16 October 2022, Mont Blanc & Chamonix Mountaineering Conditions

Whilst memorable and highly rewarding, our autumn Mont Blanc courses are often somewhat arduous affairs and this trip was no exception.   The mountain was calm & quiet with no other teams staying in the winter rooms and only a couple of other groups seen on the mountain at all.  Snow conditions were much improved with the recent big storms and there was a small track in place leading up high on to the upper mountain….

Rocky – snowy – mixed scrambling up the ridge between Gouter and Tete Rousse Huts which, along with the crossing of the adjacent Grand Couloir, usually provides the technical key passage of the whole route, although not this time!

After a good quiet night at the Tete Rousse Hut the summit weather window was there and the long ascent began.   Good progress was made all the way up to the Vallot Hut for a pause and layering up.  The weather was holding, the winds were relatively calm & the team were going well…Unfortunately conditions then conspired against the team who were otherwise going really well.   Above 4550m on the Arête des Bosses, the wind had stripped not only the fresh snow away – but any previous older snow layers too and had left a stark icy slope and ridge with big exposure below.

Descending the Bosses Ridge with the clouds gathering and Aiguille du Bionassay centre left.

Some strong small teams with more industrial ice climbing gear had indeed made the ascent but guide and guests were all agreed, this combination was not looking appealing & a ‘demi tour’ was made with a chilly night spent at the Gouter hut winter room in descent.

Still, it was a brilliant adventurous mountain experience and one of our guests, Matt, had this to say about it:

I have had a brilliant week. I think we had some tricky conditions to deal with but for me, this just added to the experience. I was of course disappointed not to summit but given the conditions, Gav absolutely made the right decision, he was exceptional. I learnt so much from him and always felt very safe.

Check out our dusk ascent of the mountain in October last year, via the page link below, and get training to join us on Mont Blanc in autumn (or early or late summer in 2023).

9 October 2021, Mont Blanc Autumn Ascent

The general ambiance is now nicely autumnal around the Midi and Skyway lifts, which are both still open although, for those coming from the Chamonix side, note that the Tunnel du Mont Blanc is now closed for the next 3 weeks or so.   There has been plenty of fresh snow and there are some nicely packed down tracks going in to the classic routes – but note that the glaciers are still highly crevassed and the snow bridges are not significantly improved and are more hidden with the relatively light coating of fresh snow.  So care is required with glacier travel journeys but conditions feel pleasanter on the easier ridges with teams climbing the Marbrees and Petit Flambeau from Skyway and Cosmiques from the Midi.

Team of alpinists climbing back to the Aiguille du Midi with the Grandes Jorasses north face behind.

Snow conditions are much improved on the Midi snow ridge and a few teams were out enjoying the pleasant quiet & cool ambiance.  Several teams were on the classic ice route of the Chere Couloir which looked thin but had ice in it and an approach track across the Col du Midi.  There was also a small track along the first part of the Midi Plan traverse.

The Triangle du Tacul and voie normale on Mont Blanc du Tacul. Sunday 16 Oct.

Very early season thin ice has been building around the Mont Blanc Massif with thin ice forming on the classic Fil à Plomb on the North Face of the Aiguille du Midi.

The left hand side of the North Face of the Aiguille du Midi with early ice building on Fil à Plomb, upper centre.

Hopefully more autumn precipitation will help build some inspiring mixed climbing conditions again like last autumn as per our ascents of the North Faces of the Aiguille du Chardonnet and Tête Blanche in this trip last November.

17 November 2021, Aiguille du Chardonnet & Tête Blanche North Faces


It’s often an inspiring time to be in the mountains – or on the crags to enjoy crisp rock climbing with beautiful varied autumn colours, check out our dedicated page on that and read our article on climbing outside the main summer alpine season here.

Snowy icy rocky mixed climbing at the base of the Escarra on the north face Aiguille du Chardonnet, autumn 2021

Autumn is also a brilliant time to be out walking in the mountains.  We took advantage of the Midi halfway station lift to enjoy the scenic sunny afternoon stroll down through the stunning varied autumnal colours in the Chamonix Valley at the moment.

The Bossons glacier glowing white and the autumnal colours of the Chamonix Valley glowing golden in the late afternoon autumn light.
The buvette at the Cascade de Dard. Plenty of water cascading down at the moment, let’s hope it will turn to solid ice in the coming months!

Get in touch if we can help with some autumn rock climbing – alpine mountaineering – mountain training or mountain walking and, looking ahead to the winter season, cascade ice climbing and winter climbing.

We also have courses places available on our Winter & Spring 2023 ski touring, off piste and Mont Blanc & Matterhorn training group courses…

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Amazing weekend, in an amazing place, ski touring in the Val Feret with base camp at Rifugio Bonatti