Atop the Needle of Chamonix © Amazing Aerial Agency/Offset by Shutterstock
With these dramatic clouds, the shardlike pinnacles of the Aiguille du Midi (Needle of Midday) resemble the spires of a ruined Alpine cathedral. This is just one of the many spectacular peaks of the Mont Blanc massif, the storied Alps range in eastern France that stretches across the border into Italy and Switzerland. It was here in France"s Chamonix valley that mountaineering became a sport in the mid-1700s. This dramatic peak was first summited in 1818, a feat that helped to popularize mountain climbing throughout Europe.