Snow Avalanche Conditions

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Note: We've left these pages for reference but have now moved our snow and avalanche conditions section to the main page under Snow Conditions

PisteHors Snow Picture of the Day

23rd June 2006

Despite summer temperatures hitting 30C in the valleys during the day and a zero isotherm around 5000 meters there is still some ski touring possible without too much of an approache walk on glaciers. In particular Mont-Blanc via the Three Mont-Blancs, at Val Thorens (Aiguille de Polset) and Mont Pourri via the col des Roches. There is also some skiing from the Cormet de Roselend in the Beaufortin. Snow conditions are generally neve with the possibility of some fresh snow at high altitude following thunderstorms. Be careful of weak snow bridges over crevasses and rimayes, serac fall and sliding on hard snow or poorly covered glacier ice. Best conditions for descents are mid-morning or later with the risk of soft snow at low altitude.

5th June 2006

Except for some very sheltered north to north-west couloirs most of the recent powder has gone and we are back to spring skiing conditions with much warmer day time temperatures. These are expected to be around 27C by the end of the week which will accelerate the spring melt. Ski touring is possible from 1700 meters on some north facing slopes in the Haute-Savoie, moving higher further south. There was an accident due to slipping on the Rocher-Blanc over the weekend which required helicopter rescue and a fall in the Vercors (it is not clear whether this involved snow or was on rock). However skiers should take care early in the day when slopes can be hard and icy.

1st June 2006

Today was the coldest 1st June on record in some parts of Northern France and it wasn't much better further south with snow on the mountains a few km from Cannes right up to Chamonix and across into Switzerland and Austria. The temperature at 8am at 1450 meters was barely into positive territory and higher up there was a bitter north to north west wind. Around 20cm of fresh snow has fallen at 2500 meters accompanied by winds from the north. Be careful on south sector slopes especially at high altitude where snow transport will have formed some fresh slabs. Remember that on average 20% of avalanche accidents occur during the summer season. The base is currently frozen and very slippery, the fresh snow has not yet had a chance to bond. There have been four deaths this week in the Northern Alps due to sliding amongst climbers.

30th May 2006

There has been a return to almost winter conditions in the Alps for the start of the week with a dusting of snow, around 5-10cm above 1300 meters.

27th May 2006

There was still a bit of powder snow around in high mountain areas today. Otherwise a relatively poor overnight refreeze below 2500 meters with nevé type snow lower down. Snow was hard and icy on north-west to west facing slopes this morning and care was needed both climbing and descending to avoid falls. Snow can be found from 1900 meters on east facing slopes, around 1800 meters on west facing slopes however a number of aspects are now lacking snow at higher altitudes. The endgame is in sight for this season.

Note two belgium climbers, part of a rope of 3, were killed yesterday after a 300 meter fall ending in cliffs at 2700 meters close to the Pointe Percé in the Grand-Bornand. The third man was seriously injured. The men were on the normal route when the slid.

23rd May 2006

Unstable spring weather continues in the Alps. There was around 15cm of snow above 2200 meters last night giving at least the summits a wintry look. Temperatures continue to be very hot speeding up the melt at lower altitudes.

21st May 2006

Yesterday saw quite a bit of snow above 2000 meters in the Northern Alps. Anyone heading out early this morning would have caught some fresh powder before the strong May sun transforms the snow. Conditions were finally acceptable with a good refreeze since Friday morning giving pleasant skiing. Snow can still be found on north facing slopes from 1700 meters and around 2200 on south facing slopes.

17th May 2006

The mixture of unsettled but warm weather with some very hot clear days has done little for conditions below 2800 meters. Last week's fresh snowfall, although now a distant memory, has still not had a good freeze/thaw cycle and is difficult to ski. Lower down the old neve snow is quite pleasant. Higher up conditions are very good with some excellent skiing in the Mont Blanc range.

13th May 2006

There were good powder skiing conditions to be had in both the Alps and Pyrenees on the 11th (Thursday) but things had turned decidedly heavy by Friday and the overnight refreeze, although present, unable to do much to the snow below 3000m. Today there was still some powder to be found on enclosed couloirs at altitude but a limited refreeze. Weather conditions look set to be unstable in the Alps until Sunday afternoon but we are hoping for better touring weather on Monday.

11th May 2006

Meteo France issued the following alert yesterday evening:

There has been a return to winter conditions in the Savoie with avalanche activity on the frontier with Italy above 2500m. There is a large amount of snowfall coupled with wind. Since the start of the week up to 1 meter of fresh snow has fallen above 2500 m in the HAUTE-MAURIENNE and south of the HAUTE-TARENTAISE. Conditions should improve during Thursday with warmer conditions but expect continued activity at altitude with fresh snow slabs.

10th May 2006

After a promising start the cloud base has remained around 1300 meters today with about 8mm of rain since lunchtime. There has been around another 10-15cm of snow in the mountains. Ski tourers should watch out for purges on steep slopes when the sun returns with the risk of some slabs at altitude.

9th May 2006

Over the last 24 hours we have been blasted by what will probably be the last snows of the season. 10cm of new snow at 1500 meters in the Northern Alps and between 30 to 40cm at altitude. In the Southern Alps there has been around 20cm of fresh at altitude. This has been accompanied by some gusty but strong winds from the north and west. Although the underlying snow is relatively stable there are some fresh soft slabs which may be large enough to slide especially close to ridges and cols. The rest of the week looks much more springlike with clear skies and a good refreeze on Wednesday.

8 May 2006

The weather has been pretty miserable over the weekend in the Alps with virtually no refreeze at lower altitudes. There was some light snow above 2100 meters this morning in the Belledonne range and it is currently snowing above 1400 meters accompanied by light winds. A high pressure should be moving across France midweek bringing clear weather and better ski conditions.

Some news on the Valley Blanche route at Mont Blanc. The rope on the ridge will be removed tomorrow. There is no closing period scheduled this spring.


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