12.21.13 10:45 AM ET
A New Installation in the French Alps Allows Visitors to Walk Off the Highest Mountain Peak
Europe’s highest mountain peak just got a little bit scarier.
The Aiguille du Midi mountain sits nestled within the French Alps, home to some of the most picturesque, high-altitude landscapes in the world. With a summit that reaches 12,605 feet, Aiguille du Midi, or “needle of the south,” boasts awe-inspiring views, historic cable trams (it holds the record for the highest vertical ascent cable car in the world), and rigorous skiing and hiking trails.
If that’s not enough adrenalin-inducing fun, visitors now have the opportunity to see more than just views that extend out as far as Italy and Switzerland. Opening today, “Step into the Void” allows those brave enough a new vantage point—looking all the way down.
“Step into the Void” is the newest attraction on the uppermost terrace of Aiguille du Midi. Boasting glass panes on all sides, top and bottom, the glass room is suspended off the side of the mountain—allowing visitors to simulate the feeling of walking on air…with a view of the 3,395-foot drop included. This sight could, quite literally, take your breath away.
According to the region’s tourism website, the structure, designed by Pierre-Yves Chays, is “custom built to the highest standards for safety and clarity.” The five glass panels assembled around a metal frame can withstand winds up to 135 mph and are part of an ongoing renovation that includes the “World’s Highest Museum,” filled with memorabilia from famous alpine climbers, and a natural ice cave for visitors to explore.
The concept was inspired by the Grand Canyon “skywalk” —a U-shaped glass cantilever bridge that extends off one of the canyons ledges. After it opened in 2007, glass-bottom viewing decks began to appear around the world. The Wills (Sears) Tower in Chicago added all glass balconies to the Skydeck during its 2009 renovations. Then, in 2011, a skywalk pathway was constructed on the side of Tianmen Mountain in Zhangjiajie, China.
But all of these structures pale in comparison to “Step into the Void,” which sits higher than the Grand Canyon, Wills Tower, and Tianmen Mountain skywalks combined.
But the fun doesn’t stop there! After you’ve stepped into the void, take the Vallée Blanche ski run—a 12-mile long off-piste ski route with a vertical descent of almost 9,000 feet—directly into the largest glaciated domain in the Alps…the Mont Blanc massif.