OK here we go then – this is a roundup of autumn activity in the Mont Blanc and Ecrins ranges:
General Ice Conditions: It’s been a very mild autumn, which has lead to good ice formation and climbing conditions in the high mountains -Â but conversely, very little valley icefall action has been reported so far (winter has now arrived and the valley icefalls are forming as we speak, but it’s going to take a couple of weeks cold weather before things start to come into good condition – ie New Year at the earliest).
Snowfall: SignificantÂ winter snowfall has nowÂ occured in most areas, so skis or snowshoes areÂ likely to be needed for heading into the high mountains in search of a bit of couloir action in the near future, unless you are very close to a well skied lift system.
Ecrins: the famous Raie des Fesses couloir on the Pic Sans Nom has had several ascents recentlyÂ (and a couple of helicopter evacuations..), as has Fantomas on the Dome de Monetier.Â Various other goulottes above Ailefroide have also been climbed -Â new snow now makes access to these areas a more lengthy undertaking.
Mont Blanc Range: the following routes were climbed during the Autumn period and are still likely to be in similar conditions now, but with the addition of more snow:
Aig Du Tour – Goullotte N – good conds
Chardonnet – EscarraÂ – Good conds, Charlet-Bettembourg – OK
Pelerins – Rousse-CarringtonÂ – thinÂ (ie probably OK for Brits!)
Aig du Plan – Fil a Plomb – OK, several ascents
Col du Plan -Â ‘thin conds made more interesting!’
Pet Jorrasses – L’Oeil au Beurre Noire – good conds
Pointe Lachenal – Modica Noury + Gabarrou Albinoni -Â excellent conds
Maudit E Face – Fil D’Ariane + Baxter Jones – both been climbed
Tacul E Face – Supercouloir Direct – mixed start, then good ice ie usual conds
Tacul Triangle – Chere Couloir + Left Edge Rte – good conds
Midi N Face – Eugster – thin
Tour RondeÂ – Gervasutti Couloir – OK
Â Anything else youÂ hear about, then let me knowÂ +Â may the force be with you…