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WHAT NOW AFTER HUGE CHAMONIX LIFT FIRE? - James Cove, PlanetSKI Editor
Friday September 14, 2018 - Email this article to a friend

Investigations & clearing up are underway after fire destroyed the cable car lifts to the Grands Montets. PlanetSKI reports with updated information.

 

 

 

 

It was gutted in a blaze last Tuesday.

The cable car from the valley floor and then the next one to the top of the Grands Montets are not expected to be open next winter, though no official announcement has been made.

The damaged mid-way station also contained a restaurant, bars, toilets, meeting points, offices, the piste patrol, medical facilities and lockers.

Here at PlanetSKI we have been informed that the engine room/machinery and the SPOT self-service restaurant have not been badly affected by the fire.

However the complex was the hub of the ski area.

See here for our story from the time with eye-witness accounts, pictures and videos:

Height of the blazeHeight of the blaze

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some say next season lies in tatters, much like the building, with holidays ruined and jobs lost.

They say one of the most iconic ski areas in the Chamonix Valley will be closed and it comes along with current problems on the Aiguille du Midi lift and other main lifts in Chamonix.

Others point out there is a gondola lift from the valley that gives access to the area so people can still get to the ski area.

They says the Grands Montets cable car was old, slow and only took people up to a couple of itinerary runs that were for experts anyway.

They claim it will be business as usual next winter and people will hardly be affected.

As is often the case in these matters the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

The ski areaThe ski area

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There can be no getting away from the fact that it is a severe blow to Argentiere and Chamonix as a whole.

The Grands Montets is one of the iconic lifts in the area and one of the reasons for many visits.

It has been destroyed.

The fire spread quickly through, causing severe damage to the infrastructure of the two cable cars.

Of the eight cables which equip the two sections of the cable-car, five gave way in the heat, causing one cabin at the top of Grands Montets to plunge to the ground on the glacier below and shatter.

The second cabin was stuck on its bearer cables.

Battling the blazeBattling the blaze

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was on it for the final day of last season in early May and people queued for a long time to ride it and access the world-class terrain on offer.

Aboard to Grands Montets cable carAboard the Grands Montets cable car

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They wouldn't do that unless it gave access to some truly outstanding skiing and snowboarding.

It also gives access to huge areas of off piste skiing for the ski tourers and mountaineers - routes like the Pas de Chevre are now not easily accessible.

Mountaineers on the Grands MontetsMountaineers on the Grands Montets

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

However for the keen ones the area can still be reached - albeit with a bit of skinning up.

Two of the main lifts in the ski area will be running as normal with the Bochard lift rising to 2,800m and the Herse to 2,600m.

Then it is a skin to the Grands Montets at 3,300m (less the 160 steps down the metal staircase).

The majority of the people that ski in the area do not buy the supplementary lift pass to use the Grand Montets cable car and go to 3,300m - their skiing is therefore unaffected.

The Plan Joran gondola from Argentiere will be working and can transport 3,000 peope per hour.

There will be the new TABE chairlift at Lognan with the same capacity (3000pers/hour), and a new beginners area on the Lognan plateau with 2 new drag lifts and an elevator.

However the perception will be there that two of the main lifts are out of action so people will perhaps look elsewhere.

It may affect whether people chose to stay in Argentiere or elsewhere in the Chamonix Valley and this will impact on local businesses.

Storm clouds over ChamonixStorm clouds over Chamonix

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Personally I am likely to ski in Argentiere next winter and it will make no difference to my plans.

I shall be heading to the Grands Montets ski area.

Even without lift access to the top of the Grands Montets the whole ski area remains one of the finest north-facing ski areas in the Alps in my personal opinion.

I look forward to skiing there, once again.

During the winter and for its traditional closing weekend at the beginning of May.

Looking forward to next winterLooking forward to next winter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the mountains.

For the Spirit of the Mountains - PlanetSKI: Number One for ski news

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