Fire-Ravaged Trams at Chamonix, France, to be Replaced in 2024

Christopher Leach | | Industry NewsIndustry News


Chamonix Les Grands Montets
Before the fire: the old cable car nearing the summit Les Grands Montets (Credit: Chris Leach).

Lift-served access to the summit of Les Grands Montets ski area in the Chamonix Valley is slated to finally return in 2024 after a disastrous fire disabled service in 2018. As reported by Snowbrains at the time, the mid-station fire destroyed the structure that connected both the cable car from the valley floor in Argentière to mid-mountain, and the cable car to the summit. Les Grands Montets has continued to operate, as another gondola from the valley has provided access to the rest of the upper lifts.

Chamonix terrain
Some of the terrain below the summit cable car at Les Grands Montets (Credit: Chris Leach).

Les Grands Montets is famous for its freeride terrain, with the summit cable car providing access to big lines like Pas de Chèvre, Rectiligne Couloir, and various glaciers such as Rognon and Argentière. The upper cable car alone provided almost 4,300 vertical feet of consistent fall-line skiing, with the total vertical for the resort being over 6,500 feet. While the upper terrain has still been accessible via skinning from other lifts, Herese and Bochard, the Compagnie du Mont Blanc is eager to resume lift service to restore the resort to its original glory.

Glacier d'Argentiere
Skipping along the Argentière glacier (Credit: Chris Leach).

The Compagnie du Mont Blanc has commissioned famous architect Renzo Piano to design the project. The plan is to replace the lower stage from the valley with a similar cable car, while the summit will be overhauled with a 3S gondola, increasing uphill capacity (other notable 3S gondolas include Whistler-Blackcomb’s Peak-to-Peak, and Sölden’s Gaislachkogelbahn, featured in the James Bond film Spectre). All four of the new stations will be inspired by crystals, while they will be designed to enhance transportation access and traffic flow at both the base and mid-station.

Although many skiers have likely enjoyed the reprieve from the powder frenzy that resulted in massive queues and tracked-out lines, there are likely just as many that are looking forward to the return of lift-served access that is considered among the most extraordinary in the world.

Les Grands Montets Trail Map
The yellow squares on the trail map show the cableways planned to be replaced (Credit: Argentiere)

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