19 January 2023, Rapidly Improved Ski Conditions Around The Mt Blanc Massif

Despite a good snowy start to the ski season around the Mont Blanc Massif, a succession of late December and early January warm and wet storms pretty much trashed the snowpack at low altitudes and many of the lower ski resorts were forced to close.  The upside of this for those interested in ski touring and mountaineering for the spring and summer seasons ahead, was that all that rain was still snow above about 2300m, meaning that the glaciers and upper mountain snow slopes, glaciers and couloirs were mainly filling up with snow quite well.

The start of the fine building wintery conditions – powder day on the Val Veny side of Courmayeur with the Aiguille Noire de Peuterey behind.

However the snow conditions for starting the new year were still generally poor with closed or half closed resorts and the possibility to walk in the lower hills on pretty much snow free paths and tracks as per this moonlit walk in the Aravis:

A superb moonlit early January walk in the Aravis…but with virtually no snow at lower altitudes due to the warm rain storms over Christmas. But with masses of snow falling above 2300m

On the 8th and 9th of January the temperatures dropped, particularly in the Italian Val d’Aosta and we enjoyed a Courmayeur powder day with up to around 40cms of fresh snow giving some fun skiing in the Val Veny forests which still had a reasonable base as the thaw, foehn winds and rain had trashed the snow pack less than on the northern French side of the Mont Blanc Massif.

The begining of the improved conditions with 30-40cms fresh powder snow at Courmayeur on the South Side of the Mont Blanc Massif

Conditions on the Swiss side of the massif were improving rapidly and an away day from Chamonix in the brilliant little resort of Bruson, now part of the Verbier 4 Vallées area with plenty of powder on the pistes, in the side and back country with teams ski touring on the Six Blanc pictured below.

Into the powder side country at Bruson, Verbier 4 Vallées. Very nice piste, off piste and touring conditions in mid Jan 23
Very nice piste, off piste and touring conditions at Bruson, Verbier 4 Vallées. in mid Jan 23

By the 13th January the temperatures had cooled a bit, albeit still above season average and plenty of snow was falling above about 1500m giving some fun fresh tracks in the side country and powder touring meadows of Megeve Cote 2000 and Rochebrune.

Rapidly improving powder side country conditions at Megeve Cote 2000m
Short ski touring journeys in the meadows and forest paths above Megeve

This was allowing some of the lower resorts to start opening more lifts but the even better news was in the forecast for the mid January weekend, lots of snow with falling temperatures…

‘Pre-Rosset’.. a ‘bonne adresse’ in the Megeve Cote 2000m / Rochebrune area and a fine launching pad for ski touring in to the brilliant meadow country between here and Mont Vorès / Praz Sur Arly

Initially lots of resorts now had closures due to ‘too much’ snow and high avalanche risk, but once avalanche controls had been done, the more mellow resorts were getting open and with even lower altitude runs coming in to good condition like here in Morillon, Grand Massif, with fine skiing down to their low mid station at 1100m.

Keeping up the skiing and touring in the stormy forests of Morillon. Lovely powder conditions in the Grand Massif in mid Jan.

On Monday through to Wednesday,  16-18 Jan around 75cms of fresh snow fell, often with a rain snow limit well down below Valley floor level even in the lower Vallée de l’Arve, and the hills were transformed in to a winter wonderland again.  This is Notre Dame de Bellecombe 1350m in the Espace Diamont with fresh tracks in powder right down to the road:

The aptly named Mont Rond 1767m in the Espace Diamont above Notre Dame de Bellecombe 1350m in the valley with fine conditions from summit to parking.

And conditions where it was hard to find the piste under the pow!

Remarkable powder side country conditions on the blue pistes of Notre Dame de Bellecombe, Espace Diamant

Whilst the snow volume at lower altitudes is still below seasonal average due to the Christmas – New Year wash out, the look and feel of the hills is fully wintery again with some great skiing and snow volumes above 2000m are ‘correct’ again with apparently fine conditions reported in the upper Vallée Blanche.  Whilst there was a 30min+ walk to reach Montenvers, there won’t be anymore!   However, conditions will still probably be lean on the glacier lower down and the Midi snow ridge is still not equipped as per usual for this time of year.

Skiiing the storm powder at Megeve on our intro ski touring weekend.
Wintery conditions in mid Jan 23 ski touring on the Petite Croise Baulet, Combloux

And the additional good news after all this game changing new snow…the post storm good weather is staying COLD!  Particularly cold with some impressive mid winter lows reported like -26C at the Aiguille du Midi and -34C on the summit of Mont Blanc!

Piste, side country and back country, all in good condition at Bruson near Verbier in the Swiss Valais and now only an hour or so drive from Chamonix plus it’s on the Chamonix unlimited / season pass.

This cold weather should at least preserve the wonderful full winter ambiance for a while and allow teams to enjoy a wide variety of touring options, particularly once the snow settles and the avalanche hazard calms down a bit.

Many of our winter 2023 group ski courses are now full but we do have the following places still available on our ski touring, off piste and ski mountaineering courses plus some ideas for spring mountaineering training and looking ahead to our summer alpine courses, some of which are already full.

Ski Courses

Ski descent from the north face of Tour d’Ai with the West Face in the background where there are some other fine mixed routes like Leysin Incontournable.

Mountaineering & Training Courses

A good start to the day…the powder arrives in Megeve in mid January 2023

Alpine Summer 2023 Mountaineering & Training Courses

Jerome & Matt on an adventurous autumn attempt on Mont Blanc, reaching 4550m on the Bosses Ridge, Oct 2022