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Chamonix

The place that can be described with pretty much all the adjectives. Famed for it steep mountains, a valley that never stops to amase. Welcome to Chamonix, France.


Walking the Vallée Blanche, looking towards Mer du Glas

Located only a short travel from Geneve airport, the main hub for travelling to Chamonix. You can rent a car, take a shuttlebus or the train. Travel time from the airport is around 1h15min by car. Accomodation can be found with pretty much any budget. There are plenty of hotels, Bed and breakfast, Air BNB and so on. But as any place with high turnover of tourist. Book in good time before departure. My first visit to Chamonix I arrived late at night, and it was pitch black. The sky was clear and the stars was out. Looking up from the valley floor some of the stars shined brighter than the rest. A beautiful night. The next day those stars turned out to be the skilift houses. a crazy feeling. Standing in the valley looking up it is hard not to be amased. The view in it self is amazing. Tall mountains surround you all around, endless opertunities waiting to be overcome.

Morning clouds over Mont Blanc

Europes tallest mountain also lies in this valley creating some of the border between France and Italy. Mont Blanc raises 4810 meters tall. The Chamonix valley floor sits at around 1000 meters. A fun fact, that is hard to grasp is Kilian Jornet speed record up and down Mont Blanc starting at the Chamonix Village Church. Clocking in to an insane time of 4 hours 57 minutes.


Chamonix is a mecca to all lovers of extreme sports. And there is no question why. You get it all here, and the possibilities are endless. This also resulting in it being no place for the fainthearted. And the terrain demands respect. Lifes are lost to the mountains each year, due to different circumstanses. So stay safe, humble and bring the necessary gear to save yourself and your partner if an emergency should happend. Renting a local guide is advisable if you are not familiar with the mountain and its terrain. Even though this is a mecca for the extreme, it does not mean there is no easy routes or tours you can endeavour. The guides and tourist office knows where it is good. Before travelling, do check your insurance to see if it covers mountain rescues. The eventual extra insurance cost almost nothing. And a heli rescue can become very very expensive if needed.


Aiguille du Midi in the background

What to do in Chamonix?

There is more value to the valley than only extreme sports. Mama midi, or Aguille d’ Midi, is an extremely popular tourist attraction, and sees around 500000 visitors each year. Here you can view all the might of Mont Blanc, Vallée Blanche. And the peaks streaching around the valley. Jagged peaks are all around and the view is spectacular. Do you dare step out into the beyond? You can also learn more about the history of the valley as the lift house also functions as a museum and cafe. The valley floor also houses many other museums to offer more history about the Valley and its surroundings.


Due to all the lifts and gondolas. Moving up and down and between mountains is easy. Giving you very easy access to wild terrain and amazing views. There are alot of cozy cafes and restaurants, delivering a diverse cusine. And there is no shortage of bars, ready to serve you a refreshing beer and snacks after coming down from the mountain. Being a extreme sport friendly place, don´t be alarmed if you find people dancing into the night in skiboots.



Walking the Aiguille du midi arête

The history of Chamonix is long and vivid. Chamonix, or Chamouny from its early days was discovered in 1741, by two englishman. Met by rural farmers and a monestary, they journeyed Chamonix valleys and glaciers. They later went on to publish their findings, which led to a spark in the need to explore it by other europeans. Which also led to a boost in economic strenght and infrastructures in the valley, the start of what it has become. Due to an accident on Mont Blanc, "La Compagnie des Guides" was founded in 1821. Mountain guides served as the main income in the valley until the late 19th century, Being replaced with the growing industry of hotels. in 1901 the valley become open to winter tourist with the opening of the railway. In 1924, Chamonix hosted its first winter Olympics. In the years that followed easier access to the mountains become possible with the ever expanding network of cable cars, railways and lifts being set up.


During the second world war, Chamonix was captured by the German forces, but later freed. The new front line was pushed up to the Vallée Blanche. The highest battlefield of WW2. A hard battle of both physicque and mental strenght and will to survive in the harsh alpine enviroment. Guides in other circumstances would be working togetherm now fighting eachother at altitudes above 3000 meters.


Looking back at Aiguille du Midi, and the Cosmique arête from the Vallée Blanche

There is no hard task to go one forever about Chamonix, and it is a place I hold close to my heart as favourite places to be. But I will leave it here for now. If you are an extreme sport performer or just a person looking for great spots to visit. Chamonix should definitely be on every ones list on places to visit. Be it summer or winter, the place deliveres all year round.


Until next time.


T.



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