Musical Chairlifts at Font Romeu

There is a great deal of investment going on down in the ski resorts of the French Pyrenees at the moment. Font-Romeu – Pyrénées 2000 currently playing a giant game of musical chairlifts as part of 30 million € of new investments. The linked ski area has 54 km of downhill ski runs extending from 1700 to 2200 meters. With a turnover of 8.6 million € it is one of the top Pyrenean ski areas.

font romeu
Font Romeu Photo -

However like many resorts it has found its current lift infrastructure unsuited to increasing demands from guests and changing climatic trends. Font-Romeu - Pyrénées 2000 is controlled by a SIVU (Syndicat Intercommunal à Vocation Unique), a legal structure that links two or more communes for a single purpose. The area is run by Altiservice, pyrenean experts in ski resort management. Altiservice saved Artouste from closure last year.

Altiservice and lift constructor Pomagalski were asked by the SIVU to study ways to improve the flow of skiers and access to the ski domain via Bolquere Pyrenees-2000 and to improve access to the Aveillans sector where the advanced skiing is located. The duo Poma/Altiservice already knew each other well. In 2005 they installed a new four seat chair at the Col Rouge, the high speed six seater Airelles chair on the north side of the resort as well as improving the speed and reliability of the Airelles gondola lift, constructed in 1976, which gives access to the slopes from the village of Font-Romeu.

In March 2006 they presented their plans to the SIVU. The first major problem they had noted was that the high speed Belvédère lift stopped a few meters short of the flat Col del Pam rendering the access for both skiers and snowboarders difficult between this major crossroads leading to both the Font-Romeu and Aveillans sectors. Over the summer of 2006 this lift has been replaced with a high speed six seater chair and the run extended by 250 meters compared to the old lift. The chair has a capacity of 2,800 skiers/hour and covers 226 meters altitude from the center of Pyrenees 2000.

The team then had the clever idea of reusing the old Belvédère lift stations to convert the fixed four seater Aveillans chair to a high speed quad. The capacity has been boosted from 1,700 to 2,400 skiers per hour and the 412 meters vertical are now covered in just a shade over 5 minutes. It remains to be seen what affect this will have on the popular “Record” black run.

The old Aveillans stations then replaced those of the Nord two seater chair which serve a black and a red tree-lined run, transforming the lift into a fixed four seater taking just a shade under 5 minutes to cover the 223 vertical meters. The cables and pylons have been replaced for this part of the project.

Last year the old Altiport chairlift was removed and put into storage. The stations have been re-used as part of this project to build a new fixed four seater col de Palm chair which links with the Gallinéra area. This chair has cleaned up the infractructure in this part of the domain replacing the four drag lifts: The Levants, and the Est 3 and 4. Finally a new drag lift has been installed on the Col del Pam to aid skiers and boarders crossing this area.

The works should be ready by the start of the season in mid-December. The resort hopes this will resolve problems with bottlenecks at major links and improve the skiing experience. In the future the resort will add five new ski runs on the tree lined slopes between the Aveillans and Pyrenees 2000 as well as improving the water supply for snow canons from the Bouillouses dam. The resort is certified ISO 9001 for quality and service and last season saw 470,000 skier days.

Posted by on Tuesday, 19 September, 2006 at 01:11 PM

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