I think it’s time I devoted a Post to the Header image that will have become familiar to all of you who visit this Photoblog. It’s not easy finding and cropping an image into the thin letterbox format required for a header; so a slight stretch of the original image and an adjustment to the positioning of the foreground was required to shoehorn it into place. The original uncropped image is below and the same view under different guises will punctuate this post as you read on.
These are the peaks that are collectively known as The Chamonix Aiguilles. Three clusters of ‘Aiguilles’, in fact, in the range 11,375-12,025ft rising on average 8,100ft above the Chamonix valley floor and at a distance of over 2.5miles as the crow flies, although they seem so much closer than that. On their own they are a superb chain of summits but they are just a small part of a huge panorama of peaks, including Mont Blanc (15,625ft) itself, that towers majestically above the town of Chamonix in the French Alps as shown in the panoramic image below, taken from a vantage point above the town.
Panorama from Lt: The Chamonix Aiguilles, Aig du Midi, MB du Tacul, Mont Maudit, Mont Blanc, Dome du Gouter, Aig du Gouter
For those not familiar with French, ‘Aiguille’ means Needle and is pronounced approximately A(as in Able)-Gwee. There are a lot of Granite peaks in this area of the French Alps that justify this appellation due to their steep rock walls and pointed summits.
Chamonix sits in a deep valley carved out by the River Arve that runs NE to SW forming the NW boundary of the Mont Blanc Massif.
The Mont Blanc Massif in its entirety includes 11 major peaks over 4000M and another 20 or so subsidiary summits also over 4000M (approx 13,000ft). It covers an area of approx 235 sq miles shared between France, Italy and Switzerland. It may not occupy a huge area geographically, but no other area of the Alps has such a tightly concentrated collection of high mountains and named glaciers (71 of them). It’s also an area rich in walking and the 110 mile Tour du Mont Blanc that circles the massif features in many of the lists compiled of the world’s ten greatest multi-day walks.
Chamonix is intrinsically linked with Mont Blanc as it was from here that Mont Blanc was first climbed in 1786. It is now a world-renowned centre for extreme Alpine sports – climbing, skiing, boarding, para-gliding etc. You can feel the buzz and the adrenaline when you sit outside one of the town’s many bars on a warm summer’s day and gaze up at the peaks. We nearly bought an apartment here a few years ago (Chamonix feels like a second home to us) but eventually baulked at the high cost – a wise decision in view of the currency fluctuations since then.
The view of the mountain range from the town is never exactly the same – the light changes by the hour, the sky changes with the weather; each season brings its own colours and changes to the snow cover. Whenever you look it always seems fresh and it always inspires. For me, waking up in the morning and glancing at this view is like greeting a friend.