Nipped up the Midi today with the vague plan of doing the Valeria or Chippendale Gully on the Petit Capucin. As it turned out conditions were not overly friendly and Peter not overly keen on fighting them when there was powder to be had.
Anyway, we headed down an incredibly cold arete (the only part of me exposed was my nose and by the bottom of the Arete it had a millimetre of ice on it and it took 5 minutes of rubbing to get anything like feeling back in it) and then broke trail through heavy, crusty snow all the way to the Requin Hut in freezing temperatures. Apparently it was minus 55 including windchill up Grand Montets!!! After that there was plenty of good snow, and even better snow on our lap off the Plan de L'Aiguille.
As for conditions up top, things are finally looking up. The Chippendale and Valeria looked ok from a distance, and the Gabarrou, Modica, Lafaille etc. are all beginning to thicken up a bit. Forecast is once again rubbish (will the sun ever shine this winter?!?!) but things are beginning to look up on the alpinism front. Here's hoping.