On a clear day, I can see Mont Blanc on the skyline from my office window, and many is the day in winter where I watch the sun rise almost directly over the summit. Mont Blanc looms over the skyline in many places around Geneva and the “frontalier” France to the west. So I had long had an ambition to climb Mont Blanc, the highest peak in (Western) Europe at 4808m, and succeeded on my first attempt in September 2010.
Just spent a week skiing at Les Gets – Morzine with the boys. Les Gets and Morzine are two ski resorts in neighbouring valleys and the pistes connect. The whole area is part of the Portes du Soleil which also includes a couple of Swiss resorts on the other side of the main mountain ridge. Possible to ski over to Switzerland, but we did not go that far. It snowed quite heavily the week before we went, and the snow stopped just as we got there. Spectacular scenery of snow covered forest as a result.
After a unseasonally warm November and December, it got colder in January and the Juras finally got a good snowfall. We even got a light dusting of snow at our house in Geneva. So the next day, the boys and I threw our skis in the car and headed up to Crozet, less than 30 minute drive.
My second Alpine trip this summer was a short but intense day near the Aiguille du Midi in the Mont Blanc region. The cable car from Chamonix remains the highest vertical ascent cable car in the world, from 1,035 m to 3842 m, an altitude gain of over 2,800 m in 20 minutes. The Aiguille du Midi is the starting point for the ski trip down the Vallée Blanche which I did some years ago, 17 km and over 2,000 m descent. It is also the starting point for various climbs nearby and for access to the Cosmiques Hut, at the beginning of the Three Mont Blancs route to the summit of Mont Blanc.
Heading home about 8.30 pm this evening, I was stunned by the beauty of the sunset.
Gasan Jōseki (峨山 韶碩), 1275–1366
Les Grands Montets rises above the village of Argentiere near Chamonix in the French Alps. With exceptional vertical drops and tough terrain, about half the runs are black. I dropped the boys at school and in about an hour was in Argentiere. After another hour (mainly waiting in queues) and two telecabine rides I was on top of Grand Montets at 3300 m, with a spectacular view of Mont Blanc and clear blue skies. Chamonix is visible in the valley below.