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News

Report: 08 August 2022

Report: 08 August 2022

 

La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 08 August 2022

 

The dry spell continues in the mountains. 

Glacier and snow conditions continue to deteriorate. 

Plan B is more than ever rock climbing (without complex glacier approaches). There are no longer any snow routes in good condition, although some are still possible (although technically more difficult). 

There are regular rock falls and landslides in some places in the high mountains. Don't hesitate to share your observations. The drought is such that it can also lead to rock falls in the “moyenne montagne” (lower hills) especially after storms. Beware also of overcrowding on some routes. 

 

Tour / Trient / Orny 

The Trient hut closed for the 2022 summer season on 1 August 2022. It will reopen for the ski touring season in mid-March 2023. During the construction period, the hut is closed to the public. There are no winter or emergency rooms. The Orny hut will remain open. 

Crossing the Dorées ridge via the Col des Plines is still possible. The rock is very good both on the Orny side and on the other side (Envers des Dorées). 

The Tour glacier is increasingly chaotic (ice, fragile snow bridges, crevasses). The rimaye of the aiguille du Tour is wide open (3m). You can still get across on large jammed blocks but it feels like the end (see photos below, thanks to the Orny hut guardian). The col du Tour is passable but there is a lot of ice. 

Tête Blanche and Petite Fourche are still possible but the final part is icy (not very steep). 

 




Argentière Glacier 

Plenty of climbing here. Access to the hut is clear, but you have to look above you at the ladders (we are in the mountains!)

Large rock fall on 03/08 under the Pointe Farrar (Grands Montets ridge). 

 

Charpoua / Couvercle / Leschaux 

The Charpoua hut will close on 25/08. Renovation work will then begin. From this date until May 2023, the hut will be closed and there will be no winter accommodation. In the meantime, the gardienne has "closed" the Drus. 

A fixed rope is in place to access the Contamine on the Evêque. 

There are few changes in the Talèfre basin. The rimayes are opening but no particular worries for the Moine and the Nonne-Eveque. More activity on the Moine ridge on the Verte (the summit ridge is quite unstable). 

As a reminder, the Mer de Glace balcony path is an alpine hike with parts on glaciers and ladders: you need to have a good mountaineering spirit and not underestimate it. 

The routes above the Leschaux hut are perfect. The glacier access to the Aiguille de Leschaux seems problematic. As a reminder, access to the Petites Jorasses is no longer possible. 

Following the storms, there is rockfall and debris on the N face of the Grand Jorasses, all the parties who left for the Walker in the last week have turned back. 

 

Sector Envers des Aiguilles / Requin 

The rimaye of the VN de la République is still passable thanks to blocks of snow stuck in the rimaye (it's a bit of a “building site" after all). For how long (once they melt, it won't be possible to go through anymore)? 

Pedro Polar's rimaye doesn't go anymore: start on the first pitches of the "soleil a rdv avec la lune" (also a tricky rimaye here). Elsewhere, all is well. 

Access to the Requin is still OK on the left bank. Access and rock routes all good (Dent Requin, Pierre Alain). Climbing up the Vallée Blanche is a thing of the past (waterfalls, chaotic glacier). 

 

Helbronner Sector 

Less activity here. The glacier approaches are complex. Still a few parties on the Marbrées, Aiguilles d'Entrêves, Grand Capucin. 

 

Aiguille du Midi 

Here too the engine is idling. 

The Aiguille du Midi Arête is very technical (ice, steep), you need to be comfortable with cramponing. 

The normal route on Mont Blanc du Tacul is still possible from the hut (be careful with the rimayes + keep to a good timetable). 

It feels like the end for the Trois Monts which is more and more technical (Maudit middle rimaye very difficult, 2 ice axes + good technique needed). It is not at all an alternative to the normal route. 

You can still climb on the S face of the Aiguille du Midi. 

 

Plan de L'Aiguille 

Frendo and Mallory : All good (we're kidding but amazingly some people have tried!!!). 

You can climb on the Peigne, the red pillar of the Blaitière and the Aiguille de l'M. 

Access to and Cordier Pillar itself is very exposed (rock falls). 

 

Mont Blanc by the Goûter 

We aren't telling you anything new, the route is in bad condition and the Tête Rousse and Goûter huts are closed (including the winter rooms). Walkers can go up to the Rognes or the Tête Rousse (the glacier is icy and you will need crampons). 

 

Dômes de Miage / Bionnassay 

The ascent to the Durier hut from Plan Glacier can be considered very early in the morning after cool nights without storms. Access from the Conscrits is possible via the Col des Dômes. Aiguille de Bionnassay there and back is still not too bad. 

Avoid the Dômes de Miage traverse (ice, rock falls, crevasses above the col de la Bérangère). 

The Dômes can be considered as a return trip for experienced rope parties (good reading of the glacial terrain necessary, ice etc). 

The Aiguille de la Bérangère can be done as an out-and-back from the Conscrits hut. 

 

Monzino 

One of the sectors where it's good to live at the moment to do rock climbing (Aiguille Croux, Punta Innominata...). 

 

Aiguilles Rouges 

The best idea of Summer 2022. You can climb everywhere. Beware of overcrowding, for example on the Brévent (rock falls). 

No more (running) water at the Bellachat refuge, which remains open. 

Also beware of overcrowding in the bivouac spots and especially around the lakes. Please respect the rules of bivouac (from sunset to sunrise, take down your tent in the morning, one night in each place) or risk seeing this tolerance disappear. Similarly, you should avoid swimming in the lakes. 

 

Barberine 

Following a landslide on 06/08, the following long routes in Barberine should be avoided until further notice: Sylvie, Barbourine, Mirrors, Vipère and Méduse (see photos below). 

 

 

Translated with permission from an original report by La Chamoniarde.

Readers are reminded that conditions in mountain environments are prone to (sometimes rapid) change and that they should use their own best judgement when visiting them.

 

 

 

Berg and Roberts Establish New Route on Jirishanca

Berg and Roberts Establish New Route on Jirishanca

Mountaineers Alik Berg and Quentin Roberts have climbed a new route on the east side of Nevado Jirishanca, often referred to as "the Matterhorn of the Andes", in Peru’s Cordillera Huayhuash.

The pair have named the line 'Reino Hongo' and offered a grade of 5.8/90°/M7.

Writing on his Instagram page, Roberts described the route as "A line full of question marks. Steep complex snow, tricky mixed terrain, massive cornices, wild ice mushrooms, and a steep headwall at 6000m."

 

The mountain of Jirishanca with the line of Reino Hongo marked on it.

 

 

 

Edu Marín Makes Second Free Ascent of 'Eternal Flame'

Edu Marín Makes Second Free Ascent of 'Eternal Flame'

Edu Marín, climbing with support from his father and brother, has succeeded in making the second free ascent of 'Eternal Flame' on the Nameless Tower in Pakistan. 

The route was first climbed by Kurt Albert, Wolfgang Güllich, Christof Stiegler and Milan Sykora in 1989. It was 20 years before the Huber brothers would climb the route free in 2009.

Commenting in a post on his Instagram page, Marín laid out the possible unique nature of his ascent: "I have spent 28 days on the wall and I have sent it in a single push. Maybe I am the first climber who has lead all the pitches free climbing the route."

Marín is better known as a sport climber, but he has also climbed extensively in the Alps, completing a number of long, hard rock routes on classic alpine faces. He had previously attempted 'Eternal Flame' in the summer of 2021, but was forced to suspend his efforts due to the weather.

More details on the ascent can be found at Planet Mountain.

 

 

 

 

Report: 20 July 2022

La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 20 July 2022
 
Conditions are changing fast and not in a good way.
 
Some news to replace and clarify our last update:
 
  • Aiguilles Dorées traverse : all the parties turned back yesterday because of rock falls (see cahier de course on the La Chamoniarde website).
  • Rock falls on the Col Supérieur du Tour: it is once again better to go via the Col du Tour.
  • Tête Blanche is icy but it is not very steep. Same for the Petite Fourche but you can go up by the rocky ridge.
  • Teams on the Grands-Montets ridge on the Verte, the calotte at the top is tracked but dont hang around.
  • Rock falls reported on the American Direct.
  • “Tormented" glacial approach for the Walker spur. Some rock falls on the route. Almost everything is done in rock shoes. Descent not easy.
  • Rock falls on the access to the salle à manger (Dent du Géant, Arêtes de Rochefort): the local guide companies are not doing these routes anymore
  • Access to the S face routes of the Pointes Lachenal: the rimayes are complicated, abseiling is better. Good crampons (steel) are necessary for the ascent/descent of the Lachenal (all ice).
  • Beware of the Aiguille du Midi rimaye which is opening up more and more
  • A recent serac fall on the Tacul which hasn't worsened conditions on the route. Take care at the (many) rimayes on the route. Small fixed rope in place to facilitate the (strenuous) crossing of the rimaye under the col du Mont Maudit. The traverse to the col is not equipped, you need to be good on your feet (crampons).
  • Mont Blanc by the Goûter: the bad conditions only concern the part between Tête Rousse and the Goûter. Hikers who wish to do so can climb to Tête Rousse!
  • Col de la Bérangère to be avoided absolutely, in any direction: "constant rock falls".
  • Dômes de Miage and back, is being done every day, "a few" crevasses but still ok, more and more ice on the ridge.
 
A bit further away from us:
 
  • The guides in Cervinia no longer sell the ascent of the Matterhorn via the Lion ridge.
  • The guides in Zermatt no longer sell the ascent of the Pollux because of the state of the glacier.
  • The guides in Grindelwald no longer sell the normal route of the Jungfrau.
 
Finally, following numerous calls from our hiker friends, rest assured that rock falls or other hanging glaciers do not "threaten" the Tour du Mont Blanc nor the classic trails of the valley!
 

Translated with permission from an original report by La Chamoniarde.

Readers are reminded that conditions in mountain environments are prone to (sometimes rapid) change and that they should use their own best judgement when visiting them.

 
 
 

Benjamin Védrines Climbs Broad Peak in 7 Hours

Benjamin Védrines Climbs Broad Peak in 7 Hours

French alpinist and mountain guide Benjamin Védrines has reportedly summitted Broad Peak (8051m), his first 8,000m peak, in a time of just 7 hours. Reports indicate that Védrines did not use supplemental Oxygen, had no Sherpa support and descended by paraglider from the summit ridge.

Védrines, a member of the GMHM in Chamonix, has had a very successful year in the mountains. In autumn 2021, he opened a new route on Chamlang with Charles Dubouloz before, in early 2022, completing the so-called 'Winter Alpine Super Trilogy' with Léo Billon and Sébastien Ratel, (more on that here) ahead of a sub-24 hour crossing of the Mont Blanc Massif with Mathéo Jacquemoud in May.

 

 

 

19th Century Matterhorn Drawings Go On Display

19th Century Matterhorn Drawings Go On Display

On 2 July 2022 a temporary exhibition of drawings from the Musée d'Orsay opened which includes two works by Gustave Doré that will be of significant interest to mountaineers and alpine historians; 'The Conquest of the Matterhorn' and 'The Catastrophe on the Matterhorn' done in August 1865 in pen and ink.

Doré was also responsible for the subsequent lithographs of the Matterhorn ascent, produced in consulatation with Edward Whymper and discussed in this Alpine Journal article of 1995 by Alan Lyall. As you will see from the piece, Lyall had not been able to view these two earlier drawings.

The Exhibition is entitled "Les Arpenteurs de rêves; Dessins du Musée d'Orsay" and is at the Palais Lumière in Evian-les-Bains from 2nd July to 1st November 2022. (Details here). It then transfers to the Musée des Beaux-Arts at Quimper from 15 December 2022 to 13 March 2023. 

The two works may also be viewed in significant detail on the website of the Musée d'Orsay by clicking each of the images below.

Many thanks to Mark Boxer for bringing this exhibition to our attention.

 

Doré's painting of the ascent of the Matterhorn showing figures clustered on the summit.
Doré's drawing of the targedy of the Matterhorn, showing the climbers roped together mid-fall during the descant.
 
 
 

Report: 18 July 2022

La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 18 July 2022

 

Heat and drought, it looks like it's going to last...it's not going to help mountain conditions.

Conditions on glacier and snow/mixed routes are deteriorating quickly. There are beginning to be rockfalls even on pure rock climbs so choose your routes carefully.

 

Tour/Trient

Lots of teams on the Dorées traverse (E-W direction). There is also climbing on the S side of the Dorées. Access is via the Col des Plines (the fenêtre de Saleina is in bad shape).

A 45-50 m abseil is needed to cross the Col Blanc.

The glacier du Tour is drying out, not much snow, beware of fragile snow bridges. There are several "crevasse jumps" (watch out for your ankles when landing with crampons).

Tête Blanche and Petite Fourche (some ice) are being done, as is the Purtscheller.

Still some activity on the Aiguille du Tour normal route (rimaye ok). The Col Sup. du Tour is unpleasant and not very appealing but is passable. Be careful not to drop too many rocks on other teams.

Arête de la Table is ok if you do the integral route.

 

Argentière glacier

Land of the climber and the crystal hunter!

One of the sectors to practice rock climbing in peace and quiet...

 

Charpoua

The glacier to reach the Drus is still crossable (teams on the traverse and on the Contamine).

Some teams on Sale Athée. A team on the Contamine on the Evêque: little snow at the bottom so the gap between rock and snow (“la roture”) is OK, the start is on steep glacial slabs. 

 

Talèfre basin

Conditions are still good in the Moine sector.  The “roture” (gap between snow and rock) on the VN (voie normale) is deteriorating, you can go a bit more to the right and join the first belay before going back to the left.

The Moine ridge on the Verte is being done there and back. A lot of teams coming from the Grands Montets ridge. The “calotte” (snowy cap on the summit) is fine.

The Droites/Courtes sector is now only terrain for crystal hunters.

 

Leschaux

The rock routes are tip-top.

No recent activity on the Aiguille de Leschaux.

The snow bridges are getting thinner and thinner (and unlike cheese, it's not going to get any better) but it's still possible to access the Petites Jorasses.

Quite a few teams on the Cassin on the Walker spur. No significant rock falls for the moment. See below for a report from a climb on 15 & 16 July (this is a report from just one party and the perception and appreciation of the conditions may vary from one person to another depending on their level etc).

"The approach at the base of the spur is easy but there is a risk of snow/ice falls at the start, the first crack is dirty and scrappy for about ten metres (afterwards it is cleaner). Otherwise the snow is probably still climbable (I can send you a photo if needed).

Then it's generally dry up to the triangular névé (all in rock shoes).

The steep part of the red chimney is easy to climb with rock shoes despite the ice at the bottom (some teams wore crampons), but crampons are needed at the end of the red chimney to reach the traverse to the right at the foot of the Tour Rouge.

(Then I found it comfortable to keep crampons for the cracked slab accessing the traverse under the Tour Rouge and for the beginning of the very wet couloir at the right end of this traverse).

Then it's all dry as soon as you leave the couloir that borders the right side of the Tour Rouge (when you rejoin the crest on the left). (Done in big boots without crampons).

I put crampons back on one pitch below the summit (bits of ice and then a small traverse under the summit cornice).

To summarise I would say:

 

  • Rock shoes at least until the triangular neve

  • Crampons on somewhere between the triangular neve and the top of the red chimney

  • Remove crampons at the top of the Tour Rouge.
  • Put on crampons 60m below the summit.

 

Equipment: one ice axe per person sufficient.

 

Water:

  • In the afternoon in several places up to the base of the Alain-Rébuffat diedres.
  • Small névé shortly after the pendulum abseil.
  • On the descent, below the summit, ice is not far away. On the lower glacier you need to zigzag between the crevasses, at the end some short sections of ice (including 10m of black ice)."

 

Note that several teams turned back this morning: the level of the glacier being very low, there is more climbing than usual, watch this space.

 

Envers des Aiguilles/ Requin

The République rimaye is still passable (first by the rocks on the left bank then by the lower ledges to get a foothold on the rock (the upper passage is no longer ok).

Glacier des Nantillons no longer in use.

The other sectors are fine. République bananière rimaye OK, possibility to find water at belay 15.

Teams on the Dent du Requin (Renaudie) and the Aiguille Pierre-Alain (Congo Star).

Ascent of the Vallée Blanche still possible.

 

Helbronner

Access to the Salle à Manger is completely dry (see the report on the Dent du Géant in the "cahier de course” on La Chamoniarde). The Rochefort arête is still in good condition (some ice but fixed rope in place).

Teams on the Jorasses traverse in good conditions. For the moment, the descent via the normal route is OK. It seems preferable to descend via the Whymper rib (possibly doing the round trip to the summit of the Walker) rather than the classic route and the traverse under the serac. The Grandes Jorasses and Planpincieux glaciers are still quite accessible.

The Marbrées traverse (integral) and the Aiguilles d'Entrêves (be careful on the glacier) are being done regularly.

Aiguilles du Diable traverse: Dry, dry, dry! But still being done.

The rimayes are still there! Perhaps a deterioration at the Pic Adolphe Rey (you may need to go into it) but no certainty on the reliability of this information. Note a new rockfall on the Trident, which has not been done much in recent years anyway.

 

Aiguille du Midi sector

The Midi arete is deteriorating (ice, crevasses).

The traverse of the Vallée Blanche is pretty crevassed but still being done (repeated crevasse falls in the last few weeks). It is necessary to pass as low as possible under Pointe Adolphe Rey. An alternative route (see photo) has been made to avoid the precarious snow bridge under the Aiguille de Toule.

An annotated photo of the Vallée Blanche showing the new preferred route.

It's over for the Midi-Plan. Traversing the Aiguilles de Chamonix is also very dry, plan to descend by the abseils on the West face of the Blaitière.

Curtains for the Pointes Lachenal (all ice, unstable rocks in the abseiling area) and for the Triangle du Tacul.

The Cosmiques ridge is very dry. As a reminder, the abseiling area has been subject to rock falls/bursts for some years.

Trois Monts : The rimayes on the Tacul are becoming more fragile. The bridge of the upper one is regularly collapsing and you need to head more and more to the right. On Mont Maudit, the route is becoming steeper and there is ice on the traverse under the Col du Mont Maudit (2 ice axes recommended). Numerous crevasses to cross on the route. Reserved for good climbers with good crampon skills (as you have to go back down by this route).

 

Plan de l'Aiguille sector

Some chilly rock to climb.

It's over for the Nantillons. The Cordier pillar is being done (descend by abseil).

Go around the bottom of the Nantillons glacier (rock falls) to access the Aiguille de l'M/Cordier pillar etc.

 

Grands-Mulets

A few teams going to or from Mont Blanc. N ridge of the Dôme du Goûter possible (little ice). Contact the guardian for conditions and tips.

 

Mont Blanc by the Aiguille du Goûter

Itinerary in bad conditions (rock falls in the Goûter couloir) and currently not recommended.

 

Bionnassay /Dômes de Miage

The traverse of the Aiguille de Bionnassay is in good condition. However, access via Plan Glacier is not recommended (landslide under Durier). Preferable access from the Conscrits. The descent via the Goûter is also problematic. Possibly plan to sleep at the Goûter and then cross to the Aiguille du Midi via the Trois Monts (bring 2 ice axes).

For the Conscrits area, we quote the post from the refuge on Sunday 17/07:

"Difficult to keep you informed of the conditions, its changing all the time! But overall, it's not getting any better....

The Col de la Bérangère is icy, the traverse is not possible for the moment. It can be attempted, for experienced climbers, from west to east to go to the Durier, but beware of rock falls from the ridge.

Going to the Dôme Central and back is still possible, but you have to adapt to the conditions; the glacier is very crevassed (some sweaty incidents in the last few days, be very careful), some ice appears here and there... in short, it's alpinism!

For an unforgettable experience: those who suffer from the heat can come and refresh themselves in the beautiful swimming pools that you can find on the way up to the Bérangère!"

 

The other side of Mont Blanc

Refuge Gonella closed due to lack of water. The route is still possible. When the glacier gets too tricky, it will still be possible to go by up the Aiguilles Grises ridge which was partially re-equipped a few years ago (it's long).

Still some activity around here but we can't say the conditions are good.

Arête intégrale du Brouillard is possible but it's quite dry (be careful above the Col Emile Rey). The access from the Eccles and the Brouillard glacier is no longer possible.

The Brouillard and Freney glaciers are very crevassed, as is the Eccles sector. It is preferable to access the bivouacs via the Punta Innominata rather than the Brouillard glacier. There are still a few teams on the Innominata, on the Red pillar of the Brouillard and on the Freney pillar (no precise information on access).

Still some activity (be careful with more unstable weather the next days) on the Peuterey integral (see "cahier de course" on website).

 

Translated with permission from an original report by La Chamoniarde.

Readers are reminded that conditions in mountain environments are prone to (sometimes rapid) change and that they should use their own best judgement when visiting them.

 

 

 

Report: 11 July 2022

 

La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 7th July 2022

 

The drought is getting worse in the high mountains and the heat wave won't help. The conditions will continue to change rapidly, so please take this into account and don't hesitate to call La Chamoniarde or the huts for the latest information.

Snow and mixed routes are suffering more and more and few are still doable in reasonable conditions.

For those who want to go up there to cool off, you will obviously need to aim for rocky things (beware of rock falls).

 

Tour/Trient

As we have said, the Chardonnet is finished (keep the Chardonnay for the evening).

Arête de la table on the Aiguille du Tour: the integral is better in order not to expose oneself to rock falls in the lower section of the classic ridge.

As a reminder, the Col du Tour is the best way to get between the Le Tour side and the Trient. The Col Blanc needs a 50m abseil.

The rimaye on the normal route (VN) on the Aiguille du Tour is still OK, the glacier du Tour is also OK.

Rock climbing: Aiguille de Purtscheller, traverse and routes on the Dorées perfect.

 

Argentière Glacier

It's still possible to descend by the Glacier du Milieu for experienced climbers coming off the Arête du Jardin but it won't last long. It will then be possible to abseil down the (steep) route "La part des Anges": 2x50m ropes are needed; the belays are staggered (and therefore not always easy to find), to be considered only with the topo at hand.

Col du Tour Noir and rimaye du Col des Grands Montets are still possible as glacier routes.

Rock routes and Arête du Rabouin OK.

 

Charpoua

The American Direct on the Drus has been climbed regularly since the beginning of the good weather period. Beware of rock falls with the dryness.

A team was rescued at belay 14 of the Contamine route (two pegs ripped out).

The Charpoua glacier can still be climbed by going high, without abseiling.

As a reminder, a new abseil line was equipped last autumn from the Grand Dru (topo). Bearing in mind current conditions on the glacier, the right hand line is better and allows you to get back on the glacier high up.

Rock routes are dry (teams planning the Sale Athée).

 

Talèfre Basin

The Peace of God reigns on the Ecclesiastical ridge (Moine, Nonne-Evèque) where everything is looking good.

For the Verte, it is now only up and down by the Arête du Moine (see cahier de course).

It's dry on the Droites. On the Courtes, alternating snow and rock under the col de la Tour des Courtes then a pitch of ice below the summit. A rock fall on the Argentière side of the Aiguille qui Remue has changed the route of the Courtes traverse (pretty dry anyway). The descent from the Col des Cristaux has gone into “crystal hunter” mode.

If it's not already the case, it will soon be the end for the Pointe Isabelle.

Crampons are useful for a passage that has become sketchy on the Couvercle-Leschaux traverse.

 

Leschaux

Petites Jorasses: glacier ok (a big snow bridge but it seems solid), dry routes (quite a few teams on the Contamine).

Aiguille de Leschaux: more complicated glacier, the track wanders between the crevasses, it might change.

The Cassin on the Walker spur seems to be on (beware of rock falls and overcrowding). The glacier approach goes well enough but beware of ice falls that cross the track. There is good snow at the bottom. Then it's all dry. Above the red chimney (cheminée rouge), there is mixed terrain (rock-ice) which requires many time-consuming manoeuvres with big boots/rock shoes/crampons. It's good to have a technical ice axe.

 

Envers des Aiguilles

The rimaye of the Grépon-Mer de Glace / République is complicated (see cahier de course): getting established on the rock is very thin and steep ("it's scary"): it should evolve quickly (maybe possible to go lower).

The Tour Rouge hut has been damaged. The door is no longer "fixed". Try to secure it (having said that, no snow forecast).

The descent by the Nantillons glacier is no longer in good condition and is rather challenging: ice and substantial rock fall. Moreover, the snow bridge in the large crevasse under the serac has collapsed: you have to abseil down the crevasse (20m, dead man), cross over the bridge which has collapsed halfway down and then come out on the other side (exposed to rock falls and the serac). There is still the solution of abseiling "Le soleil a rendez-vous avec la lune" but it is long and not obvious without having climbed it.

The other rimayes are ok for the moment.

 

Requin

The ascent of the Vallée Blanche is still OK but it's complicated: crossing the stream above the refuge (in spate with the temperatures and the poor freeze) & crevasses between the combe and the plateau above the Géant seracs.

 

Helbronner

Dent du Géant/ Arêtes de Rochefort/Jorasses traverse (info from a team who did it on July 9&10, thanks for the info!

  • Climb up to the salle à manger: dry.

  • Traverse of the Rochefort arete to Canzio: Good conditions. Snow. On some short passages (maximum 10 meters), the ice is not very far under the snow. When it is rocky, everything is dry.

  • From Canzio to Pointe Walker: Everything is dry until Pointe Croz, no need for crampons. The couloir up to the Pointe Marguerite is dry, but it doesn’t matter. The bivouacs at Pointe Marguerite are still covered in snow (we cleared one of them, it's done). From Pointe Croz to Pointe Walker good conditions, with snow. The bivouacs at Pointe Whymper are under snow.

  • Descent: Some ice in the rocks below the summit. Traverse under the seracs ok, good track and snow. Rochers Whympers dry, abseils ok. Traverse to the Rochers du Reposoir, snow, no ice. Rochers du Reposoir, dry, no need for crampons. Glacier after the Rochers du Reposoir, crevasses filled in. A steep 10m passage (black ice) at the very end (but if you take your time it's no problem).

Aiguilles Marbrées traverse (best to do the full route) and the Aiguilles d'Entrêves (no ice) OK. SE ridge of the Tour Ronde more than dry!

Kuffner: The end. It's very dry, bad conditions (risk of boulder falls).

Arête du Diable: Dry but still doable, beware of rockfalls (other climbers) in the access couloir.

 

Aiguille du Midi

Crossing the Vallée Blanche: It's getting worse, several precarious bridges (especially in the Gros Rognon sector and under the Aiguille de Toule (see photo below). It is necessary to pass well below the Pyramid du Tacul.

Three climbers cross a precarious snow bridge on the Vallée Blanche

Midi-Plan: Curtains, it's too dry.

Pointes Lachenal traverse: It's very dry, ice on the access slope and on the traverse. It's no longer an AD route. You need to be comfortable with cramponing. Note there is a big slab that is hanging off the serac of the E face of Tacul and that overhangs the descent track.

End for the Chéré (the ice is coming off...!). Grisolle may be possible but not attractive.

Cosmiques Arête: Very dry, beware of the abseiling area under the gendarme.

No bad news from the rimayes for the rock routes but it can evolve quickly (except for Harold et Maud which was already complicated a few days ago).

Trois Monts: Conditions are holding for the moment even if the two rimayes on the Tacul are showing signs of activity (cracks). The ice is not far away on the exit slope to the Col du Mont Maudit. It's quite steep and you need to be very comfortable with cramponing (especially on the way down). Preferably in teams of 2.

 

Plan de l'aiguille

Rocky rock!

For the Charmoz-Grepon, we would like to tell you that it's finished because of the state of the Nantillons glacier but we will let you decide for yourself.

A few teams on the Cordier pillar (descent by abseil).

A bit of activity on the traverse of the Chamonix Aiguilles but it's quite dry. You have to descend by the numerous abseils on the W face of the Blaitière (50m max) then those of Fidel Fiasco.

 

Grands Mulets

Still open. Access to the refuge is long and complicated but it is possible. Call the guardian to get advice. You can still cross the Plateaux.

 

Dômes de Miage / Bionnassay

The traverse of the Dômes de Miage has clearly deteriorated (ice above the col de la Bérangère, exposed). It is now only for experienced climbers and should be done in the direction of Bérangère-Dômes in order to do the ice part on the way up.

Dômes de Miage there and back is still possible for less experienced climbers.

It's over for the Tondu ("the drier it is, the more it collapses"!!!)

The Aiguille de Bionnassay traverse is still in good condition (no ice at the moment).

 

Gonella

The refuge is closing this Sunday 17/07.

 

Monzino

Brouillard arête: Rock fall above the Col Emile Rey.

Access to the Eccles is chaotic (snow bridges, seracs). It's better to go via the Punta Innominata.

Good conditions on the Innominata this morning (11/07).

Access to the Red pillar of Brouillard is sporty (50m abseil on the right bank). It's ok for the moment but for how long?

Teams on the Freney pillar without more information. Teams also on the Ratti-Vitale but the crossing of the glacier is reminiscent of Mordor.

Teams on the Peuterey Integral. It's dry until the Blanche. There is still a very small névé under the Pointe Brendel and another difficult one under the Cravetti. Ice not far away on the Peuterey ridge, to be continued.

 

Translated with permission from an original report by La Chamoniarde.

Readers are reminded that conditions in mountain environments are prone to (sometimes rapid) change and that they should use their own best judgement when visiting them.

 

 

 

Pou Brothers & Micher Quito Add New Line to Pumahuacanca

Pou Brothers & Micher Quito Add New Line to Pumahuacanca

Following a number of other recent ascents in Peru's Cordillera Blanca, the team of Iker Pou, Eneko Pou & Micher Quito have made the first ascent of a new route on the South-West face of Pumahuacanca (5,563m).

The 1,000m line was climbed alpine style in a single 12 and a half hour push from the team's high camp. This provided the inspiration for the route's name: 'One-Push'. The trio have described it as "the hardest high mountain route of our career", suggesting a grade of M7/85º/V.

More details are available at Planet Mountain.

 

 

 

 

Report: 7 July 2022

La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 7th July 2022

 

At last, a pretty normal week, with stable weather, reasonable temperatures and a cool breeze. Let's take a look at the situation, because it's time to get out there. 

 

Tour/Trient  

It feels more like the end of the season in this area, it's all dry and the glacier is starting to open up. 

The Col Supérieur du Tour is very dry, there have been a few rock falls, the Col du Tour is better. 

The Col du Midi des Grands is very dry, it is a pile of sandy stones. 

The Forbes and the Migot are no longer advisable, there is ice and the crevasses are very open. The sector is very serious. 

Purtscheller, Petite Fourche and normal route (VN) on Tête Blanche are still OK. 

 

Argentière glacier 

Take care not to get lost on the way up to the refuge: after the viewpoint (point de vue), you must stay on the left bank (winter itinerary) and take the ladders. Regular improvement of the path is planned (Thursdays normally). The CNRS has put markers at the beginning of the glacier for a scientific study: dont follow them! 

The Flèche Rousse is no longer possible, when there is no refreeze there is rubble at the start, ice under sand on the descent, many boulders on the whole route, summit ridge snowy but ice isnt really far away on the upper part of the descent before the narrows. 

The glacier du milieu can still be regarded as a descent route (but not up and down). Above the narrows, the slope is hard snow and then ice, you have to go to the right following rock falls. At the bottom of the glacier, you have to be careful with a large snow bridge. 

The conditions on the arete du Jardin (be careful on the descent) and on the col du Tour Noir are ok, as well as everything that is rocky (arete du Rabouin etc). Some teams are heading to the Améthystes traverse, but without more information. 

The Tournier spur is done for, it's too dry, even dangerous! 

 

Charpoua 

The rock routes are in good condition. Evêque/Contreforts du Moine are possible. The American direct is being done. 

For the Drus traverse, you can get across the glacier up high, but it won't last long. 

 

Talèfre Basin 

All is good on the Moine, the Arête du Moine, as well as for the Nonne-Evêque, the rimayes are all fine. Crampons are still very useful to get up to the Moine. 

It's over for the Whymper, too dry! The rimaye is still crossable on the right bank on the way down, if there is a good re-freeze. 

For the Arête du Jardin, it’s getting tricky, the rimaye is 3m across, and after that it's all dry, we can't advise it any more... 

The oblique snow couloir on the Droites doesn't go anymore and above is quite dry, as with the Courtes we have no feedback. 

 

Leschaux 

The rock routes around the refuge are fine. 

Good conditions on the Petites Jorasses. 

It's over for the Eboulement and for the climb up to Les Périades! 

The Grand Jorasses season is almost here, in any case everything seems to be in place from Friday! 

 

Envers des Aiguilles 

The descent of the Nantillons glacier (icy) is done by the Charlet/Payot (CP) abseils, it is not advised to go via the col. After the abseils, there are 2 crevasses to cross, then you have the abs down the rognon. 

The rimaye for the République is still passable on the far right. 

The rest of the rimayes are fine.  

There are workers at the Tour Rouge hut repairing fixed gear so less space at the hut! 

 

Requin 

“Top condis” on the Dent du Requin, the climbers are delighted. 

Access to the hut is still ok: either by the left bank with some zigzags in the middle of the crevasses, or by the right bank next to the moraine. 

The climb to the Torino and the descent from the col du plan (take the right bank at the Dent du Requin) is still possible! 

 

Helbronner 

Access to the Dent du Géant is very dry, you have to be careful with rock falls, as it is very busy.  

Marbrées and Entrèves are still ok but very crowded! 

The Tour Ronde is being done by the Freshfield arête from the start. The first 25m don't look too good from the bottom, but when you are climbing it's not too bad.  

Conditions on the Rochefort arête are still good. 

The traverse of the Grandes Jorasses and the normal route are possible and have been done. 

The satellites of the Tacul are OK, the rimayes go without problems. 

The access couloir to the Diable ridge is dry, but is being done. 

 

Aiguille du Midi 

The Midi Plan traverse is drying out and starting to get icy. 

Pointes Lachenal: the slopes are getting icy and the 2nd section is dry and unstable. 

The 3 Monts, conditions are pretty good, there is a bit of ice on the Maudit but not too much of a bother. 

The vallée blanche track goes low down, but is starting to open up. 

On the triangle du Tacul, the Chéré and the Grisolle are ok, the Mazeaud also goes but is thinner. 

Lots of people on the Rebuffat, Cosmiques arête and Lolo (Laurence) arête (dry). 

 

Plan de l'Aiguille 

Climbing is in full swing!  

We have already announced the end of the Frendo, we remind you, the exit is in ice! 

The Cordier pillar and the Charmoz-Grepon are possible if you use the Nantillons abseils, but there are still 2 crevasses to cross! 

The traverse of the Chamonix Aiguilles seems ok. 

 

Grands Mulets 

There is no more activity in the area, it takes a long time to reach the refuge (which will close soon), the route is complicated to find, and this approach is done too late in the day.  

 

Mont Blanc by the Goûter 

The hut has a telephone problem: you have to call Tête Rousse, and the guardian will liase with the Goûter. 

The grand couloir is very dry, get onto it as early as possible. 

The crevasse on the Bosses ridge is currently passable on the Italian side. 

 

Miage/Bionnassay 

Good conditions for the Dômes traverse, the ridge is snow and the track is good. The glacier is starting to open up but the approach remains OK. Ice is starting to appear on the descent to the col de la Berangère but it is still not a problem. 

The ascent to both the Bérangère and Mont Tondu are fine despite some not so steep ice passages. 

The Bionnassay ridge is still in good condition, it is snowy and not yet too narrow. 

 

Gonella 

The hut will close on July 16th or 17th. 

Pretty good conditions on the voie du Pape despite a very open glacier. 

For the Tournette, it's been a while since it was done.  There is ice above the Quintino Sella. 

 

Monzino 

Access to the Eccles is very crevassed, it takes more time to get there and it's tricky. For info, only the upper bivouac is usable, go into the Monzino and make yourself known to avoid climbing up there for nothing. 

Conditions on the Innominata are not great but it's ok. There is underlying ice on several parts of the route, otherwise the rock is dry and the narrow snow ridges are OK. 

No info on the Brouillard integral, but it it looks possible from below. 

The red pillar is dry but there is a big crevasse to cross (be careful!) 

The Freney glacier is terrible! (Beware of rock falls on the Schneider ledges). It was crossed between the Innominata col and the Ratti route (which has been done) via a line lower than normal. 

The East ridge of the Aiguille Noire has been recently re-equipped. 

No news from the Freney pillar. 

Some teams on the Peuterey Integral, but no more information. 

Crampons and ice axes are now not needed for the Aiguille Croux. 

 

In short: 

For walking, you no longer need specific equipment to access the Buet, Salenton, Cornu, Glière. 

The same goes for the climbing approaches. 

We are told of an unstable boulder on the first belay of “Douche Écossaise” on the Tête de Lugon. 

 

Translated with permission from an original report by La Chamoniarde.

Readers are reminded that conditions in mountain environments are prone to (sometimes rapid) change and that they should use their own best judgement when visiting them.

 

 

 

Postage Stamp Day 2022: Stamps, Covers & Cachets from Mount Everest

Postage Stamp Day 2022: Stamps, Covers & Cachets from Mount Everest

 

The 1 July is National Postage Stamp Day in the United States. To mark this occasion, we have re-published Colin Hepper's 1979 Alpine Journal article which details the stamps, covers and cachets used by various Everest expeditions from the 1920s onwards. These tokens were frequently used for the correspondance sent from basecamp, bearing mountaineering news to the wider world and have become collector's items in the decades since. Colin's piece also looks at the other occasions when Everest has featured on stamps, whether as a method of commemorating ascents or as a symbol of Nepali national identity.

 

Nepal has held a fascination for me for many years now. Not for its challenge to the mountaineers, but for its stamps and postal history. In the search for items for my collection I have occasionally come across souvenir covers and cards associated with the many climbing expeditions that have visited there. These souvenirs are usually organised to help to raise funds towards the expedition's expenses and often carry the signatures of the climbing teams and various cachets are stamped on them. In isolated cases special stamps or labels are also used, but neither the stamps nor cachets in general have any valid postal use.

When letters and cards are posted they have to be taken to the nearest Nepalese Post Office, where Nepalese stamps are added. Many expeditions have visited Mount Everest since the first one in 1921, and most have had their own posting facilities. The first to have postal arrangements was in 1924, when a special stamp (fig l) showing the Rongbuk Glacier and Everest was printed in blue and white and this stamp had local status when used between the Base Camp and the official Post Offices in India. There are 4 cancellations used for this particular expedition. The most common is the Mount Everest Expedition Rongbuk Glacier Base Camp (type l) which is found used in both red and black. The majority of these were used on special cards advertising a forthcoming film of the expedition and posted from either Darjeeling or Calcutta after the expedition returned (fig 2). The other 2 (type 3 and type 4) are much scarcer and are only in black. Also used on this expedition was another special 'tractor party' cachet (type 2) which was used on covers from Sikkim, where the tractor party was abandoned.

 

 

The next expedition in 1933, led by Hugh Ruttledge had a Base Camp cachet (type 5) which was used to authorize the carriage of mail to the nearest Post Office. This cachet struck in violet was used by expedition members, which told the Gantok postal authorities that they should affix the necessary stamps thereon and charge accordingly. A Tibetan postal agent Lobsang Tsering was in charge of organizing a relay of postal runners from the expedition to the Post Office in Gantok. The oblong cachet (type 6) was a rectangle inscribed 'Everest 1936' and underneath a line of dots. The dotted line was for the insertion of the place name and the date from where the cover was sent. It was on this expedition that much of the mail was stolen. The last mail to arrive safely was sent from Tengke Dzong on April 10th and from that date until the beginning of June, no mail reached its destination without a long delay.

 

 

When mail was finally recovered buried in a tin in the Sikkim Forest each piece of mail was endorsed by a typewritten slip worded as follows: 'Suffered detention in Gantok Post Office owing to the postmaster's failure to affix postage stamps, and to forward them in time. The postmaster has been sent to jail for his offence.'

The last expedition before the Second World War was in 1938, and although there were no special cachets with the word 'Mount Everest' used, they did in fact use an 'Under Certificate of Posting' cachet (type 7), which was used for mail between the Base Camp and Gantok where stamps were put on and cancelled in the normal way. These cachets are known in both violet and purple. After 1950 Nepal allowed climbing expeditions into what had been previously a prohibited area, and so in 1953 we had the first successful attempt on Everest led by Colonel John Hunt from the Nepalese side. The expedition arrived at Khumbu Glacier on 22 April and Mr A. Gregory organized native runners to carry the mail to and from Kathmandu. The mail was delivered to the British Embassy from where it was handed over to the Indian Post Office for forward transmission. All letters sent by members of the expedition were stamped with a small rectangular rubber stamp (type 8) which was applied to the bottom left hand corner of the letter cover. Whilst climbers were up on the mountain at higher camps, Sherpas and climbers carried the mail up. To commemorate the success of the expedition, the Indian Post Office issued two stamps in denomination of 2 annas and 14 annas showing a view of the Himalayas and Mount Everest (fig 3). The American expedition in 1963, which succeeded in placing 6 men on the summit followed the example of the 1924 party by producing a special stamp or label. Unlike the 1924 stamps this had no valid postal use. It was printed in blue and red and shows Mount Everest, Lhotse and Nuptse. This was placed on the bottom left-hand corner of the envelopes, but was not cancelled. (fig 4).

 

 

 

Two cachets, one from the Khumbu Glacier Base Camp and one carried by runner (types 9 and 9a) were used on specially printed envelopes, and were in black. Nepalese stamps were applied and cancelled at Kathmandu GPO.

1965 was the year when India—a country without any mountaineering tradition—had 9 men reach the summit. I have not seen any souvenir cards for this expedition, but a special stamp was issued to commemorate their success, which depicts 2 climbers standing on the summit of Everest (fig 5).

Souvenir cards used by an international team in 1971, attempting to climb Everest by the difficult South Face West Ridge Route, contained the signatures of the climbers, and the Everest 71/South Face/West Ridge/Base Camp cachet (type 10) in purple, and was sent from the Base Camp at 17,000ft (fig 6).

A British expedition led by Chris Bonington unsuccessfully tried the same route in 1972. Cards are known with the climbers' signatures, but I have seen no cachets associated with this climb. The same year, which was also Olympic year, saw a big multinational expedition led by Dr Karl M. Herrligkoffer visiting the mountain and a large cachet (type 11) was used on special souvenir cards, which were signed by the clirnbers.

 

 

It was the turn of the Italians in 1973 and they used a rubber handstamp (type 12) on special souvenir cards posted by members of the expedition. Although the British had organized many expeditions to Everest, it was not until 1975 that the first Britons, Haston and Scott, reached the summit. Chris Bonington led this successful expedition and the official cards carried the Base Camp cachet (type 13).

The British and Nepalese armies have had a long and close military association, and in 1976 they combined together to form a climbing team for an expedition to Everest. Souvenir covers carried a picture of Everest, the Base Camp, advance base, South Col and the summit marked. Three cachets were used by the expedition 'Base Camp established 24th March 1976', a triangular 'South Col reached 5th May 1976' and 'Summit Reached 16th May 1976' (types 14a, 14b, 14c). All letters were cancelled at Kathmandu GPO.

In the same year in August, the Americans took the place of a French team that cancelled its expedition to attempt to climb Everest in the American bi-centennial year. Three cachets were used on the souvenir cards. Two based on different designs of mountaineering equipment, 'the Base Camp' being in the shape of a tent, the 'Carried by Runner' cachet incorporated in a haversack and the 'Summit Reached' in the shape of a mountain (types 15a, 15b, 15c).

The 1977 expedition came from Korea, and 2 climbers Sang Dong Po and Pemba Norbu reached the summit on 15 September. There were no cachets for this, but a souvenir expedition card was organized by the Nepal Philatelic Society of Kathmandu which was signed by the 2 summiters and the leader Kim Young Do and cancelled at Kathmandu GPO 30 September 1977 (fig 7).

 

 

Everest on Stamps

Everest is found regularly on the stamps of Nepal. The first Perkins Bacon printed stamp issued in 1907 showed the figure of a god seated in the midst of mountain peaks. The deity represented Siva Madheva. The Nepalese believe that the throne is Mount Everest; thus the design represents not only the god but Everest as well as his residence (fig 8). In the pictorial issue of 1949 the 20p value shows Kathmandu Valley with Mount Everest in the background (fig 9) and the 4p value in the 1959 issue (fig 10) shows what must be presumed to be the Khumbu Glacier. More recent issues have been made in 1960 and 1971 specifically showing the mountain (fig 11) and the King's birthday issue on 11 June 1970 also included a view of the mountain (fig 12). On 15 May 1973 India issued a commemorative stamp for the 15th anniversary of the Indian Mountaineering Foundation showing the mountain (fig 13). The current 10p and 25 aerogrammes have a mountain shown on the stamp design and although not named it must be presumed to represent Everest. The 25th anniversary of the first ascent of Everest was celebrated on 29 May 1978 with Nepal issuing 2 commemorative stamps (fig 14) showing views of Everest and a new postcard of 20p denomination which has the date 29 May 78 printed on it (fig 15).

First day cancellations were made at Kathmandu, Pokhara and for the first time Namchebazar at the foot of Everest; at a function held at the General Post Office the Minister of Communications, Mr Hari Bahadur Basnyat initialled some of the First Day covers. This particular issue saw a great deal of philatelic activity with a special helicopter flight to the Base Camp of Mount Everest—Namchebazar to have stamps and covers cancelled at the local Post Office. For the first time 15,000 medallic first day covers prepared by the Franklin Philatelic Society of the USA were issued. These medallic covers can be regarded as the first of its type prepared in Nepal that served both a philatelic and numismatic purpose. The foreign exchange earned for this issue exceeded the total amount of foreign exchange earned in a single year to date.

 

 

 

Report: 23 June 2022

La Chamoniarde mountain conditions report for 23rd June 2022

What’s it like up high after the heatwave?  Conditions are more like the end of July or the beginning of August. Rather sad to see the mountains like this and it’s only the beginning of summer. Let’s not mention global warming.

What about the details? In general snow routes have taken a big hit although some are OK. Colder but less stable weather on the way so route choice will be critical.


Tour/Trient

Mid-August conditions around here.

Good conditions on the Aiguilles Dorées traverse (best done East-West).

The Albert 1er hut has a temporary telephone problem. To contact them, please use the contact form on the website: https://refugealbert1er.ffcam.fr/bottom_contact.html 

There are few changes around the Aiguille du Tour. The normal route is being done by the Col Supérieur du Tour (dry at the top but ok). It's also possible to climb the arête de la Table: dry couloir and some rockfalls, possibility to go via the intégral ridge to avoid exposure.

Purtscheller, Tête Blanche (VN) and Petite Fourche OK.

On the other hand, things are getting worse on the Chardonnet with more and more ice on the Forbes arête (see cahier de course) which is still in acceptable conditions for those who have a good technical level. It feels like it's over for the Migot (the bottom traverse is dry, the top slope is ice). The descent is also more complicated.


Argentière

The end is approaching for Flèche Rousse (very dry ridge) which is becoming tricky.

The crux of the upper part of the Glacier du Milieu is now dry (you have to rappel on the way down).

Rock, rock, rock!!!


Charpoua

The hut is open. Almost nobody around! Access by the marked "Charpoua express" variant (more snow).

A few teams on the Drus traverse. The glacier is already becoming complicated. Some teams went up high, some via abseiling. The Contamine looks dry.

The rock routes on the Evèque/Moine are also dry.

Some teams on the Directe Américaine without more information.


Talèfre Basin

Teams are on the Moine every day (VN, S ridge: crampons useful for the nevé then all dry; Contamine: rimaye ok) and on the Nonne-Evèque traverse ("conditions crèmes").

The Whymper rimaye is still ok but it is now very dry. It feels like the end.

No one for the moment on the Moine ridge: the rimaye looks fine, ridge ok.

The end is also approaching for the Jardin Arête.

One team off to the Droites bypassing the oblique couloir. It's completely dry right to the top!

No one on the Courtes but voie normale looks OK. Descent via the Col des Cristaux: upper slope is snow but the bottom is drying out, no big rock falls seen.

Pointe Isabelle still possible, two decent crevasses to cross, 2 ice axes recommended.


Leschaux

End of the day for the Aiguille de l'Eboulement (dry couloir, complicated descent).

Les Périades via the Mont Mallet glacier is still on.

The Walker spur will be possible subject to future precipitation and a weather window.

Good conditions on the Petites Jorasses.

Climbing routes around the hut tip-top, blue sky.

No snow on the balcony path from Talèfre.

Regular and important rock falls from the N side of the aiguille du Tacul: avoid the left bank of the Leschaux glacier.


Envers des Aiguilles

The hut opens tomorrow! Access to the hut is ok: no snow, a ladder has been added at the bottom and a passage secured by the footpath team.

The rock here is dry!

Some important rock falls have been reported on the access to the Pointe des Nantillons, more info to come.

The rimayes for the République/Grépon Mer de Glace are crossable on the right. The glacier des Nantillons descent is still possible but for how long?


Requin

Access to the refuge ok, no snow.

Ascent from the Vallée Blache to the Cosmiques or Torino tracked and fine.

A track is also in on the glacier de l'Envers du Plan to come down from the Aiguille du Plan.

Dry rock.


Helbronner

Access to the Salle à Manger is dry (take the right side of the couloir and follow the cairns). Arêtes de Rochefort in good condition (snow a bit soft on the way back depending on the timing).

Some teams have done the Jorasses traverse without more information. The descent by the normal route does not pose any particular problem at the moment. A team on the E face of the Jorasses via 'Mad Max' without more information.

Marbrées  traverse (most teams do the full traverse to avoid abseiling) and the Aiguilles d'Entrêves OK.

The Tour Ronde is now done by the main ridge. Even abseiling from the Freshfield col is not very attractive. The N face and the Gervasutti couloir are in trouble.

A lot of activity on the Aiguilles du Diable: rimaye OK, dry traverse, snowy couloir (watch out for refreezing), dry rock (before the storms!)

The Küffner has dried out but remains in good condition (for the time being!!!) with a good refreeze.

Rimayes for the rock routes are still good overall. Approaching from the Helbronner is best. The start of the Grand Capucin is now from the "Francesco terrace" (the Aiguillettes couloir does not go anymore) where you can leave big boots and glacier kit (you can go back down by the rappels of the Echo des Alpages). The rimaye of the Pyramide du Tacul is still passable.


Aiguille du Midi

It rained at the hut for most of the night before turning to snow. About 5cm this morning, a little more at the Tacul.

Vallée Blanche: Beware of crevasses, especially between the Rognon and the pointes Lachenal (well, everywhere actually!).

Midi-Plan Arête: It's now very dry (ice/rock/sand) and where is snowy you will be wading. But why not if there is a good refreeze? Chamonix aiguilles traverse in good condition. The ledges on the Col du Fou are dry but there is enough snow to melt for water. Descent by the abseils of the Brégeault arête then the Nantillons glacier.

Lots of activity on the traverse of the pointes Lachenal (quite dry but you can avoid the ice) and on the Cosmiques Arête.

The Contamine-Grisolle has dried out and is now almost all (good) ice (it will warm up your calves - to be continued with the forecasted storms). The exit of the Triangle is icy with a lot of crevasses here and there. Chéré OK (first pitch a bit dry then good steps). Best to abseil before the mixed section.

The voie normale on the Tacul was retracked this morning by going right out on the shoulder. Latest info is that the previous path is still there but with one steep bit. A serac fall last weekend ravaged the bottom of the face (ice blocks etc).

On Mont Maudit, conditions are still good but the ice is not far away. Beware of the risk of avalanche if it starts to snow with the storms. It is worth mentioning that there was a major serac fall here last weekend.

The Contamine rimaye on the Pointe Lachenal is starting to open up but is still crossable.


Plan de l'Aiguille

The Mallory is finished.

The Frendo exit is all ice.

Teams on the Peigne-Pélerins-Deux Aigles-Plan traverse.

Crampons are no longer necessary to access the normal route of Peigne, the Pilier Rouge de Blaitière or the NE+VN of the aiguille de l'M.

Unstable rock on the N side of the Petits Charmoz just below the summit.

No news from the Cordier pillar or from the Charmoz-Grepon (looks dry). The descent by the Nantillons glacier is still ok, but for how long?


Mont Blanc by the Grands Mulets

Not many people around. The upper Jonction route won't survive for long (narrow passage). The hut guardian plans to re-mark the lower route but until then you will need to have a good sense of direction. The N ridge of the Dôme and the Plateaux can still be climbed on foot.


Mont Blanc by the Aiguille du Goûter

As a reminder, from 9 July to 28 August 2022, the first departure from Le Fayet via the Tramway du Mont-Blanc is at 7am instead of 8am. This earlier departure time will allow the Goûter couloir to be crossed at a time when the probability of rock fall is lowest.

In the meantime, the conditions have dried out with rockfalls already in the Grand Couloir. It is still advisable to cross in the morning, to avoid bad weather and to cross with caution. For the options of crossing the famous crevasse on the Bosses ridge, we will let you have a look here. With a decent level of mountaineering technique, good crampons and an ice axe, it shouldn't be a problem.


Miage/Bionnassay

Access to the Conscrits refuge is recommended by the path.

Conditions are still acceptable on the Dômes. Beware of crevasses on the way up to the Col des Dômes. Crossing the Dômes in good condition (no ice). Quite a lot of snow on the descent by the Bérangère which makes it pleasant.

Mont Tondu continues to dry out but is still ok.

The end for the classic Mettrier ridge intégral.

Aiguille de Bionnassay traverse still in good condition: good refreeze this morning, dry rocky part, snowy ridge, stay on the crest from start to finish!


Gonella

The hut might have to close in July because of the lack of water.

Good conditions to access the Aiguille de Bionnassay from here too.

The Pape route is in good condition at the moment. The glacier du Dôme is good (good track, some impressive snow bridges), the exit to the col is still mainly on snow. The ridge is in good condition (snow).

A few teams on the Tournette spur. The Quintino Sella is accessed from the Miage glacier (new green fixed rope in place at the beginning of the spur so you can't go wrong). From the hut, the Mont Blanc glacier is easy to cross. Continuation of the route in good condition (for the moment).


Monzino

Dry rock (Aiguille Croux).

Still a lot of teams on the Punta Innominata (return by the glacier ok).

Access to Eccles is complicated (a lot of snow and soft, it's wading) and so no activity (arête du Brouillard, Pilier Rouge, Innominata). A team on the Freney pillar but still a lot of snow.

Ratti-Vitali (Aiguille Noire de Peuterey) still a bit wet, you have to work hard to cross the glacier but it's ok.

No one on the Blanche or the Grand Pilier d'Angle from Monzino.

Teams seen on the Peuterey Intégrale, good conditions.

A team on Divine Providence without more information.


In short:

Still some snow on the Col Cornu/Col de la Glière; Col de Salenton/Buet, Col Corbeau.

No need for crampons to access (and descend) the Pouce, the Chapelle de la Glière or the S ridge of Persévérance.

A boulder hanging 2m above the last belay on Voie Jaune at Chéserys.

Quite a few unstable boulders on the N side of the Pointe d'Orny (altitude 2,850/2,900 m) on the right bank of the Combe des Ecandies which can reach the path that climbs to the col.

We are told that there are 2 young falcons on pitch 2 of Tatie Crochue to the right of the Crochues tower. Please avoid the area until the end of July.


Translated with permission from an original report by La Chamoniarde.

Readers are reminded that conditions in mountain environments are prone to (sometimes rapid) change and that they should use their own best judgement when visiting them.

 

 

 

Report: 15 June 2022

Some information sector by sector before the beautiful (but hot) days that are coming. The isotherm is forecast for above 4,000m, which means that it will be hot, but what about the quality of the refreeze? You will have to take this into account in your choice of route and strictly respect the schedule! Conditions evolve very quickly at this time of year, and can change from one day to the next (and therefore between the time we write these lines and the time you will read them or when you will be on the ground). Since yesterday, the mountain has been drying out visibly...


Le Tour

The Vallorcine télécabine is now open. You can use it to go up to the Albert 1er refuge via the Col des Posettes and the Autannes in 4 hours. Otherwise you have to climb the moraine path (beware of rock falls underneath the Bec du Pcheu, especially in bad weather).

Arête de la Table (turn left just before the steep rocky part of the couloir de la Table), VN de l'aiguille du Tour, Tête Blanche, Petite Fourche OK.

Lots of activity on the Chardonnet via the Migot spur and the Forbes ridge (ice is starting to come out under the “bosse"). The descent is fine (good steps, no ice). The track meanders between big crevasses below the col Adams Reilly. An alternative may be to look for a small col on the right-hand side which gets you back down by the combe of the Migot spur, less crevassed.


Argentière Basin

There is a lift up to Plan Joran at 8am and 4.30pm (except at weekends). Beware of the moraine at the bottom of the ladders and the fixed rope (it’s been outside all winter) that allows you to get back down to the glacier.

Arête de Fleche Rousse in good condition.

Glacier du Milieu reserved for experienced rope parties: beware of a crevasse that is opening up at the bottom of the glacier (rope up or stay roped up all the way down), rimaye OK, upper slope in hard snow, gully (20m) in ice (downclimb recommended; beware of the old slings and the solidity of flakes/spikes if you choose to abseil; ok belay on the left bank but abseiling in fairly unstable rock = not recommended if other teams are around).

Teams on the arête du Jardin (still some snow) and on the Charlet Straton (no more info).

Col du Tour Noir ok but beware of a crevasse on the Y couloir.

No info on the NNE des Courtes. The same on the Couturier side where conditions are deteriorating (no recent activity). It's a bit early for the Tournier spur (snow).

The climbing routes are "tip top"!


Charpoua

The hut was supposed to open this Saturday 18 June but there might be a delay until next week, we'll let you check directly with the warden! No info on the sector but we think that the crossing of the Drus (maybe snow in the Z) and the Contamine are possible.


Bassin de Talèfre

Opening of the brand new hut on Thursday 16 June. The access by the new "Charpoua" ladders is quite dry.

On the Moine everything is good (rimaye, dry rock...); S ridge, S ridge intégrale, normal route, Contamine.

The Whymper is still possible: good snow bridge on the left bank to pass the rimaye. The secondary couloir is dry but still goes well. The couloir above is snow. To be continued with the coming hot weather.

The lower part of the col Armand Charlet is very dry.

Lots of activity on the arête du Jardin: the rimaye goes perfectly, snow couloir (short mixed section of 5-10m). The climbing part is dry. Access to the col Armand Charlet: an equipped abseil of 30m or mixed climbing descent. You cross the col via the N side (hard snow but ok).

VN des Droites traversed there and back by the oblique couloir which passes for the moment. Nobody has done the traverse so far as we know.

VN des Courtes also done there and back. A team left for the traverse but without more information.

No one on the Pointe Isabelle which seems ok by eye. Be careful with the big rimaye under the seracs before the mixed ridge. As a reminder, the PD+ rating of this route is not really relevant anymore.


Leschaux Sector

Here too, conditions worthy of a month of July.

Balcon Mer de Glace practicable from the Couvercle, only the usual snow in the couloirs.

Access to the Périades bivouac via the Mont Mallet glacier, not so bad by eye.

Still a few teams on the SW couloir of the Eboulement but the timing is tight. You have to be at the summit at sunrise, still a bit of route finding for the descent.

Petites Jorasses: generally dry face except for some snow at the top, some teams planned without more information.

The N face of the Grandes Jorasses is still well covered with snow.


Envers des Aiguilles

Refuge closed until June 24th.

No information on this sector unfortunately (if you have any we are, as usual, happy to take it!) The classic Aiguille de la République & Grepon Mer de glace must have been done? Beware of the descent by the Nantillons glacier which may evolve quickly (ice crevasses/rock falls).


Requin

The hut opens tomorrow Thursday 16th June. No particular worries for the access to the hut.

The ascent of the Vallée Blanche is tracked. Like everywhere else, it will last less long than usual this summer.

The rock is dry.


Punta Helbronner Sector

Dent du Géant (the ropes which were damaged last year have been reinforced) and Rochefort arête (start ok but ice is beginning to show below the aiguille de Rochefort, good cramponing technique needed, ridge not too narrow), its being done everyday. The access is already quite dry, the couloir (ice, snow and mixed) should be avoided because of rock falls between the rope parties. Prefer the passage by the rocks on the right bank. Then it's dry and crampons back on 150m below the Salle à Manger (mixed).

No information on the Jorasses traverse nor on the descent by the normal route. As a reminder, the Val Ferret refuges (Bocalatte and Dalmazzi) are closed and therefore in winter refuge mode.

Marbrées traverse and the Aiguilles d'Entrêves OK. Tour Ronde by Freshfield couloir OK. Gervasutti couloir still possible according to the latest news (watch this space like everywhere else!).

Many teams on the Kuffner arête (be careful with the refreeze and the heat). As a reminder, for the last few years (except at the very beginning of the season), the access to the start of the ridge from the Fourche bivouac is no longer possible due to a landslide.

There is also a lot of activity on the Aiguilles du Diable: rimaye ok, dry couloir but climb on the right bank then there is snow (quality depends on the refreeze). The rock on the ridge is generally dry. A little snow between the Pointe Carmen and the Isolée.

You can climb on the satellites of Tacul (Grand & Petit Capucin, Pointe Adolphe Rey, Pyramide du Tacul...) No news from the rimayes = good news!


Aiguille du Midi Sector

The Aiguille du Midi arête is still in quite good conditions (no ice, good steps).

The Panoramic Mont Blanc is currently closed for maintenance.

Midi-Plan: read the report in our “cahier de course" No news about the Chamonix Aiguilles traverse.

Pointes Lachenal traverse (it's starting to become icy) and Cosmiques arête: Ok but it's drying up.

The Triangle du Tacul has turned grey in no time. Contamine-Negri, Contamine-Grisolle and the Chéré are being done regularly.

The Mont Blanc by the Trois Monts is in good condition (traversed or there and back): Just a bit of ice on Mont Maudit.

Here too the rimayes for the rock routes seem OK.


Plan de l'Aiguille Sector

The refuge is open. On the whole, the rock is dry but there is still some snow on some approaches (Peigne, Pèlerin, Pilier Rouge de Blaitière...).

The Mallory is now finished, even if it had been retracted after the last snowfall.

Some teams on the Frendo spur (dry rock) but the improvement of the exit was short-lived and it is again black ice.


Mont Blanc by the Grands Mulets

Still a few motivated skiers but the portage to the hut needs mountaineering boots.

The Bossons glacier and the Jonction are OK: A big slide below the refuge has filled in the high part of the Jonction and you can go through this (markers in place).

Access by the Gite à Balmat is possible. As for the rest of the sector, a sense of direction and a taste for adventure are required!

There is a footpath across the plateaus. Latest news (last weekend), 30m of ice on the N ridge, abalakov in place.


Mont Blanc by the Aiguille du Gouter

The Tramway du Mont Blanc should open to the Nid d'Aigle tomorrow Thursday June 16th.

The access to Tête Rousse is (already) dry - July conditions then! The traverse of the Gouter couloir is mainly snow but a part of it is already degraded (mixed ice, sand, rock) and the trail is not "tracked"; it will maybe improve with time. The face is already quite dry. There are not many rock falls at the moment and they are being slowed down by snow. Watch this space with the coming heat wave. Conditions are good but more technical than usual on the Bosses ridge with ice below the Vallot. The crevasse can be bypassed either by a detour on the N side (quite steep) or by the S side where stakes have been put in place (steps).


Miage/Bionnassay Sector

The Mettrier ridge has dried out. There is only snow in the upper third. The integral variant is to be preferred.

The glacier to go up to Durier is OK, then it's all dry and you go up without crampons. Access from the Col des Dômes is also OK.

The crossing of the Aiguille de Bionnassay is reported to be in good condition, as well as the Dômes de Miage (no ice).

Access to the Conscrits refuge is recommended via the summer path and the footbridge. By the Mauvais Pas, there is a rather steep ice slope and an exposed traverse above the gorge before the latter.

It’s drying out quickly on Mont Tondu and the lower slopes are beginning to be cleared of snow (all the rest is snow).

A team did the traverse of the Aiguilles de Trè-la-Tête with good conditions. There is just 40m of ice at the top of the N face of the aiguille de Trè-la-Tête. They descended by the Lanchettes ridge. The descent by the Col des Glaciers is already advised against (loose rock).


Gonella Sector

The refuge is open. Good general conditions: The glacier is OK, the ridge is OK, the Piton des Italiens ridge is in good condition. Watch this space with the coming hot weather.

No news about access to Quintino Sella or the Tournette spur.


Monzino Sector

Aiguille de la Noire OK. No activity on the integral of Peuterey nor on the Blanche or the Grand Pilier d'Angle. Visually, the crossing of the Freney glacier by the col de l'Innominata seems complex (access to the W face of the Noire de Peuterey or to the vires Schneider to access the Blanche).

The Ratti-Vitale still seems to be a bit wet.

Punta Innominata and aiguille Croux molto bene!

An attempt at the Innominata ridge last weekend. Access to Eccles by the punta Innominata and not by the glacier. Then a lot of "zucchero" type snow on the ridge and bad cornices - they were evacuated! So we have to wait a bit more (hoping it's not all over at once).

The Red Pillar of the Brouillard looks dry.


Moyenne Montagne

There is still some snow around Col du Brévent, Col de la Glière/Col Cornu, Col de Salenton/Buet, Col des Corbeaux/Emosson, the traverse between Col de Tricot and Plan Glacier. Crampons at the bottom of the bag are useful just in case. Only a few névés in the Index-lac Blanc traverse (well marked, ok with sticks and good shoes).

The Signal Forbes trail has reopened following work.

On the Tour du Mont Blanc, just a few névés on the col de la croix du Bonhomme; on the Italian side of the col de la Seigne and on the Champex side of the fenêtre d'Arpette but nothing disturbing. It's a bit more snowy for the Col des Fours variant.

There is still some snow on the Aiguilles Rouges routes but nothing compared to other years at the same period! Crampons not needed for the Brévent/clocher de Planpraz area.

Crampons still a good idea for the Perrons traverse.

 

Translated with permission from an original report by La Chamoniarde.

Readers are reminded that conditions in mountain environments are prone to (sometimes rapid) change and that they should use their own best judgement when visiting them.

 

 

 

Report: 08 June 2022

The period of bad weather period is almost over, so we're going to give you some info for route planning, we'll go into more detail after we get some feedback.

In the Argentière basin, snow conditions seem to be good. The col du Tour Noir and the col des Améthystes are in good condition. The Aiguille d'Argentière and Flèche Rousse are being done. There are lifts from Plan Joran Monday to Friday at 8am and 4.30pm.

Around the Albert 1er, it hailed just a little. Everything is being done as before: Aiguille du Tour, Arête and couloir de la Table, Tête Blanche, Petite and Grande Fourche, Forbes and Migot. L’envers des Dorées is accessible by foot from Saleinaz without any problems. The conditions for the traverse of the Dorées E-W are generally good.

In the Mer de Glace sector: At the Couvercle, the Contamine on the Moine, the South ridge and the normal route are being done. The bottom of the Whymper is very dry! (Tricky to climb!) The refuge opens on June 10th. La Charpoua opens on June 18, Leschaux and le Requin on June 11. You can climb above the Envers but access to the hut, which normally opens on June 24, is still snowed in.

In the Plan de l'Aiguille sector, everything is being done (Lâmes Fontaines, Aiguille du Peigne (snow on the descent) etc etc). There has been a rockfall on the last bit of the Petits Charmoz. It’s impassable on the Mer de Glace side with a lot of loose blocks. 

At the Cosmiques, there was 10cm of snow this weekend with a lot of wind. The Grisolles and Chéré are in great condition, the Mazeaud was tried without more information. Midi-Plan was climbed yesterday, watch out for refreezing conditions. The last pitches of the Frendo are ok, more snow is needed. The South face is plastered, so wait a while. For the Vallée Blanche traverse, the crevasses are rather open, cross at the lowest point. Tracks on the Tacul this morning, Küffner has been done.

The normal route of Mont Blanc is being done and everyone finds their own solution to the Bosses arête problem; N or Italian side. The cable in the grand couloir will go back in Thursday 09/06.

Access to the Grands Mulets from the Plan de l’Aiguille seems to have deteriorated a lot, there is a lot of portage until the Jonction. No tracks so far!

Around the Torino, it is already quite warm, and everything is back to normal in the area: Marbrées and Entrèves traverse ok, Dent du Géant and Arête de Rochefort ok, still a bit early for the Grandes Jorasses traverse.

On the Italian side, Gonella and Monzino open on June 10th.

Plan Glacier: It has become very dry towards the Mettrier, be careful with time keeping and don’t have an epic!

The access to the Durier which opens tomorrow 09/06 is rather dry and is done from below. The conditions on the Dômes de Miage and Bionnassay are quite good.

At the Conscrits, all the classics can be done, despite the dryness, you have to rope up on the glacier. The ascent to the Dômes goes well and the descent by the Bérangère to the refuge is good. Mont Tondu is OK, no attempts on the Lex Blanche the face of which looks good. The N face of the Aiguille de Tré-la-Tête is apparently all ice. The footbridge (“passerelle”) is in place but you can still get through via the glacier although the steep slope to the refuge is ice.

In the lower hills, it is becoming more snow free, we are almost a month ahead of the snow conditions. We still need equipment on Mont Buet, Col du Brévent, Col d'Anterne, Lac Cornu and Lacs Noirs. The Tricot footbridge is in place. Around Flégère, there is still a névé to reach Lac Blanc, and there is more on the other side.

The Evettes via ferrata is doable, but the one in the Saint Gervais thermal park is closed until further notice due to a landslide.

Access to the climbing routes in the Aiguilles Rouges still requires snow kit.

The Flégère lifts open on June 9th and Brévent, Vallorcine, Bellevue and Prarion on June 11th, the Mont Blanc tramway on June 13th.

 

Translated with permission from an original report by La Chamoniarde.

Readers are reminded that conditions in mountain environments are prone to (sometimes rapid) change and that they should use their own best judgement when visiting them.

 

 

 

New Radio Episode: 'Saving Asia's Water Towers' with Ed Douglas

New Radio Episode: 'Saving Asia's Water Towers' with Ed Douglas

In the second episode of his new series with the BBC World Service, Alpine Journal Editor and AC Green Group member Ed Douglas visits climate change mitigation projects in the Himalaya. 

A thumbnail image with a play button in the bottom left-hand corner shows a man sat on the roof of his house. Behind him a valley stretches into the distance, a powerful river at its base.

As Ed details in the episode, Himalayan glaciers are integral to the lives of billions of people in Asia and their loss, as a result of climate change, could have devastating consequences. You can listen to the episode here.

This is the second in a series of three episodes from Ed around the broader theme of human lives in the Himalaya and is being broadcast as part of the World Service's 'The Compass'. The first episode is also available here.

 

 

 

First Ascent of Karakoram Peak 'Shaue Sar' (6,653m)

First Ascent of Karakoram Peak 'Shaue Sar' (6,653m)

Austrian runner and climber Philipp Brugger has announced via social media that he, Tomas Franchini and Lukas Waldner have succeeded in making the first ascent of Shaue Sar (6,653m) via a 2,000m line on the mountain's north face.

 

 

The peak, which is located in the Momhil Valley in Pakistan, was both unnamed and unclimbed until the trio's ascent. They chose the name 'Shaue' meaning "horns" in the local language due to the number of ibex they encountered near basecamp.

A more detailed write-up is available at ExplorersWeb.

 

 

 

BMC Launches New Crag & Upland Restoration Fund

BMC Launches New Crag & Upland Restoration Fund

The BMC have announced the creation of a new £10,000 per year fund, to be distributed in small amounts of £250 - £1,000. The fund has been set up to enable individuals, clubs and groups to undertake practical work on crags and upland areas that improves access, promotes nature conservation and/or enhances the overall environment.

Full details can be found via the BMC website.

 

 

 

Report: 25 May 2022

A bit of info before a long weekend (for the lucky ones amongst you).

 

The recent bad weather has deposited a little snow in the high mountains: there is a total of 15 cm at the Cosmiques refuge (probably more above 4,000m). The base below the fresh snow did not refreeze and at the moment you are sometimes sinking up to mid-thigh: skis or snowshoes can be very useful depending on where you go! The rock is already dry!

No big changes since our last update. The snow and mixed routes were being done when the refreezing conditions were not too bad.

 

Skiing activity is now concentrated on Mont Blanc. Going to the Grands Mulets, it’s skis off and on a lot from Plan de l’Aiguille but that is quite normal. Beware of the snow bridges on the Bossons glacier. The Jonction is still OK (wands in place). No changes after that (one ice axe is enough for the N ridge of the Dôme). You can also ski from the Cosmiques hut via the Trois Monts route.

 

Some odds and ends:

- Some wood and crockery but no gas in the Albert 1er winter refuge.

- No blankets or crockery in the Argentière hut's winter room.

- Forecast opening of the Couvercle hut: mid-June but to be announced.

- A team climbed the Brouillard intégrale in 3 days last weekend: Val Veny road open. Lots of snow from the col du Brouillard: they kept their crampons on. Delicate passages in the couloir above the col Emile Rey.

- The team that did the Aiguilles du Diable traverse blew the schedule: big effort (no track, bad refreeze) + quite a lot of snow on the rock in the sections on the N side.

- A few teams on the voie normale on the Moine (crampons and ice axes were useful). Note that the Contamine should also be possible.

- A serac fall from the left side of the Triangle du Tacul that reached the descent track of the Pointe Lachenal traverse.

- As a reminder, following a big avalanche this winter, the path between the lac d'Armancette and the Tré la Tête refuge is blocked (trees in the way etc). So you have to go back down to La Frasse from the chalets du Truc then back up to Tré la Tête.

- The Filia path is closed due to wood cutting.

- Climb up to the Plan de l'Aiguille by the Pré du Rocher: there is still a snow slope below the refuge, ok for good hikers who are properly equipped.

- Still some névé (so some exposure) on the Grand Balcon du Nord: only for experienced and well-equipped hikers (poles and good shoes).

 

Translated with permission from an original report by La Chamoniarde.

Readers are reminded that conditions in mountain environments are prone to (sometimes rapid) change and that they should use their own best judgement when visiting them.