25 June 2019, Swiss Valais, Chamonix, Mont Blanc & Aravis Mountaineering Conditions

26 June 2019, Dent du Geant & Traverse…

Early starts are de-rigueur at the moment and Gav & Joe continued this trend from the Torino Hut this morning, with a much earlier breakfast than usual to climb the Dent du Geant.  Often the shady start and west facing beautiful upper pillars are pretty cold in the morning, but the approach can be loose and dangerous, especially when dry and hot.  The team made good time this morning and were back at the hut for an early lunch.

High on the West Face of the Dent du Geant, Photo Gav Pike

This made for 3 good solid days with the Tour Ronde and Traverse of the Perrons already this week…

Traverse of Les Perrons de Vallorcine, Photo Gav Pike

Our Mont Blanc team descended from the Gouter Hut this morning and noted a bit of rock fall in the Grand Couloir at 0700 but otherwise it was quiet.  Other teams have reported some larger rock falls in the afternoon and this is only likely to increase in the coming days as the heatwave persists.

Despite the heatwave conditions – there is still plenty of snow in the high mountains and plenty of snow routes being done, for the moment.  The Durier Hut guardian reported a decent track and reasonable conditions on the Traverse of the Aiguille du Bionassay today and Alberto has been climbing around the Gnifetti Hut and reported good conditions on the Italian side of the Monte Rosa.

25 June 2019, Swiss Valais, Mont Blanc & Aiguille du Midi Rock Climbing

An early 0300 breakfast beat the crowds on the Monch today – and gave the best conditions with a superb sun rise and decent snow conditions in the track and a happy team on the train down for just after 0900.   Apparently a team had done the Nollen Spur in reasonable conditions also.

Monch Summit Ridge, good dawn conditions in late June 2019

Our Gran Paradiso summit team also did well with a full team on the summit this morning after an ascent via the well covered glacier above Chabod and swift descent via the Vittorio Emanuelle Hut, with snow all the way.  Good rapid conditions in the track albeit with a superficial freeze and not so good out of the track.  The new summit ridge protection and suggested 1 way system was working well and the tour of the summit ridge was more efficient with less queuing than usual.

Moon setting over the Gran Paradiso North Face – Photo Klemen Gricar
Full team on the summit of the Gran Paradiso on our late June course.

Our Mont Blanc group also had an early 0130 breakfast from Tete Rousse and reached the summit in good conditions albeit pretty windy up high, before descending to the Gouter Hut.  Teams were climbing Mont Blanc du Tacul from the Col du Midi this morning and some teams were also putting in a track on Mont Maudit despite the currently pretty difficult conditions wih big seracs on that north face.  The Triangle du Tacul also had approach tracks going up to the right, left, centre and from the top of the crag onwards to the summit.  Likewise Pt Lachenal had tracks all over although there has been a major serac collapse on slopes to the lookers right of the summit.  The tracks on Pt Lachenal were ok although the ice is not far away below.  Tracks also on the Midi Plan Traverse and Tour Ronde Freshfield Arete.

Pitch 2 (5b) of several golden granite grooves on the Kohlman Route, one of the easiest routes on the magnificent South Face of the Midi.

Many teams were also rock climbing on the South Face of the Midi on both the Rebuffat and Kohlman routes, with pleasant warm dry rock and warm temperatures with a light breeze making for nice climbing conditions.   The heatwave was however making for very soft snow on the sunny slopes in particular with some snow sloughs gathering speed and momentum around the South Face.   Another potential effect of the Heatwave seemed to be on the Midi lifts, which were only being half filled with people thus causing big queues at the Plan de l’Aiguille.

Sustained lovely grantite groove climbing on the South Face of the Midi

24 June 2019, Swiss Valais, Mont Blanc & Aravis Mountaineering Conditions

Despite concerns about the gathering heat, rising freezing levels and thus snow conditions, our Bernese Oberland team climbed the Jungfrau in good style this morning.  There was actually an overnight re-freeze and the team made good time climbing the classic route on the Jungfrau in 3.5 hours from Monchsjoch Hut, although the journey back was a bit more relaxed with the steady ascent back up the glacier in soft snow and heat!  They are hoping to climb the Monch tomorrow and the team have already done the Eiger Via Ferratta and some high altitude glacier & mountaineering training from Jungfraujoch making for an excellent long weekend in the high Oberland.

High on the ascent of the Jungfrau, Bernese Oberland, good conditions in June 2019. Photo Dylan Taylor

Our teams also climbed the Weissmeis via the South Ridge this morning and enjoyed good conditions on the route once the ‘soup’ of  the approach track had been dealt with early this morning.   They made the aller retour via the great base camp at Almageller Hut and were hoping to climb the Mittelruck tomorrow although the lack of a track, soft snow and poor overnight re-freeze may dictate the arrival of a plan B there.

Darren, James & Nick enjoying the fine sustained scrambling on the South Ridge of the Weissmies. Photo Thanks to Dave Sharpe.

Craig & Paul were less luck with the timing of their Weissmeis attempt as the weather was poor on Saturday and they ended up doing some via Ferrata and climbing the Jagihorn instead before an ascent of the Allalinhorn on Sunday.  They are now on the way up to the Tete Rousse to attempt Mont Blanc tomorrow.  Conditions in the Grand Couloir were generally quiet this afternoon and the track above the Gouter is getting wider and wider, but the lack of a good overnight freeze may make the going a bit harder and the team are going for an 0130 breakfast.

Craig & Paul on the summit of the Allalinhorn training and acclimatising for the ascent of Mont Blanc. Matterhorn bottom right. Photo Kenny Grant

There are concerns over the snow conditions this week, as well as increased rock fall hazard, with the strongly increasing daytime temperatures and particularly the lack of overnight re-freezing, with the 0C isotherm predicted to be going up to around the summit of Mont Blanc height at nearly 5000m!  Despite this, the huts are full and there is a big track going up the Gouter Route on Mont Blanc!   Our Gran Paradiso team are heading up to the Chabod Hut today after some warm up glacier training and acclimatisation from the Skyway Monte Bianco and a night at the Rifugio Torino.

Klemen, Jonny and our late June Gran Paradiso & Mont Blanc teams…Photo Jonny Baird.

Another team climbed the Aiguille du Tour this morning from the Albert Premier and again, found ok conditions in the tracks with big snow volume on the glacier but would all be improved with some overnight re-freezes, which do not look to be forthcoming.  Gav & Joe climbed the traverse of Les Perrons above Vallorcine and enjoyed it despite the soft snowy approach.  The rock on the ridge was warm and dry with almost continuous snow giving a rapid descent and walk back.  At the other western end of the Mont Blanc massif we could see a track on the traverse of the Dome de Miage this morning as part of the brilliant panoramic views from Mont Joly.  Thus below we include some landscape shots giving an idea of remaining snow cover around the Mont Blanc and Aravis Massifs as well as the Fiz range.

Mont Blanc & The Chamonix Aiguilles – to the Aiguille Verte, Snow conditions in the Chamonix Valley June 24th 2019
Remaining snow cover in the Aravis Massif, from Mont Joly, June 24 2019
Remaining snow cover in the upper Les Contamines Valley, from Mont Joly, June 24 2019
Just part of the wonderful views from Mont Joly summit, Mont Blanc across the Contamines Valley. Snow cover on the West side of the Mont Blanc Massif, from Mont Joly, June 24 2019
Remaining snow cover in the Fiz Massif, from Mont Joly, June 24 2019

It’s also been a hot & sunny weekend in Snowdonia where Ric helped Andy & Steve to have a brilliant experience scrambling and big boot climbing around the Snowdon horseshoe area & Parsons nose as well as some more technical ground and pitching on the Milestone buttress in the Ogwen Valley.

Steve & Andy Matterhorn training on the Milestone Buttress in the Ogwen Valley, Snowdonia, Photo Ric Potter

We have places available on both our Matterhorn & Mont Blanc training weekends in Snowdonia in October this year.

We also still have a few places available on this summers alpine mountaineering courses…

Guiding High On The Jungfrau In The Swiss Valais Alps