Two new aerial tramways are about to open on the Italian side of Mont Blanc that will be among the steepest in the world. This is Doppelmayr’s largest project ever on Leitner’s home turf. The €110 million contract was awarded in late 2011 and construction began in 2012. Two sets of 80-passenger cabins will ascend a crazy 7,093 vertical feet in ten minutes. For comparison, Palm Springs’ tram does 5,873 feet in 12 minutes, Jackson Hole’s 4,084 feet in nine minutes.
Mont Blanc can be accessed from both the Italian and French sides. There is also a highway tunnel under the mountain, but that’s not nearly as cool. The existing setup on the Italian side requires riding three lifts built in the 40s and 50s to reach Point Helbronner at 11,358 feet. The French side has two tramways, the famous Aguille du Midi 1 & 2 that reach 12,392 feet. Connecting the French and Italian summits is a 3.1 mile bi-cable pulse gondola that opened in 1957.
Both new trams will have the world’s first 360-degree rotating cabins (others like the Palm Springs Tramway have only rotating floors.) Built by CWA, these 80-passenger cabins will feature heating, air conditioning and video screens showing live camera views.
Both sections will be in new alignments as shown in Google Maps above. The first section ascends from the village of Entreves to a mid-station called Le Pavillon with three towers along the way. It will move 600 passengers per hour with a four minute ride. The second section from Le Pavillon to Point Helbronner has only two towers and ascends over 4,000 feet in six minutes. Both sections will operate year-round once they open in mid-June.