring Hikes article).

Tré la Tête / Miage:

Skis on after the Mauvais Pas to go up to the Conscrits refuge. A poor refreeze and lots of purging around the refuge. A bit of activity on the Dômes de Miage, which are being done there and back. On the Armancette you can ski down to about 2,100m. The N face of the Dômes de Miage is quite white, probably quite loaded as well. The guardian of the Plan Glacier is going up this weekend.


Mont Blanc: 

The normal route is about to get going. The Tête Rousse and Goûter open this weekend (respectively the 26th and 27th). There is a track in on foot and on skis to reach the two huts. As everywhere in the massif, there is still a lot of snow up there! Beware of purges on the slopes of the Goûter, plan to climb early. The Grand Couloir was skied in good conditions a couple of days ago, but it's been hot since. 

Still good conditions for the ski ascent by the Grands Mulets! The low track on the Jonction is good. The Plateaux has been tracked in ascent and descent (beware of seracs...). More people have been up the N ridge of the Dôme (recommended!). There is some ice under the snow for 10 meters on the arête, otherwise it's good. More comfortable with 2 ice axes though. There is no track on the right side of the arête as there is ice in places. A nice ski track higher up, which goes around the ice under the Vallot (bring couteaux, hard snow). Bosses arête OK. Good skiing on the N face of Mont Blanc this morning. 

The Trois Monts are still waiting but it shouldn't be long now. The Maudit north face in particular looks good compared to previous years. Be careful with the large amounts of snow on this route.

Aiguille du Midi:

The snow is starting to settle with a reasonable refreeze at the Col du Midi. For the moment, the sector is about the only one where approaches can be considered on foot. Teams in the Pélissier gully turned back at the penultimate pitch (inconsistent snow difficult to protect and a threatening cornice at the summit), but conditions were OK until then. The Lachenal traverse, the Arête Laurence and the Cosmiques Arête are being done regularly in good conditions. Top conditions also in the Triangle du Tacul, where all the classics such as the Contamines and the Chéré are being climbed at the moment (a bit of black ice in places at the start of the Mazeaud). The north face of Mont Blanc du Tacul has been tracked up and down, on skis and on foot.

A team did the Midi-Plan and came to a stop at the Rognon: lots of snow. Some people on skis on the N face of the Aiguille du Midi: Eugster, Mallory, Col du Plan ... not in super conditions. 

It's almost the end for the Vallée Blanche, now reserved for experienced skier-mountaineers: the Salle à Manger is still passable but it's opening up a lot, lots of purging on the southerly slopes below the Requin hut with brown snow below. Skis off at the bend in the glacier then once at the grotto you have to walk back to Montenvers (grotto and gondola closed).

The N faces of the Aiguilles du Plan and du Midi, and in the foreground the Grand Balcon Nord still entirely under snow
(and therefore not accessible for hiking, as you can see!)

 

Talèfre Basin:

The "least bad" access to the Couvercle at the moment seems to be the Egralets ladders, the others presenting either risks of purging and falling, or risks of rockfalls. The moraine under the ladders is still unstable and you must be careful. The Whymper was climbed this morning in good conditions (alpine, not for skiing). The S faces of the basin (Droites, Courtes col des Cristaux...) as well as the Pointe Isabelle are quite white and the rimayes are well covered. What about the quality of the snow over there though? And as some people have asked: it's too early for the Moine or other rocky routes in the area, as elsewhere in the massif.


Argentière Basin 

Not much activity and therefore not much information on the area. Skis on just below Lognan. For the rest, the webcams of the Argentière refuge are your friend.


Le Tour

The ascent to the Albert I hut is by the moraine, which is dry until above the water intake. The refuge is reopening this Saturday! Above, tracks on foot (keen people!) and on skis towards the Aiguille du Tour. 


Emosson

A lot of people in the area since the opening of the road! Towards the gorges de la Veudale / Pointe de la Terrasse : skis on just after the dam and the conditions are pretty good beyond, with the precious spring snow which has been so absent this season.


Aiguilles Rouges / Buet


It's still too early to consider rock climbing in the area. A bit of activity on le Buet, where there is snow just above the Pierre à Bérard refuge.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Report: 17 May 2023

La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 17 May 2023

What can we say...

Certainly beautiful weather for the mountains and the rivers, but difficult for actually getting out in the mountains! “Capricieuse” and unpredictable weather in this month of May. We could say go south and climb, in Finale, in Sardinia or to go to Lourdes but it's not much better there! Weather windows have been rare.

On the positive side, it's snowing high up. Faces, couloirs and glaciers continue to get healthier before the summer. Skis and snowshoes are essential to get around in the mountains.

There has been very little activity in the mountains in recent weeks. So here are a few brief news items:

  • The road to the Emosson dam will be open from this Wednesday evening.
  • A few people have been up to the Albert 1er refuge. Up the moraine path, snow at the water intake at about 2,000m. Then a good trail on foot to the refuge. There are no tracks beyond that point, so you'll need skis or snowshoes to get around.
  • As the work has progressed faster than expected, the decree which regulated access to the Argentière basin has been repealed.
  • The Mer de Glace gondola and grotto are closed until 2 June.
  • The Couvercle refuge is open, but access is rather complicated. Contact the guardian who should have a bit more information today!
  • The Aiguille du Midi cable car is open, as is the Cosmiques refuge. The Skyway will reopen on 26 May. The arête is now completely unequipped. Climbing teams have been to the Pointes Lachenal, Contamine-Negri, Chéré, Voie Nomale on the Tacul (beware of avalanche risk), Cosmiques Arête. The approaches have been tracked. For the Trois Monts, waiting for a suitable weather window. The traverse between the Col du Mont Maudit and the Col de la Brenva will be on ice (to be confirmed).
  • The Grands Mulets refuge is also still open (25 cm of snow between yesterday and tonight). Access is fine (skirt the Pélerins glacier and the Jonction low down). An attempt via the Goûter N ridge led to the summit last Saturday, a great way to optimise the time slot!
  • The huts on the normal route of Mont Blanc via the Aiguille du Goûter have again postponed their opening dates (Tête Rousse on Friday 26 May; Goûter on Saturday 27 May) due to the weather conditions and the heavy snow cover.
  • The Plan Glacier hut opens tomorrow until Sunday 21 May, then from 26 to 29 May and finally 7 days a week from 3 June. Trainers up to the second moraine.
  • The Conscrits hut (30cm of fresh snow over the last 24 hours) is also open. The snow starts just after the Mauvais Pas. Mont Tondu and the N faces of Tré la Tête look good. On the descent by the Armancette glacier, skis off at around 2,000m.

As far as hiking goes, the snow is slowly but surely receding! No big change then. Many of the high altitude hikes, as well as treks lasting several days, are not yet possible. We regularly update the practicable hikes in our dedicated news.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Report: 3 May 2023

La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 3 May 2023

We are finally seeing the sun again for more than a few hours...!

High mountain activity is starting up again, we will have more information in the next days.

It snowed a lot at altitude this weekend (about 1 m above 3,500m). The snowpack is settling, the couloirs and faces are purging. There are still large amounts of snow depending on the aspect and altitude. You will have to choose your route carefully and get home early, the sun is heating up strongly and the isotherm will rise again over the next few days. Beware of the quality of the refreeze which could be altered by overcast skies or a SW wind at night. You are likely to find all sorts of snow and conditions are not always easy for skiing!

It is the off-season and most of the lifts and refuges are closed.

The Montenvers train and the Aiguille du Midi cable car remain open.

As for the refuges, the Couvercle, the Cosmiques, the Grands Mulets and the Conscrits are still staffed. 

 

Some bits of random information:

  • The Emosson road will not open before May 15.

  • Access to the Argentière basin may be complicated at times due to a local decree.

  • Access to the Couvercle refuge via the central couloir (also possible via the Pierre à Béranger but be careful as soon as it gets hot = rock falls).  Some teams are planning the Whymper, normal route on the Droites and to Pointe Isabelle tomorrow.

  • The Vallée Blanche is still possible. The Z has been unequipped but the rope on the ridge will remain in place for another ten days. Be careful with the crevasses of the Salle à Manger, as it will start to change. 15-20 minutes walk to reach the grotto, but that’s fine. Average skiability in the Vallée Blanche (undergoing transformation), Vallée Noire well ravaged by avalanches. Ascent to the Brèche Puiseux tracked without more info. One team turned back this morning heading to Pointe Yeld (loaded N face).

  • Some alpine activity around the Aiguille du Midi. The Cosmiques ridge was done yesterday, it is very snowy. Some teams today in the Chéré couloir without more information (except that it is still quite dry) and the Pellissier. The traverse of the Pointes Lachenal can be considered but the ice was not far away on the ascent to the first Point last week. Contamine-Negri tracked by skiers, Tacul being tracked and skied down.

  • Activity has resumed at the Grand Mulets. For the most courageous, skis on above the old La Para lift station (around 1,800m). From the Plan de l'Aiguille, descend below the station to follow the new summer path to bypass the moraines of the Pèlerins glacier from below. The lower track of the Jonction seems the safest. The N ridge of the Dôme was retracked this morning. There is an ice pitch, so bring steel crampons. It's a long way down and it might be a good idea to spend a second night at the refuge on the way down.

  • We are waiting for your feedback to feed the information chain!

 

Hiking conditions haven’t changed much. The website has the possible hikes at the moment. As every year, it is too early in May to have a go at the competition routes such as the 90 km...etc!

 

 

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.