Alpine Couloirs – Conditions Roundup Dec ’06

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 - 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: Significant winter snowfall has now occured in most areas, so skis or snowshoes are 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 recently (and a couple of helicopter evacuations..), as has Fantomas on the Dome de Monetier.  Various other goulottes above Ailefroide have also been climbed - 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 – Escarra – Good conds, Charlet-Bettembourg – OK

Pelerins – Rousse-Carrington – thin (ie probably OK for Brits!)

Aig du Plan – Fil a Plomb – OK, several ascents

Col du Plan - ‘thin conds made more interesting!’

Pet Jorrasses – L’Oeil au Beurre Noire – good conds

Pointe Lachenal – Modica Noury + Gabarrou Albinoni - 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 Ronde – Gervasutti Couloir – OK

 Anything else you hear about, then let me know + may the force be with you…