Not quite in Switzerland but only a short bus ride away, and we’ll be in Lausanne tomorrow.
Now we’re in the famous French Alpine village of Chamonix. It is resting in the bowl of the Mont Blanc and friends’ mountain range. At just under 5000 metres, I believe it is the highest mountain of the Alps.
From Aosta we bussed up to around 3000 of them, chair-lifted up to about 4000, then walked around the 4000 part for some hours. I did individual walks up to nearly 4000 just so I don’t forget, and to keep the ‘walking’ feeling.
It’s a bit touristy but once you get out of the chairlift; go back a street or two; or just go for a walk longer than the tourist strip; the crowds disappear and you’re nearly on your own.
It’s a beautiful part of the world with the thick white snow of Mont Blanc squeezing through the pine trees; peaking through the shop and hotel windows; following you up the cable car; and watching as you reluctantly leave. Majestic, imposing, loyal, Chamonix is the centre of this universe.
There are statues of men of old pointing to its peak, other men arm in arm look in admiration and trepidation at its size, while others plan its assault or gather round to talk about their shared stories. More statues of artists that have tried to capture it in paint; writers who have tried to reduce it to words; and others with their ropes and pick axes who hugged and clawed at its sides. They’re all there.
Our hotel has a poem that talks about the red rope that connects everyone, as it did on the steep slopes of Mont Blanc and beyond. ‘The rope’, it says, ‘ is a hyphen between men and their adventures’, ‘it is a point of departure and a point of return’. We will depart tomorrow and maybe one day we’ll return.