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To climb the relatively easy 4000m peaks of the Alps you still need to be an accomplished mountaineer, or a good winter mountain walker climbing together with a mountain guide. However, some of these summits are accessible to mountaineers without much technical climbing skill via their normal routes. Once properly acclimatized several spectacular 4000m summits are achievable for most mountaineers with basic skills.

Going for your first 4000m peaks summertime, Chamonix is a great place to start to acclimatize by doing some lower and shorter classic climbs. It is just one hour from Geneva and also provides a good base from where you have easy access to the Mont Blanc, the Grand Paradiso and the Valais mountain ranges. From Chamonix you can continue to Zermatt and the Saas region. If you are flexible you can almost always find good weather somewhere in the Alps thanks to the different weather fronts affecting the different regions.

Going from Chamonix to the Aosta Valley you can climb Grand Paradiso (4061m) by staying one night in the Vittorio Emanuele or the Chabod refuge, both providing good Italian food and a friendly atmosphere. The terrain is varied with a long, dull approach, some steeper snowy sections and an aesthetic final rock scramble to the summit. This peak is commonly climbed and skied in the springtime.

From Zermatt you can make a two-day tour and climb the Breithorn (4159m) and the Pollux (4092m). Taking the lifts from Zermatt to Klein Matterhorn you can climb Breithorn on the way to the Ayas Hut (3394) and spend the night there. This mountain has a peak that is over 2 km broad, a south face of snowy slopes and a north face of vertical rock and ice. The west summit is reached easily after a short snow walk. Climbing the Pollux by the south-west ridge the next day, you get to climb some rock too. The rock scramble is facilitated by some fixed chains on the hardest section and finishes up a snow arete that brings you to the panoramic summit. These are two easy 4000m peaks in a beautiful area with great views onto the Matterhorn and the Monte Rosa.

In the very eastern part of the 4000m range of the Valais Alps, the Weissmiess (4023m) is a popular peak for inexperienced mountaineers. Accessed either from the Almageller hut, by the rocky south-east ridge, or by taking the cable car from Saas Grund to Hohsaas, climbing the glaciated north-west face. Combining these two diagonal routes, traversing from the Almageller hut to the Weissmiess hut, makes a complete alpine adventure.

By spending a week in this alpine terrain, climbing some or all of these peaks, you can gain a lot of confidence as a mountaineer. These peaks are also often climbed during introduction to intermediate mountaineering courses by UIAGM certified mountain guides, aiming to teach you all the basic mountaineering skills needed to continue climbing on your own. A weeklong introduction course is a great way to become an accomplished mountaineer.

Eva Eskilsson is a skier and climber, writing for Mountain Spirit Guides, a small guiding company based in Chamonix. They offer guided mountaineering in the Alps and intro to advanced mountaineering courses.

Article Source: Easy 4000m Peaks in the Alps

 
If you know a bit about skiing, and someone asks you what the largest ski area in the world is, you would probably say the Three Valleys. Similarly, if you were asked where the best "snow sure" ski areas are, you might mention some of the glacier resorts such as Tignes and Val Thorens. In both cases you would be wrong!

Currently, the largest linked ski area in the world is the Portes du Soleil area in the Northern French and Swiss Alps. The area benefits from North facing slopes and the highest average snowfall in the Alps, meaning that Avoriaz and Chatel tend to get some of the best snow conditions in Europe from the start to the end of the season. In fact, the lifts of Avoriaz often stay open until the first weekend in May. Not bad for a resort with no glacier who's lifts only go up to 2500 m!

Avoriaz is a striking purpose built resort built on an impressive cliff top at 1800 m. Its architecture evokes a mixed response. It is extremely convenient for skiing and is right at the centre of the Portes du Soleil.

Of course, purpose built resorts are not for everyone, and if you would prefer a more traditional chalet style resort, then Chatel might be for you.

Chatel is built on the side of a sunny south/west facing slope so visitors staying in the village get beautiful views up and down the picturesque Vallee d'Abondance. However, the strength of Chatel lies in its spectacular North facing ski slopes of Linga & Pre La Joux. These areas have some of the most exciting and interesting terrain in the whole of the Portes du Soleil, and two chairlifts will take you up to Avoriaz in about 10 minutes or so.

The area gets a phenomenal amount of snow on an annual basis, and because of its aspect, it keeps it well. The domain often gets slated for its low altitude (1200 - 2500 m) but those in the know have long since realised that a high altitude resort is no good if the area doesn't generally get much snow!

Chatel itself is a beautiful place to stay. All the buildings are chalet style and there are a number of original old farms still full of cows to be found in and around the village centre. There isn't just skiing to keep holidaymakers entertained - the village has two cinemas, an ice rink, a lake where you can go ice diving, lots of fantastic bars & restaurants, spa facilities in a number of hotels and a whole list of non-ski related activities such as dog sledding, snow shoeing and paragliding.

One of the best things about Chatel is that it is relatively undiscovered. It attracts "people in the know" who want to avoid the crowds and find the most extensive skiing in the best areas.

For more information on this beautiful resort, you can visit the Chatel tourist office site (http://www.chatel.com).

The village also makes a spectacular destination in summer, but that needs a separate article dedicating to summer in Chatel.

Ed Ockelton lives and works in the Alps, and runs ski holidays in Chatel with White-Peak Holidays (http://www.white-peak.com). He also works as a ski journalist for a number of ski related websites.

Article Source: Chatel - The Best Kept Secret in the French Alps

 
Hannibal of Carthage as a boy watched his father Hamilcar Barca go off to wars, and by the age of nine Hannibal accompanied his father to battles into Spain. Soon hardened by the roughness and brutality of war Hannibal matured quickly. Hannibal, son of the famous General began to prove his own personal worth. As he grew into a man Hannibal was given more and more authority of troops and he proved a gifted leader.
Hannibal, born in Carthage in 247 BC, Hannibal grew up in comfort and ease in Carthage, a tropical paradise in those times.

But he remembered his fathers hatred of Rome, and that hatred sealed Hannibals life. The problem for the city state of Carthage was that it had been founded by Phoenicians and they were traders, not warriors. So while Carthage thrived in trade through the sea, they were never fully equipped to beat back the Romans, who seemed a city state on a steady rampage against another neighbor and raising more soldiers to win more battles.

Phoenician created Carthage had mostly an army of mercenaries, who could disappear at the slightest sense of trouble. The traders of Carthage required an army, but this was more defence, and in particular as Roman ships began raiding Carthaginian supply ships and raid on Carthage itself The life in Carthage became as if in a siege. Hannibal was by his fathers side when he died in battle that brought most of Spain under Carthaginian control. Hannibal was just 18. Hannibal was appointed commander of the Carthaginian army.

Appointed commander, Hannibal had to serve under his brother in law, who died in battle in 221 BC. Hannibal then was chosen by the soldiers as their natural leader. He who would be under his brother in law was called Hasdrubal.Life in Carthage was one of fear and attack, yet often the Carthaginian army was elsewhere fighting battles in Spain or elsewhere. The famous march with elephant through the Alps finally was undertaken by Hannibal and his men after so many Roman raids on their shops and their cities. For the next five hundred years and more, this was the one great attack where barbarians were at the gates.

Scholar ask what was the secret of his success. Firstly he had a genius for strategy. He was able to control and move his various forces, whether soldiers, sailors or elephant handler. He had an uncanny sense for what was beginning to happen and he could immediately swing his forces into the weak position. This was the beginning of the second Punic war and Hannibal was quickly on the offense. The battle ended with Hannibals retreat, but later as massive victory over Rome, it was said at one battle of the 76,000 Roman soldiers that 70,000 had been killed.

Roman antigues shop momentos show examples of a violent period in history.

Derek Dashwood enjoys noticing positive ways we progress, the combining of science into the humanities to measure life at Roman Antiques

Article Source: Hannibal :Elephants Over The Alps To Attack Rome

 
Live in Europe and thinking of a ski holiday this year, but wondering where most people regard as a good place to head for?

The answer is often the French Alps.

The Alpine Mountain Range is often referred to as the 'Alps' and stretches across much of Europe. The Alps are often divided into two categories - Eastern Alps and Western Alps. The Western Alps include the mountains located in Italy, France and Switzerland.

Skiing in the French Alps is an adventure like no other. Royalty, celebrities and people from all walks of life can be found at various times skiing in the French Alps. The highest mountain in the Alps is Mont Blanc at 4808 meters.

La Plagne

Nestled atop a magnificent glacier on Mount Bellecote is the world class skiing area of La Plagne.

Surrounded by the majestic Vanoise Massif Mountains in the Graian Alps, La Plagne resort beckons the avid skier. It is spread over an altitude of 1250 to 3250 metres. The result is a variety of terrains and altitudes appealing to beginners and experts alike.

The ski area was built in 1961 with the hope of attracting tourism money. It was largely conceived in the interest of four small mountain villages. The fledgling towns were dying and hoped to capitalise on the gorgeous natural beauty of the area.

Today's La Plagne is comprised of many different and distinctive villages. All are linked to one another by ski lifts and trails for those who prefer cross-country skiing. The villages continue to expand, giving it a competitive edge when it comes to tourism revenue.

Even the non-skier will find something to love about La Plagne. Non-skiers may choose from over 50 pubs and restaurants ranging from casual to fine dining. After dark visitors can hit one of the resort's many night clubs for an evening of dancing and partying.

Numerous daytime activities entertain and engage those who choose not to ski as well. Winter-sport activities include ice skating, snowmobiling and cross-country skiing.

Les Menuires

Located in Belleville Valley, the Les Menuires ski holidays resort hosted the 1992 Winter Olympics and is part of the largest ski area in the world, Les Trois Valleys. The Three Valleys are comprised of several resorts that host millions of skiers per year.

Les Menuires boasts 62 ski trails, advanced and beginner ski slopes and 39 ski lifts. The resort's 48 restaurants offer foods ranging from fast food to fine cuisin and is an excellent location for a ski holiday.

La Grave la Meije

La Grave is a commune in southeastern France and the location of La Meije. Three summits comprise La Meije with the highest summit being 3,984 m. Mountain climbers and rock climbers challenge themselves to reach the highest summit of La Meije.

The very first successful climb was by Emmanuel Boileau de Castelneu and Pierre Gaspard and his son on August 16, 1877. Glacier climbing or ice climbing is a very popular sport in La Grave as well. One hundred to 300 metre climbing routes offer a variety of difficulty.

Much of the La Grave la Meije ski area is glacier and considered dangerous. Guided skiing is recommended. Extreme skiers find a great deal of fascination and appeal in La Grave la Meije due to the enormous vertical drops and extreme ski conditions - not for those having a first ski holiday perhaps!

For more French Alps ski information, including French ski holidays visit yourandorra.com They also have news from Andorra blogs for skiers and deals from companies who offer ski holidays to Andorra

Article Source: 2009 Ski Holidays In The French Alps

 
I am not a "mountain person". I usually prefer beaches, but when I saw Annecy for the first time (thanks to a friend to wouldn't take no for an answer) I was blown away by the breathtaking beauty of the area. The French department of Haute-Savoie, located in the Alps and bordered by Switzerland to the north and Italy to the east, is a panorama of rugged mountains, lush valleys and crystal clear lakes. It is a marvelous location for a holiday or winter getaway, even if you don't ski. There is so much to do here, and just driving around, taking in the views and exploring the towns, villages and hamlets could keep you busy for months. I highly recommend renting an apartment, chalet or villa to completely immerse yourself in the local way of life. There are tons to choose from, in every price range and every setting you could wish for.

Annecy, on the northern banks of Lac D'Annecy, is simply stunningly beautiful. The picturesque medieval town with its chateau, canals and winding, cobble-stoned streets is a perfect place for a winter vacation. Looking out over the lake, the cleanest in Europe, you gaze upon the spectacular rugged, snowcapped peaks of the Alps, and great skiing is only a short car ride away. In town, you'll find plenty of cute shops, cozy cafes and restaurants serving both contemporary and traditional local dishes. At least one raclette dinner (melted Raclette cheese accompanied by potatoes, gherkins, onions, pickles, etc.) is a must, but also try the "farcement", an ancient dish made out of grated potatoes, bacon and prunes cooked in a high mold shaped like a chimney. And make sure you sample some of the local cheeses: the gooey, stinky, absolutely delicious Reblochon, the nutty and earthy Tomme de Savoie, the fruity and slightly sweet Abondance, the nutty and almost caramelly Beaufort, the soft, creamy goat-milk Chevrotin, the sweet raw milk Emmental de Savoie, and the fruity and somewhat herbaceous Tome des Bauges.

Evian-les-Bains, home of the world-renowned bottled water, is a beautiful spa town, spectacularly situated on the banks of southern end of Lac Leman (Lake Geneva) at the foot of the Chablais mountains. Winter pursuits include downhill and cross country skiing, snow shoeing, dog sledding, trekking, or for something a bit extravagant, heliskiing, where a helicopter drops you off on the Italian side of Mont Blanc. There are plenty of activities to keep non-skiers busy as well: visit one of the many world-famous spas, gamble at the casino, stroll along the lake, fill a bottle with water at Cachat's spring, go for a free cable car ride up a mountain, or take the 35-minute boat trip across the lake to Lausanne.

La Clusaz is a traditional alpine village in the Aravis mountains where skiing (both downhill and cross country) and snowboarding are the main attractions. Other popular pastimes include ice-skating, snowshoeing, mountain climbing, and watching the scenery from the Aqua Centre's large heated outdoor swimming pool. In the winter, Mondays are a particularly fun time to visit - during the day, there's a farmer's market in the town center, and at night local merchants organize torchlight processions and vin chaud for everyone. Child-friendly, not as hectic as some of the other ski resorts in the Alps, and easy to navigate, La Clusaz is a favorite among families and those who prefer to linger over candlelit dinners rather than dance the night away (although there are several bars and weekends tend to get a lot busier and louder with the influx of both French and Swiss tourists).

Megeve, the picture perfect, rustically chic winter playground for the well-to-do crowd since the 1920s, is as popular today as ever. Here, you can go skiing, paragliding, dog sledding, sleigh riding, hot air ballooning, or rent a small plane or helicopter to take you by Mont Blanc for some great views and photo opportunities. Megeve also has plenty of high-end boutiques, cafes, bistros and restaurants, as well as one of the world's best spas, "Pure Altitude" at the resort "Le Fermes de Marie". Those looking for a swinging nightlife have plenty to choose from too: there is an active apres-ski scene as well as several jazz clubs, discos, and bars.

Whether you decide to rent a cozy apartment in town or a charming chalet on a hillside, I recommend trying to find one with a fireplace - it can get pretty cold and raw in the mountains, and what's nicer than warming up in front of a blazing fire with some hot chocolate or a glass of wine before heading out to explore?

Cattie writes about private holiday homes and the many different options available.

Article Source: Vacations In Winter Wonderland - My 4 Favorite Places In The French Alps

 
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