September 23, 2008

Traffic jam on Mont Blanc

One summer day a few years back we took the cable car from Chamonix up to the Aiguille du Midi, a dramatic rock pinnacle surrounded by needle-like formations, to take in the sweeping views of the French, Swiss and Italian Alps, including a face to face meeting with mighty Mont Blanc, Europe's highest.
The sight of wave after wave of white mountaintops rolling to the far horizon like an endless ice-pricked ocean was worth the rocky ride in the jam-packed telepherique -- think loud German guys on holiday greeting each swing up onto the bump-generating cable pylons with shouts of, "Alles, Hander hoch!", "Everybody, hands up!" and then busting with laughter as their huge feet and body weight remet the cabin floor after the pylon wheel spit us off its other side. I was sheet-white the whole ride and thought I might vomit on the Germans' shoes. I practiced my I'm sorrys -- whoops, tut mir leid -- in my head.

Once we got to the Aiguille du Midi viewing station, Mont Blanc's vast glacier-covered mass so close it covered us all in deep blue shadow, we found another traffic jam, the jam of climbers making their crampon-clad bids for Mont Blanc's summit or, having done so and hopefully succeeded, picking their way back down to Chamonix. At one point I counted nearly 30 climbers in a single eye sweep.

The cable car ride back to terra bassa was more interesting than the ride up because, in addition to us tourists there were gear-laden climbers, almost all of them men, and marvelously fit ones as you might expect, who'd conquered Mont Blanc but felt like riding back down.

(I've redesigned my website. Please check it out, and forward the link to anyone you know who might have writing projects they need help with. I'm still pumping out magazine and newspaper articles but want to take on more business and copywriting gigs. Thanks.)