Is the Cablecar Cheating?

Posted on January 11, 2016. Filed under: Switzerland, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

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Uh, the answer to that would be, “NO!”  Let’s not forget we are on vacation!  Perhaps a 6-8 hour hike in the mountains (read:  either all up or all down) is enough exercise?

We found the cablecars (téléphérique in French and seilbahn in German) in Switzerland to be fast, efficient, and a lot of fun.  We used them from our base of Zermatt to get up into the mountains to begin our day hikes.  We also planned to use them on the Haute Route whenever we could, but nearly missed the one into Zinal. 

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This is because the trail passes a cable car that closes at 4:15 and we had just missed it.  (Maybe there was some crying and stomping of feet.)  But then we found out 45 minutes later that first cable car station was for an entirely different town!  We just made the 5:00 last car down the mountain after a very difficult, wet, cold hiking day.  Our eyes bulged out watching the trail below the cable car.  It took about 20 minutes to descend on the cable!  We estimated an additional 2-3 hours if we had had to walk that path.

We couldn’t believe it when we were suddenly done with the day and off to find our hotel.  Ah…that sweet feeling of completing the hiking day.  Body buzzing…thanks to God for the help!

 

 

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Chamonix, France – Telepherique Aiguille du Midi – 12,605 ft.

Posted on March 11, 2013. Filed under: France, Tour du Mont Blanc, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

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Here is the view at 12,605 ft. (3842 m) of Mont Blanc, the tallest peak in the alps where 3 countries’ borders meet.  Switzerland, France, and Italy all share this mountain.  We got into Chamonix, France, the town at the base of the mountain after a bus to Chicago, flights to both Toronto and Montreal en route to Geneva where we caught a reserved van (by the skin of our teeth).  Exhausted doesn’t begin to describe the feeling.  But we were in France and we had the whole day free to buy a phone, get accommodations for tomorrow night after our first day of hiking, and go to the top of the mountain!

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There is the telepherique cable car coming to pick us up.  The tickets cost about $100 per person, but the ride is about 1/2 hour straight up!  It’s so long it takes two sections where you get out of the first car and wait for a second, more vertical rise.  It is the highest vertical ascent cable car in the world.  The cars are huge, I think I remember reading the max occupancy as something like 75 people!  In the second picture above you can see Bill packed in the middle with the town of Chamonix down below!  It is a bit harrowing, especially going over the towers when the cars bounce a little more and then toward the end when you are so close to the rock wall going up.

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Here we are at the midpoint looking out at the glacier tumbling down the mountain.  This is the first day I have ever seen a glacier in my life!  I begin to call them, “glah-see-airs” like everyone else instead of my usual midwestern American, “Glay-shures.”  This hunk of ice has been retreating up the mountain with the climate changing, and they’ve had to rebuild the water plant underneath it farther up, but it still supplies an amazing amount of water to the town below.  Water is rushing like crazy in the river below.  It is amazing to think about how ancient this water probably is.

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Here we are on the platform at the very top.  Before we started the temperature was about 70° F and here at the top we are at about 30° F.  Quite a difference!  Before we started I had a little headache from the travel and the time change (it’s now about 3:00 a.m. to my body).  Rising to the mid-level platform made the headache a little worse.  Here at the top my head starts splitting.  After a look around here I am eager to get out of this altitude.  We have to wait for the cable car down for about 45 minutes and during that time my headache gets so bad I start to feel dizzy and nauseous and I wonder if I’m going to pass out!  Finally the car comes and even getting to the mid-level helps enormously and by the time we get all the way down I’m back to just the little headache I started with.  Whew!

Travel - Chamonix 7We took our van driver’s recommendation on a brew pub for dinner.  Here I am enjoying a well-deserved glacier-water fresh beer.  Ready for bed!

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