/ Ecrins area ice conditions

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Ronan O Keeffe on 30 Jan 2013
Hi,

There's a few of us heading out to L'Argentierre La Bessee from the 8th to the 20th of Feb. I'm wondering how it's been this year and what can roughly be expected.
We have a car and can move within the region as long as roads are open.

I've been monitoring www.ice-fall.com and www.camptocamp.org but I am hoping for something that doesn't rely on google translate so much.

Thanks and kind regards,
R.
augustus trout - on 31 Jan 2013
In reply to Ronan O Keeffe: Finished a week long Ice climbing course in La Grave on Friday. Not all the routes had formed and those that I climbed were a bit snappy and lean. There was quite a lot of avalanche risk in the first half of the week so climbing was taking place in the woodland area near the village. The temp dropped in the last couple of days and the bigger falls down the valley started to form however think the temps rose after that.
Don't know what the South was like and I don't think anything outside of La grave had formed as It wasn't particularly that cold.
La graves a great scene though and that rise in temp may have been good for stabilising and fattening the routes.
Even the routes we climbed which were low grade for La grave (WI 3/4 with 4-6 pitches) had a big mountain feel, as some days we would have the routes or even the sector to ourselves. The routes seemed reasonably well equipped but the guide had an emergency kit (1/2 a set of nuts and some cams) when we ventured further down the valley.
Simon4 - on 31 Jan 2013
In reply to augustus trout: Any idea what the Vallon du Diable is like at the moment?
augustus trout - on 31 Jan 2013
In reply to Simon4: Sorry no recollection I can remember hearing that Le pisse (which I think is near by?) wasn't anywhere near formed.
Kirill - on 31 Jan 2013
In reply to Simon4:

Vallon du Diable was really good 2 weeks ago. Must be even better now.
Simon4 - on 31 Jan 2013
In reply to augustus trout: La Pisse is NEVER formed! If it were ever formed, it would only be for psychos (very good pyschos).
Simon4 - on 31 Jan 2013
In reply to Kirill: Cheers Kirill. If it stays in, I have just the victim for Hemos a Godot.
Ron Walker - on 31 Jan 2013
In reply to Kirill:
> (In reply to Simon4)
>
> Vallon du Diable was really good 2 weeks ago. Must be even better now.

Or gone or an avalanche death trap!
Ron Walker - on 31 Jan 2013
In reply to augustus trout:

I've been going there for the past 13 years and Le Pisse has never really formed!!!!
Simon4 - on 31 Jan 2013
In reply to Ron Walker:

> or an avalanche death trap!

That valley certainly has the right configuration for that.

I once watched a remarkably slow-moving, but inexorable avalanche head straight for my partner (in fact the impending victim for a few weeks time), with him strolling along untroubled, until I shouted at the top of my voice "Get the f**** out of there John", when he reacted just in time.

Ron Walker - on 31 Jan 2013
In reply to Simon4:

It's the only valley that I've climbed over the old debris to get into and then witnessed some massive slides on our intended so called safe route. The avalanches were really impressive and swept over to the opposite side of the valley. As that was in good conditions I've since been a bit wary!!!
We met the French Guide that had posted on on the ice fall site referred to on UKC a few weeks ago and although the ice condition were good in the valley there were a good few near misses and a lot of retreats. In other words the condition reports are a bit like UKC's!!!
Simon4 - on 31 Jan 2013
In reply to Ron Walker: It is a beautiful place, and has some great routes, but you certainly need to be careful.

The clue is in the name!
Scott_vzr on 31 Jan 2013
My brother has been Snowboarding in Serre Chevalier, the hill on North side of the Ecrins. He has said it's been not very cold all week during the day high up above 2000m.
Ronan O Keeffe on 01 Feb 2013
In reply to Ronan O Keeffe:
Hi lads, cheers for the input thus far. It's been quite enlightening.
I see a cold snap is predicted for later on this week.
Fingers crossed an I'll report back on return.
Cheers!
R.
Simon4 - on 01 Feb 2013
In reply to Ronan O Keeffe: Do us a favour Ronan, get to an internet connection when you are there and let us know how things are.

Not very cold at all there at the moment, but Meteo France says -5 by Sat Morning, -7 Sat evening, then reasonably cold for the next few days. Not a stunning re-freeze, but better than at present.
Scott_vzr on 01 Feb 2013
Lots of fresh snow yesterday in the Ecrins. Cold snap for a day or two.
Ronan O Keeffe on 01 Feb 2013
In reply to Simon4:

Will do, will have the phone on me so if I can get WiFi somewhere I'll be able to update more often.
Ronan O Keeffe on 09 Feb 2013
In reply to Ronan O Keeffe:
Well two of the gang are over there and have been climbing in Ceilliac today. Nothing concrete conditions wise or for specific routes but the ice is quite brittle there apparently.
In general there has been a lot of snow and avalanche risk was stated to be 'high' in a text I got on Fri night. Whereabouts that was referring to I don't know.

All in all not exactly an information loaded update I know, but I will be heading out Monday myself for ten days so hopefully I'll be able to update on specific routes/valleys etc...

Cheers,
R.
Simon4 - on 10 Feb 2013
In reply to Ronan O Keeffe: Thanks for that Ronan.

From Ice-fall.com it sounds as though conditions in the Ecrins have improved a lot. Which is a good thing, as I will be going back there in a a week, though mostly for ski-touring. Still time for a quick bit of ice mind, esp if the Vallon du Diable looks safe(ish).
Ronan O Keeffe on 10 Feb 2013
In reply to Simon4:
Easy rider and holiday on ice were climbed by the guys today in Ceilliac. Good nick but a little brittle I'm told.
Heading out at 8am tomorrow. Fingers crossed!
ads.ukclimbing.com
Ronan O Keeffe on 13 Feb 2013
In reply to Ronan O Keeffe:
Right, yesterday was spent warming up on the man made ice fall about 15 mins walk from the centre of L'argentiere la Bessee. Today saw a visit to Freissinieres and the route Fracastorus. The first pitch was lovely plastic ice, which continued half way up the second pitch. It then became a bit on the brittle side. The fifth and final pitch was quite thin.

Snow chains came in handy to get into the valley itself but the route into the climbing area was already broken.
Getting mixed weather reports for the coming days temperature wise. Most forecasts seem to point to no snow though.
Ronan O Keeffe on 16 Feb 2013
In reply to Ronan O Keeffe:

Right, laid up in bed with a horrible chest/sinus infection. Made it up the right branch of Le Y in Ceillac the other day and was on La vision de Marco earlier. Fournel is accessible as far as the Hiroshima sector, but snow chains needed past there.

Fracastorus in Fressinieres is ok until the top pitch which hasn't formed past a thin smear.

Ceillac is the only area that seems to crop up as being consistently in when conversation turns to conditions. Les Orres was declared a waste of a journey by three English guys I was talking to.

From having talked to a local guide apparently ice just didn't form in quantity this year. Temps have hit 8 degrees the past two days in L'argentiere la bessee and that coupled with the local holiday influx has seen already thin ice whittled down by the crowds.
Slarti B on 17 Feb 2013
In reply to Ronan O Keeffe:
We did cascade des eyserrenes in fressinieres yesterday (saturday)
Good condition, lots of ice but also lots of snow on flatter pitches.
Dave Williams - on 17 Feb 2013
In reply to Ronan O Keeffe:
> (In reply to Ronan O Keeffe)
>
>
> Ceillac is the only area that seems to crop up as being consistently in when conversation turns to conditions. Les Orres was declared a waste of a journey by three English guys I was talking to.
>

FWIW, Ceillac is always reliable, but climbable conditions at Les Orres are very elusive. It took me years, and many visits, before I managed to climb both Nadia and Clara (on separate occasions.) Well worth the wait though as both are excellent. The only downside of Ceillac's reliability is its inevitable popularity.

Dave

Dave Williams - on 17 Feb 2013
In reply to Slarti B:
> (In reply to Ronan O Keeffe)
> We did cascade des eyserrenes in fressinieres yesterday (saturday)
> Good condition, lots of ice but also lots of snow on flatter pitches.


Well done to do this as it's not been fully freezing in recent years. Good route too.

http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=148375

Dave

Dave Williams - on 17 Feb 2013
In reply to Ronan O Keeffe:
> (In reply to Ronan O Keeffe)
>
> Les Orres was declared a waste of a journey by three English guys I was talking to.


Murray Hamilton and two others climbed Nadia on the 14 February, so it may not be such a waste of a journey after all.

If Nadia's in condition, then both Clara and Dancing Fall will probably be climbable as well, as Dancing Fall comes into condition before either of the others.

Dave

Ronan O Keeffe on 17 Feb 2013
In reply to Dave Williams:
Thanks Dave, will pass that on as there are two of the party interested in routes down that way.
Slarti B on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Ronan O Keeffe:
Just back after 4 days in Ecrins ( Fri 15 - Mon 18 Feb).

Ceillac - We did Easy Rider and Y (right)on Friday. Both good condition. Other parties on Sombre Héros and Formes du Chaos, Both looked good. Another group who were staying at same gite went on SatSun and said it was fine, not too busy.

Freissinieres
Road OK till just after sector Blow Job where it is blocked. We were there Sat and Sun (v cold, -14 at 9.00 am).
We did Cascade des Eysserennes, good condition, only one other party and Torrent du Naval ( wading through deep snow with occasional ice steps). Fracastorus seemed very busy on both days. Several parties on Blow Job and Cascade de Viollins

Fournel
Access to Sector Hiroshima Road seemed fine. Road clear till the parking "Ancien Mines". Then snowy but OK till the first bridge (Pont du Sapey) where you can park. Beyond that you would need chains or snow tyres.
We did Vision de Marco which was in good condition. Played around on lower part of Hiroshima, looked good and there were several other parties on it.

Overall, these three sectors seemed in good condition and not too busy. There was still quite a lot of snow from the last big dump. Weather was bright and cold (-6 to -15 in mornings)

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