Funivie Monte Bianco

This is an excerpt from the book “Aosta Valley Itineraries”.

Mont Blanc year-round, an unforgettable experience

Glaciers terrace
Glaciers terrace
Just a few km from Courmayeur, at the border between Italy and France, are the Funivie Monte Bianco. In 20 minutes from La Palud you reach Punta Helbronner (3462 m) and its fantastic Terrace on the Glaciers where the view on Mont Blanc (4807 m) and the Giant’s tooth is breathtaking. On the horizon: the Matterhorn, Monte Rosa and Gran Paradiso.
At Punta Helbronner the Permanent Mont Blanc Crystal Exhibition hosts 150 minerals and quartzes found by a local group Les Amis de Berrio in Mont Blanc Massif.

Mont Blanc crystals
Mont Blanc crystals

Off-piste paradise

Vallee Blanche off-piste
Vallee Blanche off-piste
Thrilling powder descents along the fabulous itineraries from Punta Helbronner (3462 m) to Courmayeur and Chamonix.The Vallee Blanche offers a unique experience skiing amongst granite pillars sculpted by ice ages following one of the biggest glaciers in the Alps, the Mer de Glace, all the way down to Chamonix.The ideal pic-nic spot during this long descent, is the vast plain of the “Salle a manger” where the panorama is breathtaking.

The Toula glacier

An entirely “Italian” off-piste descent from Punta Helbronner down to Pavillon du Mont Frety (2173 m) or depending on snow conditions all the way down to the entrance of the Mont Blanc Tunnel.

Pavillon Restaurant

At 2200 m a warm welcome from one of the most charismatic chefs in the Alps who will introduce you to the pleasures of the local cuisine.Enjoy your lunch comfortably sat outside with the whole Valle d’Aosta at your feet.At Pavillon du Mont Frety for the young ones inflatable games to have fun with.
Pavillon restaurant
Pavillon restaurant

Monte Bianco – snow and golf

Snow and golf
Snow and golf
Panoramic driving range on the terrace and a 5 hole golf course on the snow.The beauty of the natural surroundings will make this an extraordinary experience.Useful information: At 3400 m sunlight is very strong. Please wear sunglasses and use a highly protective sun cream.

History

Pavillon Refuge 1920
Pavillon Refuge 1920The idea of an international cable-car link between Italy and a neighboring country had attracted the attention of the Count Lora Totino. His idea was to link the Italian side of the Matterhorn with Zermatt, but the Swiss authorities didn’t give permission. The Count diverted his interest to an even more prestigious project, linking Courmayeur to Chamonix through the extraordinary massif of Mont Blanc
“…E’ imminente l’inaugurazione della Funivia dei Ghiacciai, che completa il gigantesco ponte di fili gettato tra l’Italia e la Francia, ponte che consentira’ a chiunque ne abbia necessita’ e desiderio di passare in poco piu’ di un’ora da Courmayeur a Chamonix.” (La Domenica del Corriere del 1958)On the Italian side there was a pre-existing cable-car linking Courmayeur and Rifugio Torino (3300 m). Building the next part to reach Punta Helbronner was not a problem, the great difficulty was crossing 5 km of glaciers under continuous movement.
This amazing piece of engineering is 15 km long and includes 3 sections.

Building the lifts
Building the lifts

Cable car
Cable car

The first one links La Palud to Rifugio Torino. This section was built during the war and as soon as it was opened the cables were severed by French fighter planes firing on them. The cable-car was then opened to the public in 1948.
The second section linking Chamonix to the Aiguille du Midi was opened to the public in 1956, and extends over 5416 m with a vertical climb of 2812 m . The first task was to link Chamonix (1030 m) and Plan des Aiguilles (2317 m), and then the following year the section reaching the Aiguille du Midi (3842 m) was built.<
The third section linking Rifugio Torino to the Aigulle du Midi was opened in 1958, using the Gros Rognon as natural support for the cables.
The Glaciers cable-car begins at Punta Helbronner, and is undoubtedly the most interesting and spectacular section from both a technical and panoramic point of view.
The Count Lora Totino developed the idea of an aerial pylon to support the cables linking the Gros Rognon and Punta Helbronner as it was impossible to install a normal pylon on the glaciers.

Glacier gondola
Glacier gondola

1960s cable car
1960s cable car
The realization of the aerial pylon was needed because the stretch between Gros Rognon and Punta Helbronner is a single span of 3300 meters. Therefore needed to support, or cables, not required, would be perched on the slopes of the Col des Flambeaux.
Rejected the hypothesis of a support pylon on the glacier below normal (instability ‘of glaciers), Count Lora Totino think’ the opportunity ‘to build just a prop plane. The study ‘, he experimented in the garden of his villa, then gave the task of achieving eng. Zignoli.To get an idea of the work that was done, just remember that rope, among those that were drawn, other lost or held in reserve, they were brought up there ‘about 300 km.
Impossible to speak of Courmayeur Mont Blanc Ski and without thought to race Count Giovanni Battista Gilberti.Count Giovanni Battista Gilberti in 1957 bought the shares of the Monte Bianco Society from the Count Lora Totino. He then became the President and major share holder of the society owning the Funivie Monte Bianco.

Courtesy of Funivie Monte Bianco