/ Checking conditions (Alps)

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mcawle - on 02 Aug 2017
Hi all,

Heading to the Alps for first mountaineering trip at the end of August. There for two weeks. Three days at the start with a BMG to fill some skill gaps, then off on our own.

Sounds like the conditions there are not perfect at the moment. I'm wondering how people keep track of this. I guess it's a few things:

1. tracking weather in advance over time, especially freezing level, highs during the day, snowfall, wind...
2. some guides seem very generous in posting info as they go
3. posts on here

So two questions from me:
1. are my sources about right? Anything obvious I've missed?
2. tracking the weather: novice question, but what am I looking for with the weather as a predictor of conditions? We're looking at easy snow/mixed routes.

- I guess freezing overnight is good, because it binds everything together and solidifies snow, hardens snow bridges, etc.

- Heavy snowfall is bad until it's consolidated/melted due to avalanche risk.

- Lack of freezing is bad as snow stays soft, bridges soften, increased rockfall, icefall/seracs, etc.

- Lack of snow/high melt can make mixed routes harder due to more bare rock/absence of snow steps/ramps

Again, does this seem about right? Anything else obvious I'm missing?

Any recommended resources that explain this more fully?
MG - on 02 Aug 2017
In reply to mcawle:
For Chamonix, two good sources are

http://www.alpine-club.org.uk/ac2/news/chamonix-condtions
http://chamonix-meteo.com/chamonix-mont-blanc/weather/forecast/morning/5_days_weather_forecast.php

If you are going elsewhere (recommended), there will be less direct information but the weather forecasts are pretty good these days. Try, for example

http://cf.regione.vda.it/
https://www.zermatt.ch/fr/Previsions-meteo

Most of what you say is correct but it's never simply or certain, and often you just need to go and have a look. It's rare in summer for there to be so much snow that there is significant avalanche risk except is specific areas. More likely it make ridges trickier for a day or two and obliterates tracks which means glacier routes are harder to follow and crevasses harder to locate.
Post edited at 13:18
mcawle - on 02 Aug 2017
In reply to MG:

That's brilliant, thanks. First week in Cham, second in Arolla, Val d'Anniviers, and/or Sass.

I'll check out those links.

Is www.mountain-forecast.com well-regarded?
MG - on 02 Aug 2017
In reply to mcawle:

It looks like automated system to me, which would be unreliable. Generally, more locally produced forecasts are better. However, the usual approach is to look at lots until you find one you approve of
Cheese Monkey - on 02 Aug 2017
In reply to mcawle:

Dunno bout Cham but in Switzerland I phone and ask nearest hut guardian they always have the best gen. Plus weather forecast
LakesWinter on 02 Aug 2017
In reply to mcawle:

www.camptocamp.org for conditions updates with photos etc.
Jonny on 07 Aug 2017
In reply to mcawle:

The Fondazione Montagna Sicura has great first-hand accounts of recent conditions ion the Courmayeur side of the Mont Blanc massif.

http://www.fondazionemontagnasicura.org/en/mountain-conditions
Toerag - on 07 Aug 2017
In reply to mcawle:

Webcams such as http://www.foto-webcam.eu/webcam/zugspitze-sued/ Are useful to an extent as you can easily look back to last year's conditions and equate that to other evidence such as logbooks.
mcawle - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to MG:

Haha. Cherrypicking! Yes that makes sense. I might compare the automated summary against the local ones for a week or two and see how they track.

Thanks.
mcawle - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to Cheese Monkey:

That makes sense. Are they usually amenable to such requests? Especially if I'm more or less stuck with English...?
mcawle - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to LakesWinter:

Cool, thanks!
mcawle - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to Jonny:

Thank you
Jonny on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to mcawle:

You're welcome. I forgot to mention La Chamoniarde, which covers the French side of the Mont Blanc massif.

https://www.chamoniarde.com/montagne/conditions-montagne#
Cheese Monkey - on 09 Aug 2017
In reply to mcawle:

Yeh in my experience hut guardians know enough English to tell you if it's ok or not ok. They almost always ask what you are doing in the morning when you arrive anyway
wayne1965 - on 11 Aug 2017
In reply to mcawle:

There is no source of information better than the last person who went on the route you are interested in
or one near by with a similar aspect.

It is why it is important to post and share reports after you get back ... asap!!!
warn others if conditions are bad ..... or green light to go for it!!
so please share as much as you use !!!

one of the best forums I know is ......
https://www.camptocamp.org/

there is a good search engine ... you may need to use google translate because a lot is in French or Italian
BUT ..... there is a colour coded 'button' so you can scan down the list looking for stuff in good conditions

naturally you check and track the weather and use web cams ....... put all the pieces together and make your own decision !!!
... for Simon4

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