Chamonix’s Vallée Blanche ski descent

February 2, 2023

Chamonix and the French Alps

We arrived by train in Chamonix, via a narrow mountain pass from neighboring Switzerland. Chamonix was destination #2 for my brother and I—two Americans skiing in Europe for the very first time. The Ikon pass (one of North America’s two skiing “mega-passes”) planted the idea in our minds. Alterra added Chamonix and Zermatt a few years ago, effectively reducing the cost of a European ski trip by … not much at all. But never mind the math. Every avid skier needs to visit the Alps at some point in their life. And here we were.

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Mt Rainier (PNW)

August 14, 2018, Paradise WA

“The Mountain”

In summer 2018 I signed up for a guided mountaineering seminar on Mt Rainier, in the gorgeous Cascade Range in Washington.  My first trip to Washington, four years earlier, was to visit a friend getting her Ph.D. from U Washington in nearby Seattle.  While roaming around town, I caught my first glance of Rainier, towering over the landscape.  It was unlike any mountain I had seen before, clearly taller and more isolated than anything in the Rockies, let alone the Northeast.  I asked my friend if we could hike it.  She looked at me like I had three heads and said “What?! No!  You need to like, train for that.  And acclimate.  It’s like a real mountain.”  I decided then and there that the next time I was in Washington, I was climbing Mt Rainier.

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