13/10/16 Aiguille du Bionnassay Traverse

Aiguille du Bionnassay South Ridge.
Approaching The Durier Hut
Approaching The Durier Hut In Wintery Autumnal Conditions….For A Very Cold Night Ahead!

We made the most of the last day of fine early autumnal weather yesterday to complete a brilliant 2
day traverse of the Aiguille du Bionnassay via a very cold night at the Durier Hut!  The weather was good but unseasonably cold and our approach to the Durier was shrouded in thick localised cloud with snow.  This gave a cold and wintery feel to the approach and a very cold night – but magnificent weather the next day with clear skies and only light winds.

Good autumnal conditions prevailed for the traverse with crampons on at the Durier Hut and good stiff snow all the way to the sunny rocky ‘Bastion’ section which was well exposed to the morning sun as we had deliberately left much later than usual to profit from the low freezing level (<2000m).  Snow conditions on the narrow crest of the Bionnassay were good with a light track in places and minimal cornice issues compared to our previous ascents.

The Superb Narrow Snow Ridge Of The Aiguille Du Bionnassay Traverse
The Superb Narrow Snow Ridge Of The Aiguille Du Bionnassay Traverse

We made the long haul ascent up the steady drag to the Dome du Gouter to complete the traverse and make the junction with the good track on the normal route on Mont Blanc.  Despite the track there was not a single climber seen on the whole traverse of the Bionassay or at any point on Mont Blanc.  So it was in a lovely quiet & cool autumnal atmosphere that we made the descent from the Gouter and crossed a silent Grand Couloir.

The Moon Rising Over The Aiguille du Bionnassay, Seen From The Long Descent Via The Gouter / Tete Rousse Huts
The Moon Rising Over The Aiguille du Bionnassay, Seen From The Long Descent Via The Gouter / Tete Rousse Huts

We saw a track on the upper snow ridge section of the Arete du Tricot so it looked like someone had either climbed that route or the Bionnassay NW face and continued up the ridge….or it was a large fox!   There was no track seen leading over from Mont Maudit to the Col de la Brenva and the 3 Monts Route on Mont Blanc.  On Monday we met a team who had tried to climb the steep North side of Maudit and up to the shoulder but had turned around in fresh soft snow.

Over on the Gran Paradiso, Ben and team found good conditions on the Chabod Glacier route but, as with the conditions above, more fresh snow with strong winds today and tomorrow mean these conditions will evolve and become more autumnal.

Our conditions reports will also be evolving in to autumn & winter reporting now the summer mountaineering season is over.  Stay tuned for more updates, good climbing in the meantime and please let us know if you have any good conditions info.

Aiguille du Bionnassay South Ridge.
Paul enjoying the sunny autumnal alpine rock section on ‘The Bastion’ on the Aiguille du Bionnassay South Ridge.