27 March 2019, Ski Argentiere Glacier & Les Contamines

There seemed to be more people ski touring at the Grands Montets than using the lifts today and there was a rush hour jam in the small sunny spot to put skins on at the top of the Herse lift this morning.  Many teams headed up and over the Col Rachesses (3037m) but they soon dispersed in to the many and various itineraries that people were enjoying in the superb sunny, but not hot, spring weather.

Ski Mountaineering Above The Argentiere Glacier – with the Col des Grands Montets beyond. Good conditions in late March 2019

There were teams touring over the Col de Passon, Col de Chardonnet, Aiguille d’Argentiere, Col du Tour Noir and Col d’Argentiere.  Plenty of teams heading up to the Argentiere Hut also.  The strong winds from yesterday had lashed the higher altitude slopes and there was plenty of old scoured tracks and sastrugi in evidence on the shady slopes leading down to the Argentiere glacier.  There was some nice transformed spring snow to ski too – but only on the very sunny slopes!

Nice transformed spring snow above the Argentiere Glacier

The main left hand exit to the Argentiere Glacier and link to the Grands Montets ski area was in good condition although a few crevasses starting to appear close to the main ski route.  It would have benefited from more sun / warmth today also to soften it up a bit!  There were old tracks on the NE Slope of the Les Courtes and Col des Cristaux.  Very little ice left on the North Face of Les Droites and no evidence of teams climbing the goulottes higher up the Argentiere basin which generally look very dry.

North Face & North East Slope on Les Courtes. March 27, 2019

Over in Les Contamines, the classic cols like Fenetre, Cicle and Chasseurs had a similar combination of lots of tracks and wind effect giving skiable but not amazing conditions.   On shady slopes above about 2100m and below the line of wind battering, there was still some nice velvet fresh tracks to be had.

Steep turns on the skiers right entrance to the Col de Cicle, Les Contamines

The descent back to N.D. la Gorge via the Roman Road was in good condition and pleasant to ski all the way down to the final steepening near the end – which has quite a few rocks and patches of ice coming through – a bit more every day in the current weather.  Higher up the Contamines Valley, the Armancete Glacier is looking a lot snowier and less icy than it did earlier in the season and has apparently received numerous descents although we could not see the tracks through the binoculars!  The Refuge Conscrits is now open for the spring season and reporting decent conditions for the Domes de Miage and numerous other classic spring ski mountaineering routes in that sector.

Ski mountaineering traverse of Les Domes de Miage en route to Ski the Glacier d’Armancette, Les Contamines Valley on the West side of the Mont Blanc Range.

These ski mountaineering days on the Argentiere Glacier and Les Contamines were the touring days on our Chamonix off piste & mountain skills progression course.  We have places available on both this and the classic course in mid April.

We also have a place on our Ski Mont Blanc course in May.

Touring round to the Col de la Cicle, Les Contamines.