MOUNTAIN CONDITIONS 27 April 2021
Some information following a sunny weekend even if the weather is now due to deteriorate.
In general, the snow cover at altitude is good, despite the warm period having removed the snow lower down. The faces remain dryish.
Bérard Valley: Skiing still starts at the level of the buvette, but some rocks are appearing along the side of the torrent. Above this it is spring snow.
Skis can be used not far from the road for the climb up to the col de l'Encrenaz from the south.
Tour Sector: the approach to the Albert 1er hut is by the moraine or via the col du Passon from Argentière. The Aiguille du Tour, Tête Blanche (N face tracked), Petite Fourche are popular. All the classic cols are passable. The normal route on the Chardonnet was skied on Sunday, 25th. On the descent to le Tour, the skiing ends at the bridge, (keep to the true left bank low down.) The skiing is not great nearer the valley due to avalanche debris and heavy snow. The descent from the Passon, other than if returning from a route, is no longer worth it.
Skiing conditions are good on the Swiss side, Trient/Saleina/ A Neuve.
Argentière Sector : it is still possible to ski from the start of the Pierre à Ric. Nothing of note for the glacier and the approach to the hut, (it was crowded last weekend, the stove is out of action, take a sleeping bag.) The cols du Chardonnet, du Tour Noir and Argentière are skiable. The big N faces remain dry. The Couturier has been tracked in ascent, no further information. There have been some parties on the Lagarde Couloir (Droites), a long and technical route would should not be underestimated, (see Facebook page PGHM de Chamonix). Lots of ski tracks on the NE face of the Courtes, less on the Col des Cristaux and the Pointe Eales. For the Aiguille d'Argentière: Glacier du Milieu is OK with no problems at the bergschrund and the narrows. The Y couloir is tracked in ascent, lots of ski tracks in the Barbey.
Mer de Glace Sector : Access is still from Les Bois. The passage by the Mottets is chaotic. It is better to go via the Montenvers ladders even if this does involve an extra height gain. Skiing still starts at the base of the ladders even if the Mer de Glace is already lacking snow.
Aiguille Verte : Y couloir was done on Saturday 24 (see route book). The Whymper couloir is also in condition, the bergschrund passable on the true right, (left looking up). The approach to the Talèfre sector by the central gully is deteriorating, (skis off in one place.)
Valley Blanche/Noire, Brèche Puiseux are still feasible. A rope is recommended for the Salle à Manger.
Mallory-Porter : some ice on the traverse below the Aig du Midi ridge, soft snow lower down. The Eugster direct is too dry, not recommended. The ski descent of the Cosmiques couloir is OK.
There is no information for the gullies in this sector.
Glacier des Nantillons was skied in good conditions.
Mont Blanc by ski via the Grands Mulets : The skiing still starts at the level of the old station. To cross the Jonction, take the lower track, (safer than the higher path which is threatened by frequent serac falls.) The Plateaux is in good condition. There is ice below the Vallot, ( there is a track which avoids going straight up to the hut with crampons.) Fingers crossed that the snow promised at altitude for this week will improve conditions on the Dôme N ridge and the N face of Mont. The descent by the true left bank of the Bossons glacier is no longer feasible.
There is still some skiing in the Trappier couloir sector with the snow ending around 1600m for the moment.
Dômes de Miage / Bionnassay sector: As a reminder, the Tré la Tête hostel is open. The appoach to the Conscrit hut by the Mauvais Pas is OK with crampons. In general, the traverse of the Dômes de Miage is in good condition.
The Mettrier ridge is being done regularly, (take gaz and a down jacket if planning to sleep at the Plan Glacier). The traverse of the Aiguille de Bionnassay was also tracked last weekend, descent by the Plateaux.
Notre Dame de la Gorge : skiing now starts at the flat area halfway between Nant Borrant and the Balme. Good spring conditions higher up, for example: the col des Chasseurs and the Enclave and Mont Tondu sectors.
The Via Ferrata de Curalla has been opened on 24th April.
Hiking possibilities remain restricted to below 1700m ( facing north) and 1900m (facing south) due to the snow. The via cordas at Mottets and the Via Damou are popular, (cf route book)