VIDEO: Life or Death for the La Grave, France Cable Car

Miles Clark |

I have never been to La Grave, France.  While watching this video, I felt the emptiness in my skiing soul caused by my lack of visitaion there.  It’s high time, and I better hurry – La Grave is in peril…

In April 2015, large landslides blocked the road that accesses the village of La Grave from Grenoble.  Access in now only via Briançon –  turning La Grave into a dead-end and greatly altering the way of life there.

The situation is dire. Many people work on the other side of the closed road, and high school kids now cannot get to their school. Due to rock fall, boat transfers over the dam are at times too dangerous, so a temporary, weather-permitting helicopter transfer has been put in place. The only other option is a steep, 40-minute mountain trail over the hill. For La Grave, commerce has slowed to a crawl” – – Josefine Ås/Black Diamond

In 2017, the lease on the La Grave telepherique will be up and no one knows what will happen next.

“…in less than two years, the lease that has allowed the téléphérique to operate will expire. With all of the road problems, the complexity of the lift contract has moved into the shadow. So far, no one knows who will take over and what will happen. And no one is certain when, or even if, things will return to normal in La Grave.” – Josefine Ås/Black Diamond

La Grave/ Photographer: Mattias Fredriksson
La Grave/ Photographer: Mattias Fredriksson

The La Grave, France Telepherique Facts:

  • Built 40 years ago in 1976
  • 7,546-vertical-feet
  • No groomed runs
  • No avalanche control
  • No ski patrol
  • No ropes
  • No signs
  • No starbucks
La Grave, France. photo: mattias frederickson/black diamond
La Grave, France. photo: mattias frederickson/black diamond

La Grave, France is unarguably the most extreme ski resort in the world and it may only have a year to live.  There is no other ski lift in the world like La Grave.  Once it’s gone, there will never be another like it.  Is La Grave worth saving?  Definitely.

La Grave is simple.  It’s mostly a huge 30-gondola pulse lift that takes you 7,000 feet up a mountain and drops you off above:  glaciers, crevasses, 1,000-foot cliffs, no fall zones, and extremely rowdy terrain.  There are no groomers, avalanche control, runs, signs, ropes, ski patrol, nor Starbucks.  Once you make the decision not to ride the gondola back down, you’re on your own.

"trail" map. Good luck. La Grave, France
“trail” map. Good luck. La Grave, France

I have a friend who went there once and ended up above a thousand-foot-death-cliff  without knowing it.  A rescue helicopter happened to be flying by and noticed his horrible position.  The heli dropped down, hovered above them, and shook its tail in the skiers left direction.  They follow its direction until the next thousand-foot-death-cliff where again, the heli directed them to safety once more.

You can only image how rowdy La Grave’s terrain is if you haven’t been.  If you’ve been, you’re either scarred forever or dying to get back there.

La Grave is an extreme skiers paradise and it might only have 3 more years to operate.

La Grave Teleferique
La Grave Telepherique

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2 thoughts on “VIDEO: Life or Death for the La Grave, France Cable Car

  1. I have been there. After skiing, some days you’re so tired from all of the Adrenilan being released while other days it’s like a jittery drug induced sceance from a Hunter S Thompson book.

    I believe the skiing community will come together and save this special place!!!

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