Greetings one and all, another week in the valley.
This week saw me spending time with clients, getting them acclimatised before guiding them up Mont Blanc.
Our first day was spent up on the Aiguilles Rouges working on crampon and rope skills. There's still quite a lot of snow left up there, so really not much change from last week to be honest. The day time temperatures have been quite high and that side of the valley gets the most sun, so the snow will disappear as the season goes on. There were lots of people on all the usual suspects up there: Index, Chappele. Grand Floria, Crochues, etc
Next couple of days were spent up at the Cosmiques hut below the Aiguille du Midi. The hut was rammed full of aspiring Mont Blanc summiteers and that will include us in a few days time.
The Mer de Glace is still looking in good condition, the ridge down from the ice cave is as interesting as ever.
Ridge from Midi ice cave, ski track on upper right hand side
We saw many teams on the South face of the Midi, which is no surprise given the very pleasant forecast. As long as they were off their route and down by late afternoon, or early evening, as we have had some good storms over the past few days.
We ascended Mont Blanc Du Tacul the next day. The track up the Tacul is good condition, but the crevasses/bergschrunds are opening up more than they were last week, at some point soon it's going to be almost impassable and a new track will be needed. There was another team ahead of us, who turned out to be guys I used to knock about with in Leeds a long, long time ago. It's a small world and so good to see them. The summit was a short easy scramble with plenty of snow and ice to aid progress and with all the usual stunning views from the top.
From summit of the Tacul, Grand Jorasses and Matterhorn in far far distance
Not too many teams on the Triangle du Tacul this week, but the Chere couloir is still getting ascents, although it's a bit hacked up now, by all accounts. The central line up the Tacul had a couple of teams on it. The Kufner Arete has been tried but was under very soft snow, so at the time was very hard going. One team turned round at about half way.
Last section of Kufner Arete from Maudit
The later part of the week found us back at the Cozzy hut, minus one of my team, so now just the two of us for The Blanc. We got up at 1 am and bugger me it was raining, which wasn't mentioned on the forecast. We hung around for an hour until it cleared and the temperature dropped. Even though the snow was still quite soft, the ascent went without any problems. The short climb up to the shoulder on Mont Maudit is in fab condition, bucket steps all the way. The fixed rope is still there from last year but it looks a bit old, so treat it with caution. Other than that, it was a very pleasant day out, albeit quite cloudy with very light north westerly winds. It's in great condition at the moment.
Mont Blanc from just before Col De La Brenva at about 4300m
The descent back to the valley also went without a hitch, just a few stops for tired legs on the way. It took just under 6 hrs for the up bit and about 5 for the down, which is a good time, including the stops.
Conditions elsewhere haven't changed much in the last week, just slightly less snow. Folks are still out skiing: I spotted Glen Plake, famous extreme skier and even more famous for his huuuuuuge Mohawk hairdoo. Le Tour is still in good condition, Table Couloir is getting done on a regular basis, any south facing rock route is pretty much clear of snow now, gully lines still look good and from chatting to folks conditions generally are still fab for this time of year. Also, round in the Arolla area there's still lots of snow, making some of the more snowy routes hard going as the day and night time temps increase.
So all in all, not much change in the past 7 days, just a little less snow to play with. There's still tons of the stuff out here though, so that isn't a problem.
Keeping an eye on the forecast, last Wednesday (30th June) day time temperatures were 0oC at 4100 metres and -10oC at 5500 metres. Today the temperatures have lifted to 0oC at 4300m and the possibility of thunderstorms this afternoon. Check it out on the Chamonix Meteo website
Next week, I'm off over to Switzerland to play. You have fun and be safe out there.
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