Aiguille du Midi. Mountain peak in the Mont Blanc range, France. 3842 meters above sea level.

Aiguille du Midi is the highest point in the French Alps that can be reached by tourists without doing alpine climbing. Close to the center of Chamonix, there is a cable car taking hundreds of tourists to the summit every day. Many alpine climbers also use the cable car to easily reach the high mountain area, making it possible to climb one of the surrounding mountain peaks in one day, without doing a bivouac.

There is a very nice, though somewhat expensive, restaurant at the top station. During high season (no pun intended), thousands of tourists reach the summit every day, making the restaurant and the spectacular exterior view platform very crowded.

If lucky, tourists may see alpine mountain climbers arrive at the view platform, since a few climbing routes end up at this point. This can be a very spectacular view for people never having done any high altitude climbing themselves.

Unfortunately, many tourists believe they have visited the summit of Mont Blanc after actually having been to the summit of Aiguille du Midi. (Reaching the summit of Mont Blanc requires alpinist skills and climbing equipment.) The summit of Mont Blanc is nearby and can be seen very well from the view platform, but not everyone is aware and not everyone ever goes out to watch the scenery. This is actually the best place available to get a good view of Mont Blanc without flying.

There is a 'back exit' from Aiguille du Midi. A cave-like ice tunnel leads to a steep snow ridge, from where climbers start their journey to reach other mountain peaks, and from where off-piste skiers start their descent of the Vallee Blanche. Tourists are sometimes seen trying to go out on the ridge in city shoes, risking their own life and also the life of others. Only people with either a competent guide or with proper training and equipment are recommended to try this exit.

Reaching the altitude of 3842 meters in a short moment (about 30 minutes) using a cable car means that the visitor is not physically acclimatized to high altitudes. Most people suffer a slight weakness from the relatively low amount of oxygen, making it difficult to walk in stairs or trying to move fast. Still, it is very rare that someone suffers severely from the altitude. People with a weak heart are still recommended to take a moment at the mid station of the cable car to verify how they feel and carefully consider if they should continue to the top station.

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