High Mountain Guides / News / Chamonix & Alpine Mountaineering Reports Summer 2017

Chamonix & Alpine Mountaineering Reports Summer 2017

Good snow conditions on the classic snowy ridge traverse of the Rochefort Arete high on the French Italian border. Mid June 2017

26 June 2017, Petite Aiguille Verte - Les Grands Montets, Argentiere

Few snowy high alpine places have been spared the effects of the triple whammy of a poor winter snow volume, quite dry spring and very hot early summer. The Grands Montets is no different and late summer conditions prevail already with low snow volume and much exposed loose rock. There was some enjoyable front pointing training up the lower easy angled ice wall (the right hand side of this is exposed to rock fall from the messy Voie Normale route above).

Numerous teams were climbing the West Ridge 'integrale' which adds the lower loose rocky section to join the Voie normale higher up and does avoid the now messy normal approach to the ridge from the glacier. The low snow volume has left numerous large loose looking rocks sitting exposed in the icy slopes. We enjoyed a very short but fairly steep few moves of ice climbing through the bergschrund on the lookers left of the North Face. The snow conditions on the face above were quite good with steady climbing and the odd screw leading to the upper crescent snow col and mixed ground above leading to the summit.

Most teams were doing a traverse route up the West Ridge and down the North Ridge via a mix of abseils, down climbing and a bit of negotiating of loose rock and soft snow on the lower descent back to the station. A few teams were also heading off down the Glacier des Rognons, down towards the NE ridge and beyond.

25 June 2017, Mont Blanc, Monte Rosa, Middle Mountain Rock!

Our teams attempting Mont Blanc via the Gouter side this week postponed their ascents due to increased stone fall risk in the Grand Couloir but they made some fine alternative ascents including accessing the high peaks of the Monte Rosa from the Italian Gressoney Valley. A good couple of nights were spent at the hospitable Gnifetti Hut which has quite a few crevasses around the hut but with reasonable going higher up on the glacier to reach the Zumsteinspitze, Signalkuppe and Ludwigshoe.

High on the Domes des Miages, conditions proved to be not quite as favourable as usual for June with ice becoming exposed in various sections of the ridge and slopes along the traverse with poor and serious conditions & ice now being reported for the full traverse.

Other teams climbed the Cosmiques Arete, Traverse of the Perrons above Vallorcine, and enjoyed some middle mountain multi pitch rock in the Aiguilles Rouges. On the descent of the snow ridge from the Midi station conditions are relatively poor with a crevasse appearing on the ridge itself and a new crevasse lower down making the transition from station to Col du Midi more complicated than usual. Pt. Lachenal has some ice lower down on the normal route slopes and some rockfall noted from the central summit.

The Grands Montets station opened this weekend and initial reports suggest that conditions on the Petite Verte are not great either. More info to follow as we hopefully have a team climbing / training around the Grands Montets tomorrow.

22 June 2017, Continuing Hot Alpine Weather Conditions Update

Decent conditions for the ascent of the Lagginhorn this morning and our Weissmies course team also completed this mountain in style for their second 4000m peak in 2 days. Our other team on the Weissmies this morning reversed the South Ridge from the summit and descended back via the Almageller Hut. Reasonable conditions reported on the ascent to the 'first Dome' on the Miage but icy conditions reported for the whole traverse.

Tim traversed the Aiguille du Chardonnet today via the Forbes Arete and reported reasonable conditions on that (albeit with the need to place a couple of ice screws on the traverse) but also described the top slopes of the descent as 'very serious'.

Teams are climbing the easy classics of this Swiss / French Alpine frontier area between the Albert Premier and Trient huts, but extra care is required on this and all glaciers at the moment due to some major crevasses lurking beneath delicate snow bridges.

On Mont Blanc, the Prefet de la Haute Savoie have issued a Press Statement calling for Vigilance from alpinists in light of the heightened stone fall risk early this summer season, especially in the Grand Couloir on Mont Blanc and also to take great care with large crevasses and narrow snow bridges as a result of the hot early season weather.

Our Gran Paradiso team all made the summit early this morning in good style via the glacier from the Rifugio Chabod and then traversing to Vittorio Emanuelle and down to Pont. Snow conditions were ok in the track and there was a refreeze high on the mountain but soft snow outside the track lower down the route.

20 June 2017, High Alpine Heatwave....

A week on from our last post and the hot sunny alpine weather continues with wall to wall sunshine across most of the northern Alps, and heatwave warnings for certain areas with valley temperatures in excess of 30C. The good weather has meant for lots of high mountain activity and our teams have been climbing Gran Paradiso from Chabod to Vittorio Emanuelle Huts in reasonable conditions as well as the Lagginhorn normal route. Decent conditions on all of these as well as lots of good rocky ridges and high alpine rock routes. The South Ridge of the Weissmies was fine - dry but the descent down the North Flank has a very ice traverse and some thin snow bridges over significant crevasses.

Lots of activity around the Col du Midi also including the usual classic Cosmiques Arete, Pointe Lachenal and routes on the Triangle du Tacul including Chere Couloir and Left Edge Route. We also have a team now heading for the Domes des Miages traverse where reasonable conditions are reported.

On Mont Blanc there has been plenty of activity too with teams climbing from the Cosmiques Hut and Tete Rousse / Gouter Huts. However, the 3 Monts route has some steep and icy terrain particularly between the Maudit Shoulder and Col de la Brenva and the risk of stone fall in the Grand Couloir on the Gouter Side of the mountain has increased with the repeated hot days leading in to heat wave with minimal or only very high altitude overnight re-freezing. Many teams have cancelled their Mt Blanc attempts due to this hazard although many also continue to climb. With consistently hot temperatures forecast for this week it seems unlikely that conditions will improve in the short term, at least.

On the Gonella route, the hut is open and teams have been making the ascent but the glacier is reported to be in mid August conditions with large crevasses, thin snow bridges and a narrow / icy section near the top of the route linking to the Dome du Gouter.

The Matterhorn is also suffering from dry conditions with the summit snow field not snowy enough with reports of loose rock and poor conditions - before the season has even begun. This could improve quite rapidly with some sticky summer snow and series of refreezes.

13 June 2017, Rochefort, Dent Geant, Tour Ronde, Entreves, Paradiso, Mt Blanc, Tacul etc!

Lots of high mountain activity today with fine summery weather and a decent overnight freeze at least high in the mountains. Snow conditions are fine at the moment albeit perhaps a bit lean for mid June. Conditions were good this morning with stiff snow all the way up to the Dent du Geant and on to the Arete Rochefort. A fast Italian team reported good conditions for the route and were on to traversing the Marbrees extension by 0800 - packing it in!

The Dent du Geant was dry and in good condition despite the strong cool winds. The approach gully from the glacier was in good condition with a big boot track - no obvious crevasse yet and stiff snow this morning. Obviously there is lots of loose rock on the approach and even though a good boot track heads off left in ascent - it's probably safer to stick closer to the blunt rib taking a more central line up the face - as this snowy traverse track is exposed to stone fall from teams above.

Also quite dry & rocky conditions for the classic local ridge traverses of the Marbrees & Entreves although with a decent stiff snow track up the N. Ridge of the Petit Flambeau. The Tour Ronde was getting ascents from the Freshfield arete / col area and a snow gully well left of the classic winter couloir route which is in hideously loose rock conditions - to be well avoided - even on the glacier below as constant stone fall was observed.

Over on the Chamonix side of the range teams were climbing all the classic col du Midi ridges as well as there being a large track up Mt Blanc du Tacul and up Mont Blanc from both the Grand Mulets and Gouter Refuges.

Conditions over on the Gran Paradiso were also reported as good with a well filled in glacier from Rifugio Chabod and a fine rapid snowy descent almost all the way to Vittorio Emanuelle Hut.

23 May 2017, Rock - Ice - Snow. Lots Ski Climb Activity In Upper Vallee Blanche, Chamonix

Even the high mountains of the Mont Blanc Range are relatively quiet in late May but there were still a dedicated band of climbers and skiers enjoying the fine weather and much re-charged snow conditions.

Recent storms have deposited an impressive amount of fresh snow on the high glaciers and faces around the range and the hills are looking good - white!

Many fresh tracks told tales of some fine steep ski descents including the North Face of the Tour Ronde, Vallee Blanche face of the Diable Ridge, Gervassutti Couloir, N. Face of the Petit Flambeau, Mt Blanc du Tacul Voie normale and various others as well as lots of ski tracks around the upper Vallee Blanche in general.

A few teams were enjoying mountaineering & ice routes like the Pelissier Gully on Pt Lachenal and one team were also starting up the Jager Couloir on the East Face of the Tacul. A few tracks were also seen on the snowy side of Pt Lachenal, Left Edge Route, Mt Blanc du Tacul normal route, Arete Laurence and obviously the Cosmiques Arete!

Quite a few teams were profiting from the sunny weather to enjoy some south facing high altitude rock climbing with a team on the Contamine Route on Pt Lachenal, South Face of the Midi and Eperon des Cosmiques.

We enjoyed a good couple of days high altitude glacier trekking up to the Col d'Entreves and across the upper Vallee Blanche to the Midi, with conditions just ok without snow shoes - using old skinning / ski tracks etc

Best wishes for some excellent alpine climbing this coming season in the Northern Alps....Please add any relevant conditions notes & climbing reports from the Mt Blanc area / Northern Alps via the New comment button at the base of the page.

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 thi... more>

Chamonix Mountaineering

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