- Parent Category: News
- Created: Monday, 18 October 2021 09:01
The Club would like to congratulate members Derek Buckle, Andrey Golovachev and Nick Hurndall Smith whose photography has been recognised in the annual Austrian Alpine Club (UK) Photo & Sketch Competition.
Andrey's photograph 'Two Smokers' won the award for Best Portrait/People Image while two of his other images 'Yin and Yang' and 'Theatre of Silence' were commended in the Nature and General categories respectively.
Meanwhile, in the Best Mountain Landscape/Wild Country category, Nick's photograph of Paul Winder on the NNW Ridge of the Weisshorn claimed the top prize, while Derek's image of Nick King on Liskamm was highly commended. Nick's photographs 'Shaqsha Descent' and 'Chombu, Sikkim' were also commended in this category.
Many congratulations to all three members.
You can see a full list of the winners on the AAC(UK) website.
The recipients of the 2021 Piolets d'Or, honouring routes achieved in 2020 have been announced. Due to the pandemic, it was obviously a difficult year for exploratory mountaineering and the judges have sought to reflect this in the ascents they have chosen to award.
'Running in the Shadows' on Mount Robson's Emperor Face and 'Revers Gagnant' on Sani Pakkush are both to receive mountaineering's highest accolade, while Silvia Vidal has also been recognised for her impressive resumé of solo big wall first ascents.
'Running in the Shadows' was climbed by Alpine Club member Uisdean Hawthorn and American Ethan Berman. Although at a lower altitude than routes typically awarded by the committee, it was felt that given the special circumstances of the pandemic and the impeccable alpine-style in which the route was achieved, that it was very much worthy of recognition. You can hear Uisdean discuss the route in the Alpine ClubCast 'Bagpipes and Blagging' which we broadcast in January of this year.
At a more familiar height for the Piolet d'Or, 'Revers Gagnant' was climbed by the French team of Pierrick Fine and Symon Welfringer after they were forced to relocate their planned autumn expedition from Nepal to the Karakoram. Their new line tackled the mountain via its south face and southwest ridge to achieve the second ascent of this summit.
Greater detail on the routes and recipients can be found via the Piolets d'Or website.
Snow and wind at altitude, the first frosts, fog in the valley - there’s no doubt it’s Autumn.
It snowed high up at the beginning of the week. We think between 5 and 10cm of snow at 2,300m. There was a dusting at 2,000m but it has already melted. Higher up it’s difficult to estimate the quantity of snow. At the Torino Hut there is about 40cm. What is certain is that it’s all beautifully white. You can get a reasonable idea of conditions thanks to the webcam of Punta Helbronner and for the footpaths the webcams of the Compagnie du Mont Blanc.
The classic snow routes must be possible at the moment but at this time of year they are much more committing, and you will need lots of experience. It’s a long way, the huts are shut, it’s cold and there are no tracks. You may need snow shoes to get around on glaciers.
The Skyway lift and the Torino hut are still open. The shorter classic routes (traverses of the Marbrées and Entrèves and glacier trips) are being done.
It’s certainly possible that mixed routes are in condition, but you will have to go and see as we have no information.
The rock is well plastered even quite low down (Envers des Aiguilles, Plan de l'Aiguille, Argentière basin, Aiguilles Rouges). Rock climbing is therefore concentrated on sunny valley crags. Watch out for fog, seepage and cold fingers. Or go further south.
Quiet footpaths and beautiful autumn colours await you. There are no problems with walking below 2,200 m (warm clothes + gloves + hat needed). Above that height, there is some snow and you will have to equip yourself properly (good shoes + poles).
Remember to consult the list of trails closed for work.
As a reminder, the Montenvers train is the only lift currently open in the Chamonix Valley.
A video tour of our current exhibition, 'Everest: by Those Who Were There' is now available to view on YouTube. Presented by club librarian Beth Hodgett, the tour explores the major events of the 1921, 1922 and 1924 Everest Exhibition using the artefacts and materials compiled for the exhibition by our Honorary Librarian Barbara Grigor-Taylor.
As the video was initially broadcast via Facebook live, it is filmed in a vertical aspect ratio and so is best viewed on mobile. We had some small issues with sound in the initial live broadcast, but these have now been rectified with a short subtitled section in this version.
Members may be interested to see this virtual exhibition, curated by Ian Kenneally and presented by Westmeath County Council and Belvedere House & Gardens.
‘We had experience of wonderful moments…’ commemorates the 1921 Everest expedition in this its centenary year, with a particular focus on the expedition lead Charles Howard-Bury.
It is a fantastic companion piece to our own Everest centenary exhibition and has been wonderfully presented with a mix of print, audio, video and photographic records, including some from the AC Library collection.
We have received the very sad news that one of our newest members, Neil Sawyer, was killed in a cycling accident near Chamonix on 23 September.
For those who knew Neil and would like to attend, his memorial service will be streamed live on 1 October via this event page.
It’s certainly inter-season now in the Chamonix Valley.
As far as the lifts go: the Midi cable car (exceptional closure 4-15 October), the Montenvers train and the Tramway du Mont Blanc are still open.
Dates of closure of some of the huts are as follows:
- refuge des Cosmiques: 28/09
- refuge du Goûter: 28/09
- refuge de Tête Rousse: 27/09
- rifugio Torino: 03/11
- refuge plan de l'Aiguille: 01/11
- refuge de Tré la Tête: 15/10
- refuge de Moede d'Anterne: 30/09
- refuge du lac Blanc: 26/09
- refuge du col de Balme: 30/09
- refuge de Loriaz: 26/09
It snowed up high last weekend with the rain/snow limit down to 2300m. Take great care on glaciers as snow bridges across crevasses will be weak. Also be careful about your choice of rock route (snow,verglas).
Activity has been concentrated around the Aiguille du Midi. Cosmiques arete, traverse of the Pointes Lachenal. You can climb on the south faces of the Aiguille du Midi and the Lachenal. No news about the Midi-Plan but why not?! The Chéré couloir is in reasonable condition as are the classics from the Helbronner.
There has been a great finish to the season on the normal route on Mont Blanc (lots of happy “parapentistes” and others). The train and the huts are closed after this weekend.
The Trois Monts route was re-tracked on Thursday 23/9. Watch out for a snow bridge under the shoulder of the Tacul. It can be turned on the right but it’s steep (technical on the descent).
The rimaye at the Col du Mont Maudit is still crossable well to the left with a long traverse to get back to the col.
There is now a bit of snow on the ledges of the south face of the Moine. The normal routes on the Courtes and the Droites look ok.
A new abseil line has been put in place this week to descend from the Grand Dru towards the Charpoua leading back to the start of the traverse. 16 abseils (chain belays, 45-50m). Topo to come.
You can think about climbing on sunny granite near the Orny, hut, in the Argentière basin, at the Envers des Aiguilles, and from the Dalmazzi and the Monzino etc. On the shady faces it’s not quite so nice but there have been a few teams on the pilier Rouge de Blaitière, the Papillons arete and the normal route on the Peigne.
At medium altitude (“moyenne montagne”) there are beautiful autumn colours.
The light sprinkling of snow last weekend doesn’t pose any particular problems. Poles and good boots are sensible as there may be heavy dews and slippery paths.
Its also the time of year when path maintenance takes place. Path closure page (in French) is available here.
The Alpine Club has a proud literary history and it is terrific to see that tradition being carried on strongly into the present, with a number of members among the nominees for the 2021 Boardman Tasker and Banff Mountain Literature Awards.
We are saddened to learn of the death on 17 September of Richard Sykes, who had been a member for 50 years.
On the 27 September at 16:00 UK time, the Alpine Club will broadcast a livestream of our latest exhibition: ‘Everest: by Those Who Were There’ via our Facebook page.
The exhibition marks the centenary of the very first Everest expedition in 1921 and uses the words and possessions of expedition members from 1921, 1922 and 1924 to tell the story of the first attempts to climb the world’s highest mountain – from the search for its exact location in 1921, to the fateful summit attempt of George Mallory and Sandy Irvine in 1924.
The livestream will be presented by Alpine Club librarian Beth Hodgett (@AlpineLibrarian) and will provide viewers with both an overview of the 1920s expeditions and the opportunity to see many of the artefacts on display, including the watercolour paintings of Howard Somervell, a piece of the mountain itself and Sandy Irvine’s ice axe.
The exhibition’s curator and Honorary Librarian of the Alpine Club, Barbara Grigor-Taylor said: “During the past 18 months it has been especially hard, and at times impossible, for everyone who might wish to attend the exhibition to make their way to see it in person. That’s why we’re so excited to be able to offer this opportunity for as many people as possible to receive a tour of the exhibition online.”
The broadcast is expected to run from 16:00 to 16:30 and will be available to view after the fact via the Alpine Club’s Facebook page. You can sign up for a reminder of the event here.
A commemorative exhibition catalogue, detailing the three 1920s expeditions and reproducing the full exhibition collection is also available for purchase but we are down to the final few copies.
From September 2021 the Library will open Tuesday to Thursday 10:00 - 17:00.
Bookings are no longer required for members wanting to browse the open shelves, though if you have a particular research project that requires access to the Club archives, please do contact us in advance so that we can prepare for your visit.
We kindly request that visitors to the library continue to follow Covid-19 precautions including sanitizing hands before entering the library.
We look forward to seeing you soon.
Some brief summary information.
In general terms conditions in the high mountains haven’t changed much recently. Mixed routes are gradually becoming less snowy. Rock routes are generally staying in condition but it’s better to be in the sun because it’s becoming cold in the shade.
Take care with thunderstorms or showers at this time of year as new snowfall often doesn’t melt depending on the altitude and aspect. Rock routes can become much more difficult with snow or verglas.
Huts are gradually closing. Staying open at the moment are: Albert 1er; Envers des Aiguilles, Cosmiques, Torino, Nid d'Aigle, Tête Rousse, Goûter, Durier, Conscrits and Monzino.
You can find provisional dates of hut closure here.
Ditto for the lifts with the closure of Planpraz/Brévent this weekend and Flégère the weekend of the 19th.
The Forbes arête is only for the most experienced: the start and the descent are very technical.
According to the latest news the Charpoua glacier is still passable. On the other hand there may be snow/verglas on the Dru traverse.
The Nantillons glacier has taken quite a hit. The rimaye du Rognon is open but you can go down into it to get onto the rock. The rimaye at the start of the Cordier pillar has been crossed but there is no further information. The Charmoz rimaye is complicated but an S shaped snow bridge (first to the left and then to the right) allows you to cross. A route on the right bank lets you avoid the upper part of the glacier (steep and icy).
Otherwise take the abseils from the C.P terrace (named after Charlet and Payot who marked their initials here).
Stone fall in the afternoon from the left bank of the glacier can reach the track under the rognon.
Midi-Plan: things are deteriorating here as well especially just after the Col du Plan (alternating patches of ice and rubble). The traverse after the Rognon du Plan abseil is exposed.
The Cosmiques arête is very dry (little snow).
Mont Blanc via the Trois Monts: still very technical especially at the Tacul rimaye and at the col du Mont Maudit (vertical 4m step at the rimaye, then an exposed horizontal traverse for 100 m). It is also icy towards the Rochers Rouges.
The Rochefort arête, the Dent du Géant, the Kuffner arête and the Aiguilles du Diable traverse are still busy but becoming more and more snow free. Beware of snow and verglas on the Jorasses traverse (especially with the forecast weather). The descent by the voie normale is still OK.
Generally good conditions on the S side of Mont Blanc (Innominata, Pillar Rouge du Brouillard) but crowded in the Eccles bivouac hut.
Dômes de Miage: glacier and ridge in good general condition. A bit of ice on the way up to the Eastern summit (point 3,673m). It’s also beginning to be icy on the descent to the Col de la Bérangère.
With the gradual closure of huts, information is becoming more scarce.
This year's annual dinner will be held on Saturday 27 November at the Castle Green Hotel, Cumbria LA9 6RG.
Our principal guest at the dinner is Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner, the second woman to climb all fourteen 8,000ers and the first woman to do so without supplementary oxygen or high altitude porters.
Cooler mornings, shorter days, summer is coming to an end and autumn is coming!
At altitude, a predominantly north / northeast / northwest wind has persisted for several days which has made things feel very cold.
The mountains continue to steadily dry out but there are few noticeable changes from our previous update.
The classics (normal routes Aiguille du Tour - Tete Blanche - Petite Fourche - Arête de la Table) remain popular and doable. The Forbes arête on the Chardonnet: the descent is very technical and exposed (black ice).
The refuge closes on September 5th. The season finishes with rock routes and possibly the Col du Tour Noir.
The gardienne has finished her season and the refuge is now operating in winter mode.
The Charpoua glacier is still in OK condition for the end of August in both ascent and descent.
The Drus traverse (a route not to be underestimated) is still in good condition.
Moine ridge on the Verte: The rimaye is still OK. Be conscious of the time of day because there is still a lot of snow and a little ice (crampons essential).
The climbing routes above the refuge are snow free. You can still climb on the Petits Jorasses. The belays on the voie Anouk have been refurbished.
The balcony path is still being used.
Access to the Talèfre glacier from the Couvercle has been re-equipped (addition of a rope and steps)
The refuge closes on September 4th. Rock climbing is the focus at the moment. Access to the Dent du Requin is in good nick.
Little change. Conditions are still good on the Marbrées traverse and the Aiguille d'Entrèves.
The Petit Flambeau is snow free.
Generally good conditions on the Jorasses traverse (the ridge is OK- well marked descent) but few teams due to the wind.
Arêtes de Rochefort: Getting up to the salle a manger is snow free. Pretty good conditions on the traverse despite a bit of ice and some rather thin bits.
Kuffner arête: The direct start is gradually becoming snow free (ice and mixed sections). The rimaye is crossable on the right hand side. The Androsace snow arete is very lean.
Traverse of the Aiguilles du Diable: The access couloir is becoming snow free: be careful if there are several teams in the couloir.
Crossing the Vallée Blanche: The glacier is opening up: beware of dangerous snow bridges on the main track on the Helbronner side
Aiguille du Midi sector
Mont-Blanc traverse: This route is becoming very technical. The rimaye on the Tacul is becoming more complicated. The rimaye at the top is still crossable but on a bridge above a big hole: a snow anchor (“corps mort”/dead man) is in place above (do not hesitate to use it). 2 technical ice axes are recommended for the section over the Maudit (bullet hard snow).
Triangle du Tacul: You can still think about the Contamine Grisolle. The Chéré couloir looks a bit sad.
Traverse of the Lachenal: There are frequent serac falls - you must keep well to the right on the descent and not dawdle (or even don't go).
Inominata and Brouillard arêtes are being climbed.
Peuterey ridge: Busy.
Eccles couloir: Still snow.
Ratti Vitali, Red pillar, Freney pillar: Some snow on the ledges.
We are saddened to learn of the death on 19 August of Lady Ann Chorley. She had become a member of the Ladies’ Alpine Club in 1966.
A few pointers on this sunny weekend!
In general, the weather (sun, lack of wind, good re-freezing, isotherm not too high) and the conditions (glaciers and rimayes still relatively well filled in, faces / couloirs in reasonable condition) are finally favourable to (long) mixed routes. Despite everything, the mountains have dried well (the last precipitation was 10 days ago). But after all, it is the end of August!
Nothing to report as far as rock routes go!
Good conditions on the classics (normal route Aiguille du Tour - tête Blanche - Petite Fourche, arête de la Table).
Lots of traffic (especially at the start of the week) on the Forbes arête which is now more technical (ice on the Bosse and above the col on the descent: 2 axes needed).
The Migot spur is finished.
It's over for the Milieu glacier (ice + rockfall) except for very experienced parties who will want to descend down the arête du Jardin. This also means the end of the game for the Flèche Rousse.
The refuge will close on the 29th August.
It's still ok for the traverse of the Drus (but we say it every year, it's a long and technical route, be careful that you have both the ability and good experience in route finding otherwise you will take a long time).
Everything is dry except the Grandes Jorasses.
Envers des Aiguilles
The rimaye of the République / Grépon - Mer de Glace is still passable by the slab on the left bank (IV, blue pole in place). To join the start of the route there is a well marked traverse and an overhanging (but not wide) roture (gap between the snow and the rock).
However, the other route equipped by JS Knoertzer and Co to reach the new Tour Rouge hut is not recommended for everyone. It's steep, you have to know how to go up on fixed ropes (jumar recommended), check the condition of the equipment (ropes, knots) and there is some difficult climbing.
Always a lot of people on the classics. In these conditions, a 50 m rope (abseils of 25 m max) is enough for traversing the Marbrées and the Aiguille d'Entrêves.
Many teams on the Dent du Géant, fewer on the Rochefort arête (some icy sections are starting to appear).
Several teams on the Jorasses traverse. The rock section above the Canzio (Point Young) is dry. On the other hand, there is still a lot of snow further on which makes the route a little more difficult technically. Descent by the normal route OK. The Boccalate refuge is closed but the winter room (12 places, mattresses and blankets but no gas) remains accessible.
Conditions are still fine on the Kuffner (Frontier) ridge.
Traverse of the Aiguilles Diable: rimaye ok, the traverse to reach the couloir is on gravel but it's OK. The couloir itself is also getting dry (a few rocky bits, 2 axes are needed depending on your skill level).
All the Pointes are dry, you put crampons back on for the final mixed bit.
Aiguille du Midi sector
It's over for the Frendo for now (dry exit: ice and rockfall).
Conditions are still fine on the Midi-Plan even if here too, some bits have dried up (gravel / sand).
Cosmiques ridge:nothing to report except that we must not forget that despite its proximity and a certain degree of “banalisation”, this is a technical route and not easy. Normally it’s quite short (a half day), but several teams have been benighted ... Carefully question your grade and your mountaineering experience before doing it.
Traverse of the Pointes Lachenal: the descent from the last Pointe is exposed to the serac of the NE face of Tacul. You must keep well right. There is a bit of ice on the first Pointe (access to the traverse and the descent for the rock routes on the S face).
Mont Blanc via the Trois Monts: Tacul ok, do not follow a trail that goes to the left (going uphill) marked by a red flag which was left during a rescue in bad weather and which finishes up against a serac. There is some ice below the col du Mont Maudit (2 axes useful).
Pillar Gervasutti (from the PGHM): they have been pulling off more and more teams over the years. Conditions are getting looser and looser at the top. The terrain has changed a lot and even some local guides (who have done the route before) do not recognize it and some have had to seek help. Route therefore not recommended.
Mont Blanc via the Grands Mulets
A bit of activity lately even with the refuge closed. Access is easier from the gite à Balmat even if you have to find your way around by making a curve to the right before returning to the refuge. Those who came up by the Gare des Glaciers took almost 4 hours to cross the Jonction.
Mont Blanc via the Goûter
Normal conditions for the time of year. The climb up to the Goûter is dry and you have to be there at the right time.
Dômes de Miage / Bionnassay sector
Still generally good conditions on the traverse of the Dômes. The NE ridge of the Bionnassay is narrow (but no ice) but you need to be good on your feet.
No more water at the refuge which is closing its doors today. The winter room (12 places, mattresses and blankets but no gas) remains accessible.
The route to reach the Piton des Italiens is still in good condition (even if the glacier is "scary" when it is not frozen).
Several teams on the Innominata, the snow has transformed well.
After a number of rescues last weekend (wind, a lot of snow), there is a track on the Brouillard ridge.
Blanche de Peuterey by the Schneider ledges OK. The col Eccles is still fine.
Peuterey arête is in good snow conditions. Some teams also on the Integral. Borelli open with mattress and blankets.
You can also climb the Red pillar which is gradually drying. No news from the Freney.
Still no one at Ratti-Vitale (Aiguille Noire de Peuterey) even if the Freney glacier is OK and the route is dry (visually). Lots of people on the S ridge (crampons not needed). The descent by the E ridge has been re-marked (yellow dots) and the belays refurbished.
The return (or arrival!) of summer.
After the snowfalls of the last few weeks (or months), the mountains need to dry up, settle down, and stabilise. The wind does not help the process, nor the sometimes random refreezing (and the risk of thunderstorms).
With a good freeze, conditions on the classic snow / mixed routes are generally good for mid-August. With the return of temperatures worthy of an August in the 21st century, we must now accept a night in a hut (few routes are accessible off the first lift).
The rock remains a safe bet!
To sum up, if there is a good freeze, good weather, and it’s the right grade for you, all should go well!
The classics (arête de la table, aiguille du Tour, Tête Blanche, Petite Fourche) of the sector are still OK.
There were teams today on the Forbes arete which should be in good condition with a good freeze (there was too much snow at the start of the week, one party was "scared off"). No news from the Migot spur (a team scheduled this morning branched off on the Forbes arete without further information).
The rock is dry (except the passage on the N side to bypass the Aiguilles Penchées) on the Aiguilles Dorées traverse.
A small ice pitch on the upper slope of the Milieu Glacier: this route is now reserved for seasoned climbers.
Arête du Jardin, arête de Flèche Rousse, arête Charlet Straton, col du Tour Noir OK.
The rock routes are dry (Versant Satanique re-equipped by M. Piola).
Some ropes have done the Drus traverse and the Contamine on the south face.
The American direct has been done but it’s starting to be late in the season.
Rock: all dry.
No recent information but conditions probably similar to other sectors: classic snow routes possible with a good freeze, rock routes OK.
Walking is possible (balcons of the Mer de Glace) and rock climbing (west face of the Petites Jorasses, Eperon des Cristalliers; maybe still a little too much snow for the Aiguille de Leschaux). A party retreated at the end of the third pitch of "Boule à facette" (Aiguille de Leschaux) following a rockfall.
No one on the Periades side which remains possible (visually) with a good freeze.
Envers des Aiguilles
We have climbing! The rimaye of the République/Grepon Mer de Glace is still passable (on the right; step over the gap to gain a foothold on the slab).
A lot of people on the classics (Rochefort arete, Dent du Géant, Marbrées, Entrêves, SE ridge Tour Ronde).
Kuffner arete (lots of trail breaking yesterday) and the traverse of the Aiguilles du Diable (snow, more technical than usual) also tracked.
A few parties on the traverse of the Jorasses which is however very snowy and therefore technically much harder.
There is climbing on the Tacul satellites.
Aiguille du Midi sector
Here too, the classics of the sector are popular (Pointes Lachenal, Cosmiques arete).
The Midi-Plan is in excellent condition for the season (if there is a freeze). One (or more) parties are engaged on the crossing of the Chamonix Aiguilles without further information for the moment (ok visually).
Triangle du Tacul: good general conditions. Teams on the Chéré couloir and the Contamine-Mazeaud.
The Trois Monts route was retracked yesterday.
Nothing to report as far as rock climbing goes.
Plan de l'Aiguille
Frendo not tracked. Should be OK with a good freeze (but difficult to know in advance about the freeze!!!).
Parties on the Peigne-Pélerins- Deux Aigles traverse, that should be OK.
Charmoz-Grepon: nicely dry except for the Z-crack which is still a bit wet. A bit of snow in the Charmoz_Grepon couloir.
The Nantillons glacier is in good condition.
Mont Blanc via the Aiguille du Goûter
The snow is gradually melting in the section between Tête Rousse and the Goûter. Good conditions above.
It is our turn to insist on the fact that this is a mountaineering route, to be considered only with the appropriate skills, good weather, and not alone.
Conscrits Dômes de Miage / Bionnassay
Access to the Conscrits refuge via the glacier is now not recommended.
Excellent conditions on the crossing of the Dômes de Miage (the glacier is beginning to open up a bit, the slope above the Col de la Bérangère is still snow, there is snow down to within 100 m of the refuge on the descent of the Bérangère).
Good conditions also for the traverse of the aiguilles de Tré-la-Tête apart from the descent from the Col des Glaciers (you would need to continue on the Lanchettes arete).
Mont Tondu is still ok (the ledges on the lower part are not very pleasant: gravel).
Access to the Durier refuge still ok via Plan Glacier or from the Dômes de Miage.
Several parties today on the Bionnassay traverse.
Lots of wind and snow!
Those who tried the Peuterey integral turned around at the Noire. The Aiguille Blanche via the Schneider ledges will be possible once the mountain has finished "settling".
Complicated conditions on the pilier Rouge du Brouillard (snow on the ledges, ice in the cracks). Ditto on the Freney pillar which is in "winter" conditions. To be continued.
One party on the Innominata. One party on the Brouillard arete but rescued at the col Emile Rey on Tuesday 10th (wind, too much snow?).