Mont Blanc: A Walk in the Clouds

A day in Geneva to visit the Barbier-Mueller Museum, the Space Rousseau and the CERN; to enjoy the greenery, the lakes, and to indulge in a gastronomical orgy of cheese and chocolate, before crossing the border t to the French Alps for the real thing.

A ride through green hills and mist covered valleys, we came across rivers of ‘glacial milk’ (thanks to glacial erosion) before the snow-capped peaks finally made themselves unashamingly visible as we approached Chamonix, at the foothill of Mont Blanc. It was something else that we were trying to spot, namely hot air balloons! These air balloons are always good news: no strong wind…climbing is possible.

From Chamonix we took the legendary Aiguille du Midi cable car for a memorable, thrilling climb to the North Peak, where we had a 360-degree view of the entire mountain range including Mont Rose (4638 m), Cervin (4505 m) and the Grand Combin (4317 m). A few, long moments of aesthetic hypnosis at an altitude of over 3800 meters, then we crossed a hanging bridge to the Central Peak where, from different terraces and viewing points, we had stunning views of the French and the Italian Alps, as well as Mont Blanc, the highest peak in Europe (excluding Turkey).

While the French Alps boast large stretches of immaculate snow and serrated peaks and boulders, their Italian counterparts seem to slowly and comfortably vanish, fading into an ocean of almost liquid clouds. The mountains become shores, the peaks become beacons, and the visual effect is one of breathtaking serenity: we are at the roof of Europe…the kind of realm where only mythical birds could spread their wings. Here -beyond earth, beyond mist, beyond clouds- only spirits can whirl and swirl.

Then came a necessary reality check: the Snow Tunnel leading to the Vallée Blanche. The sign was drastically clear and grim: ‘High mountain itinerary. No grooming, no trail markers, no avalanche prevention work, no ski patrols.’ In other words: ‘Beyond this point, you go on your own responsibility.’ Exactly the kind of adrenaline rush that makes this trip unforgettable, or so I thought as I made my way to the open sea…I mean the open mountain. Enjoy the photos!

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