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 (brief) information for the weekend.
     
    One spell of bad weather has been quickly followed by another, making the good weather windows very short. The main activities, therefore, have been off piste skiing, ski touring and snow shoeing, (on the trails at the head of the valley.)
     
    On Thursday, there was 50cms of fresh snow at Vallorcine and a bit more in Courmayeur, (due to pockets of cold air). In the Chamonix valley and the Prealps, (Chablais and Aravis,) it rained up to 2000m

    At altitude, there has been 40 to 50cm of new snow reported since Thursday morning. PIDA, (Avalanche Patrols) have released unstable snow with depths of 40cm to 1m, sometimes in large quantities.
      
    Concerning the off piste, the snow is relatively good and the successive snow dumps have increased the chance of making “fresh tracks”.  Be aware of the avalanche risk.

    The three designated ski touring trails (Les Houches, Trapette at Argentiere and Le Tour) are feasible.

    All the classic ski tours could be OK but be aware of the avalanche danger. It is possible to start skinning from Notre Dame de la Gorge, Plaine Joux (Pointe de Pormenaz), La Flatiere (Aiguillette des Houches), Buet (Bérard Valley / Buet), Couteray (Loriaz sector), Finhaut (Bel Oiseau sector) and Col de la Forclaz (Pointe Ronde).

    Concerning the glaciers, the Argentiere sector is popular, (hut open, telephone working again.) It is still probably too early for the Aiguille d’Argentière by the glacier du Milieu, even if the recent snows have improved the lower part.

    No information for the Brèche Puiseux or the Conscrits sectors, (weather windows often too brief.) 

    The recent snowfalls have improved conditions for the lower part of the Mer de Glace and it is possible to reach Montenvers without problems. The people responsible for the ice cave have put out a warning that the old, (lower,)  ice cave is at risk of collapsing.  It is therefore best not to pass this way but to approach the steps from above.  

    The descent by the Mottets snack bar, (open this weekend,) down to Chamonix is possible, with some rocks showing through on the lower part of the glacier and on the bends before the Planards Farm, (not to be recommended to people with new skis!)  

    The marked snow shoe trails at altitude are feasible but check first for those managed by the Company du Mont Blanc on their website: : http://www.skiplan.com/bulletin/bulletin.php?station=chamonix&region=alpes&pays=france&lang=en). The more experienced snow shoers can consider the unmarked trails up to Chailloux or Loriaz.

    For the hikers, it is best to keep down in the valley on the signposted paths.  Please check the avalanche risk before doing certain routes.  For example, the way up to the Chapeau cafe, normally practicable this winter, has frequently to be avoided during the last few weeks due to avalanche risk

    Following a stonefall, the path beside the Arve between Les Monquarts and the Eaux Rousses path is closed until 13th March. 

    There is still icefall climbing on the true left bank of the Argentière glacier, (Déferlante sector) and at Cogne, (Patri, Lillaz gully, Patinaggio Artistico etc).

    There is no recent information for the gullies, except for a party seen on the Pellisier (Pointes Lachenal) last weekend. 

    A party did the Fil à Plomb on Wednesday: deep snow, crux still with ice but too thin for ice screws.  
    The gullies on the N face of the Aig du Midi, (Vent du Dragon etc ), and the Triangle du Tacul look to be very dry.
  2. OHM Chamonix

    Some information for the weekend!


    The Argentière and Cosmiques huts open this weekend. The Requin, Torino, Loriaz and Lognan huts are already open.


    The recent snowfalls  have improved ski conditions. There are still some ice plates or hard snow, notably on the moguls or convex slopes, (drop offs). In general conditions are reported to be good, even if some areas are wind affected.   It was warm on Thursday and the snow on the slopes receiving the sun is being transformed, (could be crusty).


    Most of the classic ski tours should be feasible this weekend, plus the forecast is for good weather.

    At mid altitudes: for example,  Crochue-Bérard traverse, Cols des Dards and Bélvédere, (there and back), Col de Beugeant, Mont Buet, Col de l'Encrenaz from the Col des Montets, Col de la Terrasse, the Bel Oiseau / Fenestral sector, (some walking low down), Contamines sector: Col de la Cicle / Jovets lakes, (roman road icy, crampons useful).


    On glaciers: Helbronner sector (the Marbrées, Toula glacier, col and shoulder of the Entrèves, Brenva glacier were done on Thursday 20/02), Brèche Puiseux, Argentière sector (Col des Grands Montets, Col du Passon, Col du Chardonnet + 3 cols. N.B. the glacier du Milieu is very dry and not recommended. Col du Tour Noir, Col d'Argentière), descents towards Trient (this sector has been affected by the wind, it is only just possible to get to the parking on skis.)


    All the Valley Blanche variations were skied on Friday 21/02, (good snow, in the process of being transformed,). The Salle à Manger passes reasonably well.  There are still some plates of icy snow on the Vallée Noire, but it is OK. 
    There is a lack of snow in the lower part, but the last two snowfalls have made it possible, (for the moment,) to ski within 50m of the ice cave without too much bare ice or rocks. After the Salle à Manger it is best to keep to the true right bank until the junction with the Leschaux glacier.

    During this holiday period the lifts, (Aiguille du Midi and Montenvers train) are very busy. Think about reserving a “benne”, (Aig du Midi) and having spare time at the end of the day.


    Some information on the "couloirs", (the conditions can change rapidly.) 
    - Cosmiques couloir and  Rond glacier: very hard snow at the top, walking foreseen from below the ancient Para station or the Combe des Glaciers.
    - Gervasutti couloir on the Tour Ronde is skiable but better suited for alpinism!
    - Capucin couloir has been done; no further information. 
    - NNE of the Courtes (the summit part is probably fairly dry) and the Col des Cristaux were skied with good snow on 20/02.
    - Aiguille d’Argentière: Barbey couloir was skied last weekend, (“concrete” high up, better on the lower two thirds.)  No information for the “Y” this winter. 


    Concerning the ice gullies: little or no change since the last update of 12/02, (most of the climbing is in the Valle Blanche sector.)  The ice plating on « Beyond Good Evil” is now very thin.  
    The approach behind the Requin was tracked by ski on 20/02. (Ice is Nice : looks thin but with ice  + Sorenson Eastman: the bergschrund is no longer passable, need to use the rocks, then good conditions until the narrow gully near the top which is very dry.) 


    No major changes concerning the hiking or snowshoe trails.  Likewise, for the icefalls.

  3. OHM Chamonix
    A complicated winter!


    A quick overlook of the recent weather:
    -A series of weather fronts and storms at altitude
    -Very strong winds
    -Rain on Monday for several hours, up to 2300m
    -Little or no fresh snow below 2500m, (no info for above).


    Therefore, activities in the high mountain are not obvious during this holiday period. 
    The information the OHM has received indicates that the ski conditions remain “special”.


    Concerning the pisted ski areas, the snow cover is still satisfactory and most of the pistes are open, weather permitting.  Only certain areas at low altitude are suffering from insufficient snow.
    In general, ski conditions are OK.  Certain pistes, (particularly the steeper ones,) have hard snow with ice plates starting to show through during the day.  Choose pistes in accordance with your ability and control your speed!

    Conditions off piste are “variable,” drifted snow alternating with plates of hard, icy snow, (risk of breaking away in places.)


    The langlauf tracks are suffering from a lack of snow and coldness in the valley floor.  The best choice is at Argentière, though there are some pistes open at Chamonix and Vallorcine. More info on what is open at:  https://www.chamonix.com/ouverture-des-pistes,129,fr.html

    The avalanche transceiver practice area, (DVA park) at Savoy is closed since today, due to lack of snow.


    The snow shoe tracks and the winter walking trails in the valley floor, ( Lac Vert loop, Bossons glacier, Cerro chalet, Cerfs loop, Tines loop) are all possible without snow shoes, Hiking is also possible, (with proper footwear, hiking poles and walking crampons,) near the Ayeres chalets, the Charousse alp and the Chapeau buvette.

    Snow shoers need to go to Vallorcine (Granges loop) or at altitude using the lift system, (Prarion, Montenvers, Flégère/Index, Col de Balme and Aiguillette des Posettes from the top of the Vallorcine bubble lift.)  With the recent weather, the snow is hard rather than powdery.


    Concerning ski touring, the OHM has not received any info yet following the good weather this Wednesday.  Last weekend all the classics in the Aiguilles Rouges (Pointe de Pormenaz, Crochue-Bérard, Pointe Alphonse Favre, Col des Dards, Col du Bélvèdère, Beugeant, Buet), in the Argentiere sector, (Col du Passon, Col du Tour Noir, Col d'Argentière) and in the other sectors nearby (Bel Oiseau, Val Montjoie) were done. Generally good conditions, (20-30cms of fresh snow on a hard base), though ski crampons and sharp edges are needed because of plates of hard, icy snow in places . 
    Hopefully, the conditions have not deteriorated too much since.


    The Valley Blanche is being done.  Good conditions high up, but “complicated” lower down due to the lack of snow.


    Concerning the alpine ice gullies, there have been ascents on the Pointe Lachenal (Pellissier in good conditions), Cecchinel-Jager and Scotch on the Rock (no further info,) E face of the Tacul (Modica-Noury, Gabarrou-Albinoni), the Combe Maudite (Grassi-Comino), the Col des Grands Montets (Pépite) and the Col des Pélerins (Beyond Good Evil)...


    Concerning the icefalls, it is still possible to climb on the true left bank of the Argentière glacier, (Deferlante sector, EMHM) and at Cogne (Lillaz, Patri, Acheronte, some more info here: https://www.iceclimbingcogne.com/ice-conditions/). It is finished for the Crèmerie, (unless there is another cold spell.)

  4. 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
    prohibition.

  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. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. Fondazione Montagna Sicura - Courmayeur

    The second week of October opens with a first weak autumn snowfall that has reached the mid-mountain (lower limit at around 2,000 meters in the Upper Valley) whitening the landscape. Let's see in detail the weather evolution.

    The high pressure on the Middle Atlantic tends to strengthen until Friday with a rise in temperature to a decidedly warmer climate tomorrow, but with a probable incursion disrupted on Wednesday. After the snowfall of this night, today the day will be sunny with some initial residual cloudiness, located in particular on the ridges. The strong winds at altitude are attenuated until they become weak in the afternoon; also the foehn in the valleys is expected to be attenuated. Thermal zero from 2100 meters up to 3300 meters.

    General conditions in the mountains: in the high mountains the activity is significantly reduced, the snow and the wind have diverted the climbers towards the medium and low altitude rock routes. To assess the evolution at altitude it is necessary to wait for the new impulse of the next few days and see its effects. In medium mountain, considering hiking activity, the snow fallen above 2,000 meters, should quickly melt, but beware of the shady slopes (north) where it will be possible, especially early in the morning, to find ice on the ground. It could therefore better to prefer sunny routes and paths, at least for the days of today and tomorrow.

  10. Fondazione Montagna Sicura - Courmayeur

    Close to the weekend, we update you on the general conditions in the mountains.

    From the meteorological point of view, the conditions are typically autumnal, with more pretty cold temperatures. In detail, the western currents will bring on the Aosta Valley an alternation of weak disturbances; between Sunday evening and Monday, cold air from the north will cause a temporary drop in temperatures with possible weak snowfall even in medium mountain areas, while later there will be a partial anticyclone comeback with a subsequent return to an Atlantic flow.

    As for the alpinism, the situation does not seem to favour a great activity in the high mountains. The faint snowfalls that have just fallen (between 10 and 20 cm) have created accumulations on the ledges and clogged the cracks, precluding rock activity for a few days. For the other routes, the more classic ones remain (Aig. Entreves, Dente del Gigante, Marbrées ...) but great attention is recommended to the presence of snow. For the rest, pay attention to the covering effect of the holes that snow has often made on glaciers: caution.

    In the mountains, hiking and rock climbing are practiced without any particular problems, but beware of snow or glass walls above 2400 m, particularly on the northern slopes. It should also be noted that some paths in the shade or in the woods can be damp and have slippery tracts at this time of year.

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