Mont Blanc – Monte Bianco

Mountain massif and highest peak in Europe at 15,771ft – 4,807metres. It is situated in the Alps, the massif which lies along the Italian border and reaches to Switzerland, but the summit lies in French territory. Surrounding the massif are the Graian Alps, the Chamonix Valley, Savoy Alps, Pennine Alps and the Valley of Courmayeur. Other principal peaks within the massif include Mont Blanc, Mont Maudit, Aigulle du Geant, Les Grandes Jorasses, Mont Dolent and Aigulle du Midi.The mountain lies between the regions of Aosta Valley, Italy, and Haute-Savoie, France and the location of the summit is on the watershed line between the valleys of Ferret and Veny in Italy and the Arve Valley in France. Over 40sq.miles of Mont Blanc is covered with glaciers from where the mountain received its name – meaning white mountain-It is also sometimes known as La Dame blanche (French for “the White Lady”) or Il Bianco (Italian for “the White One”).

The first recorded climb of Mont Blanc was by Jacque Balmat and Michel Paccard on August 8, 1786. Climbing historians often consider this ascent the beginning of modern mountaineering.In 1808 Marie Paradis became the first woman to reach the summit.There are over 20,000 climbers who reach the summit every year.A scientific observatory was built on the summit in 1892 and was in use until 1909 when a crevasse opened below the building and it was abandoned.The lowest temperature on Mont Blanc was recorded at the observatory at -45.4oF or -43oC .

The Mont Blanc tunnel was built between 1957 and 1965 linking France and Italy, it is 11.6km long (7.25miles), it is one of the major trans-Alpine transport routes. The two most famous towns near Mont Blanc are Courmayeur in Aosta Valley, Italy, and Chamonix in Haute-Savoie, France—the site of the first Winter Olympics. A cable car ascends and crosses the mountain from Courmayeur to Chamonix The region is the largest tourist centre in Europe, with aerial tramways and facilities for winter sports, it is also the third most visited natural site in the world.The Mont Blanc massif is popular for mountaineering, hiking, skiing and snowboarding.

The Mont Blanc Tramway or Tramway du Mont-Blanc is a mountain railway line in the Haute-Savoie region of France.The spectacular views of Mont Blanc provided by the tramway make it very popular with tourists. Furthermore, mountaineers and hikers use the tramway because its stops provide the jumping off points for many trails, including the normal French route to Mont Blanc which starts at the tramway’s terminus, Nid d’Aigle, and proceeds to the Tête Rousse Hut.The Montenvers Railway or Chemin de fer du Montenvers is a rack railway line in the Haute-Savoie region of France. The line runs from a connection with the SNCF, in Chamonix, to the Hotel de Montenvers station, at the Mer de Glace, at an altitude of 1,913 m (6,276 ft).The line is 5.1 km (3.2 mi) long and has a rail gauge of 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 3⁄8 in). It is a rack and adhesion railway, using the Strub design to overcome a height difference of 871 m (2,858 ft). Except for the terminal stations, which are operated in adhesion mode, the line has a gradient varying from 11% to 22% and is equipped with rack rail. The line is electrified using an overhead line at 11000 V and 50 Hz ac, and service is provided by 6 electric railcars and 3 diesel locomotives. Trains run at 14 to 20 km/h (8.7 to 12.4 mph) and take 20 minutes for the journey.The line is operated by the Compagnie du Mont-Blanc which also manages the Mont Blanc Tramway and many ski lifts in the Mont Blanc region. The first section of the line opened in 1908 and the line was completed in 1909. The line was worked by steam locomotives until it was electrified in 1953.

The Cable car

The Aiguille du Midi cable car leaves from the centre of Chamonix. It is a journey of two stages. The first brings visitors to the Plan de l’Aiguille (2300m). The second stage traverses Les Pelerins glacier before rising up the North Face. Often in summer time it is possible to spot climbers on their way up this face towards the summit of the Aiguille. From the top station (3842m) the view of the Alps is incredible. The top station has several terraces where visitors can take in the spectacular views of the Swiss, French and Italian Alps. On a clear day it is possible to see the Matterhorn, Monta Rosa and the Grand Combin. An elevator inside the rock rises the final 42m to the top terrace at 3842m. This is the closest you can get to the Mont Blanc without climbing!

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