Sunday 4th July-Friday 9th.
Hail and greetings from the Chamonix valley.
Afraid to say this week has found me in a lazy mood. It didn't start too well having caught a stinking cold, which of course turned into the worst case of man flu ever! I have however soldiered on.
So how are things out here in the land of ice and snow? Well, to be honest, no real change from last week, just less snow. It has been dammed hot all week, into the 30's in the valley, and the isotherm freezing level, hovering between 4500 metres and 5000+ on some days. So as you can imagine it's been hard going all round.
Dru, Jorasses and Mer de Glace from Index chair - much less snow now
My observations this week are based on what I've seen, what I've heard, and what I've read. Let's start with what I've seen.
I've been out and about enjoying the rock this week. Up at the Brevent the access to the Frison Roche route [TD] is pretty much clear of snow. The gully line, which you cross to get to the routes further round to the left on the south face, has a patch or two of snow. That's where you'll find the fantastic Poeme a Lou [TD SUP]. It's fully equipped and grassy finished to the Brevent station, be careful.....
The Index - still a short patch of snow to cross to start of route
Over towards the Index, today (Friday) was a busy day up there, with teams heading for the Pouce, still snow right up to the col for the Pouce. Teams on the lower buttress of the Gliere, south east face, some good rock routes to be had there. Also teams on the Grand Floria, Asia and Athena, most folk abbing off as the other descent is still very snowy. You can get to the base of these routes in trainers although you may get wet feet. There is a shortish patch of snow to cross to get to the start of the index.
Heading towards the Col du Crochues
Mont Blanc Range news
Elsewhere in the range folks have been having mixed success with various routes. The Frendo spur has been done, but didn't sound much fun on the top snow section; similarly on the North face of the Tour Ronde. I have read that someone has been on the Gervasutti Pillar and has reported quite a lot of rock fall damage around pitch 4, making it a little harder than the guide book grade. It sounds like they bailed out after a few more pitches as there was quite a bit of stone fall at the time. Good decision.
Salomon Fernandez has also reported rock fall around Petites Jorasses. He witnessed a huge serac fall on the approach to the route starting from Contamine, then heard considerable rock fall throughout the night. It's really not surprising bearing in mind the temperatures over the past week.
The three Monts - Tacul, Maudit and Blanc
I had a quick chat to Bruce Goodlad, fellow guide and Cham resident who had just back from the traverse of the Lyskamm in the Valais region of Switzerland. He said it was in good condition and took about 5 hrs from the Quinta Sella hut, setting off at 3 am. Looks like you have just got to get high to get the conditions.
The Dom, also in the Valais was done mid week, again 3 am start, and good conditions were reported.
I'm working on a Chamonix Intro next week, so will have more fun filled action packed info by next Friday. Have fun out there and be super safe.
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