Chamonix: New Gondola Open For Vallee Blanche Skiers

Skiers in the Chamonix area who want to slide down the Vallee Blanche from the Aiguille du Midi to the Mer de Glace can now spend all their energy skiing. A new gondola, replacing the one built in the 1990s, will convey them right from the glacier to the train station of Montenvers.

It avoids the laborious climb up the 550 steps of metal ladders at the end of the trip. The ladders flank the rocky sides of the receding glacier.

The work on the new gondola has kept the usual access to the Mer de Glace closed to tourists. Regular visitors previously came from the Monternvers train station to visit a year-round ice cave.

The new gondola will eventually permit access for everyone. Currently, however, the cable car is only available for skiers returning to Montenvers as they finish the Valle Blanche descent and for properly equipped alpinists who want to go down to the glacier in the morning.

Skiers re-grouping on glacial terrain.

Skiers take a break on the way down the Valle Blanche. Photo: La Chamoniard


Another difficult winter

This winter, however, the problem for ski tourers in the area goes beyond access. After weeks without snow and with remarkably high temperatures, conditions in the Mont Blanc Massif are far from ideal. In many places, the snow begins quite high up, requiring long approaches carrying skis on backpacks.

The snow is generally hard and areas of bare glacial ice increase exposure and the risk of falls, La Chamoniard reports. This weekend, two of the three Kandahar men’s downhill World Cup races were canceled because of dangerous conditions. Thankfully, forecasts announce some snow for the second half of this week.

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides graduated university in journalism and specializes in high-altitude mountaineering and expedition news. She has been writing about climbing and mountaineering, adventure and outdoor sports for 20+ years.

Prior to that, Angela Benavides spent time at/worked at a number of local and international media. She is also experienced in outdoor-sport consultancy for sponsoring corporations, press manager and communication executive, and a published author.