June 19, 2022: Chamonix. The glaciers of Mont Blanc blaze white as they reach through the clouds. Chamonix waits at its foot, giving rest to adventurers.
“The determination to reach the summit of Mont Blanc was jogging in my head night and day. At night I had hardly closed my eyes when I dreamt I was on my climb of discovery.”
― Jaques Balmat
The White Mountain
At 15,780 feet, Mont Blanc is the crown of the Alps. Jaques Balmat and Dr. Michel Picard, provisioned with a little bread and brandy from Chamonix, first summited the “White Mountain” on August 8, 1786. Today, multitudes follow in their literal footsteps, albeit better equipped.
Aiguille du Midi
Jean and I summited nearby Aiguille du Midi (12,605 feet) the easy way – by cable car. The views of Mont Blanc were breathtaking. As were the stairs to the viewing platform at that altitude! In amazement we watched climbers, tethered in a row, inching toward the summit. Suddenly, a glider whooshed by, the pilot grinning. He circled, then soared along the face of Mont Blanc before continuing down the valley.
“Aiguille du Midi” means “Needle of the mid-day”. The sun passes over the peak at noon, as viewed from the church in Chamonix. The peak is the second most visited attraction in France, behind only the Eiffel Tower. Thank goodness for the cable car; this is a much tougher climb than the Eiffel!