Mont Blanc Conditions

Regional discussion and conditions reports for Europe. Please post partners requests and trip plans in the Europe Climbing Partners section.
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APK

 
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Mont Blanc Conditions

by APK » Tue Jun 11, 2013 5:23 am

Hello, I'm on my way to Europe for a long trip and would to at least try for Mont Blanc. I realize future conditions are impossible to predict, but I'd at least like to get an idea what kind of snow year this is. Right now I'm planning on checking out the Alps in late June, then looping through Greece and Eastern Europe and back to the Alps in late July/August. I'm mostly interested in the classic tourist routes. I'd like try a few routes in June, but if conditions are poor I can come back later. I'm thinking about trying for a spot at the Gouter Hut and hoping to pick up a partner. If I can't, I was wondering if it would be reasonable to at least solo to the Gouter Hut? Would late June be a reasonable time to try an ascent in the high alps? I know how last year was...I'm experienced, and a fast hiker. My gear is a bit limited though since I'll be living out of my backpack.

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lavaka

 
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Re: Mont Blanc Conditions

by lavaka » Tue Jun 11, 2013 9:53 am

I think it was a heavy snowpack this year, and spring/summer have been late in coming, but someone else can probably give more info. June can be a bit early. So, I would do more research.

Most people go unroped to the Gouter hut (main exception would be novice clients who are short-roped by a guide), so solo is quite reasonable, especially since it is a popular route. Beyond that, most people rope up. It is not out-of-the-question for good people to go solo/unroped after the Gouter hut (people do), but there are crevasses, so it's a risk. It's as steep as it's rating (PD I think) indicates, so again that depends on your comfort level.

Get weather/route condition info here: http://www.ohm-chamonix.com/info-montagne-conditions-montagne-11100000.html (they have French/Italian/English, but usually each post is either French or Italian with no translation). And if you want to see what routes people have been doing, look at the log book: http://www.ohm-chamonix.com/montain-information-route-notebook-221000000.html. You can click on each trip to see a very brief summary.

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Flachlandtiroler

 
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Re: Mont Blanc Conditions

by Flachlandtiroler » Tue Jun 11, 2013 11:46 am

APK wrote:Would late June be a reasonable time to try an ascent in the high alps?

Generally speaking: No.
Apart from Montblanc skitouring-season ends in June due to lack of snow in the lower sections.
For summer mountaineering there usually still is far too much, deep + very soft snow in the higher regions.
The only pro is: Long days + routes are not overcrowded.

I'm experienced, and a fast hiker. My gear is a bit limited though since I'll be living out of my backpack.

Just for the record:
Montblanc is an "easy" alpine peak, but nowhere a hiking peak. If you go on your own, you need to be a mountaineer, not a hiker.
Bring a helmet, piolet & crampons; also very warm equipment esp. reg. gloves etc. -- hopefully weather stays fine so this adds only to your comfort; in the (frequent) case of a blizzard it may be mandatory to survive.

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Diego Sahagún

 
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Re: Mont Blanc Conditions

by Diego Sahagún » Tue Jun 11, 2013 4:04 pm


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rgg
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Re: Mont Blanc Conditions

by rgg » Tue Jun 11, 2013 10:15 pm

APK wrote:Hello, I'm on my way to Europe for a long trip and would to at least try for Mont Blanc. I realize future conditions are impossible to predict, but I'd at least like to get an idea what kind of snow year this is. Right now I'm planning on checking out the Alps in late June, then looping through Greece and Eastern Europe and back to the Alps in late July/August. I'm mostly interested in the classic tourist routes. I'd like try a few routes in June, but if conditions are poor I can come back later. I'm thinking about trying for a spot at the Gouter Hut and hoping to pick up a partner. If I can't, I was wondering if it would be reasonable to at least solo to the Gouter Hut? Would late June be a reasonable time to try an ascent in the high alps? I know how last year was...I'm experienced, and a fast hiker. My gear is a bit limited though since I'll be living out of my backpack.


Last year I went to the Alps in June. Shortly before I traveled, there had been a sizable amount of fresh snow, and as the plane landed in Innsbruck, I could see that the high peaks of the Karwendel were all white.
I started hiking on the 20th, in Liechtenstein, and after that I made my way east, towards the Ötztal in Austria. Mostly I hiked and climbed, occasionally I used public transport. In Liechtenstein, the first significant slow on north-facing slopes started around 2300-2400 m. I used crampons only once, and while it was helpful, I could have managed without them. Temperatures were high enough to soften the snow; the crampons just made it easier by stopping me from sliding back down all the time, which would have been tiring.
The last week of June was warm, and consequently the snow quickly disappeared. By the end of the month there wasn't much serious snow left below 3000 m - with the notable exceptions of some couloirs and the glaciers of course.

Earlier this spring, there has been a whole lot of precipitation in (some parts of) the Alps. If it gets warm, it will soon be just a memory, but to be on the safe side I'll head to the southern parts of the Alps next week, and explore the north west corner of Italy. I don't expect serious snow far below 3000m by then anymore, but I'll have crampons anyway.
Come July I'm planning to climb a lot of glacier routes. I hope there won't be any serious new snow in the days right before that, and can I order cold temperatures please? That should keep the snow bridges strong, and we won't sink too deep in slush.


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