As my skiing improved I decided not to abandon the Vallee Blanche glacier ski run planned for the end of the week. My main hangup early in the week was not the skiing itself but the initial hike from the top of the Aiguille du Midi to the start of the ski area. There’s a legendary narrow track exposed to the wind and a 1000-plus foot drop that skiiers must creep along – roped to the guide for safety. I needed to check out the scene for myself before committing to the run.
After skiing for three days I took a day off to check out the town – and the Aiguille.
The lift to the Aiguille – the highest lift-served ski slope in the world – is in two stages, one tram rising across the town to the Plan de l’Aiguille mid-station at 7500 ft – roughly 4500 feet above the valley floor. The second car scales the remaining 5000 feet with no intermediate towers.
I spent the ride staring at the jackets of those around me.
I had to cling to the tram station walls at first. There’s a wooden bridge that spans the gap between the cable car terminal and the weather station – from there you can see the little path skiiers need to take. As weak as my knees were at that point I took heart in the rope railings and the fact that the walk wasn’t on a bare ridge.
It’s cold up there – the icy wind cut right through my jeans and street socks. My ears froze and my hands trembled when I set up photos.
Okay, the trembling might have been from my fear of heights. The Aiguille is up there.
Mont Blanc & Me
After getting acclimated to the height I decided that the ski traverse was not as treacherous as I’d imagined and I planned to go on ahead with the Aiguille du Midi run.