We set off early (well 9am) from the site at Lake Annecy and drove the 57 miles to Chamonix. It would have been shorter but we were taken on a very interesting diversion, or deviation as they say here. There was much hairpin bend practice and a few sharp intakes of breath from the Co-Pilot, sat in the line of fire in the left hand seat.
Following a suggestion from my brother-in-law Chris, we stopped at Camping Mer de Glace (GPS: N 45.938333 E 6.892011). This is a wooded site 1 1/2 miles east of Chamonix. There is a small wicket gate at the back of the site, which leads on to a path through the woods to Chamonix…very convenient. The Frenchman and his English partner who run the site are charming and helpful.
In the afternoon we cycled into Chamonix and took the Telepherique (cable car) up the Aiguille du Midi. The Aiguille is one of the peaks of the Mont Blanc Massif.
There was a full load when we went up but we didn’t have to queue. I guess it is much busier in high season.
We set off from this base station on the valley floor. It is about 1000 metres above sea level.
The small point just visible at the top of the picture is the station at the top of the mountain. There are two cable car stages and a final ascent by a lift in a shaft cut through the solid granite of the peak.
On the left as you go up is a mini glacier; a huge snow drift which has compacted into ice at its base.
The second cable car takes you up to this collection of terraces just below the main summit.
The View over the Alps from the Terrace.
Looking down to Chamonix 2800 meters below in the valley.
A glass (maybe perspex?) room juts out from the restaurant at the top of the summit so you can walk on air for a few moments.
We both felt a bit light headed and woozy with the reduced oxygen pressure….10 minutes isn’t much time to acclimatise to the height. We were forced to restore our equilibrium with tea and (in my case) tartlette aux pommes when we returned from the stratosphere.
The clouds were building up as we descended and by the time we cycled back to base camp it was a full blown monsoon.
We tried to visit last summer with friends but they have a child under 3 years old – not allowed to go up. It looks like a great summit!
Yes…magical views and no ice axes needed to get there.