High Mountain Guides / News / Chamonix Winter Climbing Conditions 2014/15

Chamonix Winter Climbing Conditions 2014/15

Enjoyable late April 2015 traverse of the PD alpine ridge on the South side of the Mont Blanc Massif - The Aiguilles Marbrees

20th April 2015 - Perfect Spring Mountaineering Conditions - Aiguilles Marbrees

A little fresh snow late last week gave a velvet & pristine feel to the South side of the Mont Blanc massif as the weather turned to perfect today. Lovely spring high alpine weather and decent snow cover gave a very enjoyable PD traverse of this fine alpine traverse. Whilst there are no hard technical sections the Marbrees gives sustained mixed & snowy scrambling with some short walls, steep snow & narrow ridge sections...not to mention awesome views South to the Paradiso area and East to the Matterhorn, Grand Combin & Monte Rosa. The magnificent south side of Mont Blanc is also ever present & very close.

Other teams were enjoying the fresh snow for skiing in the upper Vallee Blanche both on the French & Italian sides as well as one team putting a track in towards the Dent du Geant.

19th April 2015 - Petite Aiguille Verte, Les Grands Montets

Enjoyable snowy conditions today with some ski tracks down the north face which looked good. We climbed the ice very low on the face (below the normal route approach) in 2 easy angled but sustained ice pitches, good training! The Voie Normale was then in fun sporting snowy conditions with various enjoyable mini mixed pitches. We then rapped the north face in 3 long abseils (on 2 x 60m ropes) from rock anchors.

One other team looked to be topping out on La Pepite and another team was heading round to start the Frendo Ravanel.

14th March 2015 - La Pepite, Petite Aiguille Verte, Les Grands Montets

The snow was better for climbing than skiing today and it was good to pick a line up the Pepite Buttress on the NE Face of the Petite Aiguille Verte, 10 mins walk from the Grands Montets, so a very quick approach & descent!

The route was fairly lean with a good snow track on the deeper gully sections but some loose rock exposed by the recent sunny & windy weather. We climbed a line probably just left of Pepite although there were teams climbing further left of us! That looked easier but looser and the main chimney system we climbed gave some very enjoyable icy mixed climbing with a piton at the start and lots of good natural gear after that, at least for the harder sections. From the belay at the top of that 3 long pitches led to the crest of the Pt Verte NE ridge and a very quick and, in today's conditions, easy descent back to the Montets station.

9th February 2015 - Repentance Super & Valnontey / Cogne Ice Climbing Conditions

Substantial fresh snow last Thursday & Friday with continued strong winds has left a delicate snow pack above many of the ice climbs at Cogne and many natural avalanches were witnessed on sunny aspects this afternoon. Tucked up in the shade on the relatively sheltered Monday Money buttress ice conditions were good.

We climbed the lower pitches of Repentance Super. Great climbing with lots of solid screws for protection. The climbing is currently relatively technical apparently, compared to some seasons, lower down, and as steep as always higher up!

Several teams were climbing a quite thin looking Monday Money and various teams were on the Patri Icefalls. The routes on the left bank of the Valnontey were understandably not popular today due to the warming effect of the sun on the fresh snow on the slopes above the routes. Although there was 1 team on Erfaulet and the ice is fairly well formed on this side of the valley once the snow has settled a bit

12th January 2015 - Argentiere Glacier Icefalls

Decent conditions on both sides of the Argentiere Glacier with various teams climbing on both the Rive Droite & Rive Gauche. Teams were approaching the upper Rive Droite Icefalls like Les Jumelles on skis via the hard right approach on the glacier and re-ascending back to cross the crevassed plateau before descending the left hand side. Teams were rapping in to climb Deferlante & Mini Couloir and reporting reasonable conditions. There was another team climbing a dry rocky looking mixed route on the steep walls above the Italian Bowl, just above the level of the Herse Chairlift. Be interesting to hear from anyone who knows what this route is?

30th December 2014 - Rapid Improvement in Cogne Ice Climbing Conditions

It was -18.5C in the Valnontey car park yesterday morning and pretty chilly again today. The big Christmas freeze has rapidly improved ice climbing conditions in Cogne over the last 3 days and we enjoyed some good climbing in both the Valnontey and Valleille - Lillaz area.

Most of the steeper harder lines are not there or thin but there is now plenty of ice to entertain the holiday climbing teams. Here is a quick summary of routes which had climbers on over the last 3 days:

  • Cascade Lillaz, wet but forming well with nobody climbing the first pitch as of today but various teams topping out
  • Lau Bij
  • Loie
  • Patri Left, solid ice and Right, thin but being climbed
  • Acheterone
  • Valmiana
  • Gran Val

More current photos on the High Mountain Guides Facebook Page

Cogne

A series of galleries portraying some of the classic ice climbs around the Italian ice mecca of 'Cogne'.

17th December 2014 - Wintery Weather & Snow Around Punta Helbronner

Fresh snow, stiff winds and cool temperatures gave exacting wintery conditions for mountaineering around the upper Vallee Blanche over the last couple of days. Teams were climbing on the Tour Ronde including the Rebuffat Couloir where conditions were 'not great!' We climbed the short voie normales on the Aiguille de Toule and Petite Flambeau as well as doing various expedition training exercises. Travel was possible without snow shoes but slow going as soon as out of any old tracks. Ski travel was preferable! Several teams were skinning around the Col du Geant and enjoying some good snow with a couple of teams skiing the Toule Glacier in very thin conditions.

15th December 2014 - Mild & Dry Conditions Continue

The dry and relatively mild December conditions, whilst a little concerning for skiers, are providing decent conditions for mountaineering and our mountain training team on the Mer De Glace today.

The ladders down from Montenvers were a little snowy but still fine to negotiate as a direct route down on to the glacier. The lower Pas de Chevre Icefalls were starting to form and thin ice was in evidence on the main cascades. Improving ice climbing conditions have been reported from Cogne - although it's still very limited. Cooler conditions over the next few days should help....

10th December 2014 - Early Winter Round Up in the Mont Blanc Massif

A mild and dry end to the Chamonix Autumn and start of winter has done little for the lower cascade climbs which are essentially non existent still at the moment. However the stable good weather and low volume of fresh snow has allowed teams to venture higher in to the mountains and, with the Midi lift closed until just before Christmas, this has mainly been via the Italian Helbronner approach.

Up around the Italian side of the Vallee Blanche there have been various teams enjoying good early winter alpine climbing on the Tour Ronde North Face & Rebuffat Couloir. (The Gervasutti Couloir had a ski descent from a keen team of young Brit trainee Guides.)

Other more technical routes like the Valeria Gully / Chippendale around the Pic Adolphe Rey and Petit Capucin have also seen attention.

Winter / Spring / Autumn Mountaineering in Chamonix

There are some alpinists who consider summer to be the only 'off-season' period for alpine mountaineering. It is in winter, spring and autumn that the combination of snow, ice, low temperatures and quiet mount... more>

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