6 July 2021, Sylvie Phobie, Barberine & Too Windy on Mont Blanc
Kev and Mark climbed from Tete Rousse to Gouter Hut in crampons all the way with a liberal covering of fresh snow on the scramble. The cloud was still thick at Gouter so a long coffee, then early lunch break provided a tactical pause, after which the cloud had cleared…but the wind had ramped up even more.
The decision to turn around was made easy by far too strong winds buffetting the team across the Col du Dome and up to Vallot, with powerful gusts and sustained high speeds it was time to turn around! The Grand Couloir was in poorer condition this morning with a debris chute down the centre and several falling rocks seen whilst descending the scramble. A stormy couple of days on the way now also meaning the Matterhorn is not going to be in decent conditions by the end of the week.
Before the storms arrived this afternoon we also got some good slab and wall climbing on the fine Barberine crags near the Swiss border. Several pitches of ‘Charly et ses drôles de dalles‘ provided some good varied climbing and a hard short wall as an alternative start to the upper half of one of the crag classics, Sylvie Phobie.
A quick shuffle rightwards along the big ledge above the hard move / short wall pitch on Charly leads to the base of the fine crux pitch of Sylvie Phobie, which has a fine 6a+ overlap and then good sustained slabby wall leading in to the technical 6c+ crux which is well bolted!
Several good pitches remain above including the fine wall – rib – overhang 6b+ pitch. The overhang is much easier than the technical step R around the rib!
Even the very last short pitch after a little rightward traverse at the end – packed in some 6b climbing before the interesting walk off down past the Afrique and Gorge sectors at Gietroz and back to the base of the some of the other good steadier routes like Cacao Girls, 6a+.
2 July 2021, Rapid Traverse Of Les Perrons
Well done to Mark and Kev for a stylish and swift traverse of Les Perrons above Vallorcine on the Swiss – French Alpine border East of the Mont Blanc Massif. Six hours car to car from the Emosson dam parking is pretty rapido!
The team were moving really well; the ridge was quiet and the rapid traverse was also assisted by the very extensive snowfields still in place from the descent on the Northern Swiss side of the ridge for the return to Emosson.
This rapid traverse bodes well for a stylish ascent of Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn next week, which is plan A, although there is plenty of both mixed weather and snow about so neither outcome are taken for granted!
Friday gave a good weather day for some big alpine routes at the end of a mixed week with plenty of ‘weather’ about including pretty cool temperatures, storms, wind, cloud and some fresh snow. Not exactly a summer of high pressure so far but nicely preserving the good snow volume and summer mountaineering conditions which is welcome.
The Hornli Hut on the Matterhorn is now open for the summer and the Mittellegi Hut on the Eiger is scheduled to open on July 10th. We still have availability for guiding the Matterhorn and Eiger this season. Also in addition to the course places described at the base of this page – we are happy to have our September Mont Blanc training weekend in Snowdonia and October Mont Blanc ascent course both running, so please check those out if you would like to train over the summer and join us in the early autumn in the Mont Blanc Massif.
30 June 2021, Beautiful Cool Snowy Skyway Conditions – Aiguilles Marbrees
It was great to be back in Italy but it felt more like stepping in to the Scottish winter out of the Skyway station this morning. Very quiet, plenty of pristine fresh overnight snow and enough cloud that we needed to take a compass bearing to find the Aiguilles Marbrees!
But with the high snow volume on the glacier, cliffs plastered white and sun trying to make it’s way through the cloud, there was a great alpine ambiance and it was magnificent to suddenly see the Dent du Geant shooting out of the parting clouds.
We enjoyed the classic traverse of the Marbrees with a snowy traverse done in crampons from the Col Rochefort over the summit via the direct rock ridge and along to the abseil.
Kev and Mark did the traverse integrale including the sporting – tricky! – snowed up Chimney near the South Summit.
Another team were climbing on the Aiguille de Toule normal route and another team on the Entreves but in general it was pretty quiet. We are hoping for a slightly warmer and less snowy morning tomorrow to climb the Dent du Geant…
29 June 2021, L’Index, Aiguilles Rouges
We nearly made it up and down the classic South East Ridge of the Index this morning before the storm arrived….but nearly is not very handy when it comes to powerful gusts of torrential hail and ominous booming claps of thunder!
We used crampons for the traverse of the snow couloir above the Index chairlift but were straight on to rock on the other side and up to the base of the route. The normally loose and horrible dry couloir below the abseil on the chairlift side was full of snow, so we down climbed this as good Matterhorn summit snowfield training.
We had hoped to complete the ascent and descent before the storms arrived, but they were early, or we were late…either way, we had suitably blasted and glowing skin after a pummelling from the hail and some careful footwork over wet rock. A good short adventure in the Aiguilles Rouges, fine Matterhorn training and the chair lift had even re-opened for the descent to Flegere by the time we got down there!
28 June 2021, Aiguillles Crochues, Les Cheserys, Mont Blanc Summit
Really good snowy conditions were experienced by many teams over the weekend, impressed with not only the high snow volume but also good re-freeze on Saturday night with lots of teams climbing some good alpine routes around the Mont Blanc Massif including the Aiguille du Chardonnet via both the Forbes Arete and Migot Spur on the North Face.
We were really impressed with the very enjoyable snowy conditions for approaching the Aiguilles Crochues. Pretty much on snow for the whole way from the top of the Index chairlift to the watershed ridge and col at the start of the traverse with almost all of the steep couloir snow filled as per the photo below and ice axe and crampons used all the way up this.
The crux chimney of the traverse was all dry and we took crampons off for the duration of the traverse until the descent. Good fun scrambling and good warm up Matterhorn training for Fred:
The rest of the traverse was a pleasure with dry rock, numerous other teams but all spread out and moving well and a big warm southerly wind blowing over the border from Italy.
The descent from the Col des Dards at the end of the Crochues traverse was superbly snow and rapidly took us to the café at the Lac Blanc Refuge.
That warm southerly wind was also bringing cloud and stiff winds to the big peaks of the Mont Blanc Massif, particularly those on the border with Italy. Gav was guiding a strong American team on a Mont Blanc summit attempt from the Tete Rousse hut this morning. They reached the Vallot hut but the wind was quite strong and they went inside for some shelter. The winds remained quite strong but steady; the going in the snowy track was excellent and well done to Kotryna, David & Gav for all summiting and safely descending to the Gouter Hut this afternoon.
We also had a strong team out Chamonix rock climbing at Les Cheserys today with Kev & Tui climbing Un Pere Noel pour Lucy and Dune, making up 8 good pitches up to 6b.
It looks like some big storms will arrive in the Mont Blanc Massif from mid day onwards tomorrow – so teams will be out trying to make the most of the morning!
We have availability for private guiding in Chamonix in early July and still for most periods over the summer season. Likewise in Snowdonia and Scottish Highlands for Mont Blanc and Matterhorn training programmes. For group courses, we have available spaces on the following courses which are already running plus you can check our full list of courses here.
- Mont Blanc training weekends: 17-18 July in Snowdonia, 21-22 August Fort William
- Matterhorn training weekend in Snowdonia 31 July – 1 August
- Numerous places on Climb Mont Blanc courses in September 2021