Tuesday

Courmayeur

The starting point in Italy, on the edge of Courmayeur having taken a bus from Chamonix through the impressive Mont Blanc tunnel.  The timings off the out-of-season bus services worked out much better for a start on the Italian side.

PaludPavillon

The trip up the Italian side on the Funivie Monte Bianco involved three sections with increasingly smaller and more rickety cabins.  The first stage from the base station a La Palud (a short bus journey from Courmayeur) took us up to the Pavillon du Mont Fréty [45 49 46 N, 6 57 1 E] at 2170 m.

PavillonViewBetter ValFeret

Views from the Pavillon station (L) west, (R) north and east along the (Italian) Val Ferret.

AlpineGarden AlpineFlower

The Giardino Botanico Alpino Saussurea, just next to the Pavillon station, claims to be Europe’s highest botanical garden.  Tending an alpine garden in such glorious surroundings is surely not a hard life!

RifugioTorino

View down from the 3rd ascent stage to the Rifugio Torino station.  The connected building to the left is a newer larger mountain refuge.

HelbronnerCrucifix

The final stop of the Funivie was Punta Helbronner at literally dizzying height of 3462 m.  The station sits on the French-Italian borderline.  The crucifix more obviously belongs on the Italian side!

Asbestos

The station contained a small and not terribly spectacular mineral gallery.  But this specimen of an asbestos mineral was interesting.

HelbronnerView

HelbronnerValleeBlanche HelbronnerDamesAnglaises

Views from the Helbronner viewing platform: (L) north and east to La Vallée Blanche with the spike of the Dent du Géant (giant’s tooth) to the right, (R) west to a range including the curiously named Les Dames Anglaises (the English Ladies).

ValleeBlancheCabines

The cabins of the spectacular Vallée Blanche Aerial Tramway from Punta Helbronner to the Aiguille du Midi.

Crevasses Crevasse

Crevasses in the glaciers viewed from the cableway.

ValleeBlancheAlpinistes AlpinistesGlaciers

Alpinistes in the Vallée Blanche – specks in the vast landscape.

PitonClimbers

On the final approach to the Aiguille du Midi – the impressive sight of climbers making their way up the vertical face of the “Piton”.

AuguilleStation

The spectacular Aiguille du Midi cablecar station (3842 m).

CosmiquesRidge CosmiquesClimbers

The Cosmiques ridge with (R) climbers.  The Cosmiques refuge was built in the 1930s for the study of cosmic rays (hence the name).

MontBlancCosmiques

Mont Blanc with the Cosmiques ridge in the foreground.

MontBlancClimbers fixed MontBlancClimbers2

Climbers on Mont Blanc.  Look carefully on full pictures!

AlpinistesApproche

Alpinistes approaching the Aiguille.

BossonsGlacier

View down the Bossons Glacier, one of the steepest glaciers in the Alps.  In the 19th C the glacier extended all the way down into the valley, but has shrunk back by over a kilometre since.

PlandelAiguille

Refreshment hut at the Plan de l’Aiguille [45 54 6 N, 6 53 6 E] – the intermediate station on the descent back to Chamonix.

DruFromSignal

The Aiguille du Dru seen viewed from le Signal, on the south balcon walking route between Plan de l’Aiguille and Montenvers [45 55 55 N, 6 55 4 E].

MerdeGlace

La Mer de Glace – the glacier that helped turn Chamonix into a major tourist destination.  Like the Bossons glacier, this once descended into the valley (as far as the picturesque hamlet of Les Bois), but has been steadily retreating.  The meltwater from the glacier is used to power a small hydroelectric plant.

MontenversStation

The Montenvers railway station in Chamonix.  The Montenvers railway is a rack railway that connects Chamonix with the Mer de Glace at Montenvers.

TempleProtestant

Back in Chamonix.  Entrance of the Protestant (Eglise Réformée) church.  Curiously these are referred to as “temples”.

ChamonixBridge

Bridge across the Arve in the centre of Chamonix.

MontBlancDusk MontBlancAiguilleDusk

Mont Blanc at dusk from the balcony of the hotel room with (R) the Aiguille du Midi visible on the left.

Chamonix II

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