45.9231° N, 6.8697° E
With a long wet English winter behind us we travelled south to the Alps and the magnificent Chamonix Valley
Oh, these vast, calm, measureless mountain days, inciting at once to work and rest! Days in whose light everything seems equally divine, opening a thousand windows to show us God. Nevermore, however weary, should one faint by the way who gains the blessings of one mountain day; whatever his fate, long life, short life, stormy or calm, he is rich forever.
- John Muir
Chamonix: for many the spiritual home of mountaineering with its peerless guides. For a UK walker it resembles a Keswick or Coniston on steroids: all exist symbiotically with their mountain, but in this case the gentler fells of Skiddaw and The Old Man are ogred up into the vast bulk of Mont Blanc, dominating the town like an Old Testament God
Tour de Aiguille du Midi
Miraculous feat of engineering and needle of heaven piercing the sky with vaulting ambition. So great, yet so small compared to the natural wonders about it.
Tree runs and drag lifts
Glorious views of Mont Blanc
From the slopes paragliders launched and soared in the morning thermals thousands of feet above the valley floor far below. "Never regret thy fall, O Icarus of the fearless flight For the greatest tragedy of them all Is never to feel the burning light." - Oscar Wilde
On the far side of the valley, Le Grand Montets. North facing, icy despite the fierce sunshine, we didn't make it to this epic playground but will return
Endless views of Chamonix Valley
Bittersweet endings. The sadness at it all ending is a function of the happiness whilst it lasted. The images burn bright even as memory fades - nowhere more beautifully articulated than this lament towards the end of a well travelled life: “This long silver train makes swift passage. It is streaking across the flat Colorado country as I sit here alone. (Why should I feel so near to tears?). The whole trip to Colorado is like a dream now. The whole thing drops from my shoulders like a jewelled coat, and I lay it aside, feeling like I’ve never worn it at all.” - Margaret Gehrke