Over 100 People Stuck in Cable Car at 3500m above Chamonix

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Chamonix Helbronner Cable Car Aiguille Midi

It made national headlines. I happened to be in Chamonix at the time and the sound of the rescue helicopters let me know that something major was afoot.

The drama unfolded in the afternoon when the two cables supporting the cabins became twisted with each other.

The drama wasn't on the cable car from Chamonix to the Aiguille du Midi (3842m) but the “Panoramique” telecabine. These smaller cabins go from the Aiguille du Midi to the Pointe crossing over the huge Glacier du Geant to reach Helbronner, a distance of about 5 km that takes about 50 minutes. There's another cable car from here that descends into Italy close to Courmayeur.

The rescue services swung into action. The most dramatic rescues were of those suspended high over the glacier. Rescuers descended by winch from helicopters to reach the cabins. You can see one of the rescues below! However increasing cloud and nightfall necessitated rescue operations to cease for the night.

Early the following morning continued efforts to free the cables were successful and the remaining people, about 30 in all, re-gained either Helbronner or the Aiguille du Midi in the telecabines.

Naturally there's a major enquiry underway to look at the causes of the drama, the rescue response and to avoid a future occurrence.

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