Mountain conditions update

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As they say mountain climbing is dangerous, and there are many dangers to deal with.

This service is a free and institutional teamwork and has been implemented as part of project III ALCOTRA n° 125 Safety in the Mountains around Mont Blanc, funded starting from 2008 by Compagnia di San Paolo di Torino.

This action is promoted by the Safe Mountain Foundation of Courmayeur and the High Mountain Office of Chamonix- La Chamoniarde.

You are strongly advised to consult all available bulletins before each ascent and to make use of the support of mountain guides before undertaking any excursion.

All information found on the site is from staff foundation's accounts according to region's persons in charge and is therefore closely tied to specific weather and snow conditions, which can change unexpectedly. Furthermore, the situations described should be considered in the light of an individual's physical condition and his mountaineering skills .

We are not responsible for the use of the information published on the web

  1. OHM Chamonix
    A brief update for the weekend.

    After the foehn storm last weekend, the snow has returned with snow down to the valley floor.  In the last 24h there has been between 80 to 90 cms of new snow at 2000m and 40 to 50 cms at the village of Le Tour. There was knee deep snow in places on the way up to Chalet du Chapeau in places yesterday.

    The Grand Montets ski area will be partially open this weekend, (more info on the Mont Blanc Natural Resort website).  The other ski lifts in the valley will remain closed.  There is no further news as to whether the Montenvers railway will be running this weekend.

    The Courmayeur ski area will be open this weekend, including the Mont Blanc Skyway.  (N.B. the stairway down to the Toula glacier will be closed this year: more info ici).

    Except for a few areas, (e.g the Balme sector with perhaps some walking in descent), the amount of snow below 1800m will probably not be enough for ski touring.  Above this and depending on the sector, take care with rocks, crevasses on the glaciers and avalanche risk, (not yet graded but more info available ici).

    For hikers, it is best to keep to the valley walks, (Petit Balcons, Buvette du Chapeau, Cabane du Cerro, Alpage de Charousse etc.) and have good footwear.  The footpaths up to Montenvers remain closed. 

  2. Fondazione Montagna Sicura - Courmayeur

    Funivie Monte Bianco, in agreement with Courmayeur Town Council after consultation with the competent technicians and institutions, and based on official technical reports provided by independent experts, Funivie Monte Bianco announces the immediate

    CLOSURE of the “TOULA STAIRCASE” and its consequent PROHIBITED USE

    Funivie Monte Bianco will be taking concrete measures to prevent use of
    the staircase and will provide widespread notification of this closure and

  3. OHM Chamonix
    Little has changed since last week’s update apart from a partial opening of the Grands-Montets ski area this weekend, (more information here).

    The snow remains insufficient for off-piste skiing.

    The open lifts will give ski tourers access to the top of the Grand Montets and so into the Argentière sector.  However, the season is just starting and from the information received so far, the glaciers, (Rognon, Argentière) are very treacherous, (numerous crevasses and fragile snow bridges.)

    For the moment, skinning up at the Balme /Tour sector is feasible, (could change given a forecast for foehn, warm winds).  The descent below Charamillon is stony and involves walking.

    The conditions for ski touring are more favourable in the Aosta valley.

    There is little information concerning the mixed routes and “high mountain”. There is quite a lot of new snow but there is little cohesion and probably not much ice.  It is unlikely there will be much activity this weekend, given the forecasted foehn weather.

    There is no change in the conditions for hiking.  It is recommended to stick to the valley trails, (below 1800m) and to be properly equipped, (good footwear, poles etc.)  The Montenvers train remains open.

    It is still too early in the season for ice climbing and snow shoeing. 

  4. OHM Chamonix
    Little has changed since the last, (05/11), report.  To recap, there is enough snow to make things awkward for hikers but not enough for skiing. 

    After yesterday’s foehn, (warm, wet winds), the bad weather last night put down 5 to 10 cms of snow in the valley and about 20 cms at 2000m.  

    The amount of snow is not yet enough for even a partial opening of the ski areas this weekend, (16/17 Nov, e.g. Les Houches and Grands Montets.) 

    The Montenvers train is running every day, (the ice cave, with its cable car, is foreseen to open for the Christmas holidays).  The Aiguille du Midi cable car is planned to open on the 14th December. 
    Ski touring: If you are not afraid to of a bit of ski carrying, there are possibilities above 1900m, (e.g. Balme area, Grands Montets/Argentière sector, Contamines).

    The snow pack is more important on the italian side or "haut Valais" area

    Hiking : choose hikes below 2000 m suh as Petits balcons - chalet du Chapeau - la Floria - chalets de Chailloux. Be well equiped (hiking boots - gaiters - poles). Don't hesitate to contact us at OHM (open from monday to saturday - 9 am to 12/ 3 to 6 pm)

  5. Fondazione Montagna Sicura - Courmayeur

    The mountains begin to wear their winter clothes. The rapid disturbances of the past week have deposited a good amount of snow that will be fed by new precipitation from Thursday.

    The Functional Center of the Valle d'Aosta Region indicates in detail that large-scale general circulation is characterized, until tomorrow, by the passage of cooler air from northern Europe, and generally dry and quite sunny weather. Starting Thursday, the entry of an active disturbance from France will bring frequent rain and snow until next Monday at least.

    The general snow conditions are not yet sufficient for a good ski mountaineering activity, but the layers of snow that have just fallen should be a good starting point for the upcoming season. As far as climbing is concerned, activity has now mainly shifted to low altitudes and warm regions (Finale, Albenga, etc.): many low-altitude structures in the valley (including cliffs but also long routes) can offer very pleasant conditions if climbed in the sunlight and in the absence of wind. Finally, in terms of hiking, the trails are covered with snow above 1,800 meters. Under that altitude, the southern slopes can always be pleasantly frequented.

    Do not forget that the Skyway Monte Bianco is closed for testing and periodic reviews, while the Cervinia area is open from Plan Maison, with the connection to active Switzerland.

  6. OHM Chamonix
    As this brief report is being written, the first snowflakes are falling in Chamonix.  Winter is on its way.

    The succession of weather fronts has resulted in a gradual build-up of the snowpack, with 50cms at 2500m and 15cms at 2000m having been reported. There is snow cover down to 1500m.  This depth will increase today and a further 15cm above 1500m is forecast for tonight, (Thursday.)

    While waiting for the BERA reports to restart, think about consulting the Information Neige et Avalanche on the Météo France site.:

    Though the weather has been bad for the alpinists, it is good news for the mountain conditions which are now improving after a particularly dry summer.

    There is still not enough snow yet for skiing, except at ski resorts with glaciers above 3000m.  (Les Diablerets, Verbier and Cervina will be partially open this weekend.)

    Hiking is best restricted to the good paths below 1500m, (Petits Balcons, Floria and Chapeau cafes etc).  Experienced, well equipped hikers though, can enjoy the first winter snows; for example, the Chailloux chalets, the Loriaz chalets and Montenvers.

    Concerning the lifts, the Aiguille du Midi, Planpraz and the Skyway (Courmayeur) are now closed until the start of the ski season. The Montenvers train is the only thing open, (the ice cave and lift is closed until 13th December.) 

  7. Fondazione Montagna Sicura - Courmayeur

    The weekend was very favourable to mountain activities with sunny days and pleasant temperatures.

    On the other hand, this week looks rather disturbed because of the currents of high altitude, which allow the passage of more humid air (passage already between tonight and tomorrow morning). The weather in western Alps will be changing and characterized by alternating dry and sunny periods and grey periods with very light rain.

    In the high mountains, snow was less abundant than it seemed at the beginning: in the sector of Pointe Helbronner, on the glacier, the disturbances did not leave more than 20/30 cm of snow compressed and worked by the wind, while frost has concreted the walls. The sun quickly cleared the rock facing south, but snow is still present on the northern slopes. For the moment, the ice is not yet very well formed, so it is still too early to consider the chutes; climbs in mixed (or even new lines) have already been carried out, but they suppose an excellent capacity of evaluation and management under ephemeral conditions. Strung on the Aiguille d'Entrêves, on the Marbrée, on the Dente del Gigante and on the Kuffner (for this we have no feedback on the specific conditions).

    Sometimes, approaches have been made on skis, but for that, it is recommended to pay the greatest attention and the greatest caution: many holes are covered by the snow extended by the wind and are not visible. It is necessary to get into proper coordination (distances) to manage the risk.

  8. OHM Chamonix
    Another week of bad, at times tempestuous, weather with snow and strong winds in the mountains.  Therefore, it is difficult to estimate the depth of new snow.  Looking at the various webcams in the massive will give some idea of the conditions :

    The forecast is for better, warmer weather this the weekend, especially in the mountains.

    This could be a last chance for hikers, climbers and alpinists to profit from this year’s pleasant, autumnal days.

    In the high mountain the conditions are already wintery.  There has been virtually no activity for some time, and the OHM has not received any information concerning the mixed routes.

    Hopefully this will change as the activity restarts and people (please!) report back.

    Some classic routes, such as the Aiguille du Tour, Mont Blanc by the Goûter or the Grand Paradiso are feasible for experienced alpinists willing to accept the long approaches, (lifts and huts closed,) and trail breaking.  Snowshoes could prove useful.

    For those wanting day trips, (near the Aig du Midi or the Punta Helbonner; cable cars still open), the Cosmiques Ridge and the traverses of Pointes Lachenal, Aig des Entrèves or Marbrées are feasible, (in mixed conditions). 

    Rock climbers need to forget the granite in the massive and go for the routes in the Aiguilles Rouges (Planpraz lift open) or the valley crags. Good weather has also been promised for the neighbouring valleys and ranges, (Aravis, Chablais, Aosta Valley, Lower Valais etc.).

    Lastly, the hiking trails in the valley are without problems.  Make sure you are properly equipped, (good mountain footwear and walking poles,) as the shaded forest trails can be slippery. 

  9. Fondazione Montagna Sicura - Courmayeur

    In this short pause between the perturbations, today the mountains have shown themselves to be well snowed above 2,700 / 2,800 meters.

    In detail, the forecasts announce that until tomorrow, Thursday 24, large-scale circulation will be characterized by the presence of a large area of low pressure slowly moving towards southern Italy. His influence on the weather in our region will end on Friday. Therefore today temporary dry break with beautiful sunny spells, but already from the evening we will have the first rains; Thursday disturbed with clouds and rainfall and from Friday time in a definite improvement with stable weather until at least Tuesday.

    The activity in the mountains will probably resume close to the weekend, with conditions still to be evaluated, even if the snowfalls of recent days will have a rather long train. On average, it will be pleasant to take advantage of the autumn conditions to walk the paths of our beautiful valleys. In any case, it is recommended to pay close attention to the watercourses which, with the abundant precipitations, can assume impetuous character even when in summer the flow is usually scarce.

  10. Fondazione Montagna Sicura - Courmayeur

    Mountain conditions: the autumn conditions that have been established in recent days will continue for a few days. From the Regional Functional Center the forecasts announce in fact the minimum depression directed towards the Portuguese coasts will continue to send disturbed flows, with precipitation that will continue this afternoon. Tomorrow the minimum will shift, allowing a wedge of high pressure to expand also towards the Valle d'Aosta, bringing more stable conditions and temperatures slightly higher due to the call of more mild African air. But Wednesday the minimum will regain strength, again conditioning the weather with rainfall on Thursday and falling snow levels. Improvement later.

    The amount of snow deposited on the ground, being very windy, is not easily quantifiable (up to 40 cm) due to the inhomogeneity of its distribution. This contribution is gradually transforming the conditions, making the situation of mixed routes slowly evolve - after the extremely dry summer - towards more normal conditions. However, the weather situation is not allowing the mountaineering activity (if not in a very limited way on the easiest and closest routes to the cable cars); of course for the rock roads, at medium and high altitudes, the structures are snow-covered and wet.

    As for the trails and hiking, snow is currently confined to altitudes above 2,500 / 2,700 meters; be careful, however, to assess the exposure well: in this period of great temperature changes, it is often possible to find areas in the shade that are fresh and still covered with snow, although in the sun you still walk in a t-shirt! However, walks immersed in autumn colors are an experience not to be missed.