Saturday, 20 November 2010

How do you make a Swiss roll?

I've just been doing a bit of flying.

I found Geneva airport on Google Earth, and then looked for a different airport in the area. The one I found was Turin airport, in Northern Italy.

That meant I had to fly over the alps. Fortunately, my little SR22 was well up to the task. It climbed slowly but steadily, and eventually was 20,000 feet above sea level, and well above the highest alpine peaks.

The highest point in Europe isn't in the Alps at all. It's Mount Elbrus, and it's in Eastern Europe, in the Caucasus range. Its' summit  is 18,510 feet above sea level. The highest mountain in the Alps is Mont Blanc. That's a mere 15,782 feet tall.

Either way, I'd have got over them. Unfortunately, after safely getting over the mountains, I lost control of my final approach, and crashed on the runway of Geneva airport. There were no survivors. Bummer.

One of the things I can't find on Google Earth is a particular mountain.

You see, I've been to Geneva airport in real life. When I was a teenager, I went on holiday with my school. I flew in a Hawker Siddeley Trident.

I was autistically obsessive about aeroplanes at the time, and it was the first time I'd flown. I loved every minute of it.

We landed at Geneva Airport, without the pilot losing control of the final approach, and killing everyone on board, and disembarked through underground tunnels topped by round terminals that are still there, 30 years later.

We stayed in a hotel in a place called Leysin (not Lausanne) and spent a lot of time at the local ice rink. Leysin is about 4,500 feet above sea level. I think it's a ski resort during the winter, but when we went it was summer, and there was no snow.

But we did get some snow. We went up a mountain, after a journey that involved a funicular railway, a chairlift, and a cable car. I don't know how high we were, but there was certainly deep, blindingly white snow. Sticking out of the snow were the posts of a fence, and I looked down over the other side of this fence to find myself looking at a sheer drop of what seemed like thousands of feet. My toes are curling even now, just thinking about it.

It's certainly the highest point on the the whole damn world that I've stood upon. Ben Nevis doesn't even come close.

But I don't know what the mountain is called, or where to look for it.

I suppose I could try to remember more details of this 30 year old journey. Look for a railway. Look for a cable car, etc. But for now, this particular mountain eludes me.


Well, I think I've found my lost mountain! I think it was a mountain called Plaine Morte (or at least it's associated glacier is called Plaine Morte) It's just under 10,000 feet above sea level. It has ski runs. It has a cable car terminal. It has a cafe. And it has some terrifying drops. I can't be certain, although the photos of the cafe look right. So I reckon that's the one.

Here's a picture of how it looks on Google Earth.

And here's a KMZ...

1 comment:

Pete said...

Interesting thought. Think back throughout your life and try to figure out the highest altitude you have reached whilst on the ground. Straight away, I know I've reached 2565m above sea level which is the top of Doi Inthanon. Was I ever higher? Gotta ponder this.