A view of the French ski resort of Chamonix, captured from the summit of the Aiguille du Midi.
To reach the summit, we boarded the cable car, in the centre of Chamonix. The cable car structure was built in 1955 and held the title of the world's highest cable car for about two decades. It still holds the record as the highest vertical ascent cable car in the world, from 1,035 m to 3,842 m. There are two sections: from Chamonix to Plan de l'Aiguille at 2,317 m and then directly, without any support pillar, to the upper station at 3,777 m (the building contains an elevator to the summit). The span of the second section is 2,867 m measured directly, but only 2,500 m measured horizontally. It thus still is the second longest span width, measured directly. The tramway travels from Chamonix to the top of the Aiguille du Midi – an altitude gain of over 2,800 m – in 20 minutes. An adult ticket from Chamonix (as of July 2011) is €42.50 return. The Aiguille summit contains a panoramic viewing platform, a cafe and a gift shop. The Vallée Blanche ski run begins here, and the nearby Cosmiques Refuge is the starting point for one of the routes to the Mont Blanc summit.