/ Vignemale: glacier conditions?

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L Pomeroy 09 Sep 2019

Hi. I am heading to the Pyrenees this weekend to climb the Vignemale via the normal route with my climbing partner. What conditions might be expected on the glacier? I am guessing at this time of year there is precious little snow cover and the glacier is almost “dry”?

Question is whether to take crampons and axe for the one day out of four that we might need them... 

Many thanks from a new forum member.

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Pyreneenemec 10 Sep 2019
In reply to Pomeroy:

No snow and precious little glacier  remaining !

I haven't been up there this year but a friend sent me a photo of the glacier from somewhere near the Baysselance hut ( taken end of August) I'll put it in my gallery.

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Pyreneenemec 10 Sep 2019
In reply to Pomeroy:

I should add that there is some pretty steep ice to negotiate so I'd take crampons and axe.

Photo now in my gallery ( that was quick !).

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John2 10 Sep 2019
In reply to Pomeroy:

Not what you asked for, but here's a photo from approx. 20 years ago https://www.ukclimbing.com/photos/dbpage.php?id=1349 . The glacier wasn't particularly steep, but the ice was hard and axe and crampons were definitely required.

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tagscuderia 10 Sep 2019
In reply to Pomeroy:

Last year was pretty sketchy in August, very little snow. What looked to be snow fields in and around Balaitous and Vignemale, mostly turned out to be ice. You'd get away with microspikes but I'd say that an axe is compulsory.

Might be different this year so I'd go with Pyreneenemec's suggestion and take both.

Good luck, it's a spectacular area!

Post edited at 14:30
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martin09 10 Sep 2019
In reply to Pomeroy:

Today and overnight snow is forecast down to 2200m . Whilst it will probably have disappeared from the rock by the weekend , there may be distinctly cold conditions and some remaining on the old neve.

High winds and possible rain forecast for the weekend. 

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L Pomeroy 10 Sep 2019
In reply to All:

many thanks for all your helpful comments. I will be taking axe and crampons. And hard shells  

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pec 10 Sep 2019
In reply to Pomeroy:

I climbed it about 3 weeks ago. It was almost entirely a dry glacier, a bit of snow cover at the margins but none on the normal route up which is towards the left hand side as you look uphill. On the RH side the glacier extends a lot lower and has some snow cover.

On our ascent we saw only 2 crevasses which were not more than a foot wide and only a few feet deep, nobody was roping up and there was no need to, there are no seracs anymore as mentioned in our guidebook. We wore crampons because we had them but a bloke near us was wearing some sort of micro spikes without any trouble. We carried axes but others were just using trekking poles.

Obviously there may have been snowfall more recently but there still won't be any crevasses worth speaking of.

The most challenging part of the ascent is the drive up from Gavarnie to the Barrage d'Ossoue, in a sh*t is my ground clearance enough to get over this or am I going to trash my sump kind of way. It's doable with 2WD but exciting!

Don't know where you're planning to stay but a few minutes before where the path to the glacier diverges from the path to the hut there are 3 of the caves that Henry Russell had excavated which you can bivi in and there's another good bivi spot straight opposite.

Post edited at 21:43
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