MOUNTAIN CONDITIONS 28/07/20
It’s hot! The 0°C isotherm is above 4000m. In general, the snow and mixed routes continue to become drier and slowly degrade. It is necessary to pay attention to the re-freezing, snow conditions, weak snow bridges and stone fall in exposed areas.
The normal routes on the Aig du Tour and the Tête Blanche are still in condition. The Forbes Ridge on the Aig du Chardonnet is becoming more and more technical and might soon no longer be feasible.
It is over for the snow routes on the Aiguille d'Argentière (Glacier du Milieu, Flèche Rousse). The Jardin Ridge remains possible for experienced parties, descending by abseiling, (50m abseils,) down the "La part des Anges" or by the Glacier du Milieu, (good crampon skills needed with a possibility of abseiling from Abalokovs in the steeper section.)
If the freezing allows, the Col du Tour Noir and the Col des Grands Montets (or the Aiguille by the Belvédère Ridge) remain feasible. (The Petite Verte is now ice).
Conditions no longer good for the Tournier Spur, (Droites).
Rock climbing is the main activity in this sector.
Care needed on the footpath, (notably in descent,) between the Mer de Glace Balcon and the new ladders. The path was damaged during the winter and some short passages are missing a handrail.
The Charpoua glacier is very chaotic this year and unlikely to improve. The track is continually changing, reconnaissance and experience are highly recommended.
Rock routes are being done in this area (e.g. Sale Athée, Contamine on the Evêque.)
Nothing to report since the last update, other than given the temperatures foreseen, it will be over for the Whymper couloir, Jardin Ridge etc.
The rock routes on the Aiguille de Leschaux, Petites Jorasses and above the hut are being done.
Some parties on the Walker Spur (Cassin route); no further information. The storm on Friday deposited some snow and there is certainly some verglas in places.
Envers des Aiguilles Sector
No major changes, the bergschrund for the Grepon-Mer de Glace / République is still passable but needs some ingenuity, (do not let it over impress.) Abseils are needed for the descent by the Nantillons glacier. Ice is becoming more prevalent, as is the stone fall.
Plan de l'Aiguille Sector
Climbing in the cool in this sector. Crampons still useful for the approach to the Pilier Rouge de Blaitière and the Gendarme Rouge du Peigne.
Probably over for the Frendo Spur, (stone fall and the upper part almost totally ice.)
Aiguille du Midi Sector
Care needed with the snow bridges on the Tacul normal route and especially at the second bergschrund, (in ascent,) which looks ready to collapse, (see photo.) Keep an eye also on the state of the snow, (notably in descent) and on the seracs.
The traverse of the Trois Monts and especially the section at Mont Maudit, (by the mixed gully on the left) is becoming increasingly difficult.
Conditions remain very dry for the Midi - Plan despite some fresh snow on Friday. They are not going to improve.
For the Triangle du Tacul, it is probably best to wait until the heat wave, (and stone fall) is over.
No problems with the bergschrunds for the rock routes in the Valley Blanche bowl, (except the Aiguillettes gully for the Grand Capucin; approach from lower down and by an ascending, leftward traverse.)
There is a wide bergschrund to cross on the descent from the Pointes Lachenal. The Cosmiques ridge is very dry but still popular, (using an abseil on the N side.)
The bergschrund at the foot of the snow gully to reach the Salle à Manger is no longer passable. It is necessary to go up the rocks on the true right bank. Above this it remains dry. It is recommended to leave the hut early in order to get back down early. The Rochefort Ridge remains in good condition and is popular.
The Rochefort-Jorasses traverse is still being done but the Pointe Young is very icy in the morning. It is recommended, for example, to climb it in the afternoon and then bivvy at the Pointe Marguerite.
The descent by the normal route is still reasonably OK, (either by the Whymper rocks or under the serac). There are newish abseil points and a 50m rope is sufficient for the Whymper rocks and the Reposoir.
The traverse of the Aiguilles Marbrées is very dry but, like last year, there are no problems at the abseil area. The traverse of the Aiguilles d'Entrèves is OK, the bergschrund on the descent remains passable but below this there is ice. The Tour Ronde remains feasible by the Freshfield.
Following what happened with the Kuffner, the approach to the Col du Diable has become dry. Even though the route remains popular, the conditions are not nearly as good as last month.
Envers du Mont Blanc Sector
The Ratti-Vitale (Aiguille Noire de Peuterey) is being done, the Freney glacier is OK. There is still some snow on the Aiguille Croux; ice axe necessary.
The direct approach to the Red Pillar du Brouillard is complicated and parties have recently preferred to pass by the Eccles. This approach is chaotic and requires a high level of motivation.
There is no first-hand information for the Freney Pillar, which looks to be dry again.
The Innominata and Brouillard by the col Emile Rey are very dry. They may be possible but only if the temperatures are much lower than forecasted.
Mont Blanc by the Gonella is being done, the snow bridges are holding up and the track avoids the biggest holes. The exit under the Col des Aiguilles Grises has degraded and is now mixed, (rotten rock and ice.) The ridge below the Piton des Italiens is very narrow in places.
The glacier up to the Col des Dômes is still OK. There is some ice on the way up the 3rd Dôme. Despite everything, the descent to the Col de la Bérangère is still on snow but with more hot weather and storms, conditions could rapidly deteriorate.
Concerning the Bérangère, there and back: no comment other than the are still some large snow patches.
The Mont Tondu has also become much drier, with ledges of rock and gravel lower down and ice higher up. It is only recommended for people at ease on this sort of terrain. .
The traverse of the Aiguilles de Tré la Tête was done 27/07 in good conditions, (some ice below the summit which was easy to avoid.)
There is no longer any snow on the path from the Col de Tricot to the Plan Glacier. The Mettrier Ridge integral is still being done, (but for how long?).
The Bionnassay ridge remains in good condition.
Mont Blanc Normal Route
The Rognes path remains closed by council order.
No comments for the rest of the route, other than keep an eye on the condition of the Grand Couloir in the coming days.