27 January 2022, Vallée Blanche – Ski – Tour – Climb Conditions Update

In typical Chamonix style – there were plenty of folk heading up the Aiguille du Midi this morning to make the most of the continuing good weather and relatively stable snow conditions.  As well as teams skiing the Vallée Blanche there were also quite a few teams without skis and quite a queue to rapp off the bridge and start up Vent du Dragon.

Cruising across the Col du Midi with the Cosmiques Hut and Arete in the background

Likewise there seemed to be plenty of teams on the Cosmiques Arete but none seen on the Triangle which looked pretty dry.   The Midi snow ridge is now equipped with a good series of metal posts and fixed rope linking them giving 2 lines down the ridge ridge crest.  The Z track looks to be in place but is still closed for the moment.

Gabarou Albinoni with several teams on and reasonably good conditions

Cruising down the nice creamy snow on the classic VB route gave us great views of the East Face of Mont Blanc du Tacul and with plenty of teams on some of the classic goulottes like Gabarou-Albinoni and Valeria.  Also see photos of the Supercouloir with a dry direct start but ice in the main gully.

The Supercouloir with a dry direct start but ice in the gully itself
Valeria area…

The snow in the upper VB is generally very nice in the most skied line – creamy smooth turns with very pleasant easy skiing, as long as you don’t go ‘off piste’!   This is harder on the long drag section below the Col de Gros Rognon as folk have spread out more – but fortunately there are some solid smooth sections with good grip and consistent skiing.

Fine skiing in the upper VB, before it gets a bit more ‘funky’ lower down!

Like several other teams we toured across towards the Italian side, taking a very low line through the central crevasses to make for an easier and more sure skin.   The upper lines seemed to pass but with more exposed and complicated skinning.  A team was climbing on the North Face of the Tour Ronde and conditions looked reasonable.

Touring over towards the Italian side in the upper Vallée Blanche

Lots of tracks were heading in to the Combe Noir on the Italian side of the icefall but apparently the snow is pretty poor – and there are plenty of holes!  The Combe Vierge had nicer snow and it’s possible to track back across and join the classic route and Rive Gauche of the icefall.

Lovely creamy snow and shallow softish bumps on the L hand side of the icefall

This passes well and had some fun skiing on soft shallow bumps in the valley below a quiet – deserted looking Requin Hut.  The entrance to the Salle à Manger was via a narrow but ok track but the exit was a bit more complicated!   There are various options but most seem to involve negotiating at least a few bits of blue ice and a few little icy steps and another metre or 2 of snow would not go amiss here!

Geant icefall ambiance – very quiet in late Jan

There is another slightly more complicated than usual section to access the upper Mer de Glace but this passes ok with a bit of route finding and side stepping for us.  Whilst a few teams were carrying on down to the end of the glacier – buvette and track to Chamonix, it looks a bit thin and probably more teams were heading to town via the train!

Back in the VB! Booted and suited for the descent of the Midi arete…

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