Chamonix has confirmed an ambitious 27 million Euros project, involving a new lift to provide access to the glacier for skiers and boarders reaching the end of the skiable section of the Vallee Blanche, is moving forward.
The Vallee Blanche, a world-famous off-piste descent and also the longest lift-served run in the world by most measures, has become increasingly problematic in recent years at its lower end as global warming has dramatically reduced the glacier’s depth and extent.
30 years ago there were just three steps up from the snow-covered blue ice surface to the lift up to Monenvers for the train ride back to Chamonix. By 2000 the declining thickness of the glacier meant that gap had grown to 118 steps, by 2010 it was a thigh-destroying 320 steps in your ski boots and today we are around 400 steps. The climb out at the end of the Vallee Blanche run is now one of its greatest challenges for skiers and snowboarders.
President Macron visited the site last year to see the extent of the thawing.
The plan is for the existing gondola to be replaced by a new lift which will be located at least 700m further upstream from the current historic Montenvers-Mer de Glace site (1913m) to a point where ice depths are currently more significant.
Alongside this grandiose natural laboratory, there will also be a new glacier and climate interpretation centre to help the general public and school children to understand the reality of global warming.
A timetable for the new list and interpretation centre’s construction has not yet been confirmed.