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: 09 February 2023

La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 09 February 2023

With high pressure in situ, things in the mountains aren’t changing much. 

 

Skiing

The wind has continued to affect the snowpack and you need to be canny to find good skiing. Powder is rare, but you will find hard snow, sastrugi, crust...etc. Make sure you have couteaux/harscheisen to hand.  

The ‘Z" is in place on the Aiguille du Midi arête. The Vallée Blanche has been well worked by the wind, but the skiing is not so bad as long as you are competent. The exit couloir of the Grand Envers behind the Requin hut (which is now open!) is steep and the passage is very delicate: rocks and ice on the surface. The vallée noire is also tricky: compact snow meaning it’s a no fall zone, only for good skiers!

Regular activity around the Brèche Puiseux, descent by the Mont Mallet glacier (which is very open!) in 60m or 2x30m with intermediate belay at the fixed rope level (which is quite damaged, do not use it). The Col du Tacul/Couloir du Capucin has been skied (see our cahier de courses).

We repeat, be careful when you get to the Mer de Glace, the track passes 1m from “moulins” (deep holes)! It gets really rocky below Montenvers and up to Les Mottets, basically you walk from the ice grotto. There are more and more rocks on the James Bond track on the way back, skis on and off several times. Depending on your timing and the love you have for your skis, taking the train may be a wise decision!

Argentière/Grand Montets: couteaux are recommended for the climb to the Col des Rachasses. Like many northerly aspect slopes, the Rognons glacier has been well trashed by the wind. The Col des Cristaux has been partially skied, in poor conditions. The N/NE faces of the basin are dry.

Aiguille d’Argentière: the milieu glacier is tracked on the right bank, no information on the upper slope (or the narrows?). The summit ridge (it changes from year to year) is also tracked. The Argentière and the Tour Noir cols are tracked, as is the Col du Chardonnet, the top of which is very dry. 30m abseil on the north side (+ crampon descent, rimaye OK).

Fenêtre de Saleina: tricky rimaye but OK. The Passon is being done regularly, variable snow on the descent to le Tour, even very bad at the bottom (crust).

Aiguilles Rouges: (and the “moyenne montagne" in general - Contamines, Plaine-Joux, Bel Oiseau, Col de la Forclaz...), most of the routes have been tracked. Rocks at the bottom of the Vallon de Bérard, and beware of the walkway between the Fontaine Froide bridge and the waterfall, which is closed by municipal decree. On the way up, a temporary footbridge has been set up to cross the river just before the closed one. On the way down, do not cross the Fontaine Froide bridge and stay on the left bank until you reach the temporary footbridge. Also be careful at the bottom of the roman road "Voie Romaine” in Contamines which is sheet ice and whose access is blocked by ribbons. A diversion is in place, plan to put your skis on your sac when going up and down. 

 

Climbing

With the thaw, medium altitude ice climbing and those areas exposed to the sun have taken a beating! It goes without saying, but be sure to check the state of the ice before setting off. There is still climbing around Trient (Pétoudes), near Loriaz, on the right bank of Argentière (Shiva has collapsed, OK from Frénésie to the Mur des Jumelles. Good conditions on the left bank of Argentière (Dents de la Mer wall, EMHM...), Crèmerie sector (now well formed) and Dalles de l'Envers (Tout Shuss). The Bérard artificial crag is back in good shape! Always remember to book your slots.

Leaving the valley, there is also climbing at the Ruisseling of Notre-Dame-de-la-Gorge and at Armancette, at Stassaz, at Plan Désert, at Nant Burgeat, in the valley of Sixt, Cogne... With the forecast thaw, conditions are likely to change quickly.

A rise in temperature is at least a good thing for gully lovers! Activity above Plan de l'Aiguille (Mallory tracked, Fil à Plomb, Mini Blast regularly climbed), on the E side of Mont Blanc du Tacul, Modica & Gabarrou OK, Valeria OK), Pointe Lachenal (Pellissier OK - the crux is the rimaye passage), in the Argentière basin (no more info). As always, beware of heavy traffic.

 

Snowshoeing

Finally, all the marked snowshoe itineraries of the valley are practicable. Most of them are possible with crampons and poles, the snow having been well packed by lots of traffic.

 

 

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: 27 January 2023

La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 27 January 2023

 

Skiing

As we said in the last update, the snowfalls of the last week have allowed ski touring to really get going. It's a pity that the wind spoiled the quality of the snow in the most exposed places but the skiability remains generally very good. 

All the classic routes in the Aiguilles Rouges have been done.

Couloir de la Chorde OK near the Pointe Noire de Pormenaz.

Aiguillette des Houches: you can skin from le Bettey, the Combe de la Vogealle is seeing a lot of traffic.

Be careful at the bottom of the combe du Pouce: somebody went through a snow bridge above the stream in the gorge (there is still a lot of water in the streams at the moment). Variant on the left bank in the alder bushes “varosses" for those who know it (exposed).

There are some “rimayes" between which it is necessary to navigate at the foot of the steep slope on the N side of the Col Belvedere (see cahier de course).

No fixed rope at the top of the Col de Beugeant. A new belay has been installed for those who are not comfortable (40m descent).

Trè les Eaux: stay on the right bank of the gorge (short ascent, a small 1m jump, then a short 15m abseil, but “not scary"). Then the snow cover is good in the woods to get back to Les Granges.

You can skin from Le Buet/Couteray. As a reminder, there is now a charge for parking at Le Buet: one more reason to take the train!

There is also plenty of activity around the Bel Oiseau and the Col de la Forclaz, Pointe Ronde, Croix de Prélaye).

The glaciers have had a good whitewash! The summer took its toll and some are still very chaotic. We are still at the beginning of the season and the snow bridges can be fragile.
Activity on the glacier des Grands, Passon, Col du Tour Noir, Col du Chardonnet. No information about the Trois Cols.

There is a lot of activity in the Vallée Blanche (only for good skiers). The arête is equipped (stakes, fixed ropes on each side) but not the kink half way down. Crampons are therefore recommended. It is always better to stay on the classic route or the slopes of the Rognon (less crevassed). The wind has been blowing but it's still pleasant to ski (soft sastrugi, better snow in the sheltered parts). The salle a manger is fine and then you can swoosh gently to Montenvers. Be careful not to fall asleep on the Mer de Glace, the track passes 1m from “moulins” (deep holes). A fall there last week miraculously ended not too badly. The most resourceful who don't have new skis can always do the "integral" by descending to the buvette at les Mottets (lots of ski scraping on the glacier).

In strong winds, the gondola may be closed. In this case you have to go back up on foot by the stairs and then follow the diversions set up because of the closure of the classic path linked to the work on the new lift which has become dangerous.

The Pas de Chèvre exit couloir was disfigured by the hot summer. We can only advise against it at the moment until it is better covered with snow.

 

Climbing

Gully activity was quite reduced because of the cold and the wind but it's starting again. We have very little information since 10 January except good conditions in the Pellissier gully (cahier de course) and in the Gabarrou-Albinoni ("not too deep snow at the bottom, firm nevé + ice at the top"). Mini Blast ok too (one of the abseils is a bit more than 60m). Teams have done Petit Viking, Modica-Noury, Lafaille without more info.

The return of the cold weather allows a nice resumption of the ice climbing activity. We can now find something to fiddle around on at the Crémerie.

Bérard: some lines can be climbed, remember to book your slots on the Compagnie des Guides website.

There is climbing around Trient (Pétoudes), Loriaz, Rive Droite (from the mur des Jumelles to the Frénésie, Icelander perhaps OK) and Rive Gauche (Mur des Dents de la mer, EMHM) off the Argentière glacier, Les Houches (Bellevue waterfall, Sainte-Marie viaduct), Notre Dame de la Gorge (Ruisseling), Cascade Armancette, Stassaz...

 

Snowshoeing

There is snowshoeing on the marked routes or around Loriaz/Chalets de Chailloux.

 

 

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: 20 January 2023

La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 20 January 2023

Finally snow and cold weather to bring a smile to your face! We have about 30cm on the valley floor in Chamonix. It finally looks like winter!

 

Skiing

The higher you go, the better (more normal) the snow cover is. Brilliant piste conditions! Look out for rocks off-piste.

Ski touring will be able to start again. You can skin from the valley floor but on the way down the cover may be a bit thin at the bottom. All the classic itineraries will be getting done: Aiguilles Rouges (Crochue Bérard traverse done today in good conditions), Argentière Glacier, 3 cols, Contamines.

As a reminder, the Fantana Fredda footbridge in the Bérard valley is closed (read the arrété decree).

The descent to Le Tour from the Col du Passon was done today. Beware of the avalanche risk though.

The glaciers are getting better, but snow bridges are still weak.

The Vallée Blanche is still a serious trip!
The aréte is snowy, stakes and a fixed rope are in place. The ‘Z’ bit is being worked on. 
The descent is for the moment reserved for good skiers with good experience in glacial terrain.
Grand Envers and Moyen Envers: quite a few slots and hard-packed snow in places. It's better on the classic side and the slopes of the rognon.
The salle à manger is fine. Lots of sidestepping which can be tricky for those snowboarders who are less technically adept.
You can ski down to Montenvers. The most determined (“débrouillards”) skiers who are not in love with their skis can ski down to the Buvette des Mottets (buvette open this weekend) but you will be scraping your skis on the glacier and on the last few turns before Les Planards.  

Be careful on the flat bit of the Mer de Glace, the central track passes near (1m) to some “moulins” (vertical holes in the ice). The first one is visible, someone fell in the second one this morning.

 

Climbing

The cold will help the ice climbing. There is climbing on the Rive Gauche (Déferlante). The Rive Droite and further down (EMHM) will need more time. The Crémerie must be buiding up but it's under snow at the moment.

The Bérard artificial site is also on standby (not enough ice). Some people cut the water supply and the pipes froze. Result: we have to wait for the end of the cold spell to be able to produce ice.

Gully activity: it will be very cold the next few days up high. We don't have any feedback since the snowfall but before there was climbing in the Chéré Couloir, Pellisier (very good conditions), Gabarou-Albinoni (good but no more: a lot of snow on the approach slopes; several belays not found on the descent for abseiling). Goulotte: good but not incredible either (brittle ice, thin in places), Modica-Noury (looks thin but doable), Pinocchio (no more info), a few teams on the Super Couloir (very dry at the bottom, the rest of the route looks nice), Lafaille (looks thin in places). The rimaye on Valeria is tricky, quite a lot of snow in the gully and little ice, not great.

The N face of the Tour Ronde has also been climbed (rimaye crossable, then straight up, hard nevé (squeaky snow- neige couic) all the way.

 

Snowshoeing

The return of the snow means snowshoeing is back, either on the marked itineraries at the bottom of the valley or at altitude with access by the ski lifts.

The most experienced can escape outside these marked routes (Chalets de Chailloux, Refuge de Loriaz...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.

 

 

 

Report: 06 January 2023

La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 06 January 2023
 
Happy new year to the young and young at heart!
 
Where do we start...
 
Skiing
 
The snow cover is not great, especially below 1,800/2,000m where there is practically no snow. It's better up high but it's still not enough to make up for the damage done last summer. Although things are gradually getting better, the North faces remain rather dry and the glaciers are still tricky.

The ski areas are waiting with impatience for possible snowfalls expected next week. A good number of the slopes in the valley are however well and truly open, like the Aiguille du Midi and the Montenvers train. Even more than usual, you need to ski carefully on the pistes (low snow cover, bumps, ice patches) and off-piste (rocks).


Ski Touring
 
We are also crossing our fingers for ski touring because low snow cover lower down limits activity and you have to use the ski lifts (or carry!)
 
The marked valley itineraries are not practicable (except for the Charamillon itinerary, which is a lot shorter than normal). Outings are possible mainly around Lac Blanc (Col des Dards, Col du Belvédère) and back. Portage is needed in the Bérard valley or from the Col de Montets. Another very popular area is the Col des Rachasses from the Herse or Bochard lifts. The descent by the old “Point de vue” Piste is in fairly good nick (the direct exit by the couloir onto the glacier isnt good at the moment). Further on (Glacier du Rognon), is okay but beware of crevasses. Trips to the Col du Tour Noir and the Col du Passon and back are feasible (not enough snow to consider going down Le Tour). Two "tricky” bits on the left bank of the Argentière glacier on the way back (classic bit between the slabs and the glacier, okay for good skiers).
 
For the time being, the descent of the Vallée Blanche is only suitable for good ski-mountaineers returning from a climbing route. The arête is not equipped with ropes. The snow is good up to the salle à manger (watch out for slots, the snow is quite good up to the Géant seracs and then hard/crusty snow) by the classic route. The salle à manger is quite easy (the higher track is better). Then it gets complicated and you need to walk for between 45 min and 1 hour to reach the grotto. The ratio of skiing + pleasure / danger + walking is not really optimal so for skiing it’s better to wait for more snow.  
 
 
Climbing

There has been a bit of gully activity (there were a few slots in the high mountains between the heavy snowfalls): Some teams on Petit Viking without more information. Pépite, Frendo-Ravanel in good ice conditions. Gullies on the N face of the Aiguille du Midi (Vent du Dragon etc) too dry. Chéré OK. Pellissier very good. Gabarrou-Albinoni and Modica-Noury probably OK. Pas d'Agonie done but no info (the III looked filled in). Valeria, Lafaille, Filo d'Ariana, you will have to go and see and tell us!

Déferlante is probably the only water ice in the valley (let's add Mini Couloir as well) but beware of overcrowding. There is ice in the Cogne area as well.  
 
 
Hiking

Even if the media has highlighted the lack of snow, there is still some and unlike some massifs, you can't hike everywhere. Practically none of the classic summer hikes (lakes, balconies etc) are practicable!

Hikes that are currently possible if you are properly equipped are:

- The Charousse Alpage.
- The “Petit Balcons” paths (North and South).
- The "Buvettes" (Floria, Chapeau, Dard/Cerro/Chalet du glacier des Bossons) .
- The Chailloux Chalets (Last part snowy).
- The Chalets Loriaz (refuge open) by the forest road (last part snowy) from Vallorcine.
- Lac Vert via Les Trois Gouilles and the Ayères Chalets from Servoz.
 
 
Snowshoeing

Snowshoeing is also limited because of the poor snow cover...in short, it's either too much or not enough... !!!!
 
The following are currently possible:

- Autannes near the Col de Balme
- The Raverettaz and the Index at Flégère
- A circuit round la Charme, Petit Prarion and Bellevue at Les Houches
 
 

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: 09 December 2022

La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 09 December 2022

It is snowing in the valley!

At the beginning of the afternoon, there was between 30 and 40 cm of fresh snow at 2,000m. There was a lot of wind high up.

 

Ski Areas

It is now the turn of La Flégère to open up (partially) its ski area continuously from tomorrow (Saturday 10 December).

Lognan - Les Grands Montets will also be open this weekend and then continuously from Thursday 15 (there is a road closure near La Poya on the hill between Chamonix and Argentière on 12, 13 and 14 December from 9am to 1pm).

The rest of the ski areas (Les Houches, Brévent, Balme) and the Aiguille du Midi will open next weekend.

Be careful off-piste: Risk of avalanche & rocks (early season snow cover).

This snowfall and the opening of Flégère will really launch the ski touring season! Be careful not to get caught out at the beginning of the season.

 

Snowshoeing and Cross-Country Skiing

The snowshoeing season is about to begin. The marked itineraries of the Flégère domain are closed for the moment!

Snow cover is still insufficient for the marked snowshoeing routes at the bottom of the valley (https://www.chamonix.com/activites/randonnees/itineraires-de-randonnees-en-raquettes) which can be done with good mountain boots and poles.

The cross-country ski trails in Chamonix will also be partially open tomorrow!

Climbing

Climbing has started on the left bank (rive gauche) of the Argentière basin (see the cahier de courses on the La Chamoniarde website for more details).

It is still too early for the artificial site of Bérard. This year, a reservation system will be put in place, we will tell you more when it is operational!

 

 

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: 02 December 2022

La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 02 December 2022

 

Winter is certainly here but it’s being a bit shy. 

 

Snow cover is relatively good above 2,000m. There are still a lot of rocks at this altitude, especially in our massif. 

Ski touring is possible around Le Tour and the Col de Balme. You can just about ski from the car park. Follow the 4WD track up to Charamillon: watch out for rocks and especially for people who are going up.   

Some activity on the Bel Oiseau and probably elsewhere too. You will have to carry skis for a bit. 

 

The Grands Montets is opening partially from tomorrow (forfait 31€ for the Bochard lift). The run is not pisted and it is artificial snow. So definitely for good skiers and just for this weekend (03 - 04 Dec). Information for the weekend 10 - 11 December will follow depending on snow cover. Complete opening will be from 15 December. 

The snow cover is thin and there are still a lot of rocks.   Off-piste skiing very much not advised. For those who are skinning into the Argentière basin watch out for crevasses on the Rognon glacier and on the Argentière glacier. There’s not enough snow for the classic descent from the Col du Passon down to Le Tour. 

 

Outings (mainly on ski) from the Helbronner are possible but you will need solid glacier experience. Remember that the ladders leading down to the to the Toule glacier are no longer accessible. The Rébuffat goulotte is very (too) dry. The Gervasutti couloir and the Voie Normale on the Tour Ronde could be considered. 

 

No info concerning the gullies in other sectors. Chardonnet (Albert 1er access by the moraine or the Col du Passon but not from Charamillon and the summer path); Argentière (Petit Viking...), Plan de l'Aiguille etc. Please send us any information if you do go. 

No ice in the valley yet (except in your drinks). If you do go to the rive gauche of Argentière (Déferlante etc) let us know how you get on. 

  

It’s still a bit early to get out on snowshoes and a bit late for a lot of the main footpaths except below 1,600m (chalet du Chapeau, buvette de la Floria, Cerro). If you’re well-equipped (good boots, poles, micro crampons) and you’re experienced it’s possible to get to the chalets de Chailloux and Loriaz (snow shoes will be useful higher up). 

 

Unfortunately there is not enough snow for the Nordic ski tracks to open. The planned opening date of 03 December has been pushed back. The opening date will be announced when conditions improve. 

 

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.