I rarely add this, but....click on image to enlarge (because it's worth it!).
As we bid goodbye to autumn and settle in for the snoozes and surprises that winter brings I thought this old postcard would get us used to looking at (or for) snow in the days ahead:
Chamonix. Traversee de la Mer de Glace (Crossing the Sea of Ice)
The Mer de Glace, the Ice Cave and the Montenvers Train are one of the biggest attractions in the Chamonix valley. The Mer de Glace is the largest glacier in France, 7kms long and 200m deep. In the winter, thousands of skiers follow the glacier down to the Montenvers Railway station after skiing the famous "Vallee Blanche".
To access the Mer de Glace and the Ice Cave in Chamonix, you should take the little train of the Montenvers. The Montenvers train leaves from Chamonix town center (Gare du Montenvers).
Brief Chamonix History
In 1741 two Englishmen, Windham and Pococke, discovered the 'Chamouny' valley and its glaciers. Their expedition was met by a rural population of mountain farmers. This community lived off animal husbandry and a sparse harvest of oats and rye.
Windham and Pococke explored the valley and visited the Mer de Glace (Sea of Ice). The stories of their exploits, published in literary journals throughout Europe, started a craze to find out more about Chamonix. . .[Source: Chamonix.net]
Also from Chamonix.net, here is a new video "snow report" dated Dec. 13, 2011, shot at the Grands Montets valley of Chamonix Mont Blanc. It is one of the most natural ski videos I've ever seen.
(Video runs 1:32)
This is a panorama view that will give you an idea of the proximity of the Mer de Glace (in the old postcard) to Mont Blanc (in the video). Mer de Glace is almost center, Mont Blanc over to the right.
I acquired the gorgeous panorama from another website featuring the wonders of the area, Chamonix.com, which is where the following background information comes from:
Chamonix offers exceptional viewpoints, which can be reached either by use of the lifts or the hiking trails. The different panoramas are situated along the length and breadth of the valley, in the heart of the Mont-Blanc and Aiguilles Rouges mountain ranges. An extraordinary panoramic trip, accessible to all. Just a few minutes cable travel or a few hours on foot for the hardy and you will find yourselves immersed in the beauty of this majestic site.
The “roof of Europe”, the world’s third-ranking most visited natural area, continues to attract millions of visitors and thousands of mountaineers every year. Conquering Mont Blanc is a dream shared by many amateur mountaineers and enthusiasts. This dream is possible as long as one does not underestimate the apparently easy slopes of this legendary mountain.
The last measurements of Mont Blanc: September 2009
New measurements of Mont Blanc’s altitude: 4810.45 m, unfailing stability!
According to the measurements taken in September 2007, Mont Blanc, the highest peak in the Alps and Western Europe, had an altitude of 4810.90 metres, i.e., an increase of 2.15 metres in relation to 2005 – a record altitude since the first GPS measurements in 2001. On 12 & 13 September 2009, Haute-Savoie’s land surveyors performed the 5th operation for measuring the altitude of the roof of Europe, as part of Annecy’s candidature for the 2018 Winter Olympics.
According to the first analyses performed, Mont Blanc measures exactly 4,810.45 m, and the volume of ice above 4,800 m is 21,626 m3. Due to the prevailing winds, the summit has moved 26m to the East (following the axis of the top ridge), towards Italy.
Glaciers in the Chamonix Valley
Covering a surface area of 125 km2, the glaciers are omnipresent in the Chamonix valley and contribute to the outstanding beauty of the site. Since time memorial, these ice giants have inspired fear, incredulity and admiration.
The Mer de Glace
« A sea, stirred by a strong breeze, then suddenly frozen to ice » Windham (1741)
The Mer de Glace is one of the worlds most visited natural sites. This enthusiasm began in the 18th century when wealthy and learned travellers, in quest of discovery and knowledge, began to show an interest in the glaciers and in particular this unique spot. Since 1908 the Montenvers-Mer de Glace cog railway enables enthusiastic visitors to follow in the footsteps of those illustrious pioneers: Rousseau, Hugo, Nodier, Sand, Goethe, Shelley, Liszt and so many more...
The ice grotto: takes you into the heart of the glacier where you may discover the astounding colour of the ice, beautiful carvings and models in period clothing, witness to bygone mountain life, as if frozen in time. Every year (and for the past 50 years) a new grotto is meticulously sculpted in the ice as the previous work of art is slowly but surely transported down the valley by the glacier.
Have a beautiful and safe winter, Everyone.