Superb Snow in the Western Alps
After an unstable late spring, the snow climbing conditions in late June are the best they've been for many years.
Weather systems have swept the alpine chain from both north and south in the last 3 weeks. As recently as the 20th June, there were still remnants of instability around and the high mountains have been plastered. I was over in Zermatt at the beginning of the week and the half traverse of the Breithorn looked like something from Cerro Torre with mushrooms of snow stuck on ludicrously steep areas of rock.
But since Tuesday, things have gradually been settling down, starting with the south and west faces, and now the powder on the north faces is settling down to give some great climbing conditions. I've been on Castor and Lyskamm in the Zermatt area plus the Chéré couloir on the Tacul in Chamonix and conditions are just brilliant for steep snow climbing. Colleagues have been on the north face of the Tour Ronde and I saw climbing tracks on the north face of Lyskamm and the Breithorn as well.
Not only that, but the skiing is good too! There were several sets of tracks on the Tacul today, and even one on the Maudit. But the top prize must go to whoever put the tracks in on the Frendo Spur! A fine ffort, though what happened at the base of the spur is anyone's guess.
So - late June in the Alps. Put in your diary for 2011