Some news from the mountains after a few days of good weather.
It is no surprise that ski touring is still the main activity and most of the routes have been re-tracked since the (small) snowfall at the end of last week. As a reminder, one should take both ski and normal crampons and respect the time of day.
As for alpinism, the gullies remain dry and it is rare to find good conditions.
It is very important to make a reservation before staying at a hut , guarded or not.
The Bérard valley towards the Mont Buet is popular, as is the Col de l'Encrenaz from the Col des Montets. It is necessary to carry the skis for a bit when going to Loriaz and the Col de la Terrasse from Granges.
The Argentière sector is also popular. Ski crampons are quasi essential when going up the Pierre à Ric early in the morning. All the classic cols have been tracked and are generally in good condition. The Col du Passon (care with the timing, especially on the ascent,) the Trois Cols and the Tour Noir are OK. There is no fixed rope in place on the Col du Chardonnet.
Ice has been reported on the Glacier du Milieu and the start of the Y couloir, (mixed).
The Barbey Couloir has been skied but the first 50m were hard snow/ice. The Col des Cristaux and the NE des Courtes face have been tracked.
The N faces are generally dry. No information for the Couturier, the upper part and the dome look to be wind affected. Some parties have been on the Lagarde couloir (Droites) and the Petit Viking (Pré de Bar).
The Whymper couloir on the Verte was tracked on 29/03 in mainly good conditions, but this could change rapidly.
Mer de Glace sector : The Requin hut is open. The Brèche Puiseux is being done frequently. There is a 50m abseil on the Leschaux side then powder snow down to about 2,800m. As usual, the Mallet glacier is complicated and with few tracks; take care. Some parties have gone up towards the Col de Midi, (descent via the Cosmiques couloir or the Valley Blanche) and the Col d'Entrèves, (descent by the Combe de la Vierge.)
The Sorenson-Eastman above the Requin was very “technical” but the party got up it, (other gullies not in condition). The Valéria on the Petit Capucin is in OK condition. There is no information for the Tacul east face or the Triangle. The Mallory-Porter on the Aiguille du Midi has been tracked in ascent, no further information.
The return by the Mer de Glace to Chamonix is starting to deteriorate and is likely to get worse with the hot weather over the next days .
Mont Blanc is being climbed, (the Grands Mulets is open); ascend via the Para (some ski carrying), traverse the Jonction and then go up via the Plateaux, (the N ridge of the Dôme is very icy.) Most parties leave their skis at the Vallot, (some ice below the observatory). The N face has been skied but it is not really in condition. The descent by the true left side of the Bossons glacier has been well frequented but a serac collapse has damaged the traverse to the Pyramides plateau.
Val Montjoie sector: There is still a lot of activity in the Armancette basin, (Charborgne, Bérangère) with, for the moment , not too much ski carrying. For the Plan Glacier/Durier starting from Gruvaz, it is possible to put on skis from about 1500m. The last 200m of the Mettrier and the N face direct of the Dômes de Miage look to be icy.
The Conscrits area is popular (hut open; reservation by email as the phone is not working). Ski crampons are especially useful on some sections of the ascent; the Mauvais Pas is OK. The traverse of the Dômes de Miage and descent by the Armancette is in OK condition, (no ice). Mont Tondu is tracked.
Further afield, the normal route on the Dolent is tracked from La Fouly, (more info in the OHM route book). The Marécottes/Dents du Midi sector is popular!
Hikers are reminded again that that it is not yet the season for the high paths, such as the Chéserys/Lac Blanc, the Grands Balcons Nord and Sud, Brévent, Bel Lachat , etc. It is necessary to be content with certain routes at the base of the valley. It is a good idea to contact Chamoniarde for guidance on the best options, which depend on the latest conditions, your experience and your equipment.