Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Finding Mont Blanc

To be fair, it wasn't as though Mont Blanc was lost.

It was there all the time, I just didn't realise it.

There it is!  The highest peak in the distance
This was despite the fact that there were some pretty obvious hints; at Val d'Isere, here at Les Arcs and in neighbouring La Plagne there are runs named "Mont Blanc".

Mont Blanc forms part of the border between France and Italy, and is also very close to the Swiss border.   But I assumed I was miles away from the European landmark and so wouldn't be able to see it.

After all, I don't expect to see Sydney from Sydney Street in Brisbane.

However, the frequency in which I saw references to the highest peak in the European Union made me suspect that I should be able to see Mont Blanc from here.
Mont Blanc in the distance, taken from a ski run called... Mont Blanc

Given the whole Alps region consists of mountain ranges I thought I would be looking for a needle in a haystack.

I thought the fact that it has perpetual snowfields and glaciers at the top wouldn't really help me on my quest given it's winter and everything around me is white.  Which one of these snow-capped peaks is meant to be Mont Blanc?

Yesterday, I interrogated an innocent lady on the ski lift in my halting French: "Est-ce que le Mont Blanc est ici?", I asked while gesturing wildly at the horizon.

She assured me it was there, but currently obscured by clouds.  No help.

Mont Blanc is actually there in the distance, sticking its peak above the clouds

However, today's sunshine and clear blue skies brought my quest to an end.

Once I reached the top of the mountain this morning, it became VERY obvious that Mont Blanc had been just right there the whole time.
A paraglider drifts across the Alps

It stands head and shoulders above the other peaks of the region.  Apparently, it rises about 4,800 metres above sea level, though it's height varies from year to year depending on the depth of the summit's snow cap.

This means the top of Mont Blanc is still about another 2,000 metres above me, even though I'm already skiing at between 1,600 metres and 3,000 metres above sea level.

My pictures don't really do it justice, but it's pretty amazing to ski in the shadow of this rocky giant.

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