28 November 2019, Petit Croise Baulet 2009m, Combloux, Snowy Snow Shoe Ascent
For each section of the day the weather forecast for the Aravis and Mont Blanc Massifs gave a 100% probability of precipitation, it wasn’t wrong! It rained all day in the valley and it took a determined approach to leave the ski car parks of Combloux in the 2C and driving rain, but it wasn’t long before the snow was reached, both in the air and on the ground.
We plodded up increasingly snowy forest paths and pistes to a deserted Sommet de Salles and then only had a solitary Tetras for company on an impressively snowy ascent of the Croise Baulet from the Col de Jaillet. The snow was falling thick and fast and there was more than half a metre of fresh snow in places with plenty more blowing in on a steady W wind. The near white out conditions on the summit did not inspire us to continue over the Grand Croise Baulet, but we did get a fleeting glimpse of it during the descent, looking impressively snowy and white.
The trail breaking was pretty physical but made for an enjoyable ascent and provided Tanya and John with some good expedition training for Denali next year. Good luck with that. Lots more snow forecast for tomorrow and Sunday with slightly cooler temperatures so roll on a good start to winter 2020 hopefully!
26 November 2019, Pt Ronde, Col de la Forclaz, Snow Shoe Expedition Training
There were not many queues on the Pointe Ronde today and no problems parking at the Col de la Forclaz! Despite the good weather forecast for today not only is it very much quiet season in Chamonix the snow conditions are also far from primo, for skiing at least. They were pretty tough for snow shoeing too and we got plenty of practice breaking a deep trail through some very crusty snow. Tant pis…hard work = good training!
The snow line has raced back up the hill since early last week with mild temperatures and humid conditions which have wetted the snow pack below 2000m hence a strong but breakable crust on N aspects this morning after a good freeze last night. The ascent from Forclaz along the walkers path was easy and despite strips of snow and ice in places, did not require crampons. The snowy forest ride in to the north face was covered in a thin breakable crust over deep & soft heather…we kept going towards the normal route!
The ascent to the Col at just above 2200m on the normal route was fairly gruelling and almost constant trail breaking through thick but breakable crust in snow shoes….one for connoisseurs of trail breaking with lots of patience! Higher up the wind crust thickened and travel became relatively blissfully efficient again! We still didn’t quite make the summit but enjoyed a lovely, but physical early winter journey in the hills, and some great expedition training!
Plenty more snow inbound in the forecast for Chamonix tomorrow, Thursday and beyond.
25 November 2019, Tete de Balme, Le Tour, Chamonix Denali Training!
Whilst the storm has been pumping bucket loads of fresh snow on the Southern side of Mont Blanc and the Swiss Italian Alpine border, the Northern side of Mont Blanc has remained pretty much dry, and relatively mild like today above Le Tour at the north eastern end of the Chamonix Valley. The snow line has crept steadily back up the hill from early last week when people were skiing to the car park at Le Tour, with a bit of sketching!
We had a bit of sketching through the bushes and mini trees in the Vormaine Valley to access the couloirs at the back for an ascent as part of a mountaineering and snow shoeing day for Tanya & John preparing to climb Denali in Alaska next spring. The SE facing left hand side of the valley is almost completely stripped back to grass whilst the NW right hand side is still snowy but with little depth or base even in the gullies. We climbed a pleasant steady broad couloir at the back end of the valley and reached the plateau where we snow shoed across to the Col de Balme.
With snow shoe heel raisers we had a really enjoyable steady ascent up on to the Tete de Balme to enjoy the brilliant summit views and a little fixed rope training using the summit trig point and a mini abseil down in to Switzerland! A pleasant soft snow descent followed back down the pistes of Le Tour which are being groomed in readiness for the impending season…just need more snow now – and there is some forecast from Wednesday and for the rest of the week, but not before another sunny but mild day tomorrow…
22 November 2019 – Good Early Season Ski Conditions In Cervinia
Light continuous snow only improved the already good early skiing conditions at Cervinia today and provided some fun fresh tracks on the piste and in the side country. There is lots more forecast for this weekend with some big snowfalls forecast for various resorts around the Alps, especially impressive are the forecasts for tomorrow at Jungfraujoch high in the Bernese Oberland.
Most of the lifts were operating in Cervinia with a few still to open and Valtournenche planning to open this weekend. Zermatt was closed and storm bound today and also looking at a tough windy day with lots of precipitation tomorrow and a significant – high avalanche risk across much of the Southern Swiss & French Alps and into the Val d’Aosta Italian Alps South of the Swiss border. Swiss & Val d’Aosta avalanche forecasts here.
21 November 2019 – Chamonix, Aravis, Alpine Ski & Snow Conditions Early Season Round-Up
After an impressively snowy month of November so far, it’s good to see Chamonix’s Grands Montets partial opening this weekend, a few weeks earlier than in many recent years. The Plan Joran, Bochard & Tabé lifts will be open although note that the famous home run down the red Piere à Ric will be closed. The Montenvers railway is open and partial opening at Les Houches has also been mentioned for this weekend – 23 November. The Brevent & Le Tour lifts are planning to open weekend 7th December and Flegere and Aiguille du Midi weekend of the 14th December. You can check the latest on the Chamonix lift openings here.
The snow cover for Mid November is described, on the Meteo France Snow & Avalanche Bulletin, as quite good, especially above 1500m but without any decent base below 2000m…
Lots of teams have been out enjoying some warm up early season touring with the Chamonix faithful skinning up around the Col de Balme from Le Tour and lots of teams also out touring on the grassy pistes of the Ski Evasion resorts like St. Gervais and Megeve.
Impressive early season snow falls have been recorded in the Southern Alps with some places looking more like February than November and up to 3m of snow already recorded high in some resorts as reported by WeathertoSki here. Good early season skiing reported from early favourite resorts like Tignes, Zermatt, Val d’Isere and Cervinia:
There have already been a number of reported avalanches for this winter season and as well as staying in touch with the evolving snow conditions and avalanche risk via the Meteo France bulletin mentioned above, you can also keep an eye on reported events and receive alerts caused by heavy precipitation, wind and avalanche activity on Alain Duclos’ Data Avalanche site. Folk wanting to learn more about avalanche rescue and emergency procedures can check out the excellent information on Louis Piguet’s Montagne-Secu site. We recently did a Guides training day with Louis which was excellent and highly recommended.
Training with Alain for avalanche awareness and avoidance and with Louis for emergency procedure training is time well spent! We also provide quality pre and early season training in both vital disciplines so please get in touch if you would like to arrange this. We also have a number of places on winter 2020 ski touring and off piste courses in Chamonix and the northern Alps so check these out below and contact us for further details and to secure your place.
Best wishes for a safe and enjoyable ski season in 2020 and we hope to ski with you then,
Ski Touring, Mountaineering & Off Piste Course Places Still Available For Winter 2020…
January 11-12, 2020. Just 1 place now left on our Intro Ski Touring Weekend…
January 20-24, 2020. Our Jan Chamonix off piste & mountain skills course is now full but we are considering starting a 2nd group so please get in touch if you would like to join the team on these dates…
February 3 – February 7, 2020. One of our favourite courses – ski touring in the Aravis and off piste Ski Evasion resorts, places available…
February 15-16, 2020. Places available on our Feb Intro Ski Touring Weekend…
February 24-28, 2020. This late Feb you can choose from either our classic or progression Chamonix off piste & mountain skills / ski touring courses…
March 14-15, 2020. In mid March you can choose from our intro or intermediate ski touring weekend, both with the remarkable base camp of the working Monastery at Grand St. Bernard high on the Swiss Italian alpine border.
March 23-27, 2020. In late March you can choose from either our classic or progression Chamonix off piste & mountain skills / ski touring courses…
April 13-17, 2020. In mid April you can choose from either our classic or progression Chamonix off piste & mountain skills / ski touring courses…