Tour du Mont Blanc - Conditions 12th June '23
The TMB season has officially started. Already there are many teams out trekking. The alpine flowers are blooming and there is an abundance of marmots running around, looking lean and keen after a winter of hibernation.
Due to large snowfall late into the winter season, followed by a wet, cold May, a lot of snow is still present on the trails above 2000m. Team Mont Blanc Treks have been out visiting the high cols to review the current conditions.
Many of the trails passing through the high cols are still covered in snow, however there is a good track in place passing through the snowfields. As the temperatures warm the snow is melting fast, so the routes will change as the trail becomes visible again. Route finding isn’t a problem as everything is tracked.
Snow bridges: snow bridges cross stream and gully beds, they have unseen gaps below. It is important to note that as the snow melts snow bridges become weak and large holes can form. Pay attention to the integrity of the snow and find safer ways if you see holes, depressions and hear running water.
In addition to snow melt, the underlying trails can become very muddy. Expect to find areas of deep mud which can become treacherous especially when descending.
Chamonix to Les Houches: The Planpraz Cable car is open and costs €17,50 one way / €22,00 return first lift at 8.30am.
Expect snow above 2000m. This is ok if a lower route is taken. Follow the track up the front face of the Brevent from Plan Praz as suggested in the route options on the day 1 route card. The Col de Brevent is not advisable as the ladder section is banked out with snow and the steep ground could be potentially dangerous if you were to slip or fall.
Les Houches to Les Contamines: The Bellevue Cable car is open and costs €17,50 one way.
The Bionnassay suspension bridge is in place. There is still some snow but should not cause any problems. The Refuge Miage is open for refreshments en route.
Les Contamines to Les Chapieux / Mottets: This is the day where a lot of snow will be encountered. At present the snow line starts at the the Plaine des Dames (2043m) up towards the Col du Bonhomme and beyond, but the track is good. Currently expect to be walking on snow for around 3 hrs, until you start descending down towards Les Chapieux around 2200m.
There are currently no tracks passing through the Col des Fours. It is recommended to wait until more snow has disappeared before attempting this variation. If staying at the Refuge Mottets it is advisable to descend to Chapieux. It is recommended to use the road on the section between Les Chapieux and Refuge Mottets as the river path has some avalanche debris making it difficult to pass.
The section between Col du Bonhomme and the highest point Col de la Croix du Bonhomme involves traversing some big open snow slopes, extra care needs to be taken on this section.
Micro spikes and walking poles are essential for safety here.
Col de la Seigne to Courmayeur: There is still snow present on this section, more so on the Italian side. There are still patches as low down as the Refuge Elisabetta. Also there is a lot of deep mud, where the snow has melted.
If you intend to use the bus from La Visialle to Courmayeur make sure you download the ARRIVA MyPay application on your phone. You can then check timetables. There are no timetables available at the moment, they should be available in the next few days.
This year there is no charge for the bus service in the Val Veny or Val Ferret. The bus service starts on the 16th June 2023.
If trekking before the the bus service starts or in case of any problems then you will need to organise a taxi. Suggested numbers can be found here:
Taxi Perrone Alessandro: +39 392 202 6134
Taxi Courmayeur Leo: +39 347 276 2667
Stefano Leonetti: +39 347 948 7759
Taxi Fillipo Garin: +39 347 490 0051
Alternatively take the route towards Col Checrouit to Courmayeur, plan an extra 4-6 hrs of walking for this.
The lift from Maison Vielle to Dolonne opens on 1st July.
Courmayeur to Bonatti & Val Ferret: The suggested route highlighted on the daily route card is ok, no problems. Keep to the traversing route from the Rifugio Bertoni to Rifugio Bonatti rather that the high route mentioned in the Cicerone guide book.
If you are intending using the bus then please check the ARRIVA MyPay app or website for bus times. If there is a problem with the buses ask the hotel in Courmayeur to organise a taxi.
Val Ferret to La Fouly: See above regarding buses & taxis if you are intending getting the bus to Arnouva.
Snow in the gullies when ascending to the Rifugio Elena, care needs to be taken when crossing the snow slopes, poles are essential. The bridge across the river hasn't yet been installed as there is too much snow in the gully. The snow crossing is stable at the moment. Care needs to be taken in a week or so when further snow melt will leave weak snow bridges with exposure to the fast moving river underneath.
Route up to the Grand Col Ferret after the refuge is passable. Great care needs to be taken on the final snowy traverse to the col, steep ground below. Lots of snow on the Swiss side but the terrain is more mellow which makes the descent less probamatic.
La Fouly to Champex: No problems, route as normal.
Champex to Trient: The Bovine route is relatively free of snow and is fine. Do not attempt the variant via Fenetre d’Arpette, as with the Col des Fours the route is steep on both sides of the col and when banked out with snow, as it is at the moment, a slip of fall here could be serious.
Trient to Argentiere: Take the route direct from Trient to the Col du Balme. There is a great deal of snow on the north easterly side of the col so care needs to be taken here, the westerly side of the col is free of snow. The rest of the route is passable.
Argentiere to Chamonix: The Aiguille Rouges nature reserve still has a lot of snow, Lac Blanc is completely covered with snow and remains frozen. Therefore we advise to remain on the lower balcony to Flegere and do not ascend to Lac Cheserys and Lac Blanc. The route from Flegere to Brevent has no problems.
· All kit outlined on our kit list, not forgetting good waterproof boots, gloves, warm hat, warm layers, waterproof outer layers, sun cream & sunglasses to protect against snow glare.
· Micro spikes & walking poles x 2 per person to aid balance, micro spikes can be purchased in Chamonix, Snell Sport on the main street is a great shop. If you don't want to buy then lightweight walking crampons can be hired locally in Chamonix or Les Houches. Walking poles cannot be rented, but there are plenty of places to buy them in Chamonix & Les Houches.
· Gaiters to keep you dry when walking through snow.
Important to remember: Walking on snow can be very tiring and time consuming, you will need a good level of fitness in order to be able to cope with this additional challenge. You will also need to allow more time each day to get to your destination.
Snow and bad weather (poor visibility) also make navigation difficult as you cannot see the designated path and route markers and signage will be covered with snow. Good navigational skills are essential, the ability to read a map, use a compass and altimeter are a pre-requisite of this self-guided trek.
You need good mountain sense and the ability to make your own decisions, from the information given it is your responsibility to select alternative routes from the information you have at hand (map, guidebook & route & safety cards etc).
Snow on high ground can make the route difficult and dangerous in places. A great deal of care needs to be taken when moving on Neve (old snow), depending on the weather this can be frozen solid or slush and without micro spikes it can be difficult to cross without slipping. It is essential that you make a risk assessment before crossing snow, look below and ask yourself if you slipped how far would you slide & fall? Could a slip or fall cause injury? If in doubt retreat back and descend.
For the most accurate weather forcast see here: https://chamonix-meteo.com/chamonix-mont-blanc/weather/forecast/morning/5_days_weather_forecast.php
Please get in touch if you have a booking with us and require further information and advice on current conditions.