Vallée Blanche small cabin lift

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Télécabine Panoramic Mont Blanc
Station on the Pointe Helbronner
Station on the Pointe Helbronner
Location: Chamonix , France
Design type: Bicable orbit
Construction year: 1957
Mountain: Mont Blanc group
Valley station: Pointe Helbronner , 3466  m
Intermediate station: Gros Rognon, 3536 m
Height difference: 311 m
Mountain station: Aiguille du Midi , 3778  m
Route length: 5093 m
Driving time: 25 min
Number of gondolas: 12 × 3 pcs.
Number of supports: 2 pieces.
Capacity: 4 people / gondola, 220 people / hour
Manufacturer: Funivie d'Italia
Operator: Compagnie du Mont-Blanc SA

The small gondola lift Vallée Blanche ( Télécabine Panoramic Mont-Blanc , formerly Télécabine de la Vallée Blanche ) is a cable car in the Mont-Blanc group that went into operation at the end of 1957 after four years of construction. It connects the Aiguille du Midi and the Pointe Helbronner over a distance of 5 km. The ride offers a wide view of Mont Blanc and the surrounding rugged mountains and the Vallée Blanche , the Glacier du Géant , the Glacier du Tacul and the Mer de Glace , which lie deep below the gondolas . In summer you can take a cable car from Chamonix in France to the Aiguille du Midi , from there you can take the small cable car to Pointe Helbronner and then on the Italian side with the Funivie Monte Bianco to La Palud near Courmayeur and experience a crossing of the Alps by cable car . The cabins cross the route between the Aiguille du Midi and the Pointe Helbronner in 30 to 35 minutes, including five short stops, during which a group of cabins stops at each end station.

Above the Glacier du Géant, below right the Mer de Glace
Hanging rope support , view towards Aiguille du Midi
Cabins under the hanging rope support
Hanging rope support


From a technical point of view, it is a group lift or a two- cable circulating train with fixed carrying cables and a circulating pull cable that moves the twelve groups, each consisting of three small cabins.

From the station at the Aiguille du Midi at an altitude of 3779  m , the cable car first crosses the Vallée Blanche , a glacial valley, over a length of 1,684 meters to the corner station at Gros Rognon ( 3536  m ), where the route is carried out by means of ten-meter-long fixed rails is steered about eight degrees to the right and the tension weights of the suspension ropes are in place. This angular station has its own buildings for each direction, which are about 50 m apart and connected by a corridor. Therefore, on the first section, the distance between the two cable routes increases, while they approach each other again on the second section.

Behind the Gros Rognon angle station, it crosses the Glacier du Géant glacier over a length of 2,831 meters without a support. Although the ropes hang up to 255 m there, the cabins are still about 300 m above the glacier.

Between the rocks of the Great and the Little Flambeau, three approximately 315 meters long steel cables are stretched, which take on the role of the cable car support ( pylône suspendu / hanging support ). The decision was made at the time to do this, which is still unique today, because the glacier is unsuitable as a location for a high tower construction. There is a height difference of 136 m between the anchorages of these ropes. In addition, these ropes run at an angle of around 23 ° to the cable car route, so that the two groups of pulleys also hang offset next to each other at a height of 3,466 m. There is still a clearance height of around 20 m under the cabins even in heavy snow.

From this cable support, the cable car leads again with a span of 447 meters to Pointe Helbronner, also at a height of 3,466 m, where the tension weights for the 10,200 m long circulating pull cable are located, which is driven by the main motor on the Aiguille du Midi. There is an emergency motor in the station on Pointe Helbronner.

The distance between the two end stations is 5,093 m (inclined length), the horizontal length is 4,972 m.

The suspension ropes have a diameter of 30 mm, the pull rope is 16 mm thick. The cabins travel at a maximum speed of 7 m / s (25.2 km / h), but only 2 m / s in the angle station and when passing over the hanging support . The cable car has a transport capacity of only 220 people per hour, which at least in the high season requires registration.

A small, simple, single-track aerial tramway that the maintenance technicians can use to get from the Aiguille du Midi to the angle station on the Gros Rognon remains mostly unnoticed by the passengers .


The small cabin lift Vallée Blanche was designed by the Italian engineer Dino Lora Totino and developed over years of work. He had already built the cable car from Breuil-Cervinia to the Theodulpass ; However , there was no interest in the connection he intended with Zermatt . So Totino turned to the connection from Courmayeur to Chamonix, as there was already a cable car to the Rifugio Torino below the Pointe Helbronner and on the other side the idea of ​​a cable car to the Aiguille du Midi (also under the influence of Totino) was taking shape . Extreme difficulties had to be overcome for the conditions at the time. The cable cars to the Aiguille du Midi and over the Vallée Blanche were the highest in the world, there was still no helicopter transport, no one had ever laid a 10 km long haul rope at these heights (whose cable drum was still in Chamonix when the beginning of the pull rope had already been pulled to Pointe Helbronner).

After the completion of the cable car to the Aiguille du Midi, the small cabin lift was built by the Italian company Agudio . She was overhauled in 1995, got new cabins in 1997 and has recently been renovated again.


On August 29, 1961, a serious accident occurred when a French Air Force aircraft tore the cable car's rope, causing three gondolas to crash and six people to be killed. The pilot was able to land the machine, which was only damaged on the vertical tail, safely.

On September 8, 2016, due to a strong gust of wind, the rope overturned from the circulating pull rope over the support rope, which meant that the cable car was no longer operational. The 110 passengers stuck in the numerous cabins had to be rescued by means of helicopter rescue and terrestrial rescue with abseils. Because of the falling darkness, the last 33 passengers could no longer be saved from the night; they could not leave the gondolas until the next day, when the damage was repaired and the system was operational again. During the evacuation, the trapped passengers were provided with blankets, warm drinks and food by helicopter to protect them from the cold. In the incident no one was injured. Numerous helicopters and mountain rescuers as well as the Alpine police from Chamonix (PGHM) were on duty for hours.

The plant suffered further serious damage during the Eleanor storm on January 5, 2018. After ice had accumulated over 70 cm on a rope length of 3.8 km, the rope was attacked by wind speeds of up to 250 km / h and on two Places damaged. The strong wind presumably led to a rope derailment between the supports, as a result of which the rope broke. The rope from 1957 had to be completely replaced.

Geographic coordinates

See also

Web links

Commons : Vallée Blanche Aerial Tramway  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Schmoll, Hans Dieter: Welt Seilbahngeschichte II p. 148
  2. Report in The New York Times August 30, 1961. Only headlines available without subscription. (English)
  3. Cable car breakdown on Mount Blanc: “Nobody has to piss their pants with fear”. Stuttgarter Zeitung, accessed on September 9, 2016 .
  4. Eleanor: le cable porteur de la télécabine Panoramic Mont-Blanc a été sectionné, la Saison estivale compromise . In: Franceinfo . January 8, 2018 ( [accessed January 14, 2018]).
  5. ^ Les hypothèses sur l'accident du Panoramic Mont-Blanc . ( [accessed January 14, 2018]).