Nose to Nose with Mont Blanc

The first time we went there, we had been in Switzerland for just a few months. I had read about this cable-car ride and went mainly for the sake of the children. Aiguille Du Midi (3852m) is one of the peaks in the Mont Blanc Massif, neighbouring the big White Mountain. The cable car ride holds the record as the highest vertical ascent cable car in the world, from 1,035 m to 3,842 m. I remember my awe on seeing Mont Blanc and the other peaks from such close quarters. Not being a mountaineer, the experience was totally outside my realm. Since then we have always taken our numerous visitors over the years to Chamonix and the ride in the cable car. But I had never been in winter.

A few days back, seeing that a clear day was predicted in Chamonix, we decided to take our current visitors there. We drove around the east end of Lake Léman, passing Montreux, driving to Martigny and then taking a mountain road up towards Chamonix. Being the weirdest of winters this year, we have had rather mild weather here by the lake but there was decent build-up of snow once we gained some altitude. The road isn’t the best in winter and though it is shorter for us than the circling the lake on the west-end, it took us much the same time.

 

On reaching Argentière, we stopped for lunch and then drove on to Chamonix.

After buying the rather steeply-priced tickets for the cable car (45 Euros return), we took the first section with no views thanks to a thick cloud. You can see part of the first section of the cable car in the background.

The second section, a cable-car ride with no support pillars, took us to the upper station at 3777m . At –20C (-4F) it was probably the coldest I’ve ever been!!

We then took the elevator to the top. The sight of Mont Blanc took my breath away.  The picture above is taken with no zoom, this is how close it looks! Much as my family hurried me, I was very reluctant to leave this cold and alien world and return back to earth. If you ever get an opportunity, don’t miss it. It is quite an extraordinary experience !!

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