“Mont Blanc is the monarch of mountains. They crowned him long ago, on a throne of rocks, in a robe of clouds, with a diadem of snow.” ~ Lord Byron
A Visit to Aiguille du Midi
During our European trip, we drove from Geneva, Switzerland to Chamonix-Mont Blanc, at an altitude of 3,395 feet. Our goal was to visit the Ice Cave and reach the Aiguille Du Midi summit in Chamonix. Chamonix, a commune of France, is near Switzerland and the Italian border. Aiguille Du Midi is the highest summit in the Alps at an elevation of 12,605 feet, and a skier’s paradise. But not only skiers visit Chamonix. Visitors frequent it from around the world who enjoy the stunning panoramic views from nearby peaks.
2016 Cable Car Fiasco
Not everyone takes a hike up there to the summit. Many use the cable cars that run all year. We looked forward to the cable car ride to the last stop, Aiguille Du Midi, before reaching the summit. According to the Aiguille Du Midi Resort, it is the highest vertical ascent in the world and the closest you can get to the Mont Blanc summit. Unfortunately, there was a snowstorm the day before our drive to Chamonix-Mont Blanc, forcing the cable cars to stop running for security checks. Back in 2016, because of the weather, the cables tangled, causing the cars to stop while dangling above the glacier. According to Reuters, 110 people were rescued, but there were about 30 that spent the night in the cable cars stuck at 9,840 feet altitude between two mountain peaks. It must have been quite a scary experience for them.
Had the cable cars been working, and I would have known about the 2016 cable car fiasco, I might not have considered riding them. Luckily, I learned about the incident upon our arrival in the U.S.
The price to reach the highest peak starts at $108 (U.S. dollars). It’s a good thing we did not pre-purchase the tickets. We did our research and knew they stop the cable cars under certain circumstances. Therefore, we opted to buy the tickets once we arrived, just in case. From what little we saw; I know it is well worth the price.
Red Train Ride to Montenvers
While we could not ride the cable cars, we took the red train from Mer de Glace Chemin de fer Du Montenvers railway to the first peak at an altitude of 6,276 feet. It was a 20-minute ride through a luscious scenery of small towns far below, evergreens, pine trees, and other species covered in snow. Even the broken limbs looked lovely. Once we arrived at the station, we found out we could not visit the Ice Cave since it, too, was closed. The Ice Cave allows you to visit the inside of the glacier. A sublime sight to be seen. Though unfortunate that we could not visit the Ice Cave either, just being there, surrounded by such magnificent mountain views, was enough to WOW us.
Nature is Breath-taking
It was extremely cold, however, we ventured out on the icy trail until we reached the Grand Hotel Du Montenvers. Because of the amount of snow piled up, the trail was no longer visible. Therefore, we opted to return to the train station and wait for the next train to arrive while taking in the views. They were spectacular—just breathtaking.
Once the train arrived, we descended back to Chamonix-Mont Blanc. The town is quite charming. Small family-owned shops and local restaurants line the streets on the ground level of old, quaint residential buildings whilst surrounded by magnificent views of the snowy mountains. Attentive faces welcome you into their shops and restaurants. Again, another town fit for a Christmas Hallmark movie or postcard.
It’s Back on our Bucket List
It was a wonderful experience. One we hope to repeat and do what we could not on this occasion. Have you visited the Aiguille Du Midi summit? If so, share with us your experience. I’d love to know.