The Future Is Bright, The Future Is Better And Faster Lifts

28th March 2024

Tags: Les Deux-Alpes

The Future Is Bright, The Future Is Better And Faster Lifts

With doom and gloom stories circulating in various national newspapers predicting the end of skiing and snowboarding because of climate change, it’s encouraging to see that several resorts are so confident there is a future that they are investing millions of euros and dollars in new and updated lifts.

For example, in Les Deux Alpes, the SATA group, the company that has been managing the French resort’s lift system since December 2020, is upgrading the famous main Jandri Express which takes skiers and snowboarders from the centre of the village to the bottom of the glacier at 3,200m. The new lift is scheduled to open in time for next season.

Jandri Express Upgrade

The current Jandri Express was installed in 1985 in two sections. The first section travels to a mid-station where skiers and snowboarders can disembark and access the surrounding terrain or board the Jandri 2 and continue up to the glacier.

The whole journey lasts approximately 40 minutes, but the new ‘3S’ lift will only take 17 minutes and is held up by seven pylons instead of the current 15. SATA says this provides a better blend with the environment.

The upgraded Jandri is the latest on a long list of improvements SATA has invested in over the last couple of years.

The Vallée Blanche area has been redesigned with the Vallée Blanche chairlift replaced by a télémix which takes skiers to 2,100m. The Super Venosc gondola has also been upgraded.

New Green Slope

There is a new green slope between Vallée Blanche and Pied-Moutet, making this part of the ski area more accessible (2,100m to 1,600m).

The Diable chairlift has been replaced by a Telemix (86 six-seater chairs and 28 cabins for six people). It now takes five minutes 30 seconds to go from 1,655m to 2,410m and can take up to 3,000 people per hour.

The Front de Neige at the bottom of the slopes has been redesigned. A new ski lift and a magic carpet were built in 2022 in the Viking area. The Coolidge and the Champamé area are also both benefitting from new ski lifts and magic carpets.

Bubble Lift Upgrade

All the bubble ‘egg’ lifts that were once a feature of the resort have been replaced by high-speed chairlifts over the last few decades. The ‘eggs’ were auctioned off and can still be found in various locations around the village as a nostalgic nod to days gone by.

The new lifts in Les Deux Alpes are a far cry from the first one to be installed when the original ‘resort’ – then known as La Berarde – opened in 1925. The lift was a simple tow rope – and it fell down within 20 minutes of the opening ceremony!

La Grave, An off-piste mecca

However, not all the planned lift improvements in the area are being welcomed. The neighbouring ski area of La Grave is an off-piste mecca for skiers and snowboarders and the upper section of the Girose glacier, which was previously accessed using a rope tow, can now only be reached using a tow from a piste basher, a button lift, followed by a 40-minute hike to the top.

SATA (Aeon) which owns La Grave as well as nearby Alpe d’Huez and Les Deux Alpes, wants to make it possible for more people to enjoy the amazing views from the summit by installing a cable car.

The plan has divided locals and regular visitors. Those who are attracted by the laid-back ambience of La Grave want to protect its unique environment, but businesses in the historic hamlet believe the area can only survive if there is an increase in tourism.

During the summer months, and in the build-up to next season, we’ll keep you informed about improvements to ski areas and lift systems in Europe and North America.

The Future Is Bright, The Future Is Better And Faster Lifts: A Summary

Despite concerns about the impact of climate change on the future of skiing and snowboarding, several resorts are investing heavily in new and upgraded lift systems, signalling confidence in the industry’s longevity. One notable example is Les Deux Alpes, where the SATA group is revamping the iconic Jandri Express, scheduled to open for the next season. This new lift promises faster and more efficient transportation to the glacier, with reduced environmental impact. Additionally, various other improvements have been made across the resort, including new chairlifts, redesigned areas, and accessibility enhancements. However, not all lift upgrades are met with universal approval, as seen in nearby La Grave, where plans for a cable car have sparked debate among locals and visitors. Despite differing opinions, these investments demonstrate a commitment to enhancing the skiing experience while preserving the unique character of each resort.


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