On Top of the World

“Mountains are the beginning

and the end

of all natural scenery.”

— John Ruskin

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity.” — John Muir

• Host of the first Winter Olympics Games in 1924, Chamonix today remains a popular winter sports resort town and features one of the highest cable cars in the world. We picked up tickets here for the aerial lift, which brought us to the summit of the Aiguille du Midi at 12,604’, offering a view of all the French, Swiss and Italian Alps and a clear view of Mont Blanc. 

“Never measure the height of a mountain until you reach the top. Then you will see how low it was.” — Dag Hammerskjold The Aiguille du Midi is the highest mountain peak served by an aerial lift system and is the closest one can get to the summit of Mont Blanc without hiking or climbing. Its name translates to “Needle of the Mid-day,” based on the belief that the sun passes over its summit around noon when  seen from one of the town’s churches.

“May your dreams be larger than mountains and may you have the courage to scale their summits.” — Harley King The cable car ascends the mountain in two stages. The first leg brings visitors to the Plan de l’Aiguille at 7,601’; the second stage, without any support pillar, traverses Les Pelerins glacier before rising up the North Face of the Aiguille du Midi at the top station.

“Climb the mountain not to plant your flag, but to embrace the challenge, enjoy the air and behold the view. Climb it so you can see the world, not so the world can see you.” — David McCullough, Jr. While we rode the cable car to the top, others chose to reach the top the hard way! All of us, however, were immersed in the surrounding 360° view.

“Human nature seems to me like the Alps. The depths are profound, black as night, and terrifying, but the heights are equally real, uplifted in the sunshine.” — Emily Greene Balch Each step and every view brought us closer to the very top of the world. (Stay tuned. More top of the world photos to come with next post.)

*   *   *

Chamonix aerial lift photos by Mary O’Connor; Needle of the Mid-day photo by Jan Logozzo

© 2019


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