I’ve lived in the Rocky Mountains, nestled in the sweet ski town of Breckenridge, Colorado since 1991. During my time I’ve played all over the Rockies, Sawatch, San Juans, Elks, the Gore Range and beyond. I’ve hiked many trails with my dogs and thought, “these have got to be the best mountains in the world!” They still are fantastic, but stepping out to see the world, you realize that our planet is made up of millions of beautiful mountains.
I recently arrived in the Chamonix Mont-Blanc Valley; the mountains tower above you and stare down at you with their jagged peaks that go on forever in a seemingly endless valley.
The first day, you just stare up at the peaks, taking thousands of pictures and wonder “how have I not been here before” and “why didn’t I believe the stories other people told me about their epic adventures in this place?”
The second day, you wonder, “can the cable car ride be that spectacular?” I’ve been on plenty of gondolas in Whistler, Jackson Hole, and Colorado; so you walk up to the entrance of the Aiguille Du Midi cable car:
1) When it opens at 730a.
2) With your prepaid ticket
3) With your backpack and warm clothes, jacket, hat, gloves, pants: even in the summer! This Colorado guy that can handle cold weather… made the mistakes of packing light for you, so you can avoid the same discomfort.
You walk up to the entrance, and the first thing you notice is all of the badass athletes waiting in line with their rock-climbing, paragliding or ski gear, helmets, significant backpacks, ice axes, La Sportiva climbing boots and more. I haven’t seen that before! The equipment being loaded on to gondolas in the rest of the world is pretty limited to skis and snowboards in the winter, and bikes in the summer.
The atmosphere is electric because a couple hundred people have incredible adventures planned for the day. There are plenty of professional guides talking to their guests in different languages, explaining their itinerary and routes. Learning to climb, the ski line, etc.
As you depart on the cable car with 59 other explorers
1) Keep your ticket out, you need it a couple of times.
2) Be the first one on or the last. This way, you can be standing next to the windows.
3) I enjoyed the left side going up on the 2nd car to the very top because you can see all kinds of people hiking and skiing crazy lines. These mountains do not have any terrain closed to the public, you can go anywhere, and people are climbing every peak in sight. Crazy!
The views are stunning! The Graian Alps are younger than the mountain ranges in Colorado, which means they haven’t been torn down by thousands of years of erosion. They are still tall, sheer, jagged, imposing, and many even have glaciers covering them. Every view is unique and truly spectacular.
The very top of the Aiguille Du Midi cable cars lets you out on top of the world. Endless views of the Swiss, French and Italian Alps, especially of Mont Blanc, are breathtaking. Make sure to walk everywhere and take your time. I was rushed because of logistical issues and because I wanted to enjoy the complimentary breakfast. Mistake! Get up early, enjoy breakfast and coffee, but not for an hour as the French usually do.
Follow the guys with the skis and the paragliding equipment. The group I was following stepped through a small cave into the outdoors, they get their gear situated and then ski or climb onto a knife-edge to start their day. I was amazed! Yes, I’m from Colorado, and I could probably join them in this thrill of a lifetime, but the scary part is that the bottom is a long way down. Let me put more emphasis on the word LONG. Very impressive, you have to experience it.
Next, walk around the skyways, take the photo, capture ever view and moment that intrigues you. Watch the rock climbers that are nearby, take a look at the horizon, enjoy the cold air, taste the snow, do everything!
Breathtaking, stunning, beautiful, and joyful. You will find yourself with a massive grin on your face, I promise.
You are on top of the world so bring your country’s flag, do your favorite yoga pose, kiss your significant other and/or stare silently into the abyss and enjoy the wonder.
Whatever inspires you to visit this part of the world, do more than visit, experience it.
-Brian Roach, Owner of Inspired Mountain Vacations