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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Aiguille du Midi

We woke up early in the next morning too. Husband said we better be early to avoid a long queue. After taking a simple breakfast, we drove to the cable car station at around 8 am.
We arrived at the cable car station at around 8.15 pm. We thought we were early, but not really, there was a long queue out there, and the station was pack with tourists from all over the world.
For those who didn't possess a multipass, they will have to line up to buy the ticket first, then they will be given a number, and they will need to wait for that number to be called to access to the cable car. Boy, I think they probably have to wait till afternoon time then.
For us who had bought the multipass before that, we have save some time for we didn't have to queue to buy the ticket anymore, but that didn't mean we have the direct access to the cable car. In fact, we have waited for one hour long in another line, before we could enter the platform.

Although this was not the 1st time I rode on a cable car, I felt especially excited this time because this one is all too famous.
Apparently, the cable car is operated in a single way, means one cable car will take one round of the passengers (max capacity : 75 people per car) up to the 1st platform, before it goes down to take another round of the passenger again. No wonder we have to wait for that long.

Chamonix is famous for its spectacular cable car up to the Aiguille du Midi (3842 m). Constructed in 1955, it was the highest cable car in the world for about 2 decades. It still holds the record as the highest vertical ascent cable car in the world, from 1,035 m to 3,842 m. The journey will take about 20 minutes only. Amazing.

Same like the others, the Aiguille du Midi cable car is a journey of two stages. The first brings visitors from Chamonix to the Plan de l'Aiguille (2317m). The second stage rises directly without any support pillar, to the upper station at 3777 m.

Boy, the scenes around is spectacular enough. I wondered how spectacular it can be at the top there?

We stopped by this intermediate station and waited for another cable car to come to pick up...

Another shot to capture the side which was not covered...

There is a restaurant outside the station, and hiking trails as well. We didn't hop out from here to do our hiking first. Instead, husband said we should go straight to the top because we would likely to get to see everything clear in morning time. He said normally, thick clouds would accumulate at the top in the late afternoon time. He sure did his homework well.

Overlooking Chamonix Valley down from the intermediate station (Plan de l'Aiguille).

Ok, here come the amazing Aiguille du Midi cable car...

Going up all the way, I felt like flying...

As we go further up, the rocks we saw get more rugged...

This photo was actually downloaded, I couldn't get to see much from the cable car because it was too pack inside there. But, my jaw dropped to see this....never in my imagination that we landed here.
It's freezing cold outside there, I think the temperature was probably -10 C or below. After 1 minutes standing out there, the cold feeling was replaced by acute painful feeling, especially from my fingers part and feet part. I felt regret for I didn't listen to husband's advice to wear thick socks. I thought I could bear the coldness since we just went out for a short while, but I was so wrong. Luckily husband had brought extra socks for backup. So, he had saved my poor feet.

The footbridge that links the North Tower with the Central Tower is awesome enough. Although feeling extremely cold, I stood on this bridge to take many photos. This place is so beautiful that none can resist.

There is an elevator inside the rock rises to the final 42m to the top terrace at 3842m. This is the closest we can get to the Mont Blanc without climbing!
The top station has several terraces where visitors can take in the spectacular views of the Swiss, French and Italian Alps. On a clear day it is possible to see the Matterhorn, Monta Rosa and the Grand Combin. Also, there is panoramic viewing platform, a cafe and a gift shop at the top.

While waiting for the elevator to come, William started to complain of the discomfort he felt. At first, we thought it's because he was not wearing enough and thus, felt painful in his tummy. Anyway, since he still able to walk, we just asked him to hang on.

Finally, the elevator took us to the top of the summit. From the top station (3842m), the view of the Alps is incredible.

Often in summer time, it is possible to spot climbers descent an icy ridge.

The name Aiguille du Midi translates literally as "needle of midday". It is so called as the sun sit directly over the peak at noon, when viewed from Chamonix.

Such a magnificent heavanly view of the mountains !!

We were lucky enough to see the clearest picture of the alps in that day. With refer to the illustration above, the peak covered in snow (middle) over there is Mont Blanc.

Mont Blanc (French name) or Monte Bianco (Italian name) respectively, meaning "White Mountain" is the highest mountain in the Alps, Western Europe and the European Union. It rises 4810.45 m above sea level and is ranked 11th in the world in topographic prominence. It is also sometimes known as "La Dame Blanche" (French for "The White Lady").

Looks like a base camp down there....

The peak of the snow mountains.

This one is for you, darling son. One day you will cherish all those beautiful pictures with spectacular backdrop that mommy had taken for you.

A helicopter hovering above the clear sky. I bet the people in there will see the whole picture much much better than we do.

Thanks to an anonymous who had helped to take this nice family photo for us.

By then, not just William, but Vincent also complained of his discomfort. We then suspected they could be suffering altitude sickness (symptoms includes headache, fatigue, stomach illness, dizziness, and sleep disturbance) which commonly occurs above 2400 m, though most people can climb up to 2500 m normally.
Ascending slowly is the best way to avoid altitude sicknes. Although we would like to stay longer to admire the beauty here, we need to descend if their condition wasn't getting any better. Will see....

A lower platform at the other side of the summit...

Standing here, looking around, I just feel how tiny I am. And I really respect to the mighty nature, and the human's engineering who had constructed an almost impossible platform on top of this impossible rocks. Thinking of this, the money we had paid for to get up here became negligible.

A lower platforms from the summit

Out of the so many peaks behind, I think one of them should be the famous Matterhorn (4505 m), located in Swiss Alps.

Despite of the discomfort, they hang on, especially William who claimed to have a stomach pain.

Absolutely beautiful....

Walking to the other end of the lower platform.

Some climbers atop the rock over there.

Looking up to the place from where we were just now, the peak of Aiguille du Midi.

My heart was pounding fast to see them standing on top of the rock there, I think my heart would stop pounding if I were to stand there.

Some people, they just love the sensation of adrenaline rush...

The other side of the alps have more pointed peaks.

Spectacular is the way to describe it.

Looking up to the peak again.

Truly, this is the best viewpoint I have ever had visited before.

Once again, salute to the engineers and workers who built this for us.

Since William didn't want to walk, I sat there with him lying on my lap.

From the place I was sitting together with William, I could see those climbers progressing up and down the rock...it seems like a piece of cake to them.

Vincent look ok again when he saw the snow that he could played on....

William likes to play snow as much as VIncent does. But this time, he didn't. His discomfort didn't subside a bit after 30 minutes or so.

Looking at his sick face, we really need to descend now....

One last look at this beautiful place...It's just a very small part that we have get to see here. If we have the guts to challenge our physical body and go for a tough glacier hiking, I believe many astonished view can be seen.

Heading back to the cable car station. Luckily we didn't need to wait for a long time to descent.

Majority of the people will come and go in a few hours time, but minority will stay longer, like those climbers who took their time to descend the snow and ice.

Seriously, I don't know if I have the guts to walk out there...

A shot taken through a hole inside the cable car station.

The cable car descended fast, soon we were down to the mid-station at an elevation about 2300 m. Husband pointed at the restaurant down there and said we should let William to take a rest there....



tasy said...

wow wow wow woowwww

i'm so loss for words. everything i have seen before in my own eyes from cable cars, pale in comparison. peanuts. the end. sigh.....

Jessy Lee said...

yeah, i'm so loss for words too.

actually, this place is much much much beautiful if see it by human eyes, than through the camera eyes.

i just felt grateful that we have been there....

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