Feb 27th, 2012 | By | Category: Senior Travel

Seniors Ride up Chamonix to Mont Blanc

There are places.  Then there are very high places.  Then there is Chamonix-Mont Blanc of more commonly simply Chamonix.  It was the site of the 1924 Winter Olympics, the first Winter Olympics. The commune is well-known and loved by skiers, mountain enthusiasts and senior travelers of all types. Mont Blanc, at a height of 4,810 meters, is the third most visited natural site in the world.

Europe’s highest cable car will delight even experienced mountain climbers. I’ve taken it to the top twice.  The visit takes 2 to 3 hours, including the travel time up the steep slope. This webcam will give you a good sense of what is in store for you. Additional rides up the mountain include narrow gauge tramways.  In the summer months Chamonix is a mecca for alpine mountaineers. Ride the car to the summit here on YouTube. From the top you can enjoy a super view of L’Aiguille du Midi (the needle of the south) and it’s peak.

Senior Summit Meeting at Chamonix

Far below you lies the village that caters to summer visitors and winter skiers. The Brits call it ‘Cham. Cham’ is a destination popular the world over. In the streets of this high-mountain town you’ll hear languages from every corner of the globe. But the seniors who come to this ‘summit meeting’ share the same way of thinking, the same love for mountaineering, its legends and its ethics. When you’re out shopping in the town center, wherever you are, look up and you’ll see ‘it’ there… 4,810 meters (15,781 ft) of rock, snow, ice and dreams of things to come.

A one-stop site is with weather, welcomes, snow report, events, lifts, etc. Nearby is La Mer de Glace (Sea of Ice), one of the biggest glaciers in continental Europe, accessible by the Montenvers rack railway. From the Montenvers Station one has great views on the glacier but also on the north Face of the Grand Jorasses, one of the three most famous North faces in the European Alps.

Chamonix is situated in the north-westerly part of the Alps, just 15 km from the Swiss border via the Col des Montets and 15 km from Italy via the Mont-Blanc tunnel. The natural border, where these three countries converge, lies at 3820 meters on the summit Mont Dolent.  I do remember that tunnel. My buddy and I came through it on a Lambretta motor-scooter from Italy into France.  Begun in 1957 and completed in 1965, the Mont Blanc Tunnel is 11,611 meters (7.215 mi) long.  Almost got gassed plus the roadbed was slippery and wet.  Water was dripping down from the ceiling.  Another story…the border guards in France went on strike trapping inside two semi trailers loaded with escargots.  The drivers threatened to unload the entire bunch inside the tunnel if they did not let them out and said that there would be escargot in that tunnel for years.  They did… there was!

Just walking around the ski village was highlight for many of our group. Chamonix is ensnared by scenery so mind-blowingly spectacular it’s practically Himalayan (think deeply crevassed glaciers pointing towards a valley from the icy crown of mighty Mont Blanc). I leave you with Frommer’s complete guide to Chamonix-Mont Blanc and dozens of neat photos to spark your curiosity.  It is for certain that you won’t come back from Chamonix lacking tons of fond memories and perhaps a bit of cheese on your shirt from the swiss fondue you enjoyed in the village. jeb

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  1. […] (or “High Level Route”) that links two of Europe’s great mountaineering centers: Chamonix and […]

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