/ Chamonix current conds?

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DPaul - on 16 Mar 2013
Hi,does anybody that's in Cham/been recently,have info on winter climbing conds there?
Any help is much appreciated.

dave frost - on 16 Mar 2013
In reply to DPaul: Ive been back a week now, but i was there from the 2nd to the 9th. The weather was actually quite warm, and i think all of the valley ice was getting unstable.

Above 3000m the temperature did seem to stay cold though. Sorry cant be more specific, i was skiing. On another note there are rumblings of this being a very good snow year so glaciers are pretty safe by all accounts (listening in to people on the bus mainly).

Other note is that this winter has seen very few high pressure systems out there, which means not much sun, not sure if this trend is set to continue or not.

Hope that helps somewhat.

edinburgh_man on 16 Mar 2013
In reply to DPaul:

Temps have been quite high until just last couple of days. Yesterday was a return to very cold (minus 30 at top of Midi).

There has been no fresh snow of note for around 2 weeks (there has been a dusting). However VB is in still in good condition as far as Montenvers. Snow pack has been stable for a while now.

Conditions yesterday and today looked good high up, however heavy snow is expected again this week - potentially putting big routes out of bounds for a while - but great for skiing if that's your thing.

Some of the ice falls at Rive Gauche are formed but not fat and who knows how stable after recent warm temps.
DPaul - on 16 Mar 2013
In reply to dave frost: and 7bforever-very informed and helpful info,needed that to confirm our decision to revert to plan B - Scotland!

Many thanks

rockstoned on 21 Mar 2013
In reply to DPaul: anyone got an update on this, and/or Cogne conditions?

Also the goulottes on Mont Blanc du Tacul?

machars on 22 Mar 2013
In reply to rockstoned: Climbed Cold Couloir in cogne last sunday which was still good and think it has been pretty cold there since. Not sure what snow has been like through there as i left on Sunday. See my post last week for more info on routes at that time.
Kelloggs77 on 22 Mar 2013
In reply to DPaul:
Came back from Cham yesterday. There has been a decent amount of snow in the last 3 days - avalanche city!
John Cuthbert - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to DPaul: Just been skiing in Vallee Blanche today. Everything super snowed up. About 30-50cms of fresh snow. Better weather tomorrow with teams at Cosmiques heading for Pointe Lachenal. Approach to E Face Tacul has heavy powder (but most lines look icy and intact)and Frendo is very snowed up indeed.
LJC - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to DPaul: Pretty terrible with all this fresh snow. Cut my trip short by 10 days and came home early because it wasn't worth waiting for a short weather window to wade up more waste deep powder.
John Cuthbert - on 27 Mar 2013
In reply to LJC:

In reply to bluerockman:

Ive just been touring in the Vallee Blanche today and took some piccies of the E. Face of Tacul (it looks good and was v.busy today), and the Frendo from the Benne on the way up.

Any body who wants a closer look at the routes can email me and I'll copy you in on the photos. (john@jpcuthbertconsulting.co.uk)

Perhaps its not very helpful to add that Mont Blanc Radio is forecasting 40cms of fresh at 3000m tomorow.

John Cuthbert
smithaldo - on 27 Mar 2013
In reply to LJC: really? Seems pretty daft when there's lots being done and you can do some routes in pretty much any weather.
Tommy Harris - on 28 Mar 2013
In reply to John Cuthbert:

Thamks for update john, im heading out friday and hoping to try some of the routes on east tacul, if its ok, i wouldnt mind seeing some of your pictures, was the supercouloir seeing any traffic?

Email is tscoobydoo@ntlworld.com


LJC - on 28 Mar 2013
In reply to smithaldo: Really? Seems pretty daft being out in super snowy weather, in the cold, on potentially dangerous mountains. Yes, there are routes which could be done in inclement weather, but it's hardly a rewarding experience when you know how good the weather over the alps can be around Easter.
Tyler - on 28 Mar 2013
In reply to LJC:

I'm not questioning your decision to come home but if winter alpinist is something you are keen on then learning to ski is the best way to avoid wading through deep snow and it seems conditions for skiing at the moment are great so it might have been the better use of your time.
LJC - on 28 Mar 2013
In reply to Tyler: Actually, we were on skis, thanks.
Alasdair Fulton - on 28 Mar 2013
Quick update:

We tried to get to the Frendo-Ravanel on the the Aiguille Vert on Tuesday but the weather was gash, the snow on the approach (after dumping skis) was chest deep and the face was sluffing off constantly.

Yesterday the forecast was good so we got early benne up the Midi and went to Pointe Lachanal. Conditions were excellent - good goulotte ice, sunshine and not "too" cold. (i.e. we didn't get frostbite of hypothermia).

Today it is dumping and it's forecast to be 25-40cm so it's back to skiing pow for me!
LJC - on 28 Mar 2013
In reply to Fultonius: Sounds about right.

I don't understand this UKC fixation with having to get one up. Conditions aren't great, people ignore this and continue on regardless, then get them selves killed. It's a conditions thread, I'm reporting my experience of the conditions. Ski conditions are fine (as of two days ago when I was out there), but I didn't drive 500 miles to go skiing.
Matt Forshaw - on 28 Mar 2013
In reply to Fultonius: We climbed the Frendo Ravanel yesterday (Wednesday) and found good conditions - I guess we have you guys to thank for the track over the bergschrund and up the first snow field.
smithaldo - on 28 Mar 2013
In reply to LJC: well lots has been done since you went home so that was my point really. If you had ten days you would have got a few things done. A bit of wading isn't that bad as we did last fri and it was tiring but worth it.
smithaldo - on 28 Mar 2013
In reply to smithaldo: also conditions are good once you do your wading and whose got themselves killed? Abit dramatic I think.
John Cuthbert - on 28 Mar 2013
In reply to DPaul:

There's also an issue about knowing where to climb given particular

The Frendo-Ravanel is not a good choice after heavy snow because of the extensive lower snow slopes. But at the same time LJC was on the Frendo-Ravanel, a route 500metres to the right (called Pepite) was getting hammered by several parties (at one point this week it had 5 parties on it). It has 10metres of snow at the bottom, not 50-100m! There are also 4 other routes on the Lachenal in reasonable condition with virtually no snow approach.

I guess it often comes down to what you do or do not know, and also whether you speak any French and can follow the French route reports...

Alasdair Fulton - on 28 Mar 2013
In reply to MJF: Aye, it was hard work! The forecast for Tuesday on Monday dais said 35% chance of sun and no precipitation. The 08:45 update on Wednesday changed to 10-15cm of snow and no sun. Unfortunately we were already on our way down the steps by that point!

I'd done Goulotte Pépite early this year so fancied something a bit more challenging. We had a look at Claire Chazal but decided to sack it off and save our energy for the sunny Wednesday. Good acclimatisation for my partner anyway.

Also, not sure I'd want to be on Pépite with 4 other parties...
smithaldo - on 28 Mar 2013
In reply to Fultonius: we did Claire chazal with will the last Friday and he dug the trench all the way with a pghm dude trying to get to frendo rav then bailing and coming up after us and bailing at the second belay. The corner pitch was spicy tech 6 as the ice isn't there at all for the top two metres. Absolutely hooning it down now so powder day tomorrow.
John Cuthbert - on 30 Mar 2013
In reply to DPaul: I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but Compagnie du Mont Blanc has reported 2metres of fresh snow at the Aig du Midi over the last 2 days, and more is forecast tonite.

Much of this is windblown (the Midi car was closed all y'day) and Avo risk is considerable on most N. and E. facing slopes.

Lower down the snow is also v. wet and at times desperate to ski (it acts like glue).

The forecast for the week is 'unstable' with fleeting showers and sunny spells.

dave frost - on 30 Mar 2013
In reply to John Cuthbert: Lets hope it's good for the 7th april when im back!

Julian Prieto - on 30 Mar 2013
In reply to John Cuthbert:
Any suggestions on routes to do around Chamonix in current conditions? ie avoid avalanche prone slopes. How about the routes on Pointe Lachenal?
John Cuthbert - on 30 Mar 2013
In reply to DPaul: Pointe Lachenal is your best option. However, the approach slope tends top get very windblown and is the perfect avo angle, so great care would need to be taken.

If the slope is windblown (deep slab) and you feel brave enough to approach the rpoutes, the best way would be to ski low and past PL and then turn back and to side step or skin up to the routes..

Tommy Harris - on 01 Apr 2013
In reply to DPaul:
Did the cosmiques arete yesterday,lots of fresh snow, snow a little soft but ok, enjoyed it much more this time in winter conditions that in normal summer.
Tommy Harris - on 03 Apr 2013
In reply to DPaul:
Climbed Pellisier on ponte Lachenel yesterday, was in good condition, the walk in and out on snow shoes was tough but if on skis would be easy.. nice little route.
John Cuthbert - on 03 Apr 2013
In reply to tscoobydoo: Looked at conditions in the VB today whilst ski touring...

Snow conditions ahve settled down very quickly given the heavy recent fall, but trail breaking is demanding where no trail is in place..

The recent and unusual freeze thaw cycles have also rendered most routes very icey. The stand out is the Supercouloir where the Direct Start looks to have reformed. It was also pretty busy today with a good trail in. No trail appeared to be in place for the Gab-Albinoni and Moudi-Noury routes, but breaking a trail would be worth the effort. They do look very phat.

The Pointe Lachenal was also getting a thumping. Le Pellisier (3-4 teams) and M6 Solar look good, and the Tentation buttress area looked snowy..

Finally, the Valeria and Chippendale routes on the Petit Capucin look in unusually good nick for this time of year, though the serac that threatens the approach has let rip and there is considerable debris on the approach. That seems like an important note of caution since there were a good many spontaneous mini powder avalanches cascading down high ground in the VB today.

John C
buffalo606 - on 03 Apr 2013
In reply to tscoobydoo:
if you can, what scottish winter grade would you assign to cosmiques arete in winter condition?
John Cuthbert - on 03 Apr 2013
In reply to buffalo606:

Cosmiques Arete is steady,one short tricky rock move otherwise I'd give it
III, 4
Tommy Harris - on 04 Apr 2013
In reply to DPaul:

Thanks for update John, weather not looking great today and wind looks high so we ended up skiing down in the valley.

I would agree the cosmiques is fairly simple with only one little section, off to check forcast now, guides office recommended a route called Pepite on the petit verte.


emily roo - on 05 Apr 2013
In reply to tscoobydoo: I was one of the pair that bailed off pellisiere the other day... 6 teams all going for it the same day, never seen it so busy.... Pepite is good! Its mainly straight forward scottish iii-iv ish with a super nice corner pitch at about grade v. Again it has been a really popular route with french guides this year, if anyone's climbing it there always seems to be 3 or 4 teams on it. But because it zig zags so much you don't really get pelted with much. We took skis but had to walk back down to them from the top anyway.... so its definitely a good choice to go for without!

Cosmiques has hardened up with the cooler air and is in amazing condition just now. Although the crux wall is only about 3 foot high....
Tommy Harris - on 05 Apr 2013
In reply to emily roo:

Hey emily, yes was busy, we continued and finished the route, was some queing at the belays but wasnt too bad, Pepite sounds good, although weather wasnt to good today so we went skiing instead, we did cosmiques on sunday and it was pretty snowed up, did it late in day and finished in an amazing sunset, but had to sleep in station as missed last lift down.. hope you guys have a good rest of trip.

John Cuthbert - on 05 Apr 2013
In reply to DPaul:

Dont forget that their are other routes in the Tentation area on the Lachenal that deoesnt get the same level of traffic as the Pellisier.

The Gab-Albinoni on the Tacul is also fairly steady, and doesnt seem as busy, surprisingly. Its longer and has some wading to do on the mid snow section, but is a worthy alternative..

Finally I noticed that 'Beau comme en reve' on the Pointe de la Noire off the Periades glacier (rte 561, page 276 Neige, Glace et Mixte, Vol 1) looks to be in very good nick and that the approach is fairly easy at the moment. Its also a liitle esoteric so a great way to get away from the crowds..

John C
dave frost - on 06 Apr 2013
In reply to DPaul: I'm out in Chamonix from tomorrow (7th) to the following Sunday (14th), I'm mostly going to be skiing but if anyone wants to meet up drop me a mail. I would be interested in getting some routes in for a day or two.

Tommy Harris - on 06 Apr 2013
In reply to DPaul:
Climbed Pepite on the Petit verte today, if fairly good conditions, this would be a good acclimatisation climb, we also see a pretty big avalanche come down the Verte Face, not sure which line it took though.

John Cuthbert - on 15 Apr 2013
In reply to DPaul: And this posted on the OHM Cahier de Courses website on April 7:

Hey guys out there!

Just for information:
Yesterday, 7th of April, 9 alpinists of four different parties were hit by an avalanche triggered by an serac near the start of "Beyond good and evil" and Rebuffat-Terray. No one was injured but we lost all of the equipment. We were able to find most of it, but there is still something missing: 2 different ski boots, 2 ice axes, several screws, 2 cameras, skins and other small items.

So, if you find something of this gear please let me know:
chri.leitinger [at] gmx.at

Would be nice!
John Cuthbert - on 24 Apr 2013
In reply to DPaul: A Grand Beau sits over the Mont Blanc range and so it was super busy in the Argentiere basin today.
Teams on N. Face of Courtes, Ginat on the Droites, Lagarde on the Droites and Richard Cranium Memorial route.
The GInat teams were making really quick progress (one team had put a tent up on the glacier for a quick getaway-not that I’d encourage that sort of thing), which is no surprise because the Droites looks in the best April condition I think I’ve ever seen it.
In general, the higher mountain routes are in fantastic conditions, and although we have some bad weather coming in over the weekend, it’s still shaping as one of the best late April seasons ever!

John Cuthbert
Alasdair Fulton - on 24 Apr 2013
In reply to John Cuthbert: Yup....LOTS of people "enjoying" the Ginat today ha! Busy. So hot though, can't imagine the descent would be much fun till after dark.

Did you get anything interesting done?
buffalo606 - on 26 Apr 2013
In reply to DPaul:

In Chamonix area from 02 May - 09 May is it worth bringing out winter gear for routes such as cosmiques arete or stick to rock routes in the valley?

Also, anyone else there at the same time feel like a climb - up to AD/IV 4? My climbing buddy is ski touring out there now and may not have the gear to do winter routes.
John Cuthbert - on 29 Apr 2013
In reply to buffalo606:

Mountains are super snowy (1 metre of fresh at the Midi, but we have foehn, so that means very changeable, very wet (and warm).

Unless there is a dramatic change (the forecast is for foehn through to Sunday), you need to come equipped to tackle everything since its hard to read whats best to do from day to day....

As regards what Ive been doing, well, Ive managed to fall in a 'shrund (it was so warm at 3000m it hadnt frozen at all!), some ski touring, and quite a lot of dry-tooling out of the rain...


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