Mont-Blanc Cable car Incident

Mountain Wilderness Italia recently relased a communiqué relative to the recent cable car incident in the Vallée Blanche of Mont-Blanc . Here after is a rough English translation.


The recent incident which affected the cable car connecting Punta Helbronner station to the Aiguille du Midi in the Mont Blanc massif brings sharply into focus the effective safety conditions of the transportation system as well as some broader considerations regarding the appropriateness of keeping a cable car that has without doubt helped to trivialise the public’s perception of the “mountain’s message” ; such a message  can only be comprehended through physical and psychological engagement.

Once again we are faced with the impossibility of reconciling “looking”, which only glides over the surface of things, and “seeing”, which penetrates their meaning.

In this occasion nobody cared to mention that in 1989  Mountain Wilderness International organised a spectacular blitz to demand the decommissioning of this plant, which was ( and is) considered both useless and harmful. Reinhold Messner in person was hoisted up to the cable car’s suspended pylon where he unfurled a banner proclaiming “Non à la télépherique de la Vallée Blanche”. Though this caused a stir in the media at the time, it sadly failed to procure the desired effect, thanks to the Val d’Aosta government’s usual unwillingness to consider the environmentalists reasons.

With regard to the cable car’s safety we feel it is legitimate to ask some precise questions: on  what technical ground were the owners granted the continuous postponements and waivers in safety matters (cables that should have been replaced many years ago)?

How could such an accident – happily without loss of life – happen? Is it not the time for the Italian and French magistrates to initiate an urgent investigation into the correctness of the administrative and bureaucratic procedures that are supposed to guarantee the safety of those men working on the cable car and its passengers and to identify those responsible for such carelessness?

The first official explanation for the accident was a violent gust of wind. This is strange, to say the least, since when the wind is strong the cable car is always shut down in order to prevent the cabins from swaying. Now the persons in charge produced a second explanation, equally fanciful. What were the real causes? Finally, there is a suspicion that the owners will take advantage of the occasion to obtain fresh financing in order to increase the system’s capacity as well as – finally – to replace the cables; naturally at the expense of the governments concerned.

(MW Italia)