MOUNTAIN CONDITIONS 31/05/2021
Some information after a weekend where activity returned to the high mountain, following a reasonably long spell of good weather. In general, there is a lot of snow, in the process of transforming, with re-freezing, the slopes progressively purging, and the glaciers and bergschrunds well filled in. Skis or snowshoes still prove useful for moving about high up, except in the popular areas near the Aig du Midi or Helbronner. The season of the “Grand Courses” is starting, as the snow cover settles and given a good re-freezing.
Ski touring remains possible in the Emosson dam sector. The road up to the dam is open, where the skiing starts. For the Berard valley, the skiing starts at the large flat area below the hut at around 1700m, (good snow cover above this.)
Le Tour Sector : generally good conditions. The hut opens on Friday 4th June. The classics of the area are tracked, (Aiguille du Tour, Migot Spur Migot on the Chardonnet etc). The descent by the Passon is no longer attractive.
Argentière Sector: The skiing starts at around 1400m on the Pierre à Ric. The hut is closed until 19th June. There is not much info for this sector other than the Aig d'Argentière by the glacier du Milieu and the Couturier Couloir on the Verte (ice at the bend and on the dome) have been done. The NE des Courtes looks to have plenty of snow.
Talèfre Sector: The hut approach by the central gully has deteriorated. Some parties have gone via the Egralets ladders. The Whymper couloir was done on 27th May, with other parties doing it the day after. The bergschrund goes on the true left, (right looking up). Some ice in the secondary couloir otherwise nothing special. Skis or snowshoes needed for the approach. Some parties have skied in the direction of the Pointe Isabelle and the col des Droites.
Plan/Aiguille du Midi Sector : The Plan and Cosmiques huts are open. The col du Plan gully has been climbed, the bergschrund is well filled in. After a lot of ski activity last week, the Mallory Porter should be feasible in ascent. It is too early for the Midi-Plan ridge, but this should quickly change given the current temperatures.
It is possible to approach on foot for the routes near to the Midi station. The Laurence ridge, Cosmiques ridge (a lot of snow which in some place makes it easier, but elsewhere requires alternatives and short roping making the route overall more difficult,) Pointes Lachenal traverse are all tracked. The Midi S face is being climbed but there is still snow on the ledges.
The traverse of Valley Blanche is well filled in. Skis or snowshoes remain useful. The Valley Blanche was skied at the weekend The crevasses are covered higher up and it is spring snow. Crevasses are starting to appear at the Salle à Manger where a rope recommended. The descent by the Valley Noire is not recommended because, as is usual this time of the year, there is a lot of frozen avalanche debris.
The Trois Monts was done on Monday morning. On the normal route on the Tacul, there is a short, steep section of ice low down and a recent serac fall also low down, exit by the shoulder. For Mont Maudit, the lower part of the face is also not in good condition but goes OK, the bergschrund below the col is OK, no ice. There may be some ice on the traverse to the Brenva col. Hard snow on the Mur de la Côte.
The Chéré Gully is in average condition, (brittle ice.) The Contamine Negri is in good condition, (some mixed low down, then all on snow.) The traverse from the summit of the Triangle to regain the normal route looks to be OK.
The Jager Couloir was done on 30/05. The Gervasutti couloir has been skied but take care, the heat will quickly change conditions.
Some of the Pointes Lachenal S face gullies have been climbed. The gullies on the E face of the Tacul (Modica Noury, Gabarrou-Albinoni) look to be fairly dry. A part turned back on the Supercouloir, (brittle ice).
Helbronner Sector : the Marbrées and Aiguille d'Entrèves traverses and the Dent du Géant have been done, approach on foot. There has been activity on the Tour Ronde: the normal route by the Freshfield col , the N face, (all snow except for the central gully) and the Gervasutti couloir, (bergschrund OK). It is too early for the Kuffner.
Mont Blanc by the Grands-Mulets : little change since the last report. The amount of ski carrying is increasing, 1h30 from the tunnel. The snow is going from the moraines when starting from the Plan de l'Aiguille. The Jonction passes OK. The N Face of the Dôme du Goûter is tracked parallel to the ridge, (hard snow, still some ice, 2 bergschrunds that need a rope,) The classic N face was skied at the weekend, (hard snow high up then cold and changeable). At the plateaux it is more like spring snow, (it does not soften before midday).
Mont Blanc by the Goûter : The Tête Rousse hut opened on Monday night and the Gouter on Tuesday. The TMB and the Bellevue are closed. There is a lot of snow. It is recommended to go by the Are Chalets and the Nid d'Aigle (take care on the slopes below the equipped section.) The Goûter couloir is filled with snow and for a change it is snow slides, not stone fall that could cause problems. Try and pass early in the day, both in ascent and descent. It is already tracked, and the path will improve with use.
Aiguille de Bionnassay : The NW face from Tête Rousse (there and back,) from the Durier and the Mettrier ridge were done this weekend. The N face of the Dômes has good snow cover and has been skied, (the skiing starts about 2200m, above Miage.) No recent information for the Dômes de Miage travers, which should be in condition, the skiing starts above the Mauvais Pas.