Some brief information for mid-April.
The mountains are unusually quiet!
As a reminder, the Grands Mulets and Requin huts remain open. The Albert 1er hut is open from Fridays to Tuesdays. It is even more important than usual to make a reservation, (by internet or telephone,) because the wardens are organising themselves, (like everybody in these times), from one day to the next.
The Argentière hut closes on 15/04, with the re-opening foreseen for between the 1st and 10th May. Waiting for information for Lognan hut.
The winter rooms remain accessible.
After yet another wintry spell, there was a small amount of fresh snow down to low altitudes between Sunday and Monday. About 15cms fell at 2000m and 20 to 30 cms above this in certain sectors, (Aiguilles Rouges and the Mont Blanc massive,) and without wind. However, this will not have improved conditions much in the high mountain as it is not sticking. The glaciers, however, are well filled in.
Ski touring remains the main activity, though as to be expected, the snowline is receding.
In the Bérard valley, skis can be put on at the Berard café. The main routes are popular, (if you can say that given how few people are about!). It is still possible to start skiing from the col des Montets, or the small parking area just before the Buet village, for the col de l'Encrenaz sector.
As a reminder, access to Charamillon is forbidden due to work being done on the upper station of the new ski lift. Therefore, to get to the Albert 1er hut it is best to go by the col du Passon. The classic descent from the Passon is still in condition, as is the normal route on the Aiguille du Tour. The Migot Spur was done about 10 days ago.
The artificial snow means the Pierre Ric is still OK and provides access to the Argentière sector. Harscheisen, (ski crampons), may be necessary if there has been a hard frost. The classics in this sector remain in condition: col des Grands Montets, col du Chardonnet (start on the true left, right looking up; 60m of fixed rope in place on the Saleina side), Glacier du Milieu ("the narrows are very narrow” this year, for those on ski), col du Tour Noir, col d'Argentière.
For steep skiing, the Barbey couloir and the SE coulior of the Chardonnet (take care with the timing and changes in condition for the latter), are being done regularly. No reliable information for the Y couloir, (a 30m pitch of mixed low down,) which, nonetheless, is OK in ascent. The N faces remain very, (too,) dry.
No info for the Lagarde couloir. The Couturier couloir should be feasible even if it looks to be well purged high up, (take care with the timing for the descent by the Whymper).
Mer de Glace/ Valley Blanche sector, A lot of ski carrying. The best option seems to be to start from Les Bois by the Filia path. Skis can be used for the first time where the return from Valley Blanche reaches the Mottets snack bar. Further carrying is needed to reach the Mer de Glace and up to about 300m above the ice caves.
Access to the Talèfre sector is still by the central couloir. Crevasses are appearing at the level of the Salle à Manger.
The Valley Blanche, (there and back a real challenge!) and the Brèche Puiseux are still in condition. Solitude guaranteed!
The latest news is that the Whymper couloir is just about OK for the time of year, (secondary couloir is very dry, the bergschrund passable on the true left).
The Y couloir was done on 01/04, no information since. A party did the Naia gully on 04/04 (crux hardly formed but well protectable).
The Pointe Isabelle was said to be in good condition, (the Courtes glacier is without problems, as is the upper section, the bergschrund is impressive but goes OK on the left).
There has been little activity on the Mallory since the last update. It will be necessary re-track it.
For the Mont Blanc by the Grands Mulets, skis can be put on at the old Para lift station. The Junction is OK.
On the other hand, the N ridge of the Dôme du Goûter remains desperately icy. The slope below the Vallot is like glass and on the Bosses Ridge there are some crevasses not normally seen there, (but passable). The N face remains “complicated”.
The good news is that the recent snowfall without wind means good skiing at the Plateaux and the Para. (It is also possible to go on the true left side of the Bossons glacier by the "Jonction" and the Plateau des Pyramides).
Skiing starts at the Maison Neuve (Les Houches) to access the Rognes/Trappier/Tête Rousse sector.
Further west, the snow level is at the Miage chalets for the Plan Glacier sector. This can be linked with a “there and back” to the col de Miage or the Mettrier ridge (good conditions, descent by the Armancette because the top third of the N face of the Dômes is bare ice).
The Dôme traverse is still in good condition (the ridge is broad and without ice). It is best to go up the true right side of the Tré la Tête glacier to avoid being exposed to serac fall from the N face of the Aiguille Tré la Tête.
There is no information for the snow quality for descending the Armancette, (some carrying above the lake and then on the return to La Frasse).
Still a little bit of activity, (but with carrying, skiing from about 1400m) in the combe d'Armancette sector, (Chaborgne or Bérangère couloirs,) and starting from Notre Dame de la Gorge (skis on at the Roman bridge).
Very little has changed for hiking since the last update on 30th March. Patience is needed! Nonetheless there are still plenty of possibilities. For example: Miage chalets, Ayères chalets, Chailloux chalets, Mottets snack bar, Floria/Flégère, Loriaz chalets.
The season is finished for snowshoe trails.