27 January 2023, Anzères Ice Climbing🇨🇭& Ski Argentière Glacier 🇫🇷

The ‘Grand Beau’ and ‘Grand Froid’ conditions continue around the Mont Blanc Massif and much of the Northern Alps giving some stellar snow, very nice skiing in places and plenty of new ice building, even on sunny aspects.

Plenty of ice had been building at the new ice park in Anzères in the Swiss Rhone Valley.   Conditions were good and access rapid!  Just 2 minutes walk from the Telecabine and there is even a warm picnic room to gear up in at the top station too!

James in winter training & ice mode as part of his Matterhorn 2023 project.

This is a friendly venue and well worth checking out for either intro ice climbing or training on some of the steeper lines.   It was pretty quiet for our visit and the possibly to rack up the climbs with the convenient flat crag base and in-situ anchors at the top…plus the variety of fun steep lines to choose from.

The warm up ice wall at Anzères with the cable and maillon anchors for top roping / lowering off providing extensions from the bolt anchors on the building above

The warm up wall is short, but still quite steep and the ice has been ably assisted in forming by a solid wooden wall construction over the crag!

Enjoyable steep ice ‘on the woody’. Training with James at Anzères

We did a mix of top roping and lead ice climbing as the ice was fat enough in places for screws and we even managed a mini multi pitch adventure as training for bigger routes in the future.

A bit more steeper than the warm up wall! Perhaps 4+ climbing on the Right side of the initial wall at Anzères

There are various steeper ice lines to the right and even a vertical think tree trunk style feature which looked like it was part of the imminent ice climbing competition.

Great winter middle mountain ambiance…with a very short walk in from the telecabine!

As well as being a great training venue, in good weather like today, it’s a great place to hang out with the Mont Blanc Massif framing the backdrop for the crag, Grand Combin visible when topping out on the routes on the right and all round stunning views of the giants of the Swiss Valais from the sunny café terrace just above.  Well worth checking out and please get in touch if you would like to do some ice climbing training here or guiding elsewhere in the area.

The descent of the Glacier des Grands Montets. Crusty snow but amazing winter high alpine ambiance…

Higher in the mountains the wind has been present and many slopes have wind affected snow with some impressive and beautiful sastrugi but equally often with crusty snow and not always easy skiing conditions.

A short extra skin for some more crusty turns! On the lower Glacier du Milieu with the North Faces of Les Droites & Verte in behind.

After our initial day skiing velvet powder at Megeve (see below) our Chamonix Off Piste & Touring Skills Progression team took to the higher mountains for a glacier journey and exploration of the awesome mid winter ambiance in the Argentière Basin.  The descent from the Col des Rachasses was mainly crusty but fortunately there is a lot of traversing!

Lean, but fun, for the confident, conditions in the Arg Glacier Rive Gauche gun barrel run

We then enjoyed a beautiful quiet winter glacier journey across to the Rive Droite and briefly up the lower slopes on the south facing Glacier du Milieu.   One Spanish team had continued up and later said they had been to the summit of the Argentière itself.

The step out! The Argentière Glacier classic Rive Gauche exit

The return ski down the Rive Gauche gun barrel and classic exit was lean, as the wind had eroded more than deposited, but it was still fun for confident skiers and there was some lovely tracked cold grippy snow once back on the old black piste in the Montets ski area.

Our Chamonix off piste and touring skills team doing some ‘ridge touring’ to access even more fresh tracks in velvet powder above Megeve Cote 2000

Earlier in the week we had another excellent but contrasting day touring and putting fresh tracks in velvet powder above Megeve Cote 2000 as well as another fine day further west exploring the brilliant Espace Diamant and very fine options for piste & slack country touring and ski safari journeys….

Chalet touring! Fine mid winter conditions in the Espace Diamant.

Our Classic course group also have had a brilliant week, finishing the course with a ski tour from the Skyway Monte Bianco and descent of the Vallée Blanche.   Decent conditions and only a short walk to the ice caves at Montenvers which is a big improvement in previous conditions.

Our Chamonix off piste and ski touring course team climbing up to the Col d’Entreves as part of the descent of the Vallèe Blanche

There looks like more sunny, dry and cold conditions on the way for much of next week too which should allow for some more good sorties in the mountains, building ice and slowly stabilising snow pack with an avalanche risk which has steadily decreased to 2/5 in the Mont Blanc Massif.

Our Chamonix off piste and ski touring course team in the Geant Icefall on the descent of the Vallèe Blanche

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

Chamonix off piste & touring skills course at the Col d’Entreves

Mountaineering & Training Courses

Matterhorn Training In Zermatt Before Climbing The Rimpfischorn…And The Matterhorn!

Alpine Summer 2023 Mountaineering & Training Courses