The main chain of the Alps is the central line of mountains that forms the water divide of the range. Main chains of mountain ranges are traditionally designated in this way, and generally include the highest peaks of a range; the Alps are something of an unusual case in that several significant groups of mountains are separated from the main chain by sizable distances. Among these groups are the Dauphine Alps, the Eastern and Western Graians, the entire Bernese Alps, the Tödi, Albula and Silvretta groups, the Ortler and Adamello ranges, and the Dolomites of Bolzano-Bozen, as well as the lower Alps of Vorarlberg, Bavaria and Salzburg.
Description of main features of alpine chain
The Alps are generally divided into Western Alps and Eastern Alps, cut along a line between Lake Constance and Lake Como, following the Rhine valley. The Western Alps are higher, but their central chain is shorter and much curved; they are located in France, Italy and Switzerland.
The Eastern Alps (main ridge elongated and broad) belong to Austria, Germany, Italy, Slovenia and Switzerland. The highest peak of the Western Alps is Mont Blanc (4810.45 m), in the Eastern Alps Piz Bernina, 4052 meters.
Starting from the Col d'Altare or di Cadibona (west of Savona), the main chain extends first south-west, then north-west to the Col de Tenda, though nowhere rising much beyond the zone of coniferous trees. Beyond the Col de Tenda the direction is first roughly west, then north-west to the Rocher des Trois Eveques (2840 m), just south of the Mont Enchastraye (2932 m), several peaks of about 3000 metres rising on the watershed, though the highest of all, the Punta dell' Argentera (3265 m) stands a little way to its north. From the Rocher des Trois Eveques the water divide runs due north for a long distance, though of the two loftiest peaks of this region one, the Aiguille de Chambeyron (3373 m), is just to the west, and the other, the Monte Viso (3813 m), is just to the east of the divide. From the head of the Val Pelline the main chain runs north-west, and diminishes much in average height until it reaches the Mont Thabor (3157 m), which forms the apex of a salient angle which the main chain here presents towards.the west. From here the divide extends eastwards, culminating in the Aiguille de Scolette (3478 m), but makes a great curve to the north-west and back to the south-east before rising in the Rochemelon (3509 m). From there the direction taken is north as far as the eastern summit (3536 m) of the Levanna, the divide rising in a series of snowy peaks, though the loftiest point of the region, the Pointe de Charbonel (3730 m), stands a little to the west. Once more the chain bends to the north-west, rising in several lofty peaks (the highest is the Aiguille de la Grande Sassiere, 3726 m), before attaining the considerable depression of the Petit Saint Bernard Pass.
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