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Aiguille du Midi - Late Feb 2017 w/ children

Has anyone been to the Aiguille du Midi during the Winter?

Also, any thoughts on bringing an 11 year old and a 9 year old? How intimidating is the staircase from where the cable car platform is to the building on top of the mountain?

Curious how one can evaluate if the weather is worthy of a trip to the top. Traveling to the top when it is enshrouded in cloud cover probably isn't the best use of time.

We might also investigate taking the gondola ride over to the Italian mountains. Any thoughts on this?

Thank you.

Posted by
15586 posts

Yes, it is quite nice in the winter in clear weather, and both times I went it was. I don't think the kids will be intimidated, maybe you are worrying about yourself :-)

I am not sure what all is there, they were one-way trips, as I skied down from there. Now that was intimidating!

Posted by
50 posts

Ha. I know a Santa 'elf' in Green Bay. Wondered if he could be on a list of folks that would ski Vallée Blanche with me. Have you done the Vallée Blanche run? I skied Jackson Hole about 20 years ago when I was in "20 years ago shape" however. Would like to ski the ~20km run at some point. Is on my bucket list to cross off in the next 5 years. Yes, I am somewhat intimidated by the staircase. Skiing down such verticals is a lot more fun for me than climbing them or hovering above them. I am still interested in the Vallée Blanche run though as I imagine there is quite a bit of climbing and hovering.

Any tips on checking to see if the weather will be worth a trip up there? I would enjoy the gondola ride to italy.

Thanks for the feedback.

Posted by
15586 posts

I would recommend hiring a guide, get 6 or 8 together and the cost is not too bad. They know the way down to avoid falling into a crevice. The only intimidating part when you exit the second needle at the top and need to descend on steps cut in the snow down a knife-edge snow ridge carrying your skis (it has a rope railing). Sometimes the guides will rope you together for this, sometimes not. It is 10,000 foot vertical drop on the left, only about 1,000 foot on the right. Of course, it really is not a vertical drop, because I saw some hotshots click into their bindings and head straight down the left side chutes.

Anyway, after a 200 foot descent on the steps, you get to flat spot where you click into your skis and head down following the guide. It is really quite easy thereafter with just one steepish part. The guide will instruct you before hand, under no circumstances should you ski past him (or her). "I stop, you stop above. No ski by me!" That is because when he stops, he has come to a crevice and is scouting the best route around. I got close to one and it is scary.

By all means, ask him to stop for lunch at the refuge on the side of the glacier. All supplies (and staff) are helicoptered in. And if he asks "Do guides have to pay for their own lunch?" Tell him you're buying.

Hopefully you can ski all the way to Chamonix down a switchback catwalk which can get very icy. Otherwise, you will have to climb a staircase, equivalent to an 8 story building to the cog railway station and buy a ticket to ride down.

Posted by
4522 posts

Dw,

Any tips on checking to see if the weather will be worth a trip up there?

You may find this website helpful: http://www.chamonix.net/english/weather-forecast

My daughter & I visited the Aiguille du Midi in late May (on a clear sunny day) & we took the elevator to the top platform where we
stepped into the void!

We'd wanted to take the gondola to Helbronner Point, but unfortunately it only runs from May 28th to September 25.

We enjoyed a couple of good meals at Le Caveau Restaurant while in Chamonix.
If you want a good burger, you may also like MBC (Micro Brasserie de Chamonix)
Both of these places were recommended by a local who drove us (airport shuttle) from Geneva to Chamonix.

Enjoy!

Posted by
31029 posts

dw,

To begin with, as Priscilla mentioned, the Panoramic Mont Blanc cable car that travels across to Pointe Helbronner will not be operating at that time of year, so you won't have that option.

To evaluate the weather, you could perhaps ask the staff at your hotel or check the webcam - http://www.chamonix.net/english/webcams/aiguille-du-midi-ridge

Regarding the "intimidating staircase", the passageways from the cable car station to different parts of the facility are within the mountain and as I recall there's an elevator to the top levels of the facility.

Finally, thoughts on bringing an 11 year old and a 9 year old.....

One thing that you'll all have to be concerned with is the altitude. The top levels of Aiguille du Midi are at 12,000 feet+ and that altitude can be a problem for some people. If I were in that situation, I'd have a chat with the children prior to the visit to give them some idea of the symptoms to watch for.

Posted by
4522 posts

Dw,

Ken makes an excellent point regarding the altitude & how it may affect you & your children:

One thing that you'll all have to be concerned with is the altitude. The top levels of Aiguille du Midi are at 12,000 feet+ and that altitude can be a problem for some people. If I were in that situation, I'd have a chat with the children prior to the visit to give them some idea of the symptoms to watch for.

When my daughter & I went up to the Aiguille du Midi, we were so busy taking photos of the breathtaking views all around us that I had forgotten about the altitude, but when I began to experience a headache, I knew it was time to descend.

Posted by
50 posts

Thanks for the feedback.

"taking the gondola ride over to the Italian mountains". I certainly would not want to be one of the folks that got stuck there before the end of the season this fall. Ugh. Sort of glad it is not an option.

We have been debating Aiguille du Midi vs Jungfraujoch vs just doing some of the Swiss train journeys (Bernina Express, Golden Express, Glacier Express). The Aiguille du Midi and Jungfraujoch seem to be relatively expensive. If we did one of the 'express (scenic)' routes we probably would try to figure out how to take another train that fits our schedule. We will also look into the swiss card and half fare card. All of these things sound interesting, but we don't have the time to do it all so we will have to evaluate our options.

Thanks again and happy new year.

Posted by
1516 posts

Hi dw, your hotel will probably have a dedicated TV channel showing the conditions on the mountain tops.

Also, check out the day pass for the Chamonix area. We purchased it at the ticket office for the Aiguille du Midi and found it to be a good value. We rode the cable car to the Aiguille du Midi, took the train to Montenvers, then walked down to see the ice cave. Great day, great views! We were there at the end of May, not sure what February weather will have to offer!

Posted by
50 posts

Our pediatrician for the kids did not think taking a 9 y/o and 11 y/o to that altitude was a good idea so we decided to bag the Aiguille du Midi. We will have to save it for another trip. Thanks for the feedback.

Posted by
31029 posts

dw,

Skipping the Aguille du Midi is probably a good idea with kids that age. The Jungfraujoch would be similar as it's close to the same altitude, however in my experience I didn't have any problems with a visit there. As you noted, the Jungfraujoch and Aguille are both a bit pricey, so that's another consideration. You could also consider the Schilthorn as it's at a lower elevation and not quite as expensive.