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
    Some more information following the weekend:

    The re-freezing is in places limited, areas in the sun are becoming very warm during the day. Avoid being caught out later in the day when there is a significant risk of (wet snow) avalanches. Though the weather is more like April, it is still only February and too early for many of the high-altitude routes, most of which are still dry.


    Tour/Trient Sector: The Three Cols route is tracked; the descent either to Trient or Le Tour is in good condition, (as is the Col du Passon.) 
    Argentière Sector:  Col des Cristaux has been skied with good snow, (starting 40m below the col as above is dry).  The Couturier is tracked in ascent, conditions look to be OK. Courtes and Droites are still dry (NE also). The bergschrund for the “Y” on the Aiguille d'Argentière looks problematical, but no further information.  The Cols du Chardonnet, du Tour Noir and d'Argentière are tracked, (sometimes Spring snow, sometimes powder, depending on the aspect.) The return by the true left bank of the glacier to Lognan is good.


    Talèfre Sector:  Very average conditions for the “Y” on the Aiguille Verte, (lower band in bad condition, more information in the cahier de course). On the other hand, the Whymper is in good condition, (the bergschrund goes on the left ascending, couloir completely on snow, softish, allowing step kicking.)  The central couloir gives the best exit, (right couloir has ice, Pierre à Béranger couloir has avalanche snowballs.)


    Géant / Helbronner Sector:  Aiguille du Midi Ridge: Crampons essential, rope recommended.  Note, one needs to descend a little further than usual, to the second flat area, as the first step is bare ice.

    Good conditions for the Valley Blanche, the descent from les Mottets is beginning to suffer but still OK. Brèche Puiseux is very popular, (50 m abseil), likewise the Capucin couloir (60 m abseil) and the Aiguillette du Tacul. Spring conditions on the Italian side (Marbrées, Toule: hand rail to get to the stairs, Col d'Entrèves, Brenva.)  Need to be there at the right time of day to get the best ski conditions.

    The Mallory on the Aiguille du Midi is tracked in ascent.  The rock fall at the end of last summer is causing some problems on the Cosmiques Ridge, (there is an unstable section if it is not frozen, 2 abseils, 50m rope suffices.)   
    Grands-Mulets: N Ridge is not in condition. Some parties have skinned up by the Plateaux, (fragile snow bridges on the slope beneath the Small Plateau,) and then the ridge to the Vallot hut, (rock hard snow on the Bosses ridge, good snow on the descent).


    Tête Rousse Sector:  Trappier Couloir in good condition, with the ascent via the Rognes. Désert de Pierre Ronde is tracked. A roped party has ascended Mont Blanc from Bellevue, without snow shoes, must have been a struggle! 


    Aiguilles Rouges : ski touring just about everywhere, (descent to Valloricine, Buet and Plaine Joux OK.)  Be aware of the avalanche risk on slopes exposed to the sun and the possibility of cornices collapsing.


    Ice Climbing: Still a lot to go at, if not exposed to the sun, (Notre Dame de la Gorge, Left bank of the Argentière glacier, Pétoudes.) It is probably over for the Argentière Right bank. The Barre des Charcotains is finished. Still plenty to do at Cogne.

  2. OHM Chamonix
    Here is the update for this week of beautiful weather. 

    The amount of snow (about 30 to 40 cm above 2000m). deposited during the bad weather last weekend is difficult to estimate because of the accompanying strong winds. Spring weather has arrived for the first week of the half term holidays.  The freezing level is climbing very high during the day, (above 3000m.)  As you may guess, this heat can cause wet snow slides/avalanches, especially on the sunny slopes.  The snow quality is variable, frozen and often affected by the wind on the north facing slopes, frequently crusty where exposed to the sun.  (Further transformation is needed before it becomes ideal for skiing.)

    Ski touring remains the most popular activity for this winter.  Conditions are generally good, though it is important not to be too late in the day.  There is snow right down to the valley floor and the mid-mountain classics are popular.  For example: at Contamines (Monts Jovets, Cols de Fenêtre/Cicle/Chasseurs), at Plaine Joux (Moëde Anterne, Pointe Noire de Pormenaz), in the Aiguilles Rouges (all the routes), at Vallorcine (Buet, Loriaz, Col de la Terrasse), and in the neighbouring Switzerland (Bel Oiseau, Carraye, Pointe Ronde).

    This good weather has also meant the start of the ski mountaineering season.  The “Z” track from the Aiguille du Midi is open but very icy, (crampons essential).  The Valley Blanche is basically in good condition and it is possible to ski down to Chamonix.  The way up to the Brèche Puiseux is tracked, as is the descent to the Mont Mallet glacier (icy snow in the exit couloir). On the Italian side, all the classics are tracked (Marbrés,Toule, Col d'Entrèves, Brenva) but respect the time of day. There is skiing has also in the Argentiere sector, (the hut opens today, Friday), e.g. Col des Grands Montets, traverse of the Col du Passon, Three Cols, Col du Tour Noir and Argentière are all tracked.  However, the is no information concerning the north faces, which look to be very dry. There has been activity in the Trient sector, (e.g. Glacier des Grands), the return is good.

    Conditions for ice climbing are changing rapidly with this warm weather.  It is recommended to avoid areas that catch the sun, (e.g. right bank of Argentière)). Even in shaded areas be very careful to check the conditions. 

    Still little or no information about winter mountaineering and the mixed routes.  The Cosmiques Ridge is being done regularly.  

  3. OHM Chamonix
    An update for this weekend and the start of the school holidays.  The conditions are becoming favourable for winter sports.  Unsettled weather this weekend but sunshine is forecast for next week.


    For skiers, (piste, hors-piste and touring), the snow is overall good.  However, there remains an important risk of avalanche which will become difficult to spot with the snowfall and wind foreseen for this weekend.  Many professionals have observed avalanche activity in areas not usually affected, take care!  


    During this holiday period there will be a lot more skiers on the pistes, adapt your speed accordingly!


    For ski-tourers, conditions are mainly good, though some rocks are exposed here and there.  There is a cornice threatening the true right bank of the ENSA couloir, (notably if there is a wind or a warm period.)

    The Valley Blanche is generally in good condition.  The ridge is equipped with rope handrails and stakes but the « Z » is not tracked yet.  There are quite a few rocks on the Mer de Glace between the ice caves and the climb back up to Mottets. From Mottets the descent down to Chamonix is OK.

    The classic ski tours remain popular, (Contamines valley, Aiguilles Rouges, Bel Oiseau / Col de la Forclaz sector etc.) Good conditions also higher up on the glaciers, (Brèche Puiseux, Argentière sector, Col du Passon etc.)
    Generally good conditions also for ice climbing. 


    However, for the mixed routes, as has been the case for the last two years, conditions are very dry with little or no activity.


    Enjoy the mountains safely and the Chamoniarde team look forward to hearing about your experiences on: https://www.chamoniarde.com/montagne/cahier-de-courses

  4. OHM Chamonix
    The high pressure since the last update has resulted in stable but very cold weather.  The region was not affected by the bad weather elsewhere on Wednesday.  There has been a cold wind since Thursday, causing windslab in places and probably large snow drifts at altitude. 

    Ski touring and ice climbing remain the main activities for the moment.  The winter mountaineering season has not really started yet, the routes are still very dry.  

    Ski touring: touring possibilities throughout the Mont Blanc range, (Aiguilles Rouges – Argentière sector - Requin sector – Col de la Forclaz – Loriaz sector …..) Possible to start skiing from 1000m, (cover initially poor, but good above 1500m.)  Take ski crampons because certain passages have been stripped down to hard ice/snow by the wind (ridges, cols.) 
    Ice climbing: Lots of activity last week in the following sectors: Trient (Pétoudes and Barre des Charcotins), Argentière (left and right banks) and Crèmerie .  A rope was seen on the Sainte Marie Viaduc icefall.  The lines looked to be formed at the Col des Montets (Barre du Chenavier) but no more information.  The Loriaz icefall looks to be well formed. In the Aosta valley, conditions remain unchanged from the last update, (19th Jan).

    Valley Blanche: the ridge is now partially equipped, with a rope on the crest, (very hard snow.)  The “Z” track is not yet in place.  The current conditions require a good level of ski ability.  The run down to Chamonix (via the Mottets,) remains OK.

    With regards to the re-opening of the Plan Praz lift. This should open on Sunday 27th January.  However, check the CMB site for the latest information as it might open already during the day on the Saturday.  It always remains possible to reach the Brevent ski area from the Flégère cable car. 

    Winter Hiking: the valley floor paths are icy, foresee using walking crampons.  The signposted snow shoe trails at mid-altitude, (prepared by the Mont Blanc Company) are proving popular as they have plenty of snow.  Those in the valley floor, (prepared by council, Communauté de communes,) have enough, albeit compacted, snow.
  5. OHM Chamonix
    The bad weather the previous weekend, together with that on Thursday, has greatly improved the skiing conditions. The amount of snow fallen varies from one sector to another, for example there is less snow at Vallorcine.

    The ski domains are in near perfect condition; blue skies, well prepared pistes and not too many people.  However, still take care, particularly in controlling one’s speed.  Also check the bulletin on the Compagnie du Mont Blanc site to see what is open!!

    Good conditions for ski touring, though the snow quality can be unreliable, (wind slab in places,) and there are still snow some icy patches away from the snow bowls.  (This can also mean a hard base with rocks just below the surface in some areas.)  It is now possible to put on the skis directly from the valley start.

    All the Aiguilles Rouges classics, (Col de la Terrasse, Mont Buet, Col de Beugeant, Col des Dards & du Belvédère, Crochues-Bérard, Brèche de Bérard, Col de la Floria, Col de la Glière, Aiguillette des Houches) and in the Argentière sector, (Col du Passon, Col du Chardonnet there and back, Col du Tour Noir) are tracked.

    Concerning the Aiguille du Midi, the ridge is still not equipped (only some stakes in place).  It is still early season, crevasse danger. There are some exposed rocks on the Mer de Glace but the following ski back down to Chamonix is good. The Mottets Buvette is open for the season, as is the Requin hut.
     
    Ice climbing is possible in the usual sectors: Trient (Pétoudes), Argentière (left and right banks, Crémerie) and Les Contamines. In the Aosta valley, the icefalls below 1800m are not well formed.  However, the lack of snow means those higher up are more easily accessible than usual. 

     No information concerning the mixed routes; still not in condition!!!

    Lastly, conditions for snow shoeing, ski du fond and winter hiking are good.

  6. OHM Chamonix

    Though large amounts of snow have fallen in Eastern Europe, we are still waiting for conditions to significantly change in the Western alps. 

    The last snowfall gave 20cms of light snow at 2000m, improving conditions both on and off piste, (take care the underlying base is hard.) 

    Ski touring is popular, despite the variable snow depths.  Ski crampons remain essential.  Still some walking for Loriaz and Bel Oiseau.  In the Contamines Montjoie valley, the roman road is bare ice, (crampons.).

    The wind over the last few days has caused drifting, especially in the high mountain.  Do not forget to check the weather forecast and avalanche risk before each outing.

    More snow is forecast for this weekend.
    In the high mountain conditions the faces and gullies remain extremely dry. Patience needed!

    Ice Climbing: The right and left banks of the Argentiere glacier are OK but the Cremerie and Berard still do not have much ice.

    With the lack of snow, the signposted snow shoe tracks are accessible for walkers. Lightweight crampons could be useful, even essential in some places, together with good boots and hiking poles. This should allow one to walk up to 1500m without too much problem.  

    Be warned that despite the lack of snow the paths at higher altitude, such as the Grand Balcons or to the Lakes, are not feasible for hikers or snow shoers.  

  7. OHM Chamonix
    The period of high pressure continues, meaning the conditions have not improved since the last update.
      
    The snow remains very hard (concrete), both on the piste and beyond.

    Ski touring continues in the same sectors : Bel Oiseau and Loriaz (some walking), Mont Buet/ Col de Bérard (thin snow cover and patchy lower in the valley), Aiguillette des Posettes via Ardoisières, from the Index/Flégère (Crochues-Bérard, Col des Dards, Col du Bélvédère, Col de Beugeant), Lacs Noirs et Aiguille de la Glière from Cornu, Aiguillette des Houches from the Brévent, Argentière  sector (via Grands-Montets,) Col du Passon there and back, Col du Chardonnet, Col du Tour Noir, Col d'Argentière).

    Though the above routes are not very technical, even the easiest amongst them are not currently suitable for beginners because of the difficult snow conditions, (risk of falling both in ascent and descent). Good technique, sharp edges and ski crampons are essential. 

    Of the signposted ski touring routes, only the one at La Tour is in reasonable condition (and even this requires ski crampons.)  

    Conditions for snow shoeing are not favourable, (poor snow cover, hard snow.)  Nonetheless, it is possible to go up to the Loriaz chalets or do a loop at the Prarion summit.  Most of the paths signposted by the Compagnie du Mont Blanc are open:  Aiguillette des Posettes from the Vallorcine ski bubbles and the Autannes loop (Balme domain,) Index loop and the Raverettaz (Flégère domain.).

    Hiking is possible in the valley up to about 1500m, (Petit Balcon sud, the Floria, cabane du Cerro. The paths have hard snow or ice, (good boots, hiking poles and small crampons necessary.)  It is possible to venture as far as Chapeau buvette, the Loriaz chalets, (both open), or the Chailloux chalets.

    Conditions for ice climbing have improved these last few days thanks to the cold spell.  No precise details, but there are possibilities at Trient, (Odeyi, les Pétoudes), Argentière (Crèmerie, Left and right banks):  Risk of overcrowding.  The Loriaz and Picheu icefalls look to be formed. 

    In the high mountain, activity is limited to the Marbrées traverse and Cosmiques Ridge, (possible to avoid last summer’s rock fall area by going directly up the gully to the right of the Cosmiques Spur,) There are some other possibilities e.g. Chéré, Burnier Vogler, Pélissier, though these are very dry.

    There is more precise information in the Chamoniarde Route Book. 
  8. OHM Chamonix
    The conditions for this (beautiful) holiday week :



    The bad weather last weekend resulted in rain as high as 2700m and a lot of snow above this. The return of good weather together with cold nights means the pistes (and beyond) are icy i.e. a bit like concrete!). 
    Think about checking the Chamoniarde route book and adding your experiences to it. cahier de course


    Though there is enough snow on the pistes, the icy conditions require prudence and respect for the other users. At Grands Montets the skiing is OK with 5cms of fresh snow on a hard base below 2000m.
    The avalanche transceiver practice areas are open at Les Houches and Flégère (plus d'infos)


    « Spring » conditions for ski touring, ( snow often hard which softens with the sun, some powder on the north facing slopes.). It is advisable to take both crampons and ski crampons. Since the rain, it may be necessary to walk a bit from the road, for example at Bel Oiseau there is a 15 min walk.   For the Loriaz chalets and the Col de la Terasse. It is best to follow the main track, especially in the lower part. No recent information for the descent of the Berard valley, forsee some walking ( crampons probably necessary.). Spring conditions on the south facing Aiguilles Rouges (col des Dards, col du Belvédère...).

    Generally good conditions in the Argentiere sector.  Col du Noir OK. Col d'Argentière,and Coll du Passon there and back as the Tour side is in bad condition.  The return to Lognan by the true left bank is good. 
    Activity continues in the Heilbonner sector  (Glacier de Toule, Col and shoulder d'Entrèves,  Marbrées traverse).  It is considered still too early for the Valley Blanche, which remains suitable only for experienced ski alpinists. The Midi ridge is very steep and not yet equipped. Overall the glacier is filled but nonetheless some of the snow bridges may be fragile.  There is a lack of snow lower down. 


    Concerning ice climbing, activity on the true left bank of the Argentière (Déferlante, Mini-couloir). The right bank looks to be well formed.


    The mixed routes appear to still be very dry….

  9. Fondazione Montagna Sicura - Courmayeur

    Some updates on the conditions at high altitude. As the situation in the mountains can change in a short time, we invite you to contact the Aosta Valley Alpine Guides Societies for further information and for your ascents.

    Monte Rosa - Gressoney

    Rifugio Città di Mantova

    We point out the presence of fresh snow at altitude for a recent snowfall (5 cm at Rifugio Mantova, 30-40 cm at Rifugio Regina Margherita) which has covered some crevasses superficially. Pay attention to wind accumulations. There are large crevasses behind the Capanna Gnifetti.

    Mont Blanc

    Rifugio Monzino

    The climbs to Pic Eccles, Punta Innominata and Cresta del Brouillard, the passage to Col Émile Rey are in poor condition. We report the presence of fresh snow for a recent snowfall.

    Rifugio Torino

    Pay attention to the ridge for the Aiguille de Rochefort, which is thin and sometimes unstable.

    Rifugio Boccalatte

    The normal route to the Grandes Jorasses presents a complex access to the glacier. We report the presence of fresh snow for a recent snowfall.

    Rifugio des Cosmiques - French slope of Mont Blanc

    The normal route for Mont Blanc is passable. There are 20 cm of fresh snow for a recent snowfall and the presence of ice towards the Col du Mont Maudit. Stay near the rocky sector on the right to get past the bergschrund of the Col du Mont Maudit.

    Rifugio del Goûter – French Mont Blanc slope

    The climb to the hut is done without the use of crampons and it is in good condition.

  10. Fondazione Montagna Sicura - Courmayeur

    The high temperatures of this summer can make some rock walls subject to discharges of stones that, even if small, can create problems to the rope teams.

    Always plan your ascents, take care of your equipment and carefully evaluate the high mountain conditions by contacting the Aosta Valley Alpine Guides Societies.

    Monte Rosa - Gressoney

    Rifugio Città di Mantova

    Good conditions on all routes. We point out the presence of fresh snow at altitude. Pay attention to the large crevasses behind Rifugio Gnifetti.

    Breuil - Cervinia

    Rifugio Teodulo

    Good conditions on all routes. We point out the presence of fresh snow at altitude.

    Matterhorn

    The Normal route presents good conditions. Crampons needed by the Great Cord up to the summit. Contact the Cervino Alpine Guides Society for further information.

    Gran Paradiso

    Rifugio Vittorio Emanuele

    Good conditions on the Normal route to the Gran Paradiso. Pay attention to the snow bridges that cross the large crevasses of the Laveciau glacier beyond the "schiena d'asino". Good conditions on the via ferrata.

    Mont Blanc

    Rifugio Monzino

    The climbs to Pic Eccles, Punta Innominata and Cresta del Brouillard, the passage to Col Émile Rey and the climbs to the Red Pillar of Brouillard and to the Central Pillar of Freney are in poor condition. The route Ratti Vitali on Aiguille Noire de Peuterey is not accessible.

    Rifugio des Cosmiques - French slope of Mont Blanc

    The Arête des Cosmiques is not recommended, given the rock falls that affected the area last week. As already noted, pay attention to a snow bridge in the middle of the Col du Mont Maudit and to the presence of ice on the crossing to the Colle della Brenva. It is advisable to leave early to face the route.

    Rifugio Torino

    Pay attention to the bergschrund at the Aiguilles d'Entrèves and the crevasses around the Tour Ronde.

    Conditions are good at the Aiguille de Rochefort (ice at the start) and at the Dente del Gigante (pay attention to the base). The Roi de Siam on the Petit Capucin is in good condition. The Cresta Kuffner on Mont Maudit is not accessible.

    Rifugio Gonella

    The first part of the Italian route to Mont Blanc on the glacier is articulated. The connection point between the last plateau presents a large serac. The slope of access to the ridge and the first part of the ridge that reaches the Piton des Italiens are free of snow and ice, so you climb on a rocky plate. Closure of the hut scheduled for 1 September 2018.

    Rifugio Boccalatte

    The Normal route to the Grandes Jorasses presents a complex access on the glacier.

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