Today we’re heading to the top of the Moraine gondola lift to meet Grégory, one of our operators who is going to tell us all about the job he loves.
An 8-minute climb and we’re at the top where Grégory is waiting for us. Introductions over, the tour begins. We’re in the little office you can see at the summit, ski lift gondolas are passing by in front of us, along with skiers eager to get off and hit the slopes.
ESO gondola lift guided tour:
Grégory explains that Moraine is an ESO or operator-free gondola lift, which means it doesn’t require an operator to run.
However, for safety reasons there still is one to ensure that everything runs smoothly. This cutting-edge gondola lift is fitted with sensors and cameras. If one of the sensors is activated (because, say, a skier dropped their ski pole or goes through one of the boarding gates etc.), the gondola lift will come to an automatic stop. Grégory, or his colleagues at the foot of Portette, are watching everything that happens on the video surveillance screens. If intervention is required, the Portette operators (located just next door to the Moraine departure station) are on site to come and resolve any problems.
We’re mid-conversation when Grégory interrupts us: “listen, the gondola lift is about to stop, you’re lucky, that doesn’t happen often!” He has keen hearing, the gondolas are indeed slowing down and Grégory looks on his computer to check which sensor has been activated. Straight away, he calls his colleagues at Portette, who are watching on their surveillance screens. Everything is fine, the gondola lift can return to normal speed.
Grégory shows us his “onboard computer” screen. It shows all of the gondola lift’s functions, every sensor, speed, rate of passenger transport… It’s all measured in real-time, if there’s the tiniest problem, the cause will be identified very quickly. There are also sensors on the pylons, so they know the precise location in the event of a breakdown.
Next, we move up to the floor above, to go behind the scenes of the gondola lift. We follow the lift’s whole journey from arrival to departure.
Grégory explains how detachable gondola lifts work, with a grip that releases the cable and is then pushed along on tyres as the gondola arrives at the station. By detaching from the cable, the gondola moves much more slowly to allow skiers plenty of time to alight. Once again, multiple sensors control speed, the spacing between the gondolas, and ensure that the grip re-attaches to the cable when it’s time to go.
Would you like to take part in the ‘A day in the life of a ski lift operator’ experience?
If you would like to learn more and enjoy an exclusive look behind-the-scenes of Val Thorens’ newest ski lift addition, Grégory and Julien welcome Club Val Thorens members every week during the school holidays.
Join Club Val Thorens to try for the chance to win this unique experience !
If you weren’t lucky enough to win this experience, we also run ski lift visits during school holidays.