Skyway Ski Touring

Autumn & Early Winter 2020 Chamonix Ski Reports & Snow Conditions

There was no soft and light powder skiing in the upper Vallée Blanche today, but there was plenty of snow and it’s great to be out ski touring again…before mid October!  So it was an early finish to the 19-20 ski touring season, but it has also now been a relatively early start to the 20-21 season.

Ski touring from the Torino Hut accessed from the Skyway lift above Courmayeur. Good snow volume – for mid October!

The high glaciers were in a relatively reasonable state at the end of this summer season, and it feels like there has now been regular rain in the valleys and snow in the high mountains of the Mont Blanc Massif for much of the last month.  The results up high are impressive with nice looking coverage across the upper Vallée Blanche although clearly the snow bridges won’t be formed properly yet like they will be later in the winter / spring seasons.

Tom, Olga and Neil heading out for the first day of the ski season 2020-21. A high altitude start from Skyway Monte Bianco above Courmayeur.

Today was just about getting out on the skis and enjoying a nice journey across the glacier rather than doing any major skiing.   Although some Chamonix teams have been skiing well down the Vallée Blanche already, this is worth waiting for until there is much more snow.  But for now, it’s great to be out on the skis, touring on the high glaciers in selected areas and using the skis to access some easy mountaineering routes like the Aiguilles Marbrees.

Ski Glacier de Toule
The ladders / old staircase below Col de Toule for approaching the Glacier de Toule, currently shut!

One team over the weekend were avalanched near the staircase, which we used to be used to access the Glacier de Toule, when a windslab was triggered in the steep Couloir des Allemends, which the team of 5 were climbing together.  See location map & more details about that incident on the Data Avalanche site here.

Early season skiing on the Glacier de Toule, 2017 season

Snow conditions across much of the northern Alps, at high altitude at least, are better than normal for the early autumn season and there is a little bit more snow on the way in the forecast too with relatively cool temperatures hopefully meaning the snow does not disappear.  Some nice weather would be good for the mixed climbers out there keeping an eye on what happens to this fresh snow in the mountains and whether it’s going to stick, melt & re-freeze in the gullies and on the crags to give some good autumn alpine climbing

Quality autumn mixed climbing conditions on the north faces…for later in 2020??

For the skiers, some resorts in the Swiss Valais are already open including Glacier 3000, Saas Fee and Zermatt, with the resort on the other side of the Matterhorn, Cervinia, due to open later this month and we look forward to our normal early season piste, side country, cappuccino and pasta warm up over there…

Off Piste Skiing Under The Matterhorn
Great snow on the piste and some powder in the side country at Cervinia November 2019

This is a great time of year to be preparing for the ski season with some pre-season ski fit, from our friends at BeFitApps.

Prepare well for this coming ski season with both pre-season strength work and some quality off piste, avalanche and touring training in Chamonix

We can also offer pre-season glacier travel and avalanche awareness training days in Chamonix, with or without the snow.  Yes, these cover emergency procedure training for crevasse rescue and avalanche burial response…but more importantly they focus on the skills required to plan good safe routes and try to avoid accidents in the first place.

Tough early winter conditions with deep wind blown snow and extensive crevassing. What are conditions like in the Vallee Blanche? Know before you go & prepare well or hire a mountain guide if you’re not sure!

We will have a December pre-season weekend in Chamonix covering many of these skills, so please let us know if you are interested in joining this group and also check out our early season Chamonix ski touring weekends which progress through the season to include different venues for a series of progressive weekends in France, Italy & Switzerland.

Off Piste Ski Guide
Lovely velvet snow in the shady forests of Pila above the Aosta Valley. Grand Combin beyond. Great conditions in late December 2019