This winter, we followed the Ski Patrol team on what is known as an active avalanche control plan. In summer, the equipment still requires maintenance and the gazex needs to be checked, repaired and replenished. If you’re not scared of heights, come along with us!




It’s 6.30am. We’re at the slope maintenance garage in Val Thorens and are about to spend the day with the Gazex maintenance team.

We have a coffee together while we find out what today’s maintenance plan is, and what the safety instructions are. Before long we hear the sound of the helicopter arriving. It lands just in front of the building, scoops us up and we set off for Cime Caron!

At the mountain top there’s no time to marvel at the landscapes or the sun rising over the neighbouring summits.

We head straight to the storage shelter, which houses oxygen and propane dosage tanks that provide a constant piped supply to two or three exploders – the large metal tubes you see on the ski area. Each exploder contains an ignition system, and when the explosion takes place, a shock wave loosens the unstable layer of the snowpack.


The helicopter is poised above us, with its winch cable in place to lift up the dosage tanks. The empty bottles are carried back to resort in just a few minutes, and are replaced by full ones.

There’s no time to lose as we head down to join the rest of the team, who have got a damaged exploder ready to be collected. When the last anchor points are removed, it is also carried away by the helicopter and taken back to the slope maintenance garage. Depending on the damage caused, it will either be repaired by the manufacturer or replaced.

The helicopter comes back to pick us up and takes us to the west-facing side of the Aiguille de Péclet, carrying out an impressive ‘skid’ landing as it drops us at an altitude of more than 3,000 metres.

The team gets straight back to work. Checks need to be carried out on the state of the welding, the pipes, the shelter... and then any maintenance work is done.

Any exploders that have been damaged by rockfalls, or by the snow are repaired on site. The team work like tightrope walkers, doing any necessary welding work, painting, assembly/disassembly etc, with drops of several hundred metres beneath them at times.

After a very busy morning, it’s time to head back to the Péclet Funitel upper station; a descent along the mountain ridges that is only for the surefooted!

And to round it all off, we enjoy a delicious meal of cooked pork meats, fresh bread and local cheeses. A big thanks to all of those involved in making this unforgettable experience possible for us.

Entretien Gazex

Most popular articles they're really popular
Coulisses
A Snow groomer ride, an amazing experience !
Comfortably sat in a minibus with tinted windows, Sarah gives Chris’s hand a squeeze. They know they are going to experience something totally unique, but they’re not sure what exactly…
Coulisses
Piste grooming
It's 2am when the alarm goes off. I'm not used to getting up this early it has to be said but I manage it quite easily, especially since the experience that awaits Ingrid and I is exceptional to say the least… We're off to groom the ski slopes!
you'll like that too your favourite topics
Coulisses
Seaside v mountainside
After a great weekend on the shores of Lake Lacanau on the Atlantic Coast, I had the great idea of comparing our two cultures: seaside v mountainside – after all, we’re not that different – and the pictures prove it!
Coulisses
Vienne’s Jazz Festival with the Club Val Thorens special guests
3 years ago saw the start of a beautiful relationship between Jazz in Vienne and Val Thorens
Coulisses
Take care and see you next season.
It’s snowing…yet it’s the end of the season. As we switch off the last chairlift and carefully park the piste groomers in the garage, all of us here in Val Thorens just want to hold you close and say THANK YOU!
Coulisses
A Snow groomer ride, an amazing experience !
Comfortably sat in a minibus with tinted windows, Sarah gives Chris’s hand a squeeze. They know they are going to experience something totally unique, but they’re not sure what exactly…
Coulisses
The strange feeling of autumn
I’ve been living in Val Thorens for almost seven years now, and as I’m sure you’ll have guessed, I love the mountains, the snow and skiing. The mountains have this incredible ability to stir strong feelings inside of me all year round, but more particularly in autumn.