26 February 2019, Springlike Ski Touring Conditions In Chamonix…

That’s now more than 2 weeks of wall to wall sunshine and very warm afternoon temperatures in the Chamonix Valley.  With so much sun, and a 0C isotherm consistently above 3000m it’s no surprise that many slopes on sunny aspects have transformed and, in places, are giving some good spring snow conditions.   Impressively there is also still some powder in a few increasingly limited spots where the snow has not been trashed by sun, skiers or wind!

Shady snow still in decent condition on the Swiss side of Balme

We toured around the back bowls at Le Tour today and found some pleasant turns in places and the well skied lift accessed snow was pleasant and grippy and even the lower bumps coming in to the Tete de Balme chair were not too bad once they had softened up a bit in the sun!  Bumps are quite a feature at the moment with most of the Grands Montets having taken on a dimpled golf ball style texture when viewed from afar.  Our touring team at the weekend crossed the Col des Rachesses and skied good snow on the far side.   What we are all used to as lift accessed terrain has now become ski touring terrain for a couple of seasons at least by the sound of it.

Returning to the Grands Montets ski area with the Aiguilles Rouges just poking out of a cloud inversion over the Chamonix Valley

Bumps are quite a feature of the Vallée Blanche at the moment too!  With no shortage of moguls training to be had on the Left hand passage next to the Geant Icefall.   However, the route has been giving good skiing in the heavily beaten down track which has given grippy and easy side country conditions to much of the descent.   The exit from the Midi station however is icy and needs crampons, even on the Z track and there is an unusually icy short slope between the 2 mini plateaus at the end of the ridge section.   The best approach seems to have been to keep crampons & rope on until down to the lower plateau after this icy slope, and ski from there.

Good conditions on the Vallee Blanche in Feb 2019

Another touring team did the Croise Baulet above Combloux which gave an incredibly hot skin with glorious views and varied spring / heavy snow requiring a ‘positive’ approach on the descent!   Lots of teams have been touring in the Aiguilles Rouges on both sunny and shady sides with some good conditions remaining despite the lack of recent fresh snow.   Overall snow volume has slipped back to ‘correct’ for the time of year according to Meteo France and whilst there is now plenty of grass around on lower sunny slopes, there is still plenty of snow around too!

Fresh tracks in velvet powder at Pila above Aosta.

There is some more fresh snow forecast for Friday this week and early next week although it’s not yet quite clear at what altitude the rain : snow limit will be at.  We wait and see!   In the meantime, you can book on to our intermediate ski touring day on the 20th March, starting in Chamonix but with the option to travel out of the valley to find the best conditions if necessary.  Check out Chamonix Ski Touring page for more details.