Report 31 August 2020

A taste of winter in the mountains at the end of August !!!

 

There is quite a lot of snow at high altitude: the rocks are well plastered, beware of the risk of avalanches and snow sluffs on some routes! Be careful also at the snow bridges on glaciers ...

 

There is snow down to 2300m but it is unlikely to affect the hiking trails for long.  

 

Some feedback from the hut wardens:

- Cosmiques: 50 cm of cold and very windblown snow

- 30/40 cm at the Gouter, also windblown

- Torino: 20 cm, (no snow at the Monzino)

- Envers de Aiguilles: 20 cm

-Couvercle: 20 cm

- Albert 1er: 20 cm

- Conscrits: also, 20 cm

- Col de Balme: 8 cm

Report 24 August 2020

 

                                                                MOUNTAIN CONDITIONS 24/08/20

Some selected information.

As the season advances the conditions continue to evolve.  Caution is still needed with snow bridges and in potentially unstable areas.

The Dômes de Miage traverse is still being done, starting from the Bérangère and returning by the Trè la Tète glacier, (a bit of ice below the east summit and some open crevasses on the  glacier, as one would expect at the end of the season.)

There has been a large landslip above the Miage glacier which has cut across the path to the Durier hut from Plan Glacier.  This area still looks unstable, but not confirmed.  It is advised to approach the Durier hut from the Dômes de Miage. The Aiguille de Bionnassay remains in good condition.

The Gouter route up Mont Blanc is back to “normal”, with the stonefall being less intense.

The Gonella hut has been shut since 18/06, no further information.

The is some recent information concerning the Trois Monts route on the Cosmiques hut’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/refugedescosmiques/posts/3090977520950974

Since this Monday it is no longer possible to cross the Tacul bergschrund on the left, (looking up) .  Therefore, you are advised to go to the right, but it is your call! 

The bergshrunds for the rock routes in this sector have not worsened.

On 22/08 another landslip was reported on the approach to the Salle à Manger (access to the Dent du Géant and Rochefort Arete). The Marbrés and Aiguilles d'Entrèves traverses are still being done.

A few parties are still doing the Jorasses traverse. Not much has changed on the normal route, (still at the limit)

See the Chamoniarde route book for the latest information on the Nantillons glacier. (https://www.chamoniarde.com/montagne/cahier-de-courses). The Charmoz-Grepon bergschrund is still passable but the glacier approach is very exposed to stonefall

No recent information for the République/Grepon Mer de Glace bergschrund, which is very tricky since the collapse of the “tunnel”, Otherwise, no changes, it goes !

Already there is snow on the N face of the Grandes Jorasses but there are still some parties doing the Cassin, (Walker Spur).  The rock routes in this sector are in good condition; no problems with the glacier approach to the Petites Jorasses.

The Charpoua hut shuts this Thursday, still some parties doing the traverse of the Drus, the glacier remains passable , but perhaps not for long. “Good if one likes the Himalayas”.

In the Albert 1er sector, it is preferable to approach Aig du Tour by the Col du Tour, (fixed ropes in place,) as the Col Supérieur is very dry. The summit slope of the Petite Fourche is ice.

 

Report 16th August 2020

 

                                                                MOUNTAIN CONDITIONS 16/08/20

A general update on conditions based on recent information received by Chamoniarde from various sources.

Italian Side of Mont Blanc

Climbing continues in the Monzino sector, e.g. Vitale Ratti on the Noire and on the Aiguille Croux. The best approach to the Eccles is still by the glacier. The Freney is still being done. The approach to the Pilier Rouge has become more complicated, it is necessary to go via the Eccles.

There is no recent information for the normal Italian route up Mont Blanc.

In the Helbronner sector the bergschrunds are OK for the climbs on the satellites, with the exception of the Pyramide du Tacul, which is delicate. There are no particular problems for the traverses of the Aiguilles d'Entrêves and Marbrées. The approach to the Salle à Manger, (Dent de Geant) is dry. It is important to keep to the track and be wary of stone fall from other parties, (or your own.)  The Rochefort ridge remains OK.  The traverse of the Jorasses is being done regularly. The normal route on the Jorasses is also still being done but it is at the limit. There is ice higher up, (2 ice axes recommended, ice screws), the glaciers are passable but have some large crevasses/holes.

Conscrits Sector

Dômes de Miage traverse: The Tré la Tête glacier is still in good condition.  The ridge is all on snow but the descent to the col de la Bérangère is awkward with sections of ice, (good crampon skills needed). Doing the traverse west to east is easier.  
It is over for the traverse of the Aiguilles de Tré la Tête as the North Aiguille summit ridge and the Col des Glaciers are completely ice. For the Pain de Sucre and Mont Tondu there are some good snow slopes which allow most of the ice to be avoided on the way to the summit.
Snow patches help on the descent from the Aiguille de la Bérangère.

Durier Sector

Conditions for the Bionnassay ridge are good, all on snow and with a good track.  The descent is awkward, foresee a night in the Gouter  to allow an early morning descent,

Aiguilles de Chamonix Sector

- Peigne : since the landslip in the Papillons couloir, parties have been seen on the ridge and the normal route.  The couloir is pockmarked from impacts but this does not seem to have affected progression.

- Charmoz-Grépon : the bergschrund at the base is very wide.  It was still passable on the 8th and 9th August by climbing down into it, (this could change).   The Nantillons Glacier has some sections of ice; no information concerning the rockfall risk.

- Pilier Rouge de Blaitière : there is a ramp of snow for the approach.

- Aiguille de l'M : no comments

 

Cosmiques Sector

The Tacul is still climbable but the snow bridges are weakening, notably in the middle section.  There has been no feedback for the crossing of Mont Maudit.  It was re-tracked on 15th August, (30 cms of fresh snow.)

The Cosmiques Ridge remains very dry. There have been reports of some unstable blocks and water seepage at the exit chimney, ( to be kept an eye on)

Activity on the Pointes Lachenal traverse has been limited.  There is a large bergschrund and also ice, which was covered by thin layer of snow on the 13th August.  Many parties have turned back before the abseil, (large blocks standing on unstable sand/gravel.)  The last Point is to be avoided, as the descent is exposed to seracs

The bergschrunds for the rock routes in this sector remain passable, for the moment.

Envers des Aiguilles Sector

The bergschrunds for Marchand de Sable - Pedro Polar have become awkward. It would appear the bridge across the Grépon-République bergschund has collapsed, (awaiting conformation). Stone fall was reported yesterday in the Bec d'Oiseau gully (do not hang about below the faces).  Crampons are needed to reach the foot of the routes. The other bergschrunds in the sector are OK.

Charpoua Sector

The glacier is becoming more chaotic, but still passable by the lower track.  The Drus traverse therefore, remains feasible. The Moine is being climbed on regularly (Voie du Druide - Sale Athée), and also the Flammes de Pierre. Crampons are needed for the approach to the Contamine on the Évêque.
The hut closes on the 27th August.

Couvercle Sector

The glacier is still OK for the S ridge and normal routes on the Moine. For the E face, there are no problems with the bergschrund, (the snow is remains reasonably high up to the face).   The Nonne-Évêque traverse is still being done.  The bergschrund for the Moine Ridge on the Verte is challenging and should be checked out first, (awaiting further information.)

Leschaux Sector

The rock routes on the Aiguille de Pierre à Joseph, Leschaux and Petites Jorasses are in condition.

Numerous parties did the Walker Spur, (Cassin) last week, (with stone fall linked to its popularity).  Conditions are likely to change with for rain/snow forecasted.  Contact the hut for more information.

 

 

Argentière Sector:

Here rock climbing is the name of the game!

Tour Sector

The normal routes on the Aiguille du Tour, Tête Blanche, Petite Fourche and the S Ridge of the Purtcheller are still being done.

Emosson Sector

The dam will be closed for the entire day on the 18th August.  There will be no access the Loriaz path,  Vieux Emosson, Vieux hut or the dinosaur prints area.

 

Report 3rd August 2020

                                                                CONDITIONS MONTAGNES 03/08/20

A quick update of the general conditions.

The short heat wave last week cleared a lot of stabilising snow from the mountains.

The good conditions that prevailed for the snow and mixed routes in July are now a distant memory.

The brief cold snap and snow today, (Monday,) will merely hide the underlying bad conditions for a few days.  At high altitude, be aware of the risk of small avalanches, (depending on the amount of snow deposited,) over the next couple of days.  

With the return of the hot weather and with the 0ºC isotherm around 4500m foreseen for Wednesday, the best choice will be the (solid) rock routes.  The glacier approaches are still OK, (take care with the snow bridges if the freezing is poor), as are most of the bergschrunds.  However, this can quickly change from one day to the next.  

On the normal route up Mont Blanc, the condition of the Grand (Goûter) couloir has degraded considerably, giving a serious risk from stone fall.  At the end of last week, many parties, and especially those with professional guides, turned back. Before setting out, it is important to be mentally prepared to turn around should conditions not be right on reaching the couloir.

For more specific information, contact the Chamoniarde directly.   

Report 28 July 2020

 

                                                                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.

 

Tour Sector

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.

 

Argentière Sector

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.

 

Charpoua 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.)

 

 

 

Talèfre Sector

Nothing to report since the last update, other than given the temperatures foreseen, it will be over for the Whymper couloir, Jardin Ridge etc.

 

Leschaux Sector

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.)  

 

Helbronner Sector

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.

 

Conscrits Sector

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.

Report 20th July 2020

 

                                                                MOUNTAIN CONDITIONS 13/07/20

Here is some information on conditions for the beginning of this week.  Note: the forecast is for unstable weather.

Despite the absence of a major heatwave, the mountains are very dry.  This is partly because there was not much precipitation in Spring and early summer.

Over the last two weeks the conditions for the snow and mixed routes have generally degraded, as is nowadays normal for July.  However, freezing conditions have been good. The snow cover is well settled and supportive, often even later in the day.

 

From the Albert 1er, the Aiguille du Tour, by the normal route and the Table Ridge, is popular.

It is perhaps over for the Migot Spur, (a mixed section with mediocre rock and a risk of stone fall from other parties.)  Conditions are slightly better for the Forbes ridge though it is technically more difficult than usual, (a steep bergschrund to cross and 25m of ice at the mound). A lot of snow has gone from the descent, giving a risk of stonefall, especially as it can be busy. Below the Adams Reilly col, the descent track goes over a very narrow snow bridge.

Reminder : during the week, people with a reservation at the Argentière hut can go up with the Plan Joran lift at 8h00 and descend at 17h00, (it is possible to buy a ticket online at the Mont Blanc Natural Resort site or from the vending machine at Argentière).

The Flèche Rousse ridge, Jardin Ridge and Charlet Straton  are in good condition. Good crampon skills are needed above the Glacier du Milieu bergschrund, (the narrows on snow without an obvious track, several metres of ice between the col and the summit.)

Quite a few parties have done the Tournier Spur on the Droites, (in good condition except for the mixed section higher up).

Good conditions for the Drus traverse. Follow the glacier high up, (descent track,) before re -descending to the starting ledge, (best to check outthe way the night before.)  

In the Talèfre area, crampons are needed on the approach to the Moine (normal route, S ridge.  No information on the bergschrund for the Contamine, (E face.)

The Moine Ridge is being done, take care to make an early start to avoid bad snow, especially on the descent.  The Whymper is still feasible in descent, if early.

Lots of parties doing the Jardin Ridge and the normal route on the Droites, (the approach gully looks very dry and uninviting, perhaps best avoided by going via the slope to the Droites col). No information for the Courtes traverse. The Courtes glacier is OK, as is the bergschrund for the Pointe Isabelle, (for the moment.)

 

The rock routes near the Leschaux are being climbed. Several parties have done the Cassin Route on the N face of the Grandes Jorasses, (Walker Spur).

Good conditions in the Envers sector, the bergschrunds are mostly OK and the rock is dry.   Crossing the bergschrund for the Grepon-Mer de Glace and the République normal route is complicated, (sketch available at the hut!).  The descent of the Nantillons glacier remains feasible, (below the serac, which appears to be unstable, there is some ice.)

A party turned back on the Ryan (bergschrund impassable.)

The Frendo spur remains popular but there is a lot of ice on the exit.  Crampons are useful for the approaches to the Red Pillar de Blaitière and the routes on the Gendarme Rouge du Peigne.

The Charmoz-Grépon and the traverse of the Chamonix Aiguilles are popular

The ridge down from the Aig du Midi  is in good condition.

Overall, the bergschrunds for the rock routes in this sector are OK, (parties were sen on the Gervasutti pillar, no further information.)

More and more crevasses are appearing on the Valley Blanche traverse, (the higher track crosses quite a few snow bridges which might soon pose problems.)

The lower part of the Triangle du Tacul is now ice, (the Contamine-Grisolle and Chéré remain popular).

Many parties on the traverse of the Pointes Lachenal and the Cosmiques Ridge but these routes are also becoming dry, (take care at the abseils.)

No major changes for the Trois Monts route.  There is a crevasse opening up in the middle of the face which could pose problems and there is a bergschrund to cross below the shoulder of the Tacul.  Also there is a steep ice gully to get past the Maudit, requiring 2 ice axes and some ice screws and lastly, some ice on the traverse to the Brenva Col. 

 

The approach gully to the Salle à Manger, (Dent de Geant), still has snow but higher up it is dry.  Take care to stay on route and of stonefall from other parties.  Avoid descending too late.

There has been a lot of parties on the Rochefort-Jorasses traverse, which remains in good condition.  The descent by the normal route is fairly OK. There has also been activity on the Hirondelles ridge and the Tronchey, (no further information.)  

The Marbrées and Aiguilles d'Entrèves traverses continue to be popular, (no ice on the descent.)  

On the Tour Ronde, the SE ridge and the N face look to still be feasible but it is probably finished for the Gervasutti Couloir, (bergschrund fragile and the upper part very dry.)

It is probably also over for the Kuffner ridge, which has dried considerably, exposing several sections of rotten rock.

Even though the approach gully is dry, conditions are good on the Aiguilles du Diable, which remains popular.

From the Monzino, the Innominata is mainly dry but feasible, given a good freeze. The Freney and Brouillard Red Pillar are being climbed.  Rock fall is becoming more frequent on the Brouillard Ridge and it is necessary to respect the time of day.  

Be aware that the approach path to the Borelli bivouac is now officially closed, (council order of 19th July,) following an avalanche there. On the Peuterey ridge, the climb up the GPA, (Grand Pilier d’Angle) is dry, (start early). There is 30m of steep, blue ice on the final ridge, 2 axes recommended.

For the Mont Blanc, the Italian normal route by the Aiguilles Grises and the N Ridge of the Dôme du Goûter (30m of ice) remain feasible.  No comments for the normal route via the Aig du Goûter, other than, (as always,) cross the Grand Couloir at the right time of the day.  

For the Dômes de Miage traverse, the glacier is OK.  Conditions remain good throughout the traverse.  The ice is never far away on the climb up the 3rd Dome. The descent to the Bérangère col is steep and again the snow cover is thin over the ice, (good crampon technique needed.)   
Mont Tondu: the conditions are becoming drier but it remains popular. 

Good conditions continue for the Aiguille de la Bérangère, there and back.  

The Aiguille de Bionnassay traverse remains in good condition.

 

Crampons are no longer needed for the Perrons traverse.

The Cornu lake and the Noir lakes are now accessible from Planpraz and Col Cornu. It is advised not to pass by the Col de la Glière as there is a short but steep and exposed snow slope there.  

Poles and good footwear suffice for the normal way up the Buet.