Fifteen minutes to ascend the highest peak in Europe. In all seriousness, it really does take fifteen full minutes to reach the peak of Italy’s Monte Bianco (Mont Blanc) on the Skyway. This new cable car magically takes you from Courmayeur to a place that most people would never be able to reach alone. This 100% Italian-engineered marvel of technology is a comfortable and suitable alternative for what was once reserved for elite climbers and athletes.
Emotions are high. The cabins offer Skyway riders a 360 ° view of the Valley and the surrounding mountains. It’s incredible! From the green of the Courmayeur Valley to the gray of the glacier, to the blinding white of the perennial snow- it’s exhilarating.
The path to the summit is divided into two sections. The first stop is at an altitude of 2,200 meters, where you will find everything you need to spend a relaxing day: a shop with souvenirs and mountaineering equipment, bars, restaurants, a wine cellar for tasting wines. There’s even a botanical garden, a cinema, a playground and a panoramic terrace where comfortable deckchairs allow you to bask in the sun after enjoying a delicious Alpine lunch. Companies can even organize unforgettable events here.
Punta Helbronner Station
Within a few more minutes and you ascend up even further for a breathtaking view. Breathtaking that it is because at 3,466 meters, the air thins, your legs feel like concrete and your heart beats fast. The vertigo sensation lasts a moment, as you adapt to the new altitude, and gives way to sheer wonder.
A flight of stairs leads to the panoramic, circular terrace, which allows you to observe the highest peak in Europe up close. So close you can almost touch it, at least with your imagination. Mont Blanc is there in front of you, majestic and imposing. The clouds reveal it and then quickly conceal it driven away by a constant wind. Surrounded by the white of the snow-capped peaks flooded with light, it’s impossible to keep your eyes open without sunglasses. It’s impossible not to feel close to the “Divine”, whatever that may be for us. The astounding beauty trumps the bitter cold. It’s late July and the temperature is 0 degrees centigrade.
Drunk from altitude and splendor, we descend with a convenient lift until we reach a tunnel that connects the cableway structure to the completely renovated Rifugio Torino, where we refresh ourselves with hot chocolate and a slice of cake. The refuge is full of mountaineers, who undoubtedly earned the calories they are about to consume. Everyone partakes because as they say, being in the mountains makes you hungry.
It’s time to make the descent back to reality. We leave this magical place with joyful hearts, feeling certain that we have witnessed Nature to its full potential. In a few minutes, we are back at the parking lot which is just a short distance from the center of Courmayeur, from where it all started.
Visit the Skyway official website for details.
Article and photos by: Elisabetta Terzariol