The name “Aiguille du Midi” translates literally as “Needle of the Noon” or “Needle of the South”. It gets its name from its tapered form and from its position when viewed from Chamonix: it approximately indicates noon when the sun passes over its summit.
The cable car to the summit, the Téléphérique de l'Aiguille du Midi, 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 3842 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 (1.781 mi) measured directly, but only 2,500 m (1.6 mi) measured horizontally. Thus it remains 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 9/5/2012 to 30/11/2012) is €50 return.