The Pinnacle Of The Alps

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.

L'Aguille Du Midi

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

Just stunning!

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

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68 comments

  • Absolutely gorgeous, Claire! I’m not going to lie and say that it was all wonderful. No, there were times where I literally held my breath. The heights were dizzying for me. Still, I may fear it but that does not mean that I cannot appreciate the beauty. This was a spectacular post and I think it great that you took us along — and Flat Ruthie, too! 🙂 Thanks, Claire.

    • I did wonder how a few of my blogging friends would handle the journey and the height! I’ve never been so high, it was truly an amazing experience and sight

  • These are so beautiful photographs… I can’t imagine to sit there and to watch these rock and snow from the terrace cafe around the rocks… Should be amazing… amazing… Snow is so beautiful and exciting for me but in the photographs, and in the films… Maybe because of this, that I am not used to live in snowy place… Your Alp photographs fascinated me once again and how nice this time Flat Ruthie was with you too… 🙂 Thank you dear Claire it was so enjoyable to be here. Have a nice day, with my love, nia

    • Thank you Nia, your encouragement shines through (even if it is too cold for you!) and it is lovely to share these amazing experiences with you 🙂

  • That is truly amazing – I am not great with heights but I would have done this for the experience. Perhaps fortified with a few nips of cognac!

    • I think that”s where we went wrong we didn’t have a wee nip beforehand, in fact we were in such a rush we didn’t even have a coffee (slaps forehead!) until we were up there

  • Thanks a lot for that trip!! Is incredibly beautiful; I’ll have to convince my husband to take the family there…but I don’t think I’ll succeed – he’s afraid of the heights 😉
    Thanks again!

  • Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing these! It may be the ONE place in France I will never convince Hubby to go….he has a crippling fear of heights, and cable cars are pretty bad for him.
    Your photos are amazing – they took me right up the mountain with you, heart in mouth! I’d love to tag along, if you ever go back!

    • You are so welcome Marie! We’ve had this trip mentally planned all winter but needed to wait till the weather was warmer (Jan and Feb are a no no) and then wait for a weekend that was free, then that had good weather….
      It is stunning, and YES to tagging along if we are ever here again! I”d love to go back to Chamonix and take the train to the Glacier, unfortunately we ran out of time for that trip, so I do NEED to go back 😉

  • Lucky Flat Ruthie to accompany you on this spectacular adventure! You built to a crescendo and what a climb. You really captured the height and perspective and what a view you were rewarded with as you achieved the pinnacle. Thanks for taking FR with you and sharing on your post.

    • It did feel like a bit of a crescendo going up in the cable and then the lift, I had a vague idea of what it would be like (OH has skied down from there!) but when you see it for yourself, breathe in that thin air, it is just amazing, you feel tiny against the landscape yet so lucky to be there.

  • Life isn’t as much fun at sea level!
    I was looking at the Charmonix photos last night. What a view we had! We were so lucky with the weather. Definately a fantastic start to the weekemd. Rest wasn’t too shabby either:-)
    I realised yesterday that I didn’t take Flat Ruthie flying with me. Oh well another reason to do it again:-)

  • Wow! Even for someone who is terrified of heights like myself this was breath taking. Thank you for sharing the photos of your journey. I can only imagine how it must have felt to actually be there.
    Couldn’t help noticing (as the crow flies), How long is it as the Macaw walks? 🙂

    • It’s interesting to see how many people suffer from a fear of heights, so well done for looking! And thanks!
      Hmmmm a Macaw on foot – with this landscape they’d definitely need snow boots, crampons, ropes…….. 😉

  • Simply spectacular views of what must indeed be a joyous journey in that glorious place. And to end with the ‘twin’ photos of the lady travelers! 😉 Perfect.

    • he he the laydeee treveleurs 🙂 I had great company for the ride and now I have the pleasure of sharing the photos and the expereince with blogging friends. Life is rich !

  • Wow – Chamonix – that bname bought back memories – a school trip back in the 80s! Vaguely remember a cable car and that the town was lovely bu a lake (?) Also remember popping over to Switzerland but no one could afford anything.

    Thanks for the memory revivial!

    • Oh my a school trip in the 80s – I’m imagining the clothes, the music, the hair styles ….. !! There is a sort of lake nearby – part of a river I think. And yes Switzerland is outrageously expensive, it makes France look cheap, or rather cheaper 🙂

  • Claire, what a great trip! I would never have gotten there without you and your camera!
    So, thank you, thank you, thank you!
    ~ Lynda

  • The perspective from those heights is completely breathtaking–and I’m sure I mean that literally!The photo with the clouds is truly ethereal. I love your sense of fun and adventure…and taking Flat Ruthie was very smart! You needed a witness that you actually completed this daring trek. So great, Claire! Debra

    • You’ve picked out one of my favourites Debra, the clouds,- it’s almost like looking out the window of a plane as you pass overhead. and thanks for the compliments and joining in on the journey 🙂

  • Wow, those sights are amazing–above the clouds….how far away from the flat farm fields and prairies I am surrounded by! Thank you for those photos! 🙂

    • There is beauty everywhere we look, your flat fields and prairies would be astounding and special to me. But I do have to say I’ve never before experienced anything quite so high, so photogenic, and simply stunning! Thank you, Claire

    • Ha ha I know what you mean, it seems out when Spring is everywhere I look and yet Winter is still alive and kicking in some parts of the Alps! And thanks for the compliments 🙂

  • I know you had to climb and take some lifts to some very high places to get these shots. Thanks for risking it all to share with us. Stunning. BAM

    • Hi BAM, to be honest there was very little exertion on my part, just faith in the mechanics of getting to the top! The air was so thin up there, noticeably different. And thanks for coming along on the ride 🙂

  • I know, i always say it, but i LOVE it when you take us for a ride .. and this was spectacular, those tiny tiny people way way below you.. fantastic work.. c

    • Thanks Celi, you know I appreciate the feedback. I think I like the walks and rides best too – a real discovery to rme.
      I’m just trying to capture and bring together my thoughts on this winter, (as we start preparing to leave) and words are floating through my head, and occaisionally landing on paper, with pictures reminding me of the sights and sounds, I never quite know where its starting or leading me.
      Hope you have a great day, Claire

    • Hi Bridget, the cable car was ok, not too rocky and bouncy, but I have friends with a fear of heights and I do understand. And yes it was a totally fab trip 🙂

  • Great photos as usual. Thank you so much Claire for sharing them. I’ve been to the top of the Matterhorn but not Mt. Blanc. It seems that each year my fear of heights gets worse when I look down. I think I would have my eyes closed half of the trip.

  • Thank you for sharing this journey with us. Wow. breathtaking. My husband has been there with skis many times as a young man. I will have to gather my courage when we are in France next and take that ride up to the top. Worth it. I’ll just keep breathing and think of these pictures.

    • You are so welcome, it’s a pleasure to share ! It’s been an amazing winter with some really special treats involved, and this trip was definitely one of them. I’d really recommend the trip, besides if you are in France, have a bit of time and are in the area why not! Besides a bit of yogic breathing comes in very handy 🙂

    • I’ve seen photos and heard about the Canadian Rockies and they look stunning, somewhere I’d love to go! and thanks for popping in and the compliments 🙂

  • I have visited the same places. And unlike other beautiful places, The alps usually affect the way I think. There is great drama in the geography… more so than can be recorded in any picture…

    • I think the photos I took give me an aide memoir as to what it was like, an idea, a feeling ,a sensation of what it was like to stand there above the clouds. I find landscape photography the most elusive. But my favourite shot is still of the telepherique on the wire seemingly in the middle of nowhere, it sums it up for me, as you don’t know what is around the next ridge or proverbial bend.

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