Summer hasn’t quite arrived in the Western Alps quite yet, but as I write this the weather forecast is changing and it does look like it will warm up next week.
Here in Chamonix we have truly epic summer levels of snow, it’s been another stormy week and the mountains have been getting plastered once again. At the Gouter refuge on Mont Blanc they had a meter of fresh snow, burying the ropes from the refuge to the start of the ridge, which are normally waist high!
Heavy snow fall combined with wind has seen some snow accumulating and then sliding off the mountains, most visibly on the Aiguille du midi arete, with a 50cm crown wall and a 30m wide avalanche that ran down the slope and across the tracks at the bottom. Some thought needed out there at the moment.
I was guiding on the Grand Paradiso a few days ago, where people were climbing the north face from the Chabod refuge (good conditions on the face itself) and a few folk were skiing down the normal route, which is is great condition. Heavy going from the Chabod, but easier conditions and a good track from the Emmanuele.
The Monzino refuge (Italian side) is open, and the approach is fine although still a fair amount of snow around on the routes which would normally have an easy scramble approach.
The usual routes are getting climbed from the Midi and Helbronner lift, in very snowy conditions and with most of the rock crux’s buried or banked out.
People have been mountaineering from the Albert Premier refuge, breaking trails towards the Aiguille du Tour and Tete Blanche etc, with mixed success. Forging a track in deep snow in mixed weather on a glacier isn’t much fun, or a very good idea. Bring on the sunny weather.
The Brevant lift in Chamonix is open, but as with all the usual medium altitude rock routes at the moment the approaches are tricky due to the snow. It does look like it will be significantly warmer this coming week though, which will hopefully consolidate the snow up high and burn some snow off down low.