In reply to Hilbert
We have been in all of these months and had brilliant weather, but also on the flip side had absolutely terrible weather.
It s the mountains there are know rules for the weather. the best thing is to be mobile that way when it is poor in one valley you can travel to the next.
You need to be flexible.
Thanks Dave/Dan. July is just after the school holidays start here in Scotland, but I am hoping the family won't miss me for a week. In case they do, it sounds like all these months are as reliable/unreliable as each other?
In reply to Hilbert:
I've always gone at the beginning of July. Flexibility is definitely key: we planned to go to Bernese Oberland second week last Summer but switched to Sass valley for better weather.
At the start of July, snow cover on glaciers is good and Bergschrunds are easier.
In reply to Hilbert: Depends what you want to do and where you go. For instance, the weather will always be more changeable in the northern part of the alps, such as north of the Rhone valley compared with Saas Fee or indeed Chamonix as compared with the Ecrins.
> June, July, August or Sept?
> Which month is the best to go to the Alps?
> My previous trips have been dogged with bad conditions and/or weather, so I am interested in playing the odds for the best chances
A few points to note:
-Mont Blanc and Bernese Oberland have higher rainfall and generally less stable weather.
- Peripheral areas (Ecrins, south Aosta valley) more stable and lower rainfall.
-June has very short nights so less chance of a re-freeze in marginal weather. But it can be very cold and there is lots of snow.
-mid-July probably the best chance of good general climbing conditions but no promises
- Late July and early August is peak season and very busy.
-Late August/Sept is getting colder and quieter again. Little snow so crevasses etc can be problematic.
Mid-July is the best for all-round considerations but September and June are also worth considering if you have certain niche things you want to take into account (e.g., ice routes, needing more snow than usual, needing less now than usual).
Thanks to all. I decided some time ago I hadn't been over to Europe enough, but on previous trips have ended up sitting in the valley mostly, waiting on weather (yes, that's mountiains for you, but not so bad if its where you live and can happily wait it out).
Whilst July might be busier, it looks like the best time to give it another shot.
I've been in July and it was awesome, loads of snow and a good covering on the Glaciers. August and it was similar, but quite hot which meant some iffy descents. September and we had to deal with a LOT of crevasses, loads of bare ice, rock fall, and little snow. Some berbchrunds were impassable. Even the Aiguille du Tour normal route was a lot harder than it should have been due to the sheer number of bloody holes!
This year July was mostly great (8 summits in 2 weeks!) but September-October was not great (3 summits in 2 weeks). It does stabilise in Autumn but you have to time it just right. This year it didn't stabilise until mid-October - quite late. The previous year it stabilised in the second week of September. In both cases, certainly in the case of 2011, it was then stable for about a month which you just don't get in July.
The preceding year, as mentioned, September-October was amazing and July was very poor (as in record-breaking poor).
Climbers more expert than me think that July is the best all-round option.
Also worth noting that this summer between July 7-21, I was the only guy on the Lagginhorn traverse, the only guy on the Nadelgrat (in a windstorm admittedly), and we were one of only two teams on the Kuffner on a bluebird day. The only team on the Portjengrat. The only team on Dri Horlini traverse too. All major routes.
The difference with October is that in October I had the entire basin/area/range to myself, not just the particular route (the entire Bertol hut area, the entire Vignettes hut area, and the entire Gd Mountet hut area - not a soul in any of them)
Thanks again to all for taking the time to comment. I will start taking my fitness up a notch and aim for July, then. Last time I nearly missed the last cable down after a very long slog through deep snow!