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
    Firstly, Happy New Year from the team at Chamoniarde; wishing you many great outings in 2020.


    The anticyclonic conditions have allowed for increased activity in the mountains after an Autumn and December of unstable weather.


    For ski tourers: all the classic outings, (Val Monjoie, Pormenaz, Aiguilles Rouges, Loriaz/Bel Oiseau sectors/Col de la Forclaz,) are popular.  The snow cover is good above 1500-1800m but can be sparse below this.  The snow quality is very variable, often wind or sun affected but still mainly giving pleasurably skiing.  It is possible to start skinning directly from Plaine Joux, Buet, Couteray and Trient.  As a reminder, the Loriaz and Lognan huts are open for the season.


    Ski touring is also possible on the glaciers: Glacier des Grands, Col du Passon (awkward to ski avalanche debris in the lower part), Col du Chardonnet, Col du Tour Noir, Col d'Argentière, Tour des Périades, Glacier del Toula etc.  The Valley Blanche has black ice on the ridge, which is not yet equipped other than some belay stakes.  The snow quality is variable, with a weak cover below the Salle à Manger and there are quite a lot of stones between the ice cave and the way up to Mottets. The descent to Chamonix "acceptable".

    You are reminded that it is still early season and many crevasses are still open.  Good skills at reading the terrain are essential.


    The anticyclone which has brought agreeable temperatures to the high mountain has also helped with the formation of ice and led to a return of activity.  In general, the conditions remain thin, so it is difficult to talk of “good conditions”.  However, certain routes are being done frequently.  Some examples: Couloir Lagarde direct, Couloir Couturier, Beyond Good Evil, Fil à Plomb, Mallory-Porter, Eugster Diagonal, Modica-Noury, Pellissier Gully, M6 Solar, Lafaille Gully and Valeria Gully.  The routes behind the Requin and in the Combe Maudite look to be feasible. There is no information for the Chardonnet or the Pointe du Domino.

    It is difficult for someone to be totally objective when reporting on conditions, especially as their technical abilities have such an effect. In addition, with social networking, it is not unusual to find conditions not as good as expected but with still a crowd at the start of the route!


    Concerning ice climbing, the routes are coming into condition on the upper true right bank of the Argentiere, (Mur des Jumelles, Résurgence) and the left bank, (Déferlante...). Conditions are also improving at Cogne.  Please note, as last year, climbing in a sector in Valnontey is forbidden due to bird nesting.  The icefalls concerned are: Gusto di Scozia, Flash Estivo, Flash Estivo colonnata centrale, Fiumana di Money, Fallo di Plutone, Coupè di Money, Mistiria, Coupè Money variante, Cascata della pazienza, Cascata della rassegnazione, Meeting 2000, Sweet Valentina, Voglia di tenerezza....More information here : https://www.planetmountain.com/en/news/alpinism/valnontey-cogne-ice-climbing-ban-to-protect-bearded-vulture.html ).


    Snow shoes are not necessary for the marked trails below 1800 m (well tracked by many people), but good footwear and poles are. 

  2. OHM Chamonix
    The last update for 2019, for a weekend that promises to be sunny.
    The storm last weekend brought with it a lot of snow at altitude, but also strong winds and with a warm period at the end.  This resulted in wet snow below 2000m, (risk of snow slabs detaching from ground level.) The off piste ski conditions often unpleasant, (a crust above a deep layer of soft snow and inconsistent hard snow at altitude).


    The spell of bad weather on Friday, (27th,) put down 30cms of snow at 2000m and around 10cms of damp snow at 1000m. Above 2000m the snow cover has been affected by the wind.  Already on Friday there have been quite a few avalanches. (A thinnish layer of fresh snow sliding on an old, hard layer.) 
    Take care this weekend with the return of the sun and a rise in temperatures, (0ºC isotherm around 3000m on Saturday and Sunday.) There will be a lot of people about.  USE ALL YOUR SENSES NOT JUST THOSE OF YOUR TRANSCEIVER!


    The snow cover is very good for the time of year above 1500m but remains poor below 1400m.

    Most of the ski area is now open. You can see exactly what lifts and pistes are open in real time at: http://www.skiplan.com/bulletin/bulletin.php?station=chamonix&region=alpes&pays=france&lang=en


    For ski tourers not wishing to use the lifts, one can start skinning e.g.  at Bettey, Le Tour parking, Vallorcine, Bel Oiseau and Col de la Forclaz.  To repeat, be careful with your route choice, given the potentially hazardous conditions due to the mixture of fresh snow, wind and rising temperatures.
    There have been a lot of people asking about the Valley Blanche. It is still a bit too early and for the moment it is only suitable for very experienced ski mountaineers.


    There is no information about the gullies and mixed climbs.  It has been very windy.  The OHM is looking forward to receiving your reports! 
    Concerning the valley ice climbs, there is not much about, which is to be expected given the temperatures. There is some ice at Cogne, otherwise patience is needed, (to avoid everybody on the same icefall!)  Hopefully, conditions will improve in January.


    The snow shoe tracks are open, (best above 1500m) : (https://www.ccpmb.fr/uploads/2019/12/TopoRaquettes_2019-20_light.pdf). The Company du Mont Blanc maintains some tracks at altitude, accessible by lift: (http://www.skiplan.com/bulletin/bulletin.php?station=chamonix&region=alpes&pays=france&lang=en). These would give access to the superb views from the Prarion or Flegere this weekend.


    Take care and a Happy New Year to everyone

  3. OHM Chamonix
    Following a period of winter there was an Indian summer!  The start of this year’s ski season has been very strange with big snowfalls interspersed with warm, foehn storms.  
    Last week was dominated by windy, foehn weather with temperatures well above the norm, (up to 15.5ºC in the valley and with the isotherm above 2000m, even at night.)  For example, it was 6C° at Lognan at 8h00 this Friday morning.

    Given this, you will understand that the snow cover has suffered.  There is no snow left in the valley floor or up to 1400/1600m depending on the orientation. The ski conditions both on and off the piste are not the best.  Hopefully, the forecasted precipitation this weekend will improve this situation in time for the Christmas holidays. 

    As far as ice climbing is concerned, patience is still needed! 

    Concerning the lifts, the Aiguille du Midi is now open since Thursday, (weather permitting). The Vallorcine and the Mer de Glace lifts open this weekend.  However, the Brevent cablecar will remain closed until January.  The "Col Cornu" piste is currently closed due to the threat of unstable snow.
  4. 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. 

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  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. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

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