Another stunning day in the Chamonix Valley. This summer really has been amazing in terms of sunshine and generally great weather. Yesterday, I made my first trip this year along the Grand Balcon Nord high above the valley, and was reminded yet again that the Victorians in thier quest for fresh air and beautiful views definitely knew where to put a path! At the moment the autumn colours are beginning to come through with the 'myrtilles' turning deep red and the Rowan berries are hanging heavy on the trees.
After the traverse we pushed on up to Le Signal Forbes the high point where Scottish scientist James Forbes carried out his observations of the Mer de Glace Glacier. Nice for me as a Scot, to know that our understanding of how glaciers work and move was defined by a fellow countryman. The views from here as you can hopefully see from the photo are absolutly stunning and there is always a satisfying collective gasp from our clients as they glimpse this natural wonder for the first time.
The Mer de Glace, or Sea of Ice, at 7 km's long and 200 metres deep is the longest glacier in France. Like all glaciers, it is constantly renewed under the effect of two phenomena: accumulation of snowfall and also melting. It flows permanently under the effect of its own weight and although not perceptible to the naked eye, it is considerable. From more than 120 meters a year in its upper part, the Mer de Glace moves about 90 meters per year in the region of Montenvers, which is about one centimeter per hour.
Tuesday I arrived back to very sunny Alps - which was perfect because yesterday I was asked to be interviewed by BBC radio! The feature was about Chamonix's history & guiding culture for a piece on sustainable tourism in a mountain environment. The presenter Mark Stephen and I carried out the interview whilst 'on the move'. We spent the day walking along one of Chamonix's classic high mountain trails, the Grand Balcon Nord. Normally it's Lindsay that's in the limelight! So I wondered if i'd be stuck for words whilst my tales of the valley were being recorded.
Our walk began in Chamonix's town centre where we took the famous Aiguille du Midi cable car up to it's mid-station, the Plan de l'Aiguille at 2310m. Our morning took us along to the Montenvers Hotel for a traditional Savoyard lunch with views of the Mer de Glace glacier and numerous 4000m peaks all around us. Along the way Mark and I looked at and discussed the flora, glacial features and Chamonix making it's mark as the 'mountaineering capitail of the world' and how it's adapted over the centuries. Co-presenter Euan had been seeing Chamonix from a different angle - the air! As he'd taken a tandom flight paragliding from Le Brevent mountain! We finished up with a trip back to the valley floor via the historic Montenvers Railway. Another hard day in the office.
The piece will feature on BBC Scotlands 'Out of Doors' programme this coming weekend - and you can listen again on BBC iPlayer for up to a week later.