Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Aiguille du Midi, France

2014 September: Aerial cable car to Aiguille du Midi, France

Chamonix and Aiguille du Midi

One of the main attraction of Chamonix, a small quaint French town, is Aiguille du Midi - a mountain top that you can see clearly from Chamonix. At the summit, there is a breathtaking 360 degree panoramic vista of the Mont Blanc Massif.

And why am I in Chamonix? ... Because later on I will be climbing Mont Blanc !  Photos and write up of that climb is in http://mntviews.blogspot.com.au/2014/09/mont-blanc-france.html .

Aiguille du Midi is 3842 meters above sea level. How high is that? Well, it is comparable to the island mountains on the Pacific west coast. For example:
  - 3724m for New Zealand's Mt cook
  - 3776m for Japan's Mt Fuji
  - 3952m for Taiwan's Yushan (Jade Mountain)

How difficult is it to climb Aiguille du Midi?

Haha ... unlike climbing Mt Cook, Fuji and YuShan, no effort at all !

There is an aerial cable car called Téléphérique de l'Aiguille du Midi which starts at Chamonix and will take you to the top. It was built in 1955 and held the title as the world's highest cable car for about two decades. The cable car consists of two sections:
  - The lower section is from Chamonix to Plan de l'Aiguille.
  - Then change to another cable car to go to the upper station at 3776m.
Afterwards, take a lift to the top viewing platform at 3842m.

Connections at Aiguille du Midi

- The Vallée Blanche ski run begins at the upper station.

- The nearby Cosmiques Refuge is the starting point for one of the routes to the Mont Blanc summit (I won't be climbing Mt Blanc from here. I'll be using a different route).

- From the upper station, another cable car (summer only) called the Vallee Blanche Aerial Tramway, crosses the Glacier du Géant to Pointe Helbronner 3462m at the Italian side of the Mont Blanc Massif. Pointe Helbronner is served with a cable car from La Palud, a village near Courmayeur in Italy's Aosta Valley.


1)  Looking at Aiguille du Midi (centre of the photo) from Chamonix ~~~
Aiguille is French for a mountain peak. It also means a needle, an appropriate name for this peak.
Mont Blanc is the round snow dome on the right.

2)  Zooming in on Aiguille du Midi

3)  On the aerial cable car to Aiguille du Midi, you get this nice view of Chamonix.

4)  Upper station

5)  Closer to the upper station

6)  At the bottom of this pic is a tunnel ... that is where we get off the aerial cable car. When we walk out of the tunnel, we realize we are not at the top yet ... need to take a lift to get there. You can see the viewing platform at the bottom of the white bottle - that will be as high as we can go.

When you reach the top viewing platform, you are presented with a breathtaking 360 degree panoramic vista of the Mont Blanc Massif. The following is a testament of the views.

7)  Mont Blanc is the round dome and the highest point at the centre of the photo. At 4810 meters, Mont Blanc is the highest mountain in the Alps. I'll be at its summit 2 days later !!!  Photos and trip report of that climb are in my blog: http://mntviews.blogspot.com.au/2014/09/mont-blanc-france.html .

8)  Zooming in onto Mont Blanc ... the jagged peak to the left of Mont Blanc is Mont Maudit.

9)  Plenty of hikers around - and they are like little ants   :-)

10)  The large sloping area running through the centre of the photo is Glacier du Géant (Geant Glacier).
The peak just to the left of the Geant Glacier is called Dent du Géant 4013 meters.
Further to the left, the highest peak there is called Grandes Jorasses, 4208 meters.

11)  There is a glass viewing platform called "Pas dans le vide" (Step into the void). You are given soft slippers to wear on the glass - to protect it from being scratched by your shoes.

12)  Even the birds find this place interesting !

Afterwards, you can spend your time in a cafe and a gift shop. In summary, if you are in Chamonix, make sure you get to Aiguille du Midi !  Wear a warm jacket, it can be quite cold up there.

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