Mont Blanc as a touriste
(France)

20 Nov 1999 - by Alan Ritter (view roster page)

Winter wonderland between Geneva and Chamonix

Snow-frosted trees along the road from Geneva to Chamonix.

I had a business trip to Geneva, Switzerland, in mid-November, 1999, and had a free day on Saturday, 20 November. When I checked with the tour desk at the hotel (Movenpick, by the airport which is nice, but $$$), they had an all-day bus trip down to Chamonix, with a cable-car ride up to the top of L'Aguille du Midi, on the slopes of the Mont Blanc massif.

Looking up from the second tram station

L'Aguille du Midi, from the station two-thirds of the way up.

Chamonix as seen from the cable car

The village of Chamonix, from the cable car.

The weather was great...the first clear day all week. (There had been low ceilings and light snow every day in Geneva.) The bus ride down was picturesque, with snow encrusting the trees and making for Christmas-card scenes.

The cable car ride up the steep valley wall was spectacular, and not the sort of place for an acrophobe! There are two sections, requiring you to change cars about 2/3 of the way up. You then walk across a bridge, and take an elevator to the top of L'Aguille du Midi.

Summit of L'Aguille du Midi

The summit of L'Aguille du Midi as seen from the lower observation platform.

The summit platform is at 3842 meters, call it 12,700', and overlooks the snowfields and glaciers leading up to Mont Blanc. Temperature at the summit platform was a brisk -20C, or about -4F. (I was glad I had the good sense to have packed my Polartec jacket and Gore-Tex parka...I could have used another pair of socks!!)

The lower observation platform and restaurant

Looking down from the top of L'Aguille du Midi, to the lower observation platform and restaurant.

The view is magnificent...the very top of Mont Blanc was still cloud-shrouded, but the whole expanse of the massif and most of the surrounding mountains were free of clouds. This was the first time I had a chance to visit the Alps, and it was worth the trip down from Geneva even without the time to climb or ski! Now I'll have to find a reason to go back and actually climb there...

Mont Blanc, still cloud-shrouded

Silhouetted against the sun, Mont Blanc plays hide-and-seek.

Looking over the Alps

Opposite Mont Blanc, the peaks are not as high, but even more rugged.

Zoomed Looking over the Alps

A close up of the area in the right-hand side of the wide-angle shot.


Along the Highway to Chamonix

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Normally, I avoid shooting photos through the windows of a moving vehicle. However, the scenes as we drove from Geneva down to Chamonix were irresistable, as the snow and hoarfrost turned the trees into a fairyland scene.


The Ride up from Chamonix to L'Aguille du Midi

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From the tram station where you change from the first cable car to the second, you can see the lower platform of L'Aguille du Midi, which houses the restaurant and inevitable gift shop.


The Ride up from Chamonix to L'Aguille du Midi

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Shadowed by the surrounding peaks, the ski mecca of Chamonix lies in darkness much of the day.


The Summit of L'Aguille du Midi

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From the lower platform, you can look up to the tip of the pinnacle. The elevator is reached by walking over a short bridge and through a tunnel which is directly under the tower on top of the pinnacle.


The Summit of L'Aguille du Midi

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Once on top, you are presented with this view back down to the lower platform and restaurant area. The bridge from the lower platform to the elevator shaft is visible in the lower center of this photo.


Mont Blanc and the Surrounding Alps

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The high clouds still obscured the sun in the direction of Mont Blanc, presenting this ghostly silhouette. The summit, in the center of this shot, remained shrouded in clouds that showed no signs of clearing.


Mont Blanc and the Surrounding Alps

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Turning 90 degrees or so, and looking past the edge of the cloud bank, this panorama of peaks, pinnacles, and glaciers spreads out below L'Aguille du Midi.


Mont Blanc and the Surrounding Alps

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A close up of the area in the right-hand side of the wide-angle shot shows just how rugged these peaks can be.


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