The literal pinnacle of the Alps is Mt Blanc at 4,810 m (15, 782 ft), Europe’s highest mountain. We can see it when we ski and stop for our morning coffee, we see it emerging round corners when we drive. It is there, towering above the mountain ranges of the French Alps. Ever present.
I’ve visited the French Alps on many occasions, Winter, Spring and Summer but have never managed to get to a particular high point, that is until last weekend. Chamonix is an hour away by car, the Commune actually renamed itself Chamonix – Mont Blanc. you see wherever you are in Chamonix this mountain dominates the views. It dominates the activities too, with walkers, climbers and skiers. You see them al around town with their ropes and boots and goodness-knows what kit attached to them.
As a visitor to Chamonix it’s possible to get up close the grand mountain without the need of climbing ropes and huge exertion, you can take a cable car to The Aguille Du Midi (Needles). They are a few km (as the crow flies) from the summit, and somewhere someone thought it a great idea to build TWO cable car runs to this summit – the Aguille sits at a mere 3,842 m. Fancy joining us on the ride? All aboard!
You need to pick the right day, i.e not cloudy or snowy or rainy. But whatever the weather in Chamonix, there’s always a nip in the air at the top. Brrrrr.
So off we go in the first Telepherique to the mid station where we change cars to make the final journey to the top. The Col Du Midi at 3, 660m is the mid station.
You travel at remarkable speed, slightly swaying over the pilons. All the time you see the mountains and crags up close and personal.
The second stage of the journey is made in a cable car that has the longest span without pylons. Not a thought I wanted to dwell on. The car itself is packed with skiers and climbers and tourists like us. Every language seems to be spoken, there are woops and oohs and aahhhs to accompany us on our journey.
There is a palpable buzz of excitement and anticipation.
You finally reach the top, or what you think is the top and there is a series of bridges and tunnels and walkways in and around the rock, there is even a terrace for sipping a coffee, or maybe something a bit stronger is needed?
The next stage is to take a lift to the pinnacle, a quick ride and you are out in the open on a viewing platform with Mt Blanc shining in the sun.
The views from the top are truly spectacular. Nothing really prepares you for how beautiful the world looks from up high.
The clouds are below us. Chamonix a mere speck in the distance. On the horizon you can see the Matterhorn.
You simply stand and stare. You marvel at what your eyes are taking in.
You gasp at the enormity of it all. You smile, even grin at the impossibility of it all, or should that be implausability?
You watch climbers and skiers preparing to set off onto the Vallee Blanche. As your eyes adjust to the scale of what is in front of you, you see specks on the snow and glacier, there are ant sized people preparing for their day of skiing.
So tiny, so implausible against the scale of the peaks and crags.
We look north and a huge bank of clouds covers our view, we can’t see the mountain peaks of our ski resort today. Every now and then as the clouds circle around us, we catch a glimpse of a peak.
The rocks are stunning, the fissures and details can be seen clearly. These are the kind of peaks where climbers will camp out over night on a ridge to then complete their ascent.
Yes, look closely, climbers on their ascent. Words elude me!
Everywhere you look is snow and rock and rock and snow.
A few last lingering looks at what is literally in front of you – Mt Blanc
I’ll leave you with my favourite shot of the day. Bon Voyage!
A footnote ~
Remember that we took Flat Ruthie Skiing? Well you know me by now, how could I not resist? She just had to come along for the ride :)
And just in case it was a bit breezy up at L’Aguille, she was tucked in safe and sound to some idiot wearing a bright red jacket and a ridiculous grin!
For extra info on Chamonix Mont Blanc
- Flat Ruthie Goes Skiing (promenadeplantings.com)