The all new La Daille gondola in Val d’Isère officially opened last week, so the InTheSnow team made sure we were among the first to test it out.
The old lift was certainly due an upgrade. First installed in 1966 and most recently renovated with new 4-seater cabins as long ago as 1994, the gondola was looking rather tired compared with some of the snazzy new lifts recently installed around the Alps.
Work on the new gondola started as soon as the 2017/18 winter season finished and by July work on both the top and base station were already well underway.
Among the first steps were the removal of the existing pylons, replacing the 16 existing pylons with just 12 and significantly reducing their footprint. The lift company – Val d’Isère Téléphériques – was awarded the Green Globe International Standard for Sustainable Tourism in 2016. As a resort they have committed to reduce the number of pylons by 100 by 2022 and to replace any tree cut down with at least five more.
The desire for sustainability also led to the decision to move much of the machinery that operates the lift from the base station to the top station, reducing noise pollution in La Daille and the hamlet of Les Etroits.
It’s hard to judge this objectively, but when this correspondent visited just before Christmas, the lift seemed relatively quiet – certainly enough so to record a short video in front of it:
Iain from Skipedia.co.uk reports with the latest lift and snow news from Val d'Isère
Posted by InTheSnow Magazine on Saturday, 22 December 2018
What is not in doubt is the luxury of the new gondolas themselves. Created by the Italian engineering company Pininfarina, the new 10-person cabins are so comfy you won’t want to leave.
Equipped with decent wi-fi, there’s plenty of space, even with ten skiers and snowboarders inside.
The seats are contoured and comfortable, but the real joy – on a snowy and cold December’s day – is that they are heated. For anyone used to the bad old days of ski resort lifts, this bonus is an absolute delight.
Not that there’s long to enjoy it. The previous lift used to amble up to the 2294m summit station in nine minutes. Now the lift speed has doubled from 3 metres/second to 6 metres/second you have just 4 minutes and 30 seconds before you’re at the top.
That takes some by surprise – one of the lift operators told me that he’s seen skiers who’ve started to eat their packed lunch but have been caught out by the quick arrival…so went around for another lap!
If the biggest problem with a new lift is that it’s too fast, that’s a great problem to have. Try it out yourself this winter in Val d’Isère and you’re bound to be impressed.