Grandes Jorasses, Chamonix-Mont Blanc Massif
Chamonix Mont-Blanc Visit – Aiguille du Midi
When you step off the cable car at the top, you walk over a bridge to a separate higher section of the Aiguille du Midi. There you enter tunnels into the mountain. You can see the climbers exiting the side tunnels to begin their descent. Then an elevator whisked us up to the highest platform. When the doors opened, the wind was blowing at 25 mph and the temperature was only 5 degrees F. I said, “Oh, no.” and the elevator attendant said “Oh, ya”. We laughed and entered the frigid world at 12,600 feet. Mont Blanc was to our right. The impressive Grandes Jorasses peaks were to the left. The Aiguilles Rouges range was behind us across the Chamonix Mont-Blanc valley.
Climbers Begin Descent from Aiguille du Midi
Extra clothing and light gloves did little to resist the cold. I began to have problems using the camera. I noticed that I had no feeling in my index finger. Also, my thinking slowed, as if my brain was being paralyzed by the wind chill. After a very few minutes, we retreated to the lower section by the cable car entrance. Here we discovered a heated café and several levels of observation decks. The views to the valley far below were fabulous. Then we made our hasty retreat. Back in Chamonix it was 50 degrees F warmer. Even though it was toasty, we took quite a while before we were ready to shed our winter clothes.
Mer de Glace Gondola
Chamonix Mont-Blanc Visit – Mer de Glace
After lunch we took the short walk to the Montenvers cog wheel train station. The cogs / racks are used to safely take trains up and down steep inclines. The train went up about 4,000 feet to the back side of the Chamonix Mont-Blanc range. Here we reached the front end of the Mer de Glace. This is a 6 mile glacier that is rapidly receding. From there, we took a short gondola ride down into the glacier valley. Then we walked on stairs bolted to the mountain side for the final descent to the man-made ice tunnels in the glacier. There was no charge to enter the ice caves, but the temperature inside is cold. So, you feel like heading back outside fairly quickly.
This was amazing day in the French Alps.