It might sound mad to most, but I think (almost) anything that gets your blood racing is worth doing. Standing at the summit of this 12,600′ peak is an experience that truly feeds all of the senses, especially in the cold, winter months. The altitude is exhilarating, causing a light-headed, ear popping sensation leaving you weak in the knees. The crisp air and strong winds chill you to the bone, leaving your extremities numb and aching.
There’s nothing ‘nice and cozy’ about this adventure, and it’s not one I would recommend for those who fear heights or have issues with altitude, but if you bundle up (and suck it up), mind blowing, panoramic views are your sky-high reward.
There are a few ways to explore the mountain – those with brass balls, and access to crampons and ice picks, can hike to the summit and ski down. This journey is one that is gravely dependent on the weather and your skill set. Trained mountaineers and expert skiers only… and even then, not without a guide!
Hiking and climbing are also available in the summer, when the warmer temperatures are far more welcoming.
To enjoy the peak in a more accommodating fashion during this winter excursion, our group chose to take the cable car (one of the longest in the world) from the center of Chamonix all the way to the top of the peak. This comes at a rather surprising cost (55 Euros each for the round trip) but is worth the unforgettable experience of taking in the majestic views of the Swiss, French and Italian Alps from all directions. Absolutely breathtaking.
The top station of Aiguille du Midi has several icy tunnels and terraces to explore. Winding staircases take you higher, where the altitude is sure to dizzy even the steadiest explorer. If you really want to ride the lightheaded wave, have a glass of champagne at the restaurant at the tip-top, one of the highest in the world.
We spent a few hours exploring and enjoyed lunch at the cafe. I, of course, spent a few minutes climbing the icy railings intended to keep viewers safe from the dramatic cliffs, an act that was not greatly appreciated by most in our group. I’m pretty sure my veins are in constant need of adrenaline without a sense of nerve 😉