Chamonix & Alpine Mountaineering Reports Summer 2016
13th October 2016, Aiguille du Bionnassay Traverse
We made the most of the last day of fine early autumnal weather yesterday to complete a brilliant 2 day traverse of the Aiguille du Bionnassay via a very cold night at the Durier Hut! The weather was good but unseasonably cold and our approach to the Durier was shrouded in thick localised cloud with snow. This gave a cold and wintery feel to the approach and a very cold night - but magnificent weather the next day with clear skies and only light winds.
Good autumnal conditions prevailed for the traverse with crampons on at the Durier Hut and good stiff snow all the way to the sunny rocky 'Bastion' section which was well exposed to the morning sun as we had deliberately left much later than usual to profit from the low freezing level (<2000m). Snow conditions on the narrow crest of the Bionnassay were good with a light track in places and minimal cornice issues compared to our previous ascents.
We made the long haul ascent up the steady drag to the Dome du Gouter to complete the traverse and make the junction with the good track on the normal route on Mont Blanc. Despite the track there was not a single climber seen on the whole traverse of the Bionassay or at any point on Mont Blanc. So it was in a lovely quiet & cool autumnal atmosphere that we made the descent from the Gouter and crossed a silent Grand Couloir.
We saw a track on the upper snow ridge section of the Arete du Tricot so it looked like someone had either climbed that route or the Bionnassay NW face and continued up the ridge....or it was a large fox! There was no track seen leading over from Mont Maudit to the Col de la Brenva and the 3 Monts Route on Mont Blanc. On Monday we met a team who had tried to climb the steep North side of Maudit and up to the shoulder but had turned around in fresh soft snow.
Over on the Gran Paradiso, Ben and team found good conditions on the Chabod Glacier route but, as with the conditions above, more fresh snow with strong winds today and tomorrow mean these conditions will evolve and become more autumnal.
Our conditions reports will also be evolving in to autumn & winter reporting now the summer mountaineering season is over. Stay tuned for more updates, good climbing in the meantime and please let us know if you have any good conditions info.
29th September 2016, Superb Early Autumn Alpine Morning On Mont Blanc
Well done to Matt, Sam & David who all climbed Mont Blanc this morning in a swift and stylish ascent in good conditions from the Gouter Hut. The ascent to Gouter was made on a beautiful calm autumnal day yesterday with a little fresh snow in an otherwise dry Grand Couloir. But it was cool and seemed calm in the area of the Grand Couloir. The autumn ascent is tougher in some ways but has numerous advantages too. Even though the Tete Rousse is now closed, the Gouter is still fairly quiet with lots of space until it closes after this weekend. The lifts and train are shut, adding physicality to the approach, but this has to be one of the best times of year to climb Mont Blanc!
In other news from the Northern Alps, the Matterhorn has received a few ascents in autumnal conditions and the with the Refuge closed but reasonable conditions reported on the Hornli Ridge. A lot snowier than normal summer conditions but doable for a strong team.
The Domes des Miages, Arete Rochefort, Aiguilles Marbrees, Cosmiques Arete & Tour Ronde have all also received ascents in pleasant cool, quite autumn conditions. The weather looks like it will hold until the weekend and then another dose of autumnal snow looks set to arrive with snow down to C 2500m.
26th September 2016, Early Autumn Brings Cooler & Better Conditions On Mt Blanc & Gr Paradiso
Sunny but cooler weather after last weeks fresh snow saw much improved conditions on both Gran Paradiso voie normale routes and the Mont Blanc Gouter Route. Excellent snow conditions and beautiful weather for the Gran Paradiso yesterday with numerous teams climbing from both the winter rooms of both Chabod and Vittoria Emmanuelle Huts as well as the usual fast teams climbing from the valley in lycra!
The track up the Chabod glacier negotiates a better line through the big crevasses and snow conditions were excellent in the track both here and on the descent to the end of the glacier above the VE Hut.
On Mont Blanc's Gouter route cooler weather after the fresh snow seemed to be providing more stable conditions in the Grand Couloir with some fine stiff snow conditions and clear dry rock to reach the Gouter Hut and an excellent snow track above that up the glacier to Vallot and on to the summit.
Pleasant conditions also reported from the other main easier classics accessed from the Midi & Hellbroner. Teams were traversing the Marbrees, a snowy Aiguille d'Entreves and climbing the North Face of the Tour Ronde as well as obviously the Cosmiques Arete.
14th September 2016, Lovely 'Last Day Of Summer' At L'Aiguille Du Midi
Excellent atmospheric days mountaineering around the Aiguille du Midi with big clouds rolling over in strong Foehn winds from the Southern Aosta Valley. Not a time to be stuck on a big route with a really bad forecast for tomorrow with heavy rain and snow above C. 2800m. This could herald the arrival of an autumn feel to the mountains as it has remained distinctly 'late summer' until now.
Lots of teams were enjoying the good snow conditions with tracks going over to Pt Lachenal, Col du Plan, Mont Blanc du Tacul, Cosmiques Arete and over to the Italian side and Punta Hellbroner. Whilst the South face of the Midi was stripped clear of snow, some of the shadier parts of the crag were still snowy from recent storms.
There was a set of tracks topping out on the Frendo Spur, left of Rognon finish, which must be getting pretty icy now. Things may well appear a lot snowier when the clouds part on the high mountains again after the next few days of cool and wet weather.
12th September 2016, Late Summer Conditions With Autumn Arriving Later This Week
The warm and sunny weather continues across the Northern Alps with lots of teams profiting and getting high mountain routes done. Many glaciers are starting to feel the pinch of the sustained warm weather at the end of the summer season however, the snowy start meant that high glaciers are hanging on well and the long ascent (11 hour round trip) of the Strahlhorn was in very good condition today. The Monte Rosa continues to offer reasonable conditions on the glacier and teams have also been climbing the Matterhorn in dry conditions.
On the Gran Paradiso, the Vittorio Emanuelle route is icy and we have been climbing via the Chabod hut. Even this route is getting a little icy in places and the big holes are of course, still there! Teams summiting today though and returning back down the mountain via the Chabod route.
In Chamonix the Aiguille du Tour is still being climbed with a substantial but passable crevasse on the final snow slope but otherwise reasonable conditions and teams have been climbing the Table de Roc Spur also. Most of the big local guiding companies are still not guiding Mont Blanc via the Gouter Route and this now includes the Courmayeur Guiding agency. Hopefully with the arrival of cooler, snowy and much more autumnal like conditions on Thursday things will start improving with regard to stone fall in the Grand Couloir.
High alpine rock routes have been in good condition and we have had teams enjoying long alpine / rock weekends climbing the classic NE ridge of the Aiguille de l'M, Eperon des Cosmiques, Cosmiques Arete, N. Ridge of the Petite Flambeau (a little icy) and the Aiguille Marbrees (very dry and loose where the abseils lead to the glacier).
8th September 2016, Weissmies Traverse, Problematic Conditions On Mont Blanc
Another perfect late summers day and a very enjoyable traverse of the Weissmies today from Almageller Hut, up the South Ridge and down the glacial northern side of the mountain to Hohsaas. The descent is a bit icy in places and rewards good cramponing and crampons but generally has a good track for the majority. Good conditions are also being reported from the Weissmies Hut for the ascent of the Lagginhorn normal route.
On the Monte Rosa, the hut is reporting decent late summer conditions on the long glacier approach to the Dufourspitze and for the aller retour along the West Ridge but not via the short & steep Silber Sattel approach / descent, where there has been a problem with the fixed ropes due to several stone fall incidents.
Conditions reports are less positive from Mont Blanc and whilst numerous teams climbed the mountain via the Gouter Route today, stone fall issues have re-emerged in the Grand Couloir and the 3 Monts route is also complicated by enhanced serac and crevasse issues, particularly on Mont Maudit.
6th September 2016, Portjengrat & Gran Paradiso
Surprisingly totally dry conditions on the traverse of the Portjengrat this morning despite yesterdays heavy rain. The forecast now looks good until Friday so hopefully the Weissmeis & LAgginhorn traverses can be completed on the same trip.
Over on the Gran Paradiso was good and the team made a return trip from the Chabod Hut. There are some big holes on the glacier and a large summit bergscrhund now but snow conditions were good and all members of the team enjoyed the summit climb.
5th September 2016, Wet & Snowy In Northern Alps Today - But A Good Week Ahead
A very wet and grey Monday morning for many locations in the Northern Alps with rain and snow above C. 3000m, then much better weather is forecast for the remainder of the week, up to Friday. A tough windy and snowy morning up at the Torino Hut this morning with 'Scottish Winter' conditions and blowing snow meant the team turned around from the Col Flambeau and returned to Val d'Aosta and are now heading up to the Rifugio Chabod to try the Gran Paradiso in better weather tomorrow.
Tim & Miles made an impressively swift ascent of the Walker Spur with some wet rock lower down; well iced in the red chimneys and snowy higher up.
Whilst we had good conditions on the Eiger at the end of last week and Monch and Jungfrau also, the former will not benefit from this fresh snow, below hut level and it will be interesting to see how quickly this burns off in the good weather later this week and for how long the Mittelleggi Hut stays open. South of the Rhone Valley the Weissmeis and Almageller Huts were reporting thick cloud and light drizzle this morning and could not see any fresh snow up the hill. Routes there will hopefully dry up quickly in the good weather from tomorrow and we are hoping to climb, Portjengrat, Weissmeis and Lagginhorn South Ridge this week too.
Much further South, on the Monte Viso East Ridge, good conditions were reported from a team climbing yesterday.
31st August 2016, Walker Spur, Eiger, Matterhorn
Despite a light overnight snow shower on the Matterhorn and a dusting of fresh snow above the Solvay Hut this morning, conditions were good and the fresh snow had burned for the descent. Similarly good conditions on the Eiger today with teams doing the traverse via Mittellegi Hut and down the South Ridge. Despite the very short season the hut is now considering it's closure, depending on weather but as early as next week if the weather turns for the worst.
Teams are primed to climb the Walker Spur on the Grandes Jorasses North Face tomorrow and at the Leschaux Hut tonight. The dry conditions have seen ascents of the spur over the last week or so but apparently the red chimneys are icy and the upper face is mixed and thus not all as dry, hot and loose as last year.
30th August 2016, Good Snow Conditions On Monte Rosa From Gressoney
The warm and sunny weather has opened up lower glaciers across the Alps and some high ones too, but the really high ones on the Monte Rosa were excellent today with a good track and fine conditions leading from the Gnifetti Hut all the way to Signalkuppe and the Margherita Hut. The team were enjoying this magnificent high alpine excursion as a high altitude but snowier and less technical alternative to Mont Blanc.
Conditions are looking dry and good for the Matterhorn ascent tomorrow and with only 45 or so in total in the hut it should be a relatively calm day on the mountain traffic wise. Numerous teams climbed both the Weissmeis & Lagginhorn today with the Almageller and Weissmeis Huts both reporting decent conditions.
In Chamonix many snow & ice routes are now well past their best for the summer season and will need some late summer / autumnal snow to re-charge icy faces with fresh and relatively warm and wet snow. Teams are still climbing the Frendo Spur albeit with dry / loose conditions lower down and a somewhat icy finish, left of Rognon, on the upper north face.
Due to cancellation - we now have 1 place available on our Climb The Weissmeis Course next week, 7-9th Sept. Please get in touch if you would like to join.
28th August 2016, Late Summer Alpine Conditions
Continued warm, even hot & sunny weather has given rise to some typical late summer conditions. It is late August! The hot weather has well stripped back even high altitude rocky & mixed routes and icy and loose rocky sections are now common on various high mountain itineraries - presenting a mix of conditions as dry conditions are welcome on some routes. The Matterhorn has been in good condition with dry conditions and crampons not required until above the shoulder where there are some remaining icy sections. Likewise on the Dent Blanche.
The dry conditions have made high altitude alpine rock routes popular and there has been lots of activity on the Walker Spur as well as the Petites Jorasses and South Ridge of the Noire de Peuterey. The other side of the Jorasses has remained unusually popular for late summer and the Voie Normale has remained in good conditions through much of the summer. So a great start for Franco in the newly opened hut!
On Mont Blanc, teams have been climbing from the Cosmiques Hut via the 3 Monts although the state of the seracs on Mont Maudit seems unstable and there is a tricky crevasse to cross. Conditions on the Voie Normale on the St. Gervais / Gouter side have deteriorated with the hot weather with reports of significant stone fall in the Grand Couloir. The approach to the Dent du Geant is also described as dry, loose and unstable. On the Tour Ronde conditions were ok for an ascent from the Freshfield col area but the winter voie normale was a 'disaster' with lots of significant rock fall in that area.
We have some teams on Matterhorn courses at the moment and some good routes have been completed in the build up including the traverse of the Aiguille d'Entreves, Perrons traverse above Vallorcine, Tour Ronde Freshfield Arete, Pointe Percee, Aiguilles Crochues Traverse and various rock routes in the Aiguilles Rouges.
19th August 2016, Gran Paradiso & Alpine Conditions Round Up
Great day for our large team on the Gran Paradiso yesterday with all 19 reaching the summit and completing an enjoyable traverse from Chabod to Vittorio Emanuelle Huts. Conditions are now becoming typical of recent late summer time with extensive crevassing on the Chabod glacier and some exposed ice on the Vittorio Emanuelle Route. There was an excellent overnight freeze, snow conditions were fine and the bridges and crevasses of the Chabod route all safely negotiated with minimum difficulty. In softer snow or with more melting this would probably require a re-routeing of the track to create a better route.
There was a well tracked descent to Vittorio Emanuelle although icy sections were encountered albeit dealt with in a straight forward manner - with good cramponing! Some teams were climbing the lower rocky shoulder between the 2 routes although the upper ridge of that also looked quite icy.
On other peaks, the Tresenta was totally dry and had been climbed albeit in rather loose rocky conditions. Ciaforon and Paradiso North Faces were both well icy and unappealing with much loose rock exposed on the former. The Grivola looked very dry and it would be good to know if the approach couloir and glacier have reasonable snow conditions as these combined with dry conditions on the face would present perhaps the most straightforward conditions for an ascent.
The Matterhorn was also in good fast condition yesterday although will of course not benefit from the fresh snow arriving tomorrow. Our Eiger team this week climbed the Dent du Geant in good conditions, although beware the loose rocky approach, but will not be climbing the Eiger for a while now probably after the snow tomorrow. They also climbed the fine rock route 'La ballade des gens heureux' (6a) and continued along the traverse of Les Perrons, above Vallorcine.
16th August 2016, Good Mountaineering Conditions Above The Albert Premier Hut & Mont Blanc & Eiger
Numerous teams were heading up to the Forbes Arete on the Aiguille de Chardonnet this morning, before dawn. Good conditions were reported although it was also reported that a 50m abseil was necessary on the descent, which was well tracked. Many teams were climbing the Aiguille du Tour, along with us, in great snow conditions on the glacier and dry conditions on the summit ridge. One team also traversed the Aiguille Purtscheller via an ascent of it's fine rock climb up the South Ridge.
Lots of teams were summiting Mont Blanc via the Gouter & Tete Rousse huts today as well as from the Cosmiques for the 3 Monts, Grands Mulets Hut and also the Durier Hut for the traverse of the Bionassay and on to the Dome du Gouter.
On the Eiger, Boris & guest competed the traverse from Mittellegi to Monchsjoch in 7 hours reporting snowy but still quite good conditions (not icy).
12th August 2016, Another Tough Summit Day On The Matterhorn
Strong winds, cool temperatures and verglassed rock made for difficult going on the Hornli Ridge on the Matterhorn again today. Our teams turned around at the Solvay Hut in difficult & slow conditions with verglas and fresh snow still on the rock. Most teams also turned around at or below the Solvay Hut although a few also carried on. This should clear over the next week or so with some pretty good weather forecast for the Swiss Alps over the next few days.
Elsewhere in the Swiss Valais, the Dent Blanche South Ridge and Voie Normale on the Nadelhorn were also climbed, again in quite snowy summer conditions.
A long, tough and brilliant day's alpine mountaineering on the world's most iconic mountain, The Matterhorn. There can be few alpine climbers (or even armchair climbers!) who have not dreamed of scaling this strikingly beautiful peak. The classic route starts from the pic... more>
11th August 2016, Gran Paradiso Summit - Matterhorn Demi Tour
There are a few early signs of autumn starting to creep in around the Northern Alps. Just a few leaves lying on the ground, slightly earlier arrival of dusk, the sun slightly lower in the sky and some chilly mornings. Still, there has been some fine weather and a lot more on the way according to the forecast. Jonny and team climbed the Gran Paradiso today via the Chabod hut after several days of training on the Mer de Glace and around Punta Hellbroner including an ascent of the Aiguilles Marbrees.
Ben & Andy had to turn around at the Solvay Hut on the Matterhorn today due to unexpected overnight snow and therefore tricky snowy conditions. A few teams continued to the summit from the Solvay but most turned back including the Zermatt Guides. Hopefully today's sunny & warmish weather will hopefully clear things up for another summit attempt, from a different team, tomorrow.
Routes climbed in training for the Matterhorn this week include Aiguille d'Entreves, Cosmiques Arete, Dent du Geant, Aiguille Rochefort & Tour Ronde.
8th August 2016, Excellent Alpine Mountaineering Conditions In The Bernese Oberland
The storm which battered the northern Alps on Friday deposited around 40cms fresh snow in the high Bernese Oberland with a rain snow limit of c.2800m. The mountains were out of condition in the gloomy and snowy conditions on Saturday but plenty of teams were out enjoying the sunny & snowy conditions on Sunday. We climbed the Fiescherhorn via its excellent NW ridge (AD-). Very good snow conditions on both the glacial approach and ridge itself with virtually no ice exposed on the steep pitch near the summit.
Many teams climbed the Monch via the normal route as well as descending the W ridge down towards The Jungfraujoch station. Another team broke trail form Monchjoch round to the East face and made God progress up the climbers right hand side of that to join the N ridge. It also looked from Kleine Scheidegg that there was a track leading to the Nollen on the North Face.
The Jungfrau normal route is tracked and in excellent condition with very little exposed ice. We climbed the route today in quick time thanks to the dry rock and good refrozen snow conditions. New track were also seen high on the massive whaleback summit of the Aletchhorn and on the normal route on the Finsteraarhorn.
The Eiger looks quite snowy still and is getting a lot less ascents than in the dry conditions of last year. Judging by the tracks and number of teams in the hut, it looked like only 1 team climbed the mountain yesterday, making the traverse from Mittellegi to Monchsjoch.
5th August 2016, Big Storms In The Mont Blanc Range - But Good Mid Summer Conditions
Big storms last night delivered some impressive flashes of lightening and a shallow covering of fresh snow above around 3000m. With strong winds at the same time there will be an elevated avalanche risk until the melt freeze cycle calms things down again.
Snow conditions were pretty good high on Mont Blanc - and will be again once the fresh snow settles. High altitude alpine rock routes like the Diable Ridge on Mt Blanc du Tacul have come in to good summer condition and again will clear quickly once the sun returns as forecast over the weekend and early next week.
Snow conditions were also reported as good on the traverse of the Aiguille du Chardonnet via the Forbes Arete and descending via the normal route.
4th August 2016, 2nd Matterhorn Summit In 2 Days....
Well done to this weeks Matterhorn guests, Marc and Alasdair who submitted yesterday and today respectively. Good conditions and en enjoyable aller retour up and down the Hornli Ridge. Good timing climbing today before the impressive lightening storm reigning down around the NW Alps this evening!
Congratulations also to Jamie Andrew, Steve Jones & Steve Monks who also summitted the Matterhorn today. It's a tough climb by most people's standards but particularly exacting for Jamie who had both lower legs and arms amputated after his climbing accident on the Droites in 1999. I was on the mountain during a previous attempt by Jamie and Steve and was humbled by his skill and calm, determined approach.
Neil and our Chamonix Mountaineer course did the traverse of the Aiguilles d'Entreves today and discussed future options and plans for a Matterhorn trip next year which is the aim of that course. We also have UK based winter, spring and summer weekends aimed at helping to prepare & train for the Matterhorn and other alpine objectives.
2nd August 2016, Dent du Géant, Matterhorn, Arete Rochefort
A much better day than yesterday saw many teams back in the high mountains enjoying the fresh conditions! It was fresh and chilly on the Dent du Geant this morning and whilst yesterdays frost and (more than a) dusting of snow had largely been burnt off in the warmth of yesterday afternoon - there was no thoughts of lingering and Mike and Alasdair rounded off their Matterhorn preparation nicely with an ascent of the iconic 4000m high Giants tooth! New fixed rope is now in place on the first pitch above the approach ledge on the normal route.
Teams were also traversing the Arete Rochefort as well as the Aiguilles d'Entreves and Tour Ronde. Over on the Matterhorn's Hornli Ridge Ben found pretty good conditions with a few snow patches lower down but only sustained from the shoulder upwards.
31st July 2016, Mid Season Northern Alps Conditions Update
Mid summer conditions remain good for many classic summer alpine itineraries around the Mont Blanc Massif & Swiss Valais Alps. Recent warmer conditions have meant many snow routes which have been good for much of the summer season so far are no longer options but this has equally meant that high altitude rocky / mixed objectives are coming in to conditions. The Mittellegi Hut on the Eiger is finally open! Conditions are reported as good with teams climbing the route. The approach to the hut is fine and there is still plenty of snow on higher ledges, the upper ridge and bits of the South Ridge descent, but overall good conditions.
Likewise the Matterhorn Hornli Ridge remains relatively snowy for the time of year but has had many ascents including one from Pippa Middleton. Congratulations to her on a fine ascent in slightly tougher than normal summer conditions and another fine Swiss mountain achievement after completing the Patrol des Glaciers ski race this spring. Also just heard from Italian Guide friend Alberto who climbed the Italian Ridge on the Matterhorn yesterday and reported very good dry conditions on the Lion Ridge but more tricky snowy conditions in places on the descent of the Hornli. Also there were storms last night with snow down to 3800m so conditions have changed somewhat until that settles down again, this is the case for most of the other routes described here too.
Whilst the Monte Rosa has also been receiving ascents there has been a rock fall in the area of the fixed ropes leading from the summit of the Dufourspitze to the Silbersattel meaning that a 40m abseil is now required instead of down climbing the ropes. There are apparently decent anchors in place to facilitate this abseil.
Lots of other high mountains of the Swiss Valais have been done in good condition in recent days including the Zinalrothorn, Dent Blanche, Grand Cornier, Alphubel via Rotgrat and, moving into the Swiss side of the Mont Blanc Range, the long & rocky traverse of the Aiguilles Dorees. Done via the crest and not entering the now dry couloir Copt.
Many good classic alpine routes have also been climbed in enjoyable conditions across the Mont Blanc Massif with many teams climbing the Frendo Spur over the last week or so. Beware the loose rock on ledges if there are teams above. Also considerable fresh debris reported at the base of the face. Rock and ice. Many teams have also climbed the Dent du Geant with good dry conditions on the tooth itself but now somewhat looser rockier conditions on the approach. Good snow conditions and fine track were also reported from the Aiguille Rochefort and traverse of the Aiguille de Bionassay & Aiguille de Chardonnet.
Mont Blanc is busy with great conditions above the Gouter Hut but some stone fall reported in the Grand Couloir, at various times of day. The 3 Monts route has also been quite popular with generally good snowy conditions apart from an icy passage after the Mont Maudit shoulder. Teams have also been climbing from the Grands Mulets hut with good snow conditions reported on the north ridge of the Dome du Gouter but not for the descent of the plateau route under the great seracs, crevassed and high serac hazard.
The warm conditions have improved high altitude rock routes and teams have been climbing on both the North Face of the Grandes Jorasses (Walker Spur) and West Face of the Petites Jorasses. After a brief storm last night and this morning the weather looks good for the week ahead so hopefully many teams will enjoy climbing lots of good routes. Please keep us posted if you have any relevant info to add to our reports.
Bonne semaine, good climbing.
20 July 2016, Eiger, Matterhorn, Gran Paradiso, Mont Blanc Conditions
Despite the current hot and sunny weather across the northern Alps, the high altitude rocky / mixed ridges remain quite snowy. The Mittellegi Hut on the Eiger is still closed with snowy conditions prevailing. On the Matterhorn the hut is open and guided teams are trying the route, although it is not as busy as normal high summer conditions. Simon was on the route yesterday and reported the following conditions:
"Still very snowy below Solvay-fixed cables buried. Should be melting fast in this heat but then there will be wet rock/icy in the morning. Patchy snow above Solvay & upper slopes are covered in poorly consolidated snow on hard base. All in all pretty delicate in places-particularly on descent."
So not classic high summer conditions yet, but heading in that direction, albeit with some more inclement weather on the way later this week.
In the Mont Blanc Range, snow conditions remain good if there is an overnight freeze as per the last few nights although it is steadily getting hotter. Conditions were reported as good on the Flèche Rousse Ridge on the Aiguille d'Argentiere and the Droites voie normale has also been climbed.
On Mont Blanc all the classic routes have been climbed in the last few days including Gouter, 3 Monts, Grands Mulets, Gonella / Pope Route and, much more technically, the Inominata Ridge, which has received several ascents via the Monzion / Eccles Huts.
Lots of teams completing the Gran Paradiso today via good conditions from both Chabod & Vittorio Emanuelle Huts and good conditions on the Paradiso NW face with a decent overnight freeze.
For rock climbing in Chamonix, even the high mountain south faces are clear again with lots of activity on the Midi South Face and Grand Cap. Lots of teams climbing on the Dent du Geant also. In the Aiguilles Rouges many teams have been enjoying lovely sunny middle mountain south facing rock but there remains lots of snow on some approach slopes and gullies where ice axe and crampons may still be necessary. The approach to the Chappelle de la Gliere for example is still made by a steep snow couloir for which boots, crampons and ice axe are required.
18 July 2016, Grandes Jorasses South Face & Traverse
The Rifugio Boccalatte provided a great base camp for todays ascent of the Grandes Jorasse normal route up the South Face. Franco is the new guardian at the hut and provides great hospitality, superb food and a wealth of fascinating stories about climbing with the likes of Cassin, Doug Scott, Joe Tasker, Alex Macyntire etc etc. Our 0200 start started well with a huge full moon illuminating the glacier and more importantly the variety of different lines on the Rocher Reposoir buttress where there is plenty of route choice and in situ gear everywhere!
The snow was frozen in the track and conditions were good, with the glaciers really well filled in and only a few crevasses to cross over decent looking snow bridges. The Reposoir snow crest, traverse of the Whymper Couloir and upper plateau were all well snowy, tracked and the going was good. We made the ascent and descent in average guide book time of 6 hours up and 5 hours down. There are plenty of bolted anchors on the Reposoir buttress allowing a rapid rappel descent down the steeper section and back on to the lower glacier.
There were also teams doing the traverse of the Jorasses both in the direction of Torino - Rochefort - Jorasses and vice versa with a team going from Boccalatte to Canzio to Hellbroner.
16 July 2016, Rochefort, Dent du Géant, Paradiso North Face
A cold and windy day yesterday made high mountaineering difficult and tough but not impossible as several teams made ascents of the Dent du Geant and Aiguille de Rochefort. Conditions for both of these were considerable more friendly today with less wind and milder temperatures. Snow cover remain very good on the glaciers and conditions were good on the delicate Rochefort Arete today with an aller retour to the Aiguille summit. No tracks going over to the Dome or Grandes Jorasses! There was however a track on the Jorasses normal route on the south face above Rifugio Bocclatte.
Yesterday teams climbed the Tour Ronde North Face and we did some snow up rock, mixed and aid climbing (frigging!) on a very snowy first few pitches of the Lepiney route on the Trident de Tacul. There were also a couple of teams skiing with some nice tracks in the upper Vallee Blanche and a team skinned over to climb the Ice Callotte leading to the Ridge between the Trident Gendarmes and the Tour Ronde. There was a track leading round to the Gervasutti couloir and this morning a new track had been put in high up Combe Maudit towards the Kuffner Ridge.
Yesterday Kenny climbed the Tour Ronde North Face in good snowy conditions and Al climbed the North Face of the Becca di Monciar, which I have always wanted to do! Looks like the good weather will last for a while yet so good climbing & Bon Weekend.
14 July 2016, Mid July Snow Stoms - Northern Alps & Chamonix Conditions Update
A couple of days of cold and very wet weather has left considerable amounts of fresh snow in the Northern Alps. With a rain snow limit as low as 1600m in Grindlewald today and 1900m last night in Chamonix there has been a major diversion from the previously hot & sunny weather. Reports of fresh snow vary from nearly 30cms at the Aiguille du Midi to 15cms at the Torino Hut, 12 at the Albert Premier and around 15cms at Argentiere and Monzino Huts.
The Argentiere Hut reported conditions with the fresh snow were too dangerous to climb the Aiguille d'Argentiere until at least Monday, whilst the Couvercle Hut had no info and were sitting in the cloud with a good strong dusting of snow on the Moine. No doubt the snow will strip very quickly off steep rocky ground on sunny aspects with the good weather due to last several days or even more than a week starting on Friday. The Hornli Hut thought the good weather would last for 10 days and the Matterhorn should be back in reasonable climbable condition by early - mid next week.
The Dom & Dent Blanche huts both reported good snowy conditions in recent days with numerous ascents albeit again with some fresh snow and poor weather at the moment. Further north on the Eiger it seems there has been more snow and the Mittelleggi Hut remains closed for perhaps at least another week.
11 July 2016, Col du Midi Routes & Western Alps Conditions Update
A day of sticky weather waiting for the storm to arrive later in the Mont Blanc Massif but with plenty of teams making the most of the good conditions before it did. Lots of teams were climbing the normal route on Mont Blanc du Tacul, albeit with a track taking a line much further left on the face than previous years and almost joining up with the ridge rising from the top of the Triangle. Limited activity on the Triangle itself and much more bare rock and ice now showing after the recent hot weather. The base of the Chere looks very dry although there was one team climbing above that section. Likewise, Contamine Mazeaud and Grisolle tracked but with no teams today.
Lots of teams doing the Cosmiques Arete in good condition and we enjoyed pleasant snowy conditions on the Arete Laurence. Teams also seen returning from the Midi Plan traverse. There were good conditions reported from the Arete Kuffner on Mont Maudit but there has recently been a rock fall on the route with more useful details here.
Some higher snow routes are still in good condition if there is a decent overnight freeze although lower snow routes or those with sunny aspects have deteriorated significantly in the last week or so. The Whymper couloir no longer looks good from a distance but has apparently been climbed recently. Plenty of snow still remains on the high glaciers which are generally in good condition. Care is still required in some summer venues which are often easy dry walks in trainers but currently still have patches of snow which require crampons and axe at least when frozen in the morning.
Both the Aiguille d'Argentiere and Chardonnet have received ascents in the last few days as have, further afield, the Dom and the Obergabelhorn. The latter both by the Arbengrat / Wellenkuppe traverse and the North Face. The North Face of the Lenspitze has also been in good condition and received numerous ascents.
After another couple of stormy days it looks like there is some much better weather on the way!
8 July 2016, Punta Hellbroner & Matterhorn / Eiger Conditions
Gathering summer heat in the Mont Blanc Massif is giving more normal summer conditions at the moment but still with excellent snow cover on the high glaciers. Enjoyable summer conditions on the traverse of the Entreves today as well as Marbrees and Petit Flambeau. Teams also climbing the Gervasutti Couloir and normal route on the Tour Ronde. Lots of teams were climbing the Dent du Geant. Further up the Val Feret Tim & Jordan climbed and thoroughly enjoyed the brilliant Preuss Route on the Aiguille de Savoie which Tim described as one of the best routes of its grade (AD / AD+) in the range. A high accolade indeed!
Over on the Matterhorn some teams have been climbing the Matterhorn but in tricky conditions with lots of snow making the descent in particular time consuming and difficult. The Mittelleggi Hut is still not open and the ridge is still snowy and not in good normal summer condition yet.
The Dix hut are reporting good conditions for both the traverse of the Pigne d'Arolla and Mont Blanc de Cheillion. A rather hot weekend is on the cards with some storms possible tomorrow afternoon and possibly not such good overnights freezes as the last few days. Bon weekend!
6 July 2016, Aiguilles du Tour & Chardonnet - Excellent Conditions
The combination of very good snow cover on the glaciers, great weather and a hard overnight freeze gave near perfect summer alpine mountaineering conditions today for our large teams ascent of the Aiguille du Tour. A real pleasure crunching over well frozen snow on the glacier at dawn with very little bare ice or crevassing in site.
We climbed the Aiguille du Tour via the snow couloir leading from the Swiss side to the breche between the 2 main summits. Team were also climbing the Purtscheller South Ridge and the Chardonnet via the Migot Spur with good looking conditions and a well tracked descent.
4 July 2016, Tour Ronde North Face - Excellent Conditions
Very good conditions on the North Face of the Tour Ronde this morning. 0400 breakfast from Torino and a rapid ascent in a good track and frozen snow. Enjoyable climbing followed by a swift descent of the Freshfield Arete and back to the hut for not much after 10. Well done Tim & Jordan! The Kuffner is tracked but a lot snowier than normal snowier conditions.
Good conditions also reported from the Aiguille de Chardonnet and various other good early summer snow routes which have good cover and just need a decent overnight freeze.
1 July 2016, Torino - Entreves, Rochefort, Tour Ronde, Frendo
Lots of teams were climbing the Tour Ronde this morning and most were going via the snow slope and ridge near the Freshfield Arete. The summer normal route as the winter / spiring normal route is now messy and experiencing rock fall. We witnessed a large rock fall (mini bus size) on the lookers right of this route early this morning and there were several more smaller ones throughout the day as we watched from the traverse of the Aiguille d'Entreves. This was in good and quite snowy conditions with remaining snow sections on the initial ridge leading to the W summit and on the descent of the East ridge. There were tracks leading round to the Tour Ronde north face and Gervassuti Couloir as well as further up Cirque Maudit and towards the Fourche Bivi Hut / Arete Kuffner. Teams who had left the hut early reported good frozen snow on the glacier.
There were lots of tracks leading around the glacier and notably to the rock towers of the Grand Capucin, Salluard, Petit Capucin and Triangle du Tacul. Also numerous teams heading up to the Dent du Geant, which now looks in more normal summer dry conditions, albeit with a good snowy approach still. Matt reported good snow conditions on the Arete Rochefort today as well as a recent ascent of the Frendo Spur in interesting conditions with snowy conditions on the rock sections, especially lower down. The upper rognon was avoided on the left.
The recent warm sunny weather has seen good rock climbing conditions on steep south face routes but still with snowy approaches in the Aiguilles Rouges and teams approaching the Frisson Roche at Brevent were using axe and crampons to cross the steep snow gully.
30 June 2016, Table Couloir, Aiguille du Tour
Good conditions and a decent re-freeze from teams who have climbed the Table Couloir on the Aiguille du Tour in the last couple of days, albeit with a short but unpleasant loose rocky section in the couloir itself. Tracks going to most locations around the Tour & Trient glaciers, excellent snow cover and a good re-freeze had improved conditions on the Chardonnet also with teams climbing on the Migot Spur, North Face.
Over in the Bernese Oberland snowy conditions also prevail making conditions difficult for high and rocky / mixed objectives like the Eiger traverse. The Mittellegi Hut is still closed and will need at least another week of hot weather to even think about getting the hut open and thus normal summer business for the Eiger Mittellegi - South Ridge traverse.
Good conditions continue on the Gran Paradiso including the snowy NW Face. Also lots of teams have been enjoying the good snowy conditions on Mont Blanc and earlier this week our successful summit team descended the alternative glacier route from the Tete Rousse Hut to the Nid d'Aigle on good firm snow.
28 June 2016, Mont Blanc, Gran Paradiso, Petite Aiguille Verte
Very good conditions for summiting both Mont Blanc and Gran Paradiso today. A decent re-freeze up high, good tracks and lovely weather albeit with a cold high on the mountain. Teams were summiting via the Tete Rousse and Gouter Huts and described conditions above the Gouter Hut as near perfect. A report from the Brenva Spur on Mont Blanc also reported very good conditions.
Likewise on the traverse of the Gran Paradiso albeit with some crevassing on the Chabod route which may cause concern if not frozen. Good snow cover and enjoyable climbing on the traverse of the Petite Aiguille Verte from the Grands Montets lift and also Vent du Dragon from the Midi lift.
Over on the Matterhorn, conditions are still very snowy and a week or two of warm sunny weather will still be required to get the Hornli Ridge close to 'normal' summer conditions. The Hornli Hut opens on the 1st July.
27 June 2016, Weekend Conditions Round Up
Very good conditions for the traverse of the Gran Paradiso yesterday from the Chabod to Vittorio Emanuelle Huts and down to Pont. Excellent snow cover on the glacier, a good track and reasonable re-freeze making for fine progress. The same is true for conditions high on Mont Blanc although the recent very hot weather has created some debris chutes in the Grand Couloir lower down. With a week of sunny summer alpine weather ahead things should start to stabilise towards more 'normal' summer conditions albeit with still impressive snow volumes in the middle and high mountains.
There has been lots of activity on the Italian side of the Mont Blanc Range with tracks going round to the Entreves and Tour Ronde, although the normal winter / spring route up the East face is now deteriorating, risking stone fall even from early in the morning due to its easterly aspect - so the route coming in from the near the Col Freshfield offers a better alternative.
Good summer conditions around the Midi classics too like Pt LAchenal, Arete Laurence and Cosmiques Arete. The Chere was climbed yesterday but with one team reporting not great ice conditions and lots of ice 'dinner plates' flying down the route.
Above the Albert Premier Hut the South Ridge of the Purtscheller has been climbed, an excellent south facing high mountain rock route. Lots of teams on the Aiguille du Tour as well as the Petite Fourche, Tete Blanche and Couloir Copt on the Dorees. Reports heard of difficult trail breaking towards the Chardonnet.
The Aiguille Crochues was obviously very snowy in both ascent and descent today but had good tracks for both routes, hard on the way up and soft on the way down (but not too bad getting down to the Lac). Much of the ridge itself was bare dry warm rock, just like summer alpine mountaineering!
Improving high mountain rock climbing conditions on the South facing steep granite of the Mont Blanc range but still lots of snow on ledges on shady aspects. Another sunny and warm week ahead should improve the high mountain rock route options.
24 June 2016, Weissmeis Traverse & Mini Alpine Heat Wave...
Decent snowy conditions but with a reasonable track for much of the Weissmeis traverse from the Almageller Hut this morning but getting soft early low down on the Hohsaas side (on the flat glacier, under the seracs). The Lagginhorn voie normale is very snowy, with very little rock but now also now tracked although the weather is deteriorating from quite early tomorrow morning so intentions may switch to another objective.
Over on the Aiguille du Tour, plenty of teams enjoyed good weather and snow cover - with a track extending from the Albert Premier Hut round on to the Trient Glacier and up the Tour. But daytime temperatures are now hot and the snow is still not consolidated from recent storms, thus out the track makes for hard going, especially later on (and even rotten snow in the track lower down today). The approach path from the Col de Balme area to the Albert Premier is well snowy and exposed in places but does have a track across, soft later on and care required, especially if frozen.
A similar story on the Col du Midi and traverse of the Vallee Blanche - very snowy and hard going but ok in the track and obviously there was a good track up the Midi station via an impressively snowy arete. Good to see it like that compared to recent summers with crevasses, rocks and even hay bails!
Daytime freezing levels have soared to well above all but the highest summits (4300m today) and the overnight freeze has also been limited to higher peaks and glaciers although reasonable there. This combined with strong solar warming during the day has already created some debris fall issues in the Grand Couloir on Mont Blanc and many other sunny snowy / mixed slopes, although many teams have also been summitting in the good weather. The weekend looks somewhat more unsettled and a bit cooler.
Have a good weekend and please let us know if you have any recent relevant conditions comments we can add to these reports.
22 June 2016, Sunny Snowy Summit Day On Mont Blanc & Weissmeis But Not Monte Bianco Yet
The first 30C day of the year so far in the Mont Blanc Range saw a good track extending from the Tete Rousse Hut and below - to the Gouter Hut and onwards to the summit of Mont Blanc. Very good snowy conditions and steady going in the track. On the Italian side of the mountain, the Gonella Hut is now fully open but still has no track leading up to the summit. Two climbers are trying to summit from the hut starting tonight, so bon courage to them!
The Weissmeis is now tracked from both Almageller and Hohsaas sides with the snowy voie normale only being climbed / descended today for the first time in a while.
Over on the Italian side of the Monte Rosa many teams have ascended to the Gnifetti Hut in anticipation of the good weather. One Slovak Guide took an interesting approach to trail breaking by taking a chopper up to the Zumsteinspitze and then breaking trail back down hill!
In Chamonix, around the Col du Midi there was of course plenty of activity with all the classic routes like Pt Lachenal, Arete Laurence and Cosmiques Arete all being climbed.
21 June 2016, Snowy Early Summer Conditions In The Swiss Valais Alps
Thanks to Fiona Bunn for her brilliant photos demonstrating the very snowy early summer conditions on the Matterhorn Hornli Ridge and North Face. That photo was taken on the 30th May but snowy weather since has done very little to improve conditions on the Hornli Ridge which favours dry conditions for the ascent in normal conditions. The Zermatt Guides bureau thought at least a week of warm sunny weather was required to achieve this and whilst there is some good weather on the way it will certainly be a while before the Matterhorn or other big Zermatt peaks with rocky ridges come in to 'normal' summer conditions.
The snow is of course more welcome on other snowier peaks and teams have been climbing the Breithorn and Pollux but little activity reported elsewhere with many of the huts planning to open this weekend. High on the Monte Rosa conditions are very snowy and some teams have been using skis to travel above the Gnifetti Hut and put tracks in to Pyramide Vincent etc.
Further North above Saas Almagell a few teams have done the aller retour on the Weissmeis South Ridge from the Almageller Hut but there are no tracks up the very snowy Glacial normal route and teams today turned around in the poor weather and are trying again tomorrow.
In the central Valais the huts are similarly opening this weekend or in some cases like the Bertol and Vignettes, already open. Very snowy conditions around the Moiry Hut with teams reporting hard graft trail breaking on the Pigne de la Le.
Closer to the Mont Blanc Range - tough conditions crossing the Trient Plateau today with teams navigating and trail breaking on the glacier. The weather was only marginally better on the Italian side of the range with teams putting in a track along the Marbrees traverse, but with some pretty chunky cornices getting kicked off in the process!
Over in the Gran Paradiso area the visibility was poor today but some teams still summited in the the snowy conditions but with a good track and relatively calm & mild conditions.
It looks like the return of summer from tomorrow, which will be welcome by many out here in the Northern Alps!
19 June 2016, Snow Continues Into Mid-Late June In Mont Blanc Range
Another weekend of tough and snowy weather, on both Italian & French sides of the Mont Blanc Range. Lots of fresh snow giving enjoyable but tough conditions with trail breaking on the glaciers and snowy routes. The Aiguilles Marbrees was massively snowy yesterday but had a track in place and is essentially in very good enjoyable conditions and much better climbing than the loose exposed rock as characterised by the heatwave of last summer.
The Cosmiques Arete was a similarly enjoyable and interesting proposition today. Lots of fresh snow but firm in the track and remarkable high volume snow cover on the route for the time of year. The Crux wall does not really live up to it's name at the moment.
Elsewhere around the range teams are now accessing both the Orny and Albert Premier Huts although the snowy approaches, particularly to the latter, require great care. The steep slopes of the normal summer approach are very serious in snowy conditions with a high avalanche in snowy / hot conditions and steep, serious and exposed slopes if the snow is frozen. Numerous teams have also been using the more physical and rough moraine ridge path from Le Tour itself. Not an easy option either but less exposed to the steep slopes of the traverse across to towards the Col de Balme etc.
The Gran Paradiso Park has had similar weather and conditions recently with very good snow cover on the glaciers and slopes above the hut, but with some tough trail breaking and difficult weather. The Gonella Hut is getting open and now taking bookings for next week. It looks like some sunshine on the way so hopefully many slopes will stabilise quickly with warm days and cold nights, although care will be required in the meantime with sunshine on slopes with plenty of fresh snow.
15 June 2016, Tough Weather In Mont Blanc Range - Mer de Glace & Via Corda
Continuing very wet weather in Chamonix has left significant quantities of fresh snow above 2500m. That's on top of the fresh snow that it has fallen on! Early summer snow volume is impressive but it has been hard to make the most of this with continuing poor weather. We have spent the first 3 days of this week rock climbing in Italy, Ice climbing & training on the Mer de Glace Glacier and doing the fun long Chamonix 'Via Corda' route today.
The lack of sunny weather and traffic on this long scramble / rock route meant conditions are harder than normal with lots of greasy holds! The route took longer than normal and certain sections would have been pleasanter in rock climbing shoes in the prevailing conditions. However, it provided a good long alpine training outing this morning in the inclement weather and some remarkable views of an incredibly snowy Drus North Face when the clouds did finally clear. The Buvette des Mottets at the top of the route is also open too with the hospitable hosts Katy & Eric.
As well as the huge volumes of snow in the high mountains there is a lot still left in the middle mountains even on the south facing slopes of the Aiguilles Rouges meaning that nearly all the rock climbs approached from Brevent / Planpraz / Flegere have steep snowy approaches and require mountaineering gear rather than just the normal trainers to get to them!
9 June 2016, Perroux Gully, Chere Couloir - Triangle du Tacul
Another fine and busy morning around the Col du Midi with some fresh overnight snow giving everything an even more pristine early summer feel. Teams were breaking trail in the thin layer of fresh snow and putting tracks in to most of the classic routes on the Triangle du Tacul. There were hundreds of teams on the Chere Couloir and we enjoyed good ice climbing on the lower pitches of the Perroux Gully before the weather deteriorated at noon, bringing more fresh snow on top of the fresh snow!
Numerous other teams were heading up the Triangle via the Contamine Mazeaued, Left Edge Route and a team arrived later to try the Gully Allemands which looked complete but apparently does not have good solid ice, particularly on the short pitch above the fine thin groove. Caroline also climbed the Cascade de Cosmiques with one really thin & difficult pitch but otherwise in great condition.
Other tracks were going in on the Voie Normale on the Tacul plus Arete Laurence and Cosmiques Arete. The snow cover on the glacier is excellent but, without decent overnight freezes the going remains tough anywhere without a track, even early in the morning.
The Whymper Couloir has been climbed recently apparently but again would strongly benefit from a cycle of overnight freezing conditions. After a warm & sunny day on Friday it looks like there will be even more fresh snow over the weekend....Not great in the short term but should consolidate or even build the early summer mixed climbing conditions! Bon week-end.
8 June 2016, Gervasutti, Rebuffat & Voie Normale, Tour Ronde
Enjoyable swift ascent of the Gervasutti Couloir on the Tour Ronde this morning. Good stiff snowy conditions in the couloir. There was also a team climbing a the thin ice couloir of the Rebuffat Couloir, which looked ok but quite hard! Teams had topped out on it as we saw a track leading across from the top of the route to the North Face. We joined the North Face route and then the comical easy snowy track to the summit - the normal rocky summit block and Madonna was nearly all buried!
Soft snow on the voie normale descent but a big track and teams had also climbed along the Freshfield Arete with lots of teams on the Entreves traverse too. Lots of teams also coming across the Vallee Blanche before it started snowing, as per the forecast, around noon.
7 June 2016, Mont Blanc Summit & Lots Activity Around Col du Midi, Chamonix
Very good conditions and a swift summit climb from Tete Rousse Hut to Mont Blanc this morning and back down to the Gouter before the showery / cloudy weather arrived this afternoon. Teams had also ascended via the Grand Mulets Hut and North Ridge of the Dome du Gouter (with skis).
Over on the Col du Midi many teams were enjoying the sunny morning and snowy conditions. Lots of ascents on the Triangle du Tacul including all the classics like Chere, Left Edge, Contamine Mazeau. Loads of teams traversed Pointe Lachenal and climbed various mini mixed lines up the north face. Lots of teams on a snowy Cosmiques Arete and Adam & Caroline found good icy conditions on Vent du Dragon, having rapped off the Midi bridge.
The Voie normale on Mont Blanc du Tacul had lots of ascents and even more descents as teams topped out from the Triangle routes. Some teams had skied the face of the normal route and various other skiers were heading off down the upper sections on the Vallee Blanche and across to the Italian side, along with lots of roped walking teams too.
On the Italian side there were tracks to the Tour Ronde, Entreves, Toule and Marbrees. The Roulette Rébuffat on the Tour Ronde was also climbed with enjoyable but bold climbing reported. Generally well snowy conditions but steep rock on sunny aspects stripping very quickly and various teams were enjoying sun rock on the South Face of the Midi.
6 June 2016, Arrival Of Summer - Good Track High On Mont Blanc - Eiger Very Snowy
Finally! A beautiful sunny morning with the high mountains shining white and the valleys bright green after all the recent rainfall. For the first time this summer a large track can be seen high on the Voie Normale on Mont Blanc above the Gouter Hut. We are heading in to the Tete Rousse today and hoping to summit tomorrow before the weather comes in later on.
Above the Col du Midi there are tracks over to Pt Lachenal as well as the Triangle du Tacul and even now some tracks on the Mt Blanc du Tacul voie normale. The Chere Coulouir was in good condition and icy mixed conditions on the rest of the Triangle looked appealing where not buried in snow!
The Cosmiques arete was climbed and has an impressive bank of deep snow pretty much obliterating the whole crux wall! Over on the Italian side there was lots of activity with teams on the North Face of the Tour Ronde and, according to the Torino Hut, on the Dent du Geant also.
Over in the Bernese Oberland the Monchsjoch Hutte are reporting very snowy conditions on the South Ridge of the Eiger. With warm day time temperatures, this is giving poor conditions and thus the route is not in good condition yet until it either cools down or strips more of the snow!
5 June 2016, Tour Ronde & Vallee Blanche Traverse + Mt Blanc Conditions
Another mixed weather day with plenty of fresh snow up high. The traverse of the Aiguille d'Entreves proved to be a bit snowy and Ben, Ken & Ray enjoyed climbing the Tour Ronde by it's voie normale instead. Neil and our Mont Blanc team traversed the Vallee Blanche with snow shoes across to the Midi station before spending the afternoon scrambling at Les Gaillands.
The Tete Rousse Hut are reporting snowy but decent conditions on Mont Blanc with numerous teams now having summited. They recommend using the railway tracks as the best approach, despite them still having some banked up snow on, followed by the normal approach route, which must be pretty snowy and steep compared to it's high summer rocky path status. The weather looks pretty mixed but with some decent windows over the next couple of days so hopefully they will get a decent summit attempt.
Also of note is that the Chamonix OHM are reporting rock fall has damaged the ladders at Montenvers and recommend using the path via the ice caves.
3 June 2016, Cosmiques Arete & Col d'Entreves
Another cloudy and wet day in Chamonix with some slightly better clearings up high on the Italian side where one team followed a soft track around to the Col d'Entreves, without snow shoes but in plenty of fresh snow. The Cosmiques arete provided good sport today also with lots of fresh snow on the rocks and well banked up snow on the ledges!
There is also a posh new viewing walkway / tunnel at the Aiguille du Midi linking the Cosmiques and Rebuffat viewing platforms.
We are planning to traverse from Rifugio Torino to Refuge Cosmiques tomorrow, with snow shoes!
The huts on the Gran Paradiso are open early this season with excellent snow cover on the glacier above the Chabod Hut. There are plenty of guests visiting over the weekend so there should be a track going in there too!
2 June 2016, Very Snowy Conditions On The Eiger & Italian Side Monte Bianco
No surprise to hear that the Mittelleggi Hut on the Eiger will not be opening any time soon. Reports from Grindlewald are of very snow and poor conditions. The snowy start to the season is better for peaks like the Monch and Jungfrau which have both been done recently but are now covered in a lot of fresh snow again.
Our Chamonix mountaineering team climbed the Aiguille d'Entreves yesterday from the Torino Hut, with a track in place. They climbed the Aiguilles Marbrees today, without snow shoes for the approach, but are planning to use them for the traverse of the Vallee Blanche tomorrow. Tracks were also seen going to the Tour Ronde & Aiguille de Toule, although these may be well covered after todays fresh snow.
On Mont Blanc, Guides made a fresh track up today from Tete Rousse to Gouter Huts but there is no track yet up Mont Blanc!
1 June 2016, Tete Rousse & Gouter Huts Open - Snowy Approach
Both the main huts on the north side of Mont Blanc opened today and teams are making there way up and creating tracks from the snowline up to the Tete Rousse, across the Grand Couloir and up to Gouter. The railway track approach to the Tete Rousse Hut is snowy and thus has some banked out and very exposed sections thus another option is to climb up the valley and access the Tete Rousse Hut from the approach leading up near the Bionnassay glacier.
The trail breaking will be hard work at the moment but currently the weather forecast looks better for after the weekend, so hopefully there will be a track in and more stable snow conditions when our first Mt Blanc team for the season will be attempting the climb.
31 May 2016, A Very Snowy Start To The Summer Alpine Season
The glaciers have certainly had a chance to catch up with the poor state they were in last summer, or even still at Christmas. A good snowy winter has continued in to a generally cool & showery spring with lots of fresh snow across the Northern Alps re-charging the glaciers and high faces and couloirs. Good news for those coming later in the summer but tough conditions for those trying to climb now!
Saturday offered some better weather and a track across the Col du Midi and over to Pt Lachenal with training on the Midi arete and glacier en route. Other teams were out on the Cosmiques Arete. Heavy snow on Sunday and Monday night will have covered these tracks and another cloudy day today will mean the mountains will emerge glittering white with fresh snow once the sun hopefully comes out later in the week and our alpine courses kick off for the summer season.
We have teams attempting the Gran Paradiso, Mont Blanc and various other Chamonix alpine routes so keep an eye on this page for conditions updates and please add your own relevant conditions report via the comment button at the base of this page.
Best wishes for some excellent alpine climbing this coming season in the Northern Alps....
An impressive collection of galleries giving an insight in to the quality and huge variety of mountaineering within and around the Chamonix Valley. Routes include classic beginners alpine ridges, 1000m+ classic North Faces, winter style Chamonix Goulottes and many more.
A photographic celebration of the vast array of alpine mountaineering in the French, Swiss and Italian Alps. Routes covered include introductory rock scrambles right through to the North Face of the Eiger. Inspiration lies within....
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