It seems like expensive times are ahead for ski stations as a result of climate change. Engineers from the constructor, Poma, were spotted at Val Thorens earlier this month inspecting the winding station of the Grand Fond Funitel after subsidence was reported.
The summit ridge on which the station is built is held together by permafrost which is suffering under the effects of climate change and last summer’s heat wave. The building is tilting so the cable winding pulleys risk blocking on the structure.
This sort of problem is already known to Poma who built an adjustment mechanism into the Grand Fond funitel during construction work in 2000, however the rate of subsidence has been greater than expected and the adjustment is already close to its limit. Poma engineers anticipate that if nothing is done the lift will be unusable by 2006.
The Grand Fond funitel links the ski domain with Orelle and the newly developed Maurienne valley. it is of a DMC design giving high availability most weather conditions. Repairs, expected over the summer, will involve jacking up the station and reinforcing the foundations.
Val Thorens has already suffered bad luck this winter when avalanche prevention work damaged the top station of the Peclet Funitel in an avalanche.
We contacted both Val Thorens and the Poma the manufacturer but neither has made any comment.