Chamonix Mont Blanc
Chamonix July 6-7, 2013
We had an eleven hour marathon trip to travel what is not a long way, as the crow flies, but we had to get around some very big mountains to get from Pralognan la Vanoise to Chamonix. We took the bus from Pralognan to Moutiers, then a train to Chambery where we changed trains to Annecy then a 3 hour wait for a connecting trian to St Gervais La Fayette where we changed for our final train to Chamonix. It was very warm by the time we got to Annecy and it was clear that summer holidays had started with lots of people ‘en vacances’. It was interesting to watch the scenery change from high snow covered alpine peaks to open flat farmland, lakes and rivers. By the time we got to St Gervais we started to gradually ascend with the valleys becoming more narrow and the mountain peaks steeper and snow covered. The train trip from St Gervais La Fayette to Chamonix made all the travel hassle worthwhile. The route traverses a series of villages, some with names I recognised from UTMB, a famous trail running race held here in August every year. As the train gradually climbed to reach Chamonix at elevation at just over a 1,000m, the stunning alpine scenery made all my anxiety about our multiple transport connections dissolve into a distant memory. Hammer and I have been to Chamonix before on a cycling holiday following the Tour de France in July 2005. On that trip we did not even glimpse Mont Blanc as it was shrouded in mist for most of the time.
Our hotel in Chamonix is near the railway station, very convenient as we did not arrive till 8pm, exhausted and yet we have been sitting down pretty much all day.
The following day we woke to clear blue skis and headed off early to visit the real top of Europe at Auguille Du Midi (at 3,842m) where on a clear day the main French, Swiss and Italian summits over 4,000m are visible.
We took a cable car and and then an elevator carved through the granite to reach the top. And what a day it turned out to be, not a cloud in the sky, mountain peaks as far as the eye can see and the presence of cities evident by a visible layer of smog pollution.
Hundreds of climbers were going up to attempt to reach to the summit of Mt Blanc.
We also took a gondola ride which connects the peak at Augille du Midi to Mont Hellbronner in Italy. Amazing experience traversing two mountain peaks in a capsule suspended on a wire over a snow covered valley bellow. The mountain climbers looked like ants as they slowly made their way up the various climbs.