SUMMER 2020 RESORT OPENING DATES [MTB from June 27 to August 30] [SUMMER SKI from June 27]

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Behind the scenes of the ski area

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Every Wednesday, Les 2 Alpes ski patrollers, Frank and Thierry take you behind the scenes of the ski area. Let them be your guide…

9.30am. Two ski patrollers join us at the top of the white eggs gondola lift. Thierry and Frank are our guides for half a day as we set out to go behind the scenes of the ski area.

Our first stop is the snow factory. This white building located just below the arrival station of the Thuit-Crêtes chairlift goes unnoticed, yet this is where cultured snow is «made».

Today, Arnaud Guerrand, Snow Operational Manager gives us a guided tour. With pipes, nuts and bolts and machines, it all looks a bit complicated to start off with, but when Arnaud explains how it all works it’s not that complicated after all! A network of pipes runs from a lake located a little higher up the mountainside, back to the snow factory, which then supplies the different snowmakers spread across the ski area with water.

The production of artificial snow requires water and compressed air. For certain snowmakers, pressure booster pumps are needed, but for others force of gravity is all it takes. Weather conditions are the only constraints (see the article about  artificial snow and snowmakers).

It’s important to point out that next summer improvement works will be carried out to increase the water flow into the snow factory. At the moment, the flow isn’t powerful enough to operate all of the snowmakers at the same time, even when conditions are optimal. When the improvements have been carried out, it will help overcome the problem of increasingly difficult starts to the winter season.

Next stop is the funicular, at the foot of Les 2 Alpes’ glacier. Thierry and Frank make the most of the journey time up to answer our questions. They explain what the large metal pipes that we can see poking out of the mountainside are used for (Gazex; a remote avalanche control system)...

Up at 3,200 metres our surroundings are quite different and the temperature is a lot lower. We go below ground, where we are welcomed by Sylvain who manages the facility with his teams, and who’s going to show us how the funicular operates.

The tunnel was built by the company who constructed the Channel tunnel. Located beneath 100 metres of ice and 30 metres of rock, it was inaugurated in 1989 and was the first of its type to be built in the mountains.

After the engine room, Sylvain takes us to see the machines. The huge driving pullies are very impressive! During the interseason, the station manager puts his mechanic’s hat on and services the entire facility.

It’s already midday and the visit’s over. We’ll never look at the ski area in the same way again, that’s for sure…

Practical info:

Bookings can be made at the ski pass sales outlets.

Every Wednesday at 2.00pm. Meet at the top of the white eggs gondola lift at 2,100 metres.

Price: 8€ for ski pass holders, or 32€ with the 3400m pedestrian pass.

Photo Credit : Sébastien PERRIER