Chamonix Mountaineering

9 June 2021, Cosmiques Arête & Chamonix Mountaineering Conditions

Whilst there are plenty of climbers and skiers heading up the Aiguille du Midi, there are unsurprisingly not many tourists and the big Grepon car park felt deserted for early summer.  There were however, plenty of people on the Cosmiques Arete!

Chamonix Mountaineering Course
Scott and James one of very few rocky sections currently on the Arete Laurence. Snowy!

Par contre, we had the Arete Laurence to ourselves and enjoyed a very snowy and rapid traverse with a good track over nearly all the rocky bits that appear later in the summer.  At a relaxed pace, it was only 1hr from the Midi station to café in the Cosmiques Hut.

The ‘crux’ rock slab of the Arete Laurence. Today an easy track in the snow.

With much warmer temperatures arriving in the next few days – we are probably now just past the peak of the impressive early summer snow volume.  It is great to see so much snow on the glaciers and lots of teams were enjoying the tracks and snowy conditions on Pt Lachenal although there is lots of serac debris on the lookers right of the main summit peak.  It’s worth staying tucked in towards the base of the North Face if heading that way.

Traversing the Arete Laurence with the base of the Cosmiques Arete in the background and Fizz Massif beyond that.

There was actually a bit more snow stuck to the Triangle du Tacul from recent warmer showers and it looked less stark & icy than a couple of weeks ago.  There was a caravan of teams heading towards the base of the Chere Couloir and it looked like there was some ice on at least the first pitch of the Perroux although not clear if it was any good!

Old photo – not current conditions – Perroux Gully on left, Chere Couloir directly above the climber
Old shot of one of the crux icy / mixed grooves on the Perroux next to the Chere couloir

There were teams heading up the Contamine – Négri and also a track from the top of the Triangle heading up on towards the shoulder and summit of the Tacul with various teams and ski, skinning and boot tracks on the Voie Normale slope too.

Sticking to the track in soft snow on the sunny & warm south side of the Cosmiques Arete

The Cosmiques Arête also had many ascents today and is also well snowy with care required with the soft snow on the south side of the ridge but generally decent conditions in the tracks.   There is lots of snow in the area of the first abseil / down climb and a slightly delicate traverse just below that to get across to the new rappel anchor on the South side of the ridge.   Most teams were sticking to the South side for this section although there is a north side alternative too which looks more intricate!

The last move on the Arete des Cosmiques,Chamonix, old shot.

There are some slightly different passages to normal on the rest of the route with some good logical alternatives to make the most of the high snow volume and reduce the need to commit to any exposed snow slopes on the sunny south side.   The crux wall is still mainly buried but steadily emerging from the snow and the upper traverse on the north side and icy chimney above was good fun in the icy early season conditions.

Snowy Late Spring Conditions On The Cosmiques Arete, Chamonix

Further round on the North Face of the Midi it looked like the Mallory had been tracked in ascent but no tracks on a still very snowy looking Frendo Spur.  The snow pack is in the transitional phase as summer temperatures arrive with still impressive snow volume and numerous big snow slides can be seen around the range.  A good overnight freeze plus rapid efficient climbing would be important allies for good conditions on snow routes at the moment…and a decent existing track would be pretty handy too!

More lifts including those at Le Tour and Brevent Flegere will be opening this weekend, great for access to the middle mountains but do note that there is still lots of continuous snow on the steep approach slopes to, for example, both the rock climbs in the Aiguilles Rouges and the approach to the Albert Premier Hut from the Col de Balme.

Chamonix Rock Climbing In The Aiguilles Rouges. Old Photo, not current conditions. Photo: Gav Pike.

Summer 2021 Courses & Guiding Availability

For group courses, we have spaces available on the following courses plus many more on our Full list of courses here and please get in touch if you would like to arrange some private guiding & mountain adventures this summer either in the UK or the Alps.

Snowdonia Mont Blanc Training
Lovely rock scrambling in Snowdonia training for Mont Blanc.