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The Club produces a regular English translation of the Chamonix conditions report 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 31 May 2021

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.

 

Report 26 may 2021

MOUNTAIN CONDITIONS 26/05/2021

There has been little recent information  on conditions in the high mountain.  It is a case of “go and see” and keeping one’s options open. Chamoniarde is awaiting your feedback!

Skis and snowshoes are currently essential for moving around in the high mountain.

The Aiguille du Midi and Skyway cable cars are open. The Montenvers train will open on Saturday 29th May, (the lift down to the ice cave opens on 5th June.)  Reservations necessary !

The following huts are open: Grands-Mulets, Cosmiques, Torino (from Thursday 27th). Only the winter rooms are open in the other huts. (There is a risk of overcrowding, especially at the Argentière).

Due to the impressive amount of snow at the Emosson dam sector, ski touring is still possible there.  The same is true for the Aiguilles Rouges (Bérard valley), though some ski carrying is necessary.  

Likewise, some ski carrying is needed on the approach to the Albert 1er hut by the moraine and on the lower part of the Pierre à Ric to access the Argentière sector.

The only sector with regular activity is the Aiguille du Midi, thanks to the cable car. All the main, steep skiing  routes on the N and W faces are being done.  There is even a risk of overcrowding.  At this time of the year conditions can change drastically from one day to the next, not least due to the passage of other skiers and the strong May/June sun.  Keep something in reserve when nearing your level.  

There and back to the Col d'Entrèves or into the Maudite Cwm are good ideas for an outing at altitude, to make a few turns and get the red blood cells working.

The ladder down to the Toula glacier is closed and its use forbidden.

The Cosmiques ridge, Pointe Lachenal there and back (or even the traverse,) and the Laurence ridge are feasible. As has often been the case in recent years, the Tacul Triangle looks very bare, (grey ice.) Likewise, the descent by the Tacul normal route does not look inviting. Once the snow cover stabilises it should be OK.  No information on the N face of the Maudit.

The approach to the Grands Mulets hut from the Plan de l'Aiguille was re-traced on Tuesday 25th May.   On Wednesday, there was an attempt on Mont Blanc (probably ended at the Vallot due to the wind)  by the plateaus. (It looks like a serac fall has cut across the track at the level of the little Plateau).  The N ridge of the Dôme is not tracked and does not look good, (still with ice and heavily windblown snow).  From the tunnel, the skiing starts at the old cable car station.

For anyone thinking of doing Mont Blanc by the Goûter, expect winter conditions with a lot of snow. The snow starts at the Bellevue and just above the Are chalets.  The approach to the Tête Rousse hut remains complicated, (in effect an alpine route). The huts plan to open on the 1st June (Tête Rousse) and 2nd June (Goûter).

There has been no change in the options for hikers. Generally, it is necessary to remain below 2000m.  Check this list of suggestions.

 

Report 15 May 2021

MOUNTAIN CONDITIONS 14 MAY2021

 

Unreliable weather at the moment, (wind, rain, snow, some sunny spells etc.)

Very little has changed since the last update, (7th May).  The weather windows have been too short to allow for much activity in the high mountain and there has been little improvement with the hiking trails (see ici).

The road up to the Emosson dam opened on Thursday the 13th, giving ski tourers access to this sector, if the weather allows.   Elsewhere , despite the low temperatures , the amount of ski carrying necessary is gradually increasing.

The good news is the Aig du Midi cable car opens on 19th May, (must have a reservation, use this link). The Park Merlet also opens on the 19th, (reservation needed at the weekends and bank holidays)

Consult the Chamoniarde site for up-to-date information on the hut openings (ici).

Report 7th May 2021

MOUNTAIN CONDITIONS 7 MAY 2021

A quick update for the coming weekend.

There has been a lot of rain this week with snow and wind at altitude, especially on Thursday and Friday. There will be more than 60cms of fresh snow above 2000m. It is difficult to estimate the effects of the wind high up.  (There is a photo from Grand Mulets showing one side of the hut completely plastered the other side stripped bare.)

The avalanche risk is no longer being reported but expect it to be “high” this weekend.

On top of this, the forecast for the weekend is not encouraging, (rise in temperatures, wind, and the foehn on Sunday.)

Therefore, care is needed in choosing an outing. For those recently restricted by the 10km rule, avoid the temptation to “rush in”. For the others, the high mountain is also not in condition!  The old local saying: "en Mai ne fait pas ce qu'il te plait" rings true.   (In May you can only do what May allows you to do)

The reality is we are between two seasons.  Skiers need to go high and, because the lifts remain shut, it is difficult to complete tours in a day.  

Due to the snow, hiking is limited to below 1700-1900m, depending upon the aspect, (see the last report).

Rock climbing and biking remains as popular as ever in the valley.

 

Ski Touring :

There is a need to carry the skis a bit further in the Berard valley.

There has been little change in the Le Tour sector. The approach to the Albert 1er is either by the moraine, ski carrying as far as the EDF water intake, or via the Col de Passon.

From Argentiere, it is still possible to start skiing almost from the foot of the Pierre à Ric.  However, it is in poor condition with large moguls and some sections of walking: "only for good skiers".  The Argentière hut should be open on Saturday 8th May until the 16th May.  Conditions for the classic routes in the area will have improved with all the snow over the last two weeks but there is currently an avalanche risk.  

 

 

 

For the Mont Blanc by the Grands Mulets, (but be aware of the poor weather at altitude foreseen for the weekend,) it is possible to start skiing just above the old cable car station. Extra care is needed on the traverse between the upper station and the glacier. The route has not changed much at the level of the Jonction.  The last ascent on 3rd May went by the Plateaux, (the N ridge is still not tracked this season and even though it now has snow, the upper slopes will have a high avalanche risk.)  The latest information is that there is a technical section between the first and second “Bosses” near the level of the crevasse, which can be avoided on the left.  

For the  Dômes de Miage sector, the skiing starts at the exit of the forest at the level of Nant du Tour. Care is needed near the Mauvais Pas and on the final slope below the hut.  The upper part of the Armancette glacier is likely to be heavily loaded with snow!

 

If you enjoy Swiss French humour, see the French version of this report for comments from the warden of the Pannossière hut, Grand Combin, on the current conditions there, (which are similar to the Mont Blanc massive).

 

 

 

 

Report 27 April 2021

MOUNTAIN CONDITIONS 27 April 2021

 

Some information following a sunny weekend even if the weather is now due to deteriorate.  

In general, the snow cover at altitude is good, despite the warm period having removed the snow lower down.  The faces remain dryish. 

 

Bérard Valley:  Skiing still starts at the level of the buvette, but some rocks are appearing along the side of the torrent.  Above this it is spring snow.

Skis can be used not far from the road  for the climb up to the col de l'Encrenaz from the south.

Tour Sector: the approach to the Albert 1er hut is by the moraine or via the col du Passon from Argentière. The Aiguille du Tour, Tête Blanche (N face tracked), Petite Fourche are popular. All the classic cols are passable.  The normal route on the Chardonnet was skied on Sunday, 25th. On the descent to le Tour, the skiing ends at the bridge, (keep to the true left bank low down.)  The skiing is not great nearer the valley due to avalanche debris and heavy snow.  The descent from the Passon, other than if returning from a route,  is no longer worth it.  

Skiing conditions are good on the Swiss side, Trient/Saleina/ A Neuve.

Argentière Sector : it is still possible to ski from the start of the Pierre à Ric. Nothing of note for the glacier and the approach to the hut, (it was crowded last weekend, the stove is out of action, take a sleeping bag.)  The cols du Chardonnet, du Tour Noir and Argentière are skiable. The big N faces remain dry. The Couturier has been tracked in ascent, no further information. There have been some parties on the Lagarde Couloir (Droites), a long and technical route would should not be underestimated, (see  Facebook page PGHM de Chamonix). Lots of ski tracks on the NE face of the Courtes,  less on  the Col des Cristaux and the Pointe Eales.  For the Aiguille d'Argentière:  Glacier du Milieu is OK with no problems at the bergschrund and the narrows.  The Y couloir is tracked in ascent, lots of ski tracks in the Barbey.

Mer de Glace Sector : Access is still from Les Bois. The passage by the Mottets is chaotic.  It is better to go via the  Montenvers ladders even if this does involve an extra height gain. Skiing still starts at the base of the ladders even if the Mer de Glace is already lacking snow.

Aiguille Verte : Y couloir was done on Saturday 24 (see route book).  The Whymper couloir is also in condition, the bergschrund passable on the true right, (left looking up). The approach to the Talèfre sector by the central gully is deteriorating, (skis off in one place.)

Valley Blanche/Noire, Brèche Puiseux are still feasible. A rope is recommended for the Salle à Manger.

Mallory-Porter : some ice on the traverse below the Aig du Midi ridge, soft snow lower down.  The Eugster direct is too dry, not recommended. The ski descent of the Cosmiques couloir is OK.

There is no information for the gullies in this sector.

Glacier des Nantillons  was skied in good conditions.

Mont Blanc by ski via the Grands Mulets : The skiing still starts at the level of the old station.  To cross the Jonction,  take the lower track, (safer than the higher path which is threatened by frequent serac falls.)  The Plateaux is in good condition.  There is ice below the Vallot, ( there is a track which avoids going straight up to the hut with crampons.)  Fingers crossed that the snow promised at altitude for this week will improve conditions on the Dôme N ridge and the N face of Mont. The descent by the true left bank of the Bossons glacier is no longer feasible.


There is still some skiing in the Trappier couloir sector with the snow ending around 1600m for the moment.  

Dômes de Miage / Bionnassay sector:  As a reminder, the Tré la Tête hostel is  open. The appoach to the  Conscrit hut by the Mauvais Pas is OK with crampons. In general, the traverse of the Dômes de Miage is in good condition.

The Mettrier ridge is being done regularly, (take gaz and a down jacket if planning to sleep at the  Plan Glacier). The traverse of the Aiguille de Bionnassay was also tracked last weekend, descent by the Plateaux.

Notre Dame de la Gorge : skiing now starts at the flat area halfway between Nant Borrant and the Balme. Good spring conditions higher up, for example: the col des Chasseurs and the Enclave and Mont Tondu sectors.

In Brief:

The Via Ferrata de Curalla has been opened on 24th April.
Hiking possibilities remain restricted to below 1700m ( facing north) and 1900m (facing south) due to the snow. The via cordas at Mottets and the Via Damou are popular, (cf route book)

 

Report 20 April 2021

MOUNTAIN CONDITIONS 20 AVRIL 2021

 

A quick update, given that the general situation has not changed much since the bulletin of 13th April
Last week’s weather was fairly atypical, being mainly cold and with some snowfall, which allowed for some nice skiing, but also a cloud cover that was difficult to predict.  


The principal activity is still ski touring. When temperatures allow, valley crag climbing is popular. There is still too much snow on most of the hiking trails. However, the paths along the floor of the valley or the small hikes up to 1500m, (north facing), or 1800m, (south facing), are feasible.

Conditions remain good for ski touring in the Bérard valley, (with a short section of carrying just up to the buvette).

The approach to the Albert 1er hut by the moraine is now possible, (the slopes overlooking the path are dry, only the gully still has snow.) Skiing starts at the level of the EDF water intake. For the descent from the Passon, the skiing ends at the level of the Bisme bridge, (10 mins walking from the carpark.) 

It is still possible to put on skis at the start of the Pierre à Ric. All the classic routes are tracked (Col du Passon, Col du Chardonnet, Aiguille d'Argentière by the Glacier du Milieu, Col du Tour Noir, etc.)  Also, activity at Barbey, Y Couloir, Lagarde couloir, Col des Cristaux and the Courtes NNE (skied on good snow, NNE fairly dry high up as has often been the case in recent years.) 

No change for the approach to the Mer de Glace/Talèfre sector, other than the 4x4 track from Planards to the Mottets/Caillet/Les Bois crossroads is closed by municipal order until 24th May because of work being done on the Montenvers railway.   It is, therefore, necessary to start from Les Bois, which in any case is the better option, (unless you have an electric mountain bike!)

Tracks on the Mallory Porter, no further information.  

Mont Blanc by the Grands Mulets : skiing starts at the level of the old cable car station.  There is a difficult section between the Glaciers station and the glacier.  The Jonction is OK.  It is still icy below the Vallot.  The N face remains unadvisable, the Corridoris very awkward, (rock hard ice, recommended to downclimb.) The possibility to descend by the true left bank of the Bossons glacier is coming to an end,  (lack of snow in the gully above the Plateau des Pyramides).

Activity continues at the Trappier couloir, Pointe Inférieure Tricot, Armancette cwm and the Dômes de Miage.

Enjoy the current situation and do not hesitate to inform Chamoniarde of the conditions you experienced.