4 Jan 2019, Grands Montets, Chamonix & Aosta Ski Touring Conditions

It wasn’t really a classic January day at the Grands Montets today, but we found some good skiing and fun turns in places. the category 1 avalanche risk, below 2500m, was a hint at the refrozen lower slopes where it was well worth avoiding anything steep at lower altitudes.  There were some fun turns to be had in sheltered gullies higher up where the strong winds had accumulated very shallow wind slabs which were good to ski.

As the Bochard was closed all day, this was mainly around the Italian bowl and Combe Rachesses.   The upper Combe, close to the rocky ridge, looked better for those teams that had skinned up from the Herse chairlift and those who had skied over the back side down towards the Argentiere Glacier also reported lots of fun turns where wind blow accumulations had settled.

Firm pack, or icey? The Grands Montets in early Jan 2019. More snow required please!

With more cloud forecast for tomorrow, along with no fresh snow and cold temperatures…it will not be a classic at the Montets or anywhere in the Mont Blanc Massif for that matter.  But bon ski & Bon weekend anyway.  Watch out for steeper slopes at low & mid altitudes which are icy, as are many pistes.

2 January 2019, Ski Pila, Aosta & Chamonix Conditions

A warm foehn wind gave a very mild feeling 11c in the Italian city of Aosta this morning….but it didn’t last long, on climbing through the lift system the temperature dropped nearly 20C and it felt like more with a stiff windchill whipping over the ridge line above 2600m.   The strong winds over the last 24 hours or so had ravaged the ridges and buffeted the bowls and, for a change, there was not much pristine pow left at Pila!

Fresh tracks in the sweet spot above the rain crust and below the wind blast!

We did find a sweet spot for some lovely fresh tracks in light velvet shallow powder – below the wind blast (2500m) and above the rain crust (2250m)…for at least 10 turns!  The cover in general is pretty good higher in the resort and many of the pistes were in decent condition considering it has not snowed since Christmas Eve.   The side country has been tracked and blasted and was generally poor at best!

Ski touring above the resort of Pila above the city of Aosta, with the Big 4000ers on the Italian Swiss border to the North..  Matterhorn in the centre and Monte Rosa Massif to the right in far distance.

The wind also gave a pretty good battering to many slopes around the Mont Blanc Massif with winds over 100k/hr in the high mountains.   So there might be some more good sastrugi skiing to be had higher up!   We did a micro tour around the Plan de l’Aiguille a few days ago and some avalanche emergency procedure training – but the snow cover is lean and poor for general touring around the bouldery mid station on the Midi.  A few teams were heading up towards the North Face of the Col du Plan area and, as the clouds descended and wind gathered, the chances of a sufferfest seemed high!

Avalanche transceiver and emergency response training at the Plan de l’Aiguille, Chamonix.

Gav skied down from the Col du Tour Noir and reported good skiing conditions on both the Glacier d’Amethystes and the normal exit on the Glacier d’Argentiere…but not on the Pierre a Ric, the currently icy and crowded home run on the Grands Montets.

With more cold dry weather to come, the sweet spot between the wind blast and the rain crust may become trickier to find….Please do let us know if you find some good turns!

We have places available on our Intermediate Ski touring day in Chamonix next Wednesday 9th Jan and also on the Intro Ski Touring weekend in Chamonix on the 12-13th Jan.

Ski touring above the Argentiere Glacier en route to the Col du Tour Noire