Avalanche Demolishes Chair Lift in France

Posted By: The Ski Channel on March 5, 2012 3:47 pm

 

 Over the weekend, at the St. Francois-Longchamps Resort in France, a monstrous avalanche tore down the side of the mountain, a terrifying moment for everyone in the vicinity. 

Dozens of skiers and snowboarders were on the lift when the incident occurred, unable to do anything to avoid the 500-meter-long path of destruction. The snow rushed directly across the lower part of the lift, burying the first pylon and damaging the second.  The pylons supported the contraption and their destruction caused the ride to cease moving.  Cables and other parts were swept away in the snow.

“The slide was very, very slow.  We had the impression it was not dangerous,” Mary Helene, local mountain employee said. “But when I saw it get close to me, bend the pylon, hit the chairs…”

Miraculously, there have been no reports of injuries, but many guests were stranded in the air while they waited to be rescued.  41 people were on their way to the top when the snow hit, and all have been safely returned to the ground with the aid of helicopters.  Due to the foresight of mountain officials, the black run under the lift had been closed because of the risk of such an event. 

Officials believe the avalanche was triggered by the high temperatures of the year, saying they are often caused by skiers and riders or, as in this case, when snow begins to melt, and the water moves downhill, taking the snow with it.

Below is a video taken from the point of view of someone riding the lift during the avalanche.  

 

Other avalanches have occurred in the area, but none have done any damage.

The lift will be closed for the remainder of the season.

 

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