28 June 2022, Gran Paradiso🇮🇹Weissmies🇨🇭Mont Blanc 🇫🇷

Mountaineering training from the Skyway Monte Bianco on our Mont Blanc training day – note this glacial lake below had completely disappeared by the next day!

The heatwaves through much of June finally gave way to more unsettled, showery and cooler weather and our Gran Paradiso, Weissmies and Mont Blanc teams have been making the most of some atmospheric weather and decent opportunities for summiting Paradiso and Weissmies…but not Mont Blanc!

Gran Paradiso & Mont Blanc training team with the Dent du Geant behind.

We had a great couple of days training and acclimatising around the Skyway / Torino Hut area and conditions were good for our Gran Paradiso & Mont Blanc preparation with a decent overnight freeze away from the localised cloud around Punta Hellbronner.  We did some good crampon and snow training around the Col Marbrees and Petit Flambeau area and it was remarkable to see the lake which had formed in the wind-scoop at the Col Rochefort disappear overnight!

Rob topping out on the Col Rochefort wind-scoop, with the disappearing glacial lake behind!

Conditions for the ridges, high altitude rock climbing and mixed routes are basically dry and there is more of a feeling traditionally reminiscent of late summer rather than late June.  A few teams were climbing the Dent du Geant but the approach is dry and loose.  Better conditions were reported for the rocky Devils Ridge on Mont Blanc du Tacul but overall there is low snow volume due to a relatively lean winter and spring and hot start to the summer season…not to mention glacial retreat due to global warming of course!

Rock scrambling on our Mont Blanc Training day from Skyway Monte Bianco.

These summer alpine conditions are even more noticeable in the nearby Gran Paradiso National but did not stop us having a brilliant adventure with a great base camp at the lovely Rifugio Chabod.

our Gran Paradiso team heading up to Rifugio Chabod with guide Jonny Baird and Pont in the background.
Rifugio Chabod – a great base camp for our Gran Paradiso summit attempt

Despite the lean snow conditions we were appreciative of a very good overnight re-freeze and excellent conditions for cramponing up the glacier under the north face of Paradiso and crossing the numerous bridges over crevasses.

Dawn rises on the ascent of Gran Paradiso. An early start due to the storms forecasted for the middle of the day.  La Grivola in the background – 2nd highest mountain entirely in Italy after Gran Paradiso.

We made steady progress and snow conditions were pretty good on the upper mountain and well organised with the one way system in operation on the summit ridge and lots of shiny steel pigs tails for team protection.

The steady snowy upper glacier on the ascent of Gran Paradiso.
Quick huffin & puffin break at 4000m as the clouds rolled in and out on Gran Paradiso. Andrew was looking better moments later and the clouds had cleared – see headline photo!
Rob, Emily, Ben, Issy and Andrew with the Madonna on Gran Paradiso.

The descent via the Vittorio Emanuelle route was just still ok snow conditions wise but there is a lot of loose rock in the central section requiring crampons off and then back on for the final steep glacier snout.  We only got a light buffetting and lashing from the wind and rain on the descent to the end of trip pasta party in Pont…

Post dawn glacier ascent under the north face of Gran Paradiso.

After a rest day, our teams heading on to Mont Blanc were diverted to another peak due to gale force winds forecast over the summit period and also some poor conditions in the Grand Couloir between the Tete Rousse and Gouter Huts.  The snow and ice conditions on the upper Bosses Ridge are improved and conditions above Gouter are good, however the heat and recent rain has caused plenty of stone fall in the Grand Couloir.

Ben & Issy enjoying the sustained easy scrambling on the South Ridge of the Weissmies

We headed East to escape the gale force westerlies and have a better chance of climbing something rather than nothing.  After some good rock climbing and training on the Dry Hornli ridge and a night at the lovely Almageller Hut we headed up the pleasant sustained easy scrambling on the South Ridge of the Weissmies.

A few slightly steeper walls make for some fun big boot climbing and good Matterhorn training in ascent and descent…

The short snow ascent and summit ridge gave some good mountaineering in crampons and another 4000m peak summit.   The constant buffeting from the West was a good reminder that we were in the right place rather than being blown off Mont Blanc!

Snowy summit ridge on the Weissmies. Note the northern flank of the mountain is still closed due to the anticipated Serac fall on the Hohsaas side of the mountain.
Kev and Alan on the summit of the Weissmies on another alternative Mont Blanc summit. Photo thanks to Hannah Vickers.

Our Summer & Autumn 2022 Mountaineering Courses – Remaining Availability

Many of our summer 2022 courses are now full but we do have a few selective places remaining and can still arrange private guiding for Chamonix rock climbing and, depending on dates, alpine guiding.

The selected courses below are all running and ready for you to join & you can keep an eye on the full programme on our course page here.

Dawn ascent of the long glacier on Gran Paradiso…This is where your training pays off – running, rock climbing, strength work…and our Mont Blanc and Matterhorn training weekends – get in touch for details!