Some rainy days you adjust your plans and stay inside. Today we decided to do what we wanted to do despite the weather. Our hope today was to get a closer look at the second of the ‘Seven Summits’ that we’ve been near during this trip. These are the tallest mountains on each of the seven continents – the first we saw was Kilimanjaro in Africa. That one was fogged in for most of our trip and then appeared just before the end of our last day.
Today we were seeking a mountaintop adventure and better views of Mont Blanc, Europe’s entry into the Seven Summits. First we layered on pretty much all the pants, sweaters and jackets that we have because even at this time of year it can be below freezing at the top.
We then ascended to the Aiguille du Midi – a 12,600 foot summit (3842 meters) above Chamonix. At the top is a building complex that wraps around the top of the peak and offers great views of the surrounding mountains including its neighbor Mont Blanc. Perched up there it somewhat resembles a villains lair to be honest.
To get there we took two cable cars. Both were steep and felt very fast – 9000 feet up in a few minutes. Clearing our ears was required several times. A few hundred feet before the summit we rose into fog/cloud cover that limited visibility to about 50 feet. Not quite the panoramic views we were hoping for. Undeterred we pressed on to our first Adventure – to ‘Step into the Void’. Opened in 2013, this attraction is a glass box with a glass floor that hangs over the edge of the mountain so you feel suspended in the ‘void’. The free air immediately below you is 3000 feet!
Not surprisingly, our daredevil youngest child was jumping up and down with excitement.
Mom and CreeperKitty were a bit more reticent. In the end, all 5 Adventurers stepped in – though it wasn’t terribly void-like today. They make you leave your ice axes and backpacks outside and put on some big fuzzy slippers – all to protect the 12mm glass.
We also went through the Tube – another suspended attraction and even made our way up to the upper terrace. Rather than a photo op of the mountains, we went for a photo op of us in the blowing icy snow. It was awesome to be out there but very short.
There is a walkway to the cafeteria around the outside of the structure but we opted to head back inside to go the longer but warmer way
The cafeteria was the most crowded spot – perhaps all of the other visitors preferred a big hot chocolate with whipped cream over icy temperatures too. We enjoyed the warmth and then headed back down the way we’d come. At around 8000 feet the snow turned to rain which added an interesting filter to our pictures.
We weren’t quite done with our Mont Blanc Adventures for the day. But instead of going up we went under! The 7 mile tunnel between France and Italy was the longest road tunnel in the world when it was completed in 1965.
We drove through pretty much just to say that we did. We were going to eat a meal in Italy before we came back but no one was hungry at that time of day. Plus we had Brian’s fabulous pasta carbonara last night so we just turned around and figured we’d find something French-ish in Chamonix instead.
We finished the day with the kids in the pool. We also got some clearer skies to the peak of Mount Blanc. Just like Kilimanjaro: at the end of the day, from near our apartment.