/ Dent d'orlu September / October
wot he said.
We did Tapas Sans Dalle on Oct 2nd last year, there had been a couple of days of snow so the last 4 or 5 pitches had wet snow patches which were a bit grim and caused seepage problems for the top half of the route. However the top half is in the shade for mist of the day so I think routes that get the sun all day wouldn't be affected in the same way.
We climbed in t-shirts when we were in the sun, it was nippy out of the sun. We had been there since late September and other members of our party did routes on d'Orlu before the snow came earlier in the trip.
We set off before dawn (very frosty and cold) and just about got back before it was dark enough for headtorches (take one with you though!). The slushy snow also made the horrible decsent even worse so it took longer than usual to get down
At the other end of the scale, how early in the season is it viable ?
BTW, to OP: I've been in early September and had a week of rain, so its not as predictable as it may appear.
John, have the ice falls at Juclar formed yet, and are they in the new book?
> At the other end of the scale, how early in the season is it viable ?
It varies quite a lot from season to season so difficult o generalise. There are times during some winters where you could almost certainly do a long south-facing route in midwinter (if you were quick!) but for you to have some expectation of it being 'in' you'd want to wait until well into May at least. From then until maybe late June you might expect to still have snow to contend with on the descent but the clean routes like Les enfants and Durrendalle should be completely dry after just a few days of sun.
Most ascents I think are in August but more because that's when French people have holiday than when it's best. July and September are probably best overall - July has longer days but more chance of afternoon weather.
No ice in the Rockfax, sorry. The ice here just isn't accessible enough to make it a tempting option for anyone here in winter as they probably would be mainly here for rock or sliding. Too many other things (walking, biking, swimming, etc.) to fit in too so we had to stop somewhere.
And I've been too busy working lately to even think about winter conditions so no idea how well anything is formed. It has been a relatively mild winter so far though so I doubt there's much of a build-up anywhere yet; we had good snow a month ago and we have masses of snow at the moment but between times has been mostly sunny and warm t-shirt cragging weather.
We tried it a couple of weeks later, after the snow from the previous weekend had gone. But gave in after a pitch as it was so windy we could hardly stand upright at the belay, the thought of padding up slabs suddenly didn't appeal!
Apparently it is hardly ever windy in the Ariege ...
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