11 February 2021, Home Wet Home, Rive Gauche & Grands Montets Climb Ski Conditions

Whilst it was tempting to continue skinning up through the Grands Montets this morning to ski some of the acres of great powder going spare, our heavy bags suggested otherwise.  We swung our hands around to warm them up whilst changing into climbing boots and gearing up to abseil down the Mini Couloir to the base of the fine sustained cliff band of the Rive Gauche.

Rapping in to the Rive Gauche crags from the bolts at the top of Mini Couloir. There are mixed routes with bolts either side of this route although names and grades not know!

Despite the proximity of very familiar climbs like Déferlante (plenty of ice and several teams on this) and Mini couloir (older grey ice but complete) it was interesting to explore a new sector of the Rive Gauche with the impressive sustained walls of the Highland Sector stretching out to the right with an apparent air of smoothness to it!

The impressive wall of the Highland Sector on the Rive Gauche with Bringing Home the Bacon to the right of the crag and Rive Droite – Shiva – icefalls beyond

Jeff Mercier in his famous blog suggests not climbing here when it’s plastered in snow, and you can see why.  There are various other good tips for this crag, and the harder Blade Stadium area, on his blog here.  There was an ENSA team climbing the groove to the left of Home Wet Home which had a fine looking initial ice pitch and there was some drilling going on so maybe there are some more bolts now!?

Quality Nevis style ice on the Rive Gauche between Home Wet Home & Mini Couloir. Home Wet Home to the right.

We had come to climb the ‘Home Wet Home’ WI4 / M6 which takes the fine natural line right of the upper big rock rib right of Mini Couloir…

Chamonix Ice Climbing
The Rive Gauche sector right of Mini Couloir which is the ice gully on the left. Home wet Home goes up the main ice groove right of centre.

The route breaks down in to 3 logical pitches with an easier angled initial pitch up the broad ice wall and then a more interesting steeper icy groove above to the railings of the little concrete hut!

Tom leading the fine ice groove on the 2nd pitch of Home Wet Home. There is a bolt on the left at the top of this pitch and we belayed on the hut railings to the right.

After that a little traverse past a bolt leads in to the harder upper rocky groove – cave – slabby wall with some good thin moves to access the final snow slope.

Kev leading the crux final pitch of Home Wet Home
Tom enjoying the fine crux section of the last pitch of Home Wet Home

There were a number of teams climbing on the Rive Droite also with apparently a new option to abseil from one of the prominent higher trees to get down via a new bolted anchor set up for 60m ropes.

Rive Droite today with teams rapping off the tree to the left of the icefall in the centre of this picture. Track just visible.

The ski down was superb with wall to wall pristine velvet powder and numerous teams had enjoyed a bigger skin heading right up towards the Grands Montets.

Velvet smooth powder for the big pack descent from Rive Gauche past the Refuge Lognan. Aiguille du Chardonnet behind

A big team also put in a track over the Col de Passon and reported some good snow on the descent to Le Tour.

Great views of the Aiguilles Rouges across the Chamonix Valley from the winter sun at Grands Montets

Both skiing and climbing conditions are good at the moment and it looks like there is pretty inspiring mix of more snow – cold temperatures – more sunny weather inbound, so please get in touch via the contact form below if we can help with some guiding for Chamonix or Aravis based ice climbing or ski touring…

Chilly early morning skin up to the Rive Gauche – Argentiere Glacier – Col de Passon. Aiguille du Chardonnet beyond.