It felt like this action packed Chamonix 2 day introduction to alpine mountaineering started at the end of the summer and finished at the start of autumn. Thursday was hot, sunny and busy with many teams descending from the Aiguille du Tour and Friday was very quiet but wonderfully atmospheric with the brooding context of the first big storm of autumn rolling in…and it has certainly arrived as forecast!
We got a few rock routes in at the Gaillands Crag in Chamonix and some training in lowering and abseiling done in preparation for the PM session on the ice! There is no shortage of dry ice on the Tour Glacier at the moment and a good scoop for crampon training just below the hut. Lower down on the lip of the icefall there are some big crevasses with nice ice climbing conditions where Bram and Justine both had their first taste of steeper ice climbing in an impressive situation!
Unsurprisingly for the time of year, the lower Tour Glacier above the Albert Premier Hut is pretty icy / rocky / gravely but higher up beyond the Signal Reilly at 2883m, snow conditions are actually pretty good still on the glacier itself with less than usual crevassing for the time of year on the steady ascent above.
The usual crossing of the Col Sup du Tour looks particularly unpleasant at the moment with a nasty combination of icy gravel, loose rock and some bigger rocks sat on a layer of icy ball bearings….So we went round to investigate the crossing of the Col du Tour. This was preferable although not without it’s fair share of loose rock too. There is a pleasant ascent on snow to the base of a loose rocky scrambling couloir which has various sections of fixed ropes and bolts along it’s short passage to the ridge line watershed and French, Swiss border.
Snow conditions are also generally fine on the Swiss Trient glacier, for the time of year, with a good track all the way up to the bergschrund on the Aiguille du Tour which was very easily crossed and this leads to the now standard mid summer onwards section of choss before the nicer scrambling is reached. There were only 3 teams on the mountain this morning, from both huts, and we all shared the summit together and enjoyed the impressive display of lenticular clouds as a harbinger of the oncoming storm. A big and autumnal one, so it was time to head down, but not before noting that whilst this is not ideal for climbing over the weekend, it’s exactly what the mountains need to help re-charge the dry conditions.
Despite all the Covid complications with quarantine and border crossings, we still have some group courses running and spaces available on Chamonix mountaineering group courses running in September. We also still have availability for private guiding based in Chamonix or the Swiss or Italian Alps over the rest of the summer season. Please get in touch if we can help.
- 9-11 Sept, Climb The Gran Paradiso
- 9-11 Sept, Climb the Weissmies
- 13-15th Sept, Climb Mont Blanc
- 27-29th Sept, Climb The Gran Paradiso
- 1-3rd Oct, Climb Mont Blanc