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Report 15 February 2019

Mountain Conditions  15/02/2019

Here is the update for this week of beautiful weather.

 

The amount of snow (about 30 to 40 cm above 2000m). deposited during the bad weather last weekend is difficult to estimate because of the accompanying strong winds. Spring weather has arrived for the first week of the half term holidays.  The freezing level is climbing very high during the day, (above 3000m.)  As you may guess, this heat can cause wet snow slides/avalanches, especially on the sunny slopes.  The snow quality is variable, frozen and often affected by the wind on the north facing slopes, frequently crusty where exposed to the sun.  (Further transformation is needed before it becomes ideal for skiing.)

 

Ski touring remains the most popular activity for this winter.  Conditions are generally good, though it is important not to be too late in the day.  There is snow right down to the valley floor and the mid-mountain classics are popular.  For example: at Contamines (Monts Jovets, Cols de Fenêtre/Cicle/Chasseurs), at Plaine Joux (Moëde Anterne, Pointe Noire de Pormenaz), in the Aiguilles Rouges (all the routes), at Vallorcine (Buet, Loriaz, Col de la Terrasse), and in the neighbouring Switzerland (Bel Oiseau, Carraye, Pointe Ronde).

 

This good weather has also meant the start of the ski mountaineering season.  The “Z” track from the Aiguille du Midi is open but very icy, (crampons essential).  The Valley Blanche is basically in good condition and it is possible to ski down to Chamonix.  The way up to the Brèche Puiseux is tracked, as is the descent to the Mont Mallet glacier (icy snow in the exit couloir). On the Italian side, all the classics are tracked (Marbrés,Toule, Col d'Entrèves, Brenva) but respect the time of day. There is skiing has also in the Argentiere sector, (the hut opens today, Friday), e.g. Col des Grands Montets, traverse of the Col du Passon, Three Cols, Col du Tour Noir and Argentière are all tracked.  However, the is no information concerning the north faces, which look to be very dry. There has been activity in the Trient sector, (e.g. Glacier des Grands), the return is good.

 

Conditions for ice climbing are changing rapidly with this warm weather.  It is recommended to avoid areas that catch the sun, (e.g. right bank of Argentière)). Even in shaded areas be very careful to check the conditions.

 

Still little or no information about winter mountaineering and the mixed routes.  The Cosmiques Ridge is being done regularly. 

Report 8th February 2019

Mountain Conditions 08/02/2019

An update for this weekend and the start of the school holidays.  The conditions are becoming favourable for winter sports.  Unsettled weather this weekend but sunshine is forecast for next week.

For skiers, (piste, hors-piste and touring), the snow is overall good.  However, there remains an important risk of avalanche which will become difficult to spot with the snowfall and wind foreseen for this weekend.  Many professionals have observed avalanche activity in areas not usually affected, take care! 

 

During this holiday period there will be a lot more skiers on the pistes, adapt your speed accordingly!

For ski-tourers, conditions are mainly good, though some rocks are exposed here and there.  There is a cornice threatening the true right bank of the ENSA couloir, (notably if there is a wind or a warm period.)

The Valley Blanche is generally in good condition.  The ridge is equipped with rope handrails and stakes but the « Z » is not tracked yet.  There are quite a few rocks on the Mer de Glace between the ice caves and the climb back up to Mottets. From Mottets the descent down to Chamonix is OK.

The classic ski tours remain popular, (Contamines valley, Aiguilles Rouges, Bel Oiseau / Col de la Forclaz sector etc.) Good conditions also higher up on the glaciers, (Brèche Puiseux, Argentière sector, Col du Passon etc.)

Generally good conditions also for ice climbing.

However, for the mixed routes, as has been the case for the last two years, conditions are very dry with little or no activity.

Enjoy the mountains safely and the Chamoniarde team look forward to hearing about your experiences on: https://www.chamoniarde.com/montagne/cahier-de-courses

Report 25th January 2019

The high pressure since the last update has resulted in stable but very cold weather.  The region was not affected by the bad weather elsewhere on Wednesday.  There has been a cold wind since Thursday, causing windslab in places and probably large snow drifts at altitude.

Ski touring and ice climbing remain the main activities for the moment.  The winter mountaineering season has not really started yet, the routes are still very dry. 

 

Ski touring: touring possibilities throughout the Mont Blanc range, (Aiguilles Rouges – Argentière sector - Requin sector – Col de la Forclaz – Loriaz sector …..) Possible to start skiing from 1000m, (cover initially poor, but good above 1500m.)  Take ski crampons because certain passages have been stripped down to hard ice/snow by the wind (ridges, cols.)

Ice climbing: Lots of activity last week in the following sectors: Trient (Pétoudes and Barre des Charcotins), Argentière (left and right banks) and Crèmerie.  A rope was seen on the Sainte Marie Viaduc icefall.  The lines looked to be formed at the Col des Montets (Barre du Chenavier) but no more information.  The Loriaz icefall looks to be well formed. In the Aosta valley, conditions remain unchanged from the last update, (19th Jan).

Valley Blanche: the ridge is now partially equipped, with a rope on the crest, (very hard snow.)  The “Z” track is not yet in place.  The current conditions require a good level of ski ability.  The run down to Chamonix (via the Mottets,) remains OK.

 

With regards to the re-opening of the Plan Praz lift. this should open on Sunday 27th January.  However, check the CMB site for the latest information as it might open already during the day on the Saturday.  It always remains possible to reach the Brevent ski area from the Flégère cable car.

 

Winter Hiking: the valley floor paths are icy, foresee using walking crampons.  The signposted snow shoe trails at mid-altitude, (prepared by the Mont Blanc Company) are proving popular as they have plenty of snow.  Those in the valley floor, (prepared by council, Communauté de communes,) have enough, albeit compacted, snow.

 

Report 19th January 2019

MOUNTAIN CONDITIONS 19/01/2019

The bad weather the previous weekend, together with that on Thursday, has greatly improved the skiing conditions. The amount of snow fallen varies from one sector to another, for example there is less snow at Vallorcine.

The ski domains are in near perfect condition; blue skies, well prepared pistes and not too many people.  However, still take care, particularly in controlling one’s speed.  Also check the bulletin on the Compagnie du Mont Blanc site to see what is open!!

Good conditions for ski touring, though the snow quality can be unreliable, (wind slab in places,) and there are still snow some icy patches away from the snow bowls.  (This can also mean a hard base with rocks just below the surface in some areas.)  It is now possible to put on the skis directly from the valley start.

All the Aiguilles Rouges classics, (Col de la Terrasse, Mont Buet, Col de Beugeant, Col des Dards & du Belvédère, Crochues-Bérard, Brèche de Bérard, Col de la Floria, Col de la Glière, Aiguillette des Houches) and in the Argentière sector, (Col du Passon, Col du Chardonnet there and back, Col du Tour Noir) are tracked.

Concerning the Aiguille du Midi, the ridge is still not equipped (only some stakes in place).  It is still early season, crevasse danger. There are some exposed rocks on the Mer de Glace but the following ski back down to Chamonix is good. The Mottets Buvette is open for the season, as is the Requin hut.

Ice climbing is possible in the usual sectors: Trient (Pétoudes), Argentière (left and right banks, Crémerie) and Les Contamines. In the Aosta valley, the icefalls below 1800m are not well formed.  However, the lack of snow means those higher up are more easily accessible than usual.

 No information concerning the mixed routes; still not in condition!!!

Lastly, conditions for snow shoeing, ski du fond and winter hiking are good.

Report 19th January 2019

MOUNTAIN CONDITIONS 19/01/2019

The bad weather the previous weekend, together with that on Thursday, has greatly improved the skiing conditions. The amount of snow fallen varies from one sector to another, for example there is less snow at Vallorcine.

The ski domains are in near perfect condition; blue skies, well prepared pistes and not too many people.  However, still take care, particularly in controlling one’s speed.  Also check the bulletin on the Compagnie du Mont Blanc site to see what is open!!

Good conditions for ski touring, though the snow quality can be unreliable, (wind slab in places,) and there are still snow some icy patches away from the snow bowls.  (This can also mean a hard base with rocks just below the surface in some areas.)  It is now possible to put on the skis directly from the valley start.

All the Aiguilles Rouges classics, (Col de la Terrasse, Mont Buet, Col de Beugeant, Col des Dards & du Belvédère, Crochues-Bérard, Brèche de Bérard, Col de la Floria, Col de la Glière, Aiguillette des Houches) and in the Argentière sector, (Col du Passon, Col du Chardonnet there and back, Col du Tour Noir) are tracked.

Concerning the Aiguille du Midi, the ridge is still not equipped (only some stakes in place).  It is still early season, crevasse danger. There are some exposed rocks on the Mer de Glace but the following ski back down to Chamonix is good. The Mottets Buvette is open for the season, as is the Requin hut.

Ice climbing is possible in the usual sectors: Trient (Pétoudes), Argentière (left and right banks, Crémerie) and Les Contamines. In the Aosta valley, the icefalls below 1800m are not well formed.  However, the lack of snow means those higher up are more easily accessible than usual.

 No information concerning the mixed routes; still not in condition!!!

Lastly, conditions for snow shoeing, ski du fond and winter hiking are good.

Report 10 January 2019

MOUNTAIN CONDITIONS 10/01/2019

Though large amounts of snow have fallen in Eastern Europe, we are still waiting for conditions to significantly change in the Western alps.

The last snowfall gave 20cms of light snow at 2000m, improving conditions both on and off piste, (take care the underlying base is hard.)

Ski touring is popular, despite the variable snow depths.  Ski crampons remain essential.  Still some walking for Loriaz and Bel Oiseau.  In the Contamines Montjoie valley, the roman road is bare ice, (crampons.).

The wind over the last few days has caused drifting, especially in the high mountain.  Do not forget to check the weather forecast and avalanche risk before each outing.

More snow is forecast for this weekend.

In the high mountain conditions the faces and gullies remain extremely dry. Patience needed!

Ice Climbing: The right and left banks of the Argentiere glacier are OK but the Cremerie and Berard still do not have much ice.

With the lack of snow, the signposted snow shoe tracks are accessible for walkers. Lightweight crampons could be useful, even essential in some places, together with good boots and hiking poles. This should allow one to walk up to 1500m without too much problem. 

Be warned that despite the lack of snow the paths at higher altitude, such as the Grand Balcons or to the Lakes, are not feasible for hikers or snow shoers.