Earlier on Tuesday September 11th, the lift station of Chamonix’s famous Grands Montets cable car caught fire. Clouds of smoke billowed from atop the mountain, with helicopters dropping water in an attempt to put out the fire and a team of firefighters on the mountain. Luckily, nobody was injured in the blaze, but over 5000 square feet of the building, including lift machinery and the restaurant were burned. The lift cable melted, severely damaging the gondola cabins.
Les Grands Montets is the name of the cable-car station at the summit of the Argentiere skiing-area. At an altitude of 3275m it offers a stunning view of the Chamonix Area and leads to an epic slope running from the summit to the base of the mountain, which offers an extremly long black slope, with very dry, deep powder-snow only, a fantastic view, and access to the Glacier d’Argentiere.
This is the second lift-related incident in the Chamonix valley this year, after the Aiguille du Midi cable car was forced to shut down in July when a defect was found in the cable. This came much to the chagrin of local skiers and climbers, who routinely use the cable car for quick access to big mountain lines high in the alpine.
This fire destroyed the drives, bull wheels, cables and cabins. The cost to repair will be significant and the lift is going to be down for a while. Skiers won’t be happy.