/ Climbing in the Alps in May ?
Any recommendations as any routes around this area that will / could be in decent condition in may ??
Also how much greater will the risks be during may compared to july/september, in terms of avalanche risk, crevasses etc.
But I'm interested to read people's first hand experiences, in particular whether the greatest climbs in the Oberland are likely to require ski approaches at that time (seems probable/highly likely).
May is still the ski-mountaineering season really - there would still be plenty of snow about so either skis or snow-shoes would help for the approach if you did feel up to tackling cold climbing.
This photo was taken in May, you can see the Albert 1er hut top left, only the winter refuge was open, no water, I had the place to myself. Unfortunately I had forgotten my matches - thought of it just after leaving the car but imagined there would be plenty of people about. There weren't so I ate cold. It felt lonely up there compared to the summer. There was a huge heap of shit in the toilets :-(
I do recall climbing the North couloir of Les Bans in June, not normally possible much later, so that goes with your comments about Ecrins couloirs.
May can provide superb weather and very empty mountains, last year gave a week of almost uninterupted sunshine. The sheer abscence of people gives anything above the snow line a quite serious feel though, more like when the Alps were terra incognita, while as someone mentioned, the huts will almost all be shut.
May is in between seasons, it can go either way. But you should definitely find a lot of stuff in condition, especially if you are ready to ski on approaches.
In the end we did the Cosmique arete on the Aguille du Midi instead, as you can sneakily get the cable car to the top, skipping over the avalanche zone, then walk down the south face and round the top of the glacier to reach the start in relative safety (always watching for crevasses, which will be covered in snow that early in the season). There's also the Mer de Glace and plenty of rock to play on lower down if need be.
I'm just back from Cham. Mountains are looking quite lean with less routes in condition than is typical for this time of year. There's been a decent amount of snow through the winter I'm told but lots of simultaneous wind which has scoured the mountains and swept the snow it into the valleys. Wouldn't surprise me if July/Aug has little to offer but rock routes and PD snow routes (plus the usual Chere Couloir, North Face of Tour Ronde, etc). You might actually have a better time off going in May as there will probably be a great variety of routes to go at and the snow might be quite manageable underfoot vs what is typical in May. That's just my guess though (it's snowing all this week).
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