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Mountain Stability in the Mont Blanc Massif

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 Ian Carey 24 Nov 2022

An interesting report below about conditions in the Mont Blanc Massif this summer.

http://www.alpine-club.org.uk/news/sustainability-news/1042-mountain-stability-in-the-mont-blanc-massif-summer-2022?fbclid=IwAR1c2bxuhQ3Zg4tp5hW-I-BHlKX8PkMVKJu8JxScYgjJYkuNVRMutM_X5d4

Of note for me was the advice that "The periods when routes come into condition will get shorter."

This year the plan was to visit the Alps in September, but due to the extremely hot summer we decided not to go (went to Scotland instead and had a lot of rain & midges!).

The plan for next year is to try June.

It would appear to me that the joys of summer and winter mountaineering in Europe are going to be harder to achieve.

 Webster 24 Nov 2022
In reply to Ian Carey:

these days the 'summer' alpine season is basically May and a week or 2 into june...

on the plus it means the alpine season doesnt clash with the peak tourist season, small mercies! 

 veteye 25 Nov 2022
In reply to Ian Carey:

So lots of places not to go.

No ridges or couloirs, and various north facing geological features.

I will retain this article for consideration of whether to aspire to more alpine climbing in the future.

 ExiledScot 25 Nov 2022
In reply to Ian Carey:

Not surprised, I've climbed there for a little over 30 years, others here I'm sure for longer, but apart from less snow, glacial retreat etc.. it is visibly less stable or solid. Either that or I've become much more risk averse, in the last decade I've turned around on several routes, they've just not felt safe. I don't bother going so often any more, and even then tend to climb lower down below the 3500-4500m range, where change feels greatest. 

 James FR 25 Nov 2022
In reply to Ian Carey:

A good article (in French) about attempting to find a way to avoid the Grand Couloir: https://www.montagnes-magazine.com/actus-mont-blanc-arete-payot-alternative-credible-voie-normale-gouter

 pec 27 Nov 2022
In reply to Webster:

> these days the 'summer' alpine season is basically May and a week or 2 into june...

> on the plus it means the alpine season doesnt clash with the peak tourist season, small mercies! 

I've not been for 5 years and that was after a gap of quite a few years. I was quite shocked at how much things had changed between those last two trips (about 2010 to 2017), particularly in the Mont Blanc massif. Looking down from the top of the Dent du Geant I was thinking, where's the Mer de Glace gone? I don't think it was actually possible to get from the French side to the Italian side of the Vallee Blanche by August of that year as the crevasses were too bad below the Grand Capucin area.

I still harbour a few Alpine ambitions but noting how much worse it has got again I'm wondering if it's realistic?

I've climbed there in May a couple of times (about 20 years ago) and it felt very wintery, lots of deep snow to break trail through, big cornices, few lifts and generally hard work with hardly anyone else about.

Is it still like that in May, as a general rule of course, or is May actually now more like summer conditions used to be?

Also, after last summer's apalling conditions one of the local Mayors (I think) was talking about shifting the season forward by opening the uplift and huts earlier. Was that just idle speculation or are there actually moves to do that?

 rif 11:38 Mon
In reply to Ian Carey:

There are several interesting open-access scientific papers about recent changes in the Mont Blanc massif and their effects on climbing. This one, for example, highlights how many of Rebuffat's 'Best 100' routes can no longer be done in summer: https://doi.org/10.1080/15230430.2019.1612216

Most of them have Ludovic Ravanel (who gave the talk the AC has translated) as an author and will have one or more of 'Mont Blanc', 'permafrost', and 'rockfall' as keywords.

1
 Webster 11:39 Mon
In reply to pec:

well i have done the cosmiques ridge in perfect summer alpine conditions on new years day, and full winter conditions in august! so naturally it can change day to day, but in general you will find good summer alpine conditions in May after 2-3 days of stable weather.

i dont think the lift schedules have changed, they still revolve around traditional summer and winter seasons, but the huts are much more flexible, and tend to open and close based on conditions and demand.

 Kai 17:31 Mon
In reply to rif:

I wish that the article on how climate has changed the 100 Finest Routes had detail on how each route changed.

It only gives the information in the aggregate.  

1
 pec 22:59 Mon
In reply to Webster:

> but in general you will find good summer alpine conditions in May after 2-3 days of stable weather.

I'd come to the conclusion that bar an unusually cold year then July and August were just too dangerous now and based on last summer even June. Looks like May could be the best bet, pity about the lifts though


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