Chamonix, France

Chamonix is a resort area about an hour’s drive east of Geneva, Switzerland. It is in a deep valley surrounded by some of the European alps highest peaks, including Mont Blanc (15,777 feet high). In winter, it is a major ski destination. It is also the gateway to the Haute Route, a reknowned circuit around the Mont Blanc area. That is why I went there.

Driving up from Geneva, the approach to Chamonix is dramatic:


Once you reach Chamonix, you are surrounded by even bigger mountains and many glaciers.



I rented a little cabin for 4 days, so I could enjoy Chamonix while I prepared for the upcoming Haute Route hike by hiking up into the nearby mountains. My first afternoon was spent climbing the ridge you can see just beyond Les Bossons glacier. To give an idea of the scale: I climbed 3200 feet and hiked 8 miles. Getting to the top of this area would require much more!


Some pictures from that hike:

The Chamonix Valley has dozens of gondola and chair lifts. The more minor chair lifts are closed in the summer, but many other lifts are in operation to carry visitors up to the heights to view the mountains and glaciers, and even in September, people are setting out to climb Mont Blanc.

imageThe highest lift is Aiguille du Midi, at 12,676 foot altitude. From there, you can take a ride across above the glaciers to the Italian side. I did that on my second day. It was great!


High above the Chamonix Valley, you can see for miles. Mountain climbers start here to climb Mont Blanc and other major peaks.


Even in September, the temperatures up here are below freezing.

A photo collage:

My local host recommended a hike up on the hill between the tops of two lifts. It was delightful! A photo collage of that hike, including a picture of Priti, a young woman from India out hiking with her parents:

Tomorrow, I will go parasailing for the first time. So today I watched how it goes:

Alas, the winds were not favorable, so the parasail was cancelled.

Coming up: hiking the Walker’s Haute Route from Chamonix to Zermatt.



4 thoughts on “Chamonix, France

  1. Reuben

    Absolutely beautiful – do they remind you of our Rocky Mountains? Did you see any wildlife ?
    Ronan just asked me the other day if people ever got frozen in ice and it got me thinking and i read a ltitle about the guy they found frozen in the Italian alps that they estimated to be 3300 years old / very interesting ! They built a museum to show what they learned about him. Looking at the glaciers in your pictures reminded me of him.
    Love following along with your travels !

  2. melmalinowski Post author

    This area is very vertical, more rugged than most. Incredible jagged needles all over the place, impossibly narrow. I’m seeing birds, but no mammals. I suppose even cave men could get caught out in the wrong conditions and freeze to death unexpectedly, or certainly someone could die, either is more likely at high altitudes. Good to hear from you! I’m about to hike the Haute Route all the way to the Matterhorn and Zermatt, so it might be awhile before I can post those pictures.

  3. melmalinowski Post author

    This area is really amazing. Yes, as a mountaineer yourself, you would certainly enjoy this. It really is pretty wild to be able to take a gondola from the valley floor (about 3300 foot altitude) up to 12,700 in about half an hour. Only 65% as much oxygen there, you can feel it climbing the stairs. I did not go out on the snow, as I don’t have that kind of gear with me. I must admit that climbing Mont Blanc looks tempting.

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