Chamonix Ice Climbing Guide

24 March 2021, Mini Couloir, Cascade EMHM, Grands Montets Ski Touring

Last weekends snowfall produced some great snow conditions around the Mont Blanc Massif and there was still some lovely powder on shady aspects above 1bout 1850m at the Grands Montets today.   It was good to see all the great fresh tracks around the Herse, Bochard and heading round to the glacier areas and lots of teams have been out enjoying it.  We enjoyed touring through the powder…apart from the slightly wobbly descent with skins still on down to the top of the ice route EMHM….

Ice Climbing In Chamonix
Abseiling in to the EMHM cascade with good fat but slightly breakable ice conditions and plenty of fresh snow on the easier bits after last weekends snow fall and no sign of any ascents since.

No one had climbed the route since the snow last weekend and there were some impressive big delicate snow structures in place.  But the upper cascade itself is big and fat and was easy to protect with solid screws and we enjoyed climbing the last 2 pitches on this upper section of the route, whilst the lower section looked to have a lot of deep snow on the easier angled bits.  The ice was a bit hard and breakable, but that may have also had something to do with having chunky dry / mixed picks on the axes, and overall conditions were good.

Ice Climbing Argentiere Rive Gauche
The lower of the 2 upper pitches on EMHM leading up to a bolted anchor on the climbers right and the fine final pitch to another bolted anchor and the easier snow slopes above.

After topping out on EMHM we enjoyed a short uphill powder tour above the Rive Gauche, with great views of the beautiful pale blue seracs of the Argentiere Icefall and also across to lots of nice looking tracks coming down from the Col de Passon on the Argentiere side.

Ski touring below the Lognan Refuge with the remnants of the Rive Droite Cascades behind.

Ice conditions on the Mini Couloir were softer and more ‘sorbet’ but also a lot thinner!  The key passage leading up into the groove out of the cave is now pretty thin with solid ice on the left but very thin and even rotten ice on the right.  It gave an enjoyable pitch today but is more serious and harder to protect than EMHM.   Another team had just climbed Déferlante and reported doable conditions but pretty breakable ice.

Rive Gauche Ice Climbing
The last moves of key passage on Mini Couloir. This gave some nice but thin ice today with a lean section coming out of the cave and below the intermediate bolt belay

Further up in the Argentiere Basin, the Argentiere Refuge is apparently now open and plenty of teams have been touring and some climbing in the basin.  There was 1 team heading up to the Col de Chardonnet today and others touring higher up in the magnificent glacial cirque d’Argentiere.

Previous Season shot of Ski touring above the Argentiere Glacier en route to the Col du Tour Noire

Please get in touch via the contact form below if you would like to do some guided ice, mixed or rock climbing or ski touring over the rest of the spring 2021 season…

Mixed climbing Chamonix
Martha enjoying the ice & mixed combination on Pt Lachenal’s ‘Pellisier Gully’, Chamonix. Photo Kev Avery