11th August 2018, A Good Week Of Mid-Summer Alpine Mountaineering

The warnings about the heatwave turned in to warnings about storms and floods, and in a matter of hours the weather turned from 30+ and baking dry heat in Chamonix to monsoon rain and flooding!   The weather has rapidly improved again and is set for a great busy weekend of activity in the high Alps before another storm passes through on Monday / Tuesday by the look of it.

We had teams doing lots of good routes last week but top of the pops, with 3 traverses, was Les Perrons, an excellent rocky AD ridge above Vallorcine and giving great views back to the big north faces of the Mont Blanc Massif.

Ilari getting to grips with the fine scrambling, exposure and swirling cloud on Les Perrons traverse. Photo Tomaz Jakovic.

Teams were traversing this in trainers now nearly all the snow has gone, but the approach on grass / heather was very slippery when wet after overnight storms etc.   Likewise the traverse of the Aiguilles Crochues was done without wearing crampons although there is still plenty of snow on the descent to Lac Blanc, which generally makes it easier and faster!

Earlier in the week, and also following a significant storm, Tomaz and Ilari climbed the Dent du Geant in good style despite the heavily rimed and icy ropes and rock.  The first pitch is particularly testing in these conditions without any fixed ropes and some steep and delicate climbing.   The approach to the Salle à Manger is dry and loose as always and care is required if going there for the Dent du Geant or traverse of the Rochefort Arete – as an aller retour or continuing over the Grandes Jorasses.

Icy conditions on the ropes and rocks of the Dent du Geant. Photo Tomaz Jakovic

In preparation for the ascent of the Eiger, hopefully tomorrow, Mike and Helen have been climbing on the East Ridge of the Grands Montets, Petite Aiguille Verte, Perrons Traverse and big boot rock climbing down in the Monte Viso area where Monte Viso itself was in good condition with Ben & Sarah climbing the East Ridge and descending via the normal route.  Still snow on the route and, according to the guardian, ice axe and crampons “obligatoire!”

Helen enjoying the solid sunny granite – and good acclimatisation for the Eiger – on the central section of the East Ridge of Les Grands Montets.

Away from the storms, conditions on the Matterhorn & Eiger remain good with plenty of teams making both the Aller retour from Hornli and ascents of the Italian Ridge, plus traversing the Eiger from Mittellegi Hut.   The Dent Blanche South Ridge also saw ascents last week as did the Frontier / Kuffner Arete on Mont Maudit although the latter was reportedly getting dry and icy and not in great condition.  The hot weather has taken it’s toll although in some places, like the Gran Paradiso, glacier conditions still remain reasonable thanks to a great winter / spring snow volume.

at 9:30am after 4 1/2 hours of hard work I finally sat down by the Madonna on Dent du Géant (4013 m). The feeling was overwhelming. Ilari on the summit of the Dent du Geant.

Our summer courses are mainly now full but we do have the following spaces still available on group programmes in Sept and early Oct.  All of the following courses are running and have existing teams to join.  Only 1 place available for the early Sept Alpine Intro course and 1 left for the Weissmeis course. All the details are here:

The fine traverse of the Aiguilles d’Entreves, seen from the Col Freshfield. Les Drus & Aiguille Verte on left & Dent du Geant, Aiguille Rochefort, Grandes Jorasses & Grand Combin on right. Photo Robin Beadle