Alpe d’Huez celebrates the old and the new

8th December 2005, by Chris Gill

Alpe d’Huez began its 2005/06 winter season last weekend, marking the seventieth anniversary year of the resort’s first lift with the opening of a new one.

In 1936 Jean Pomagalski installed the world’s first button tow in Alpe d’Huez and founded the famous Poma lift company. The Eclose tow was the first surface ski lift of its kind to feature a tow pulley system with detachable grab ‘sticks’ and button ‘seats’. In those days, purists would climb the slopes using sealskins on their skis and mock others who chose to use the tow. The run it served became known locally as the ‘Idiot’s Run’.  Pomagalski’s lift came a few years before Sun Valley, USA, invented the chairlift.

Seventy years on, and Alpe d’Huez is marking the occasion with the opening of a modern new lift to commemorate its founder. A fast six-seat Poma chairlift has replaced three drag-lifts at Les Bergers, beside the Marmottes gondola. Its construction begins the first stage in a five year improvement programme for the French resort. Fun theme weeks will also take place throughout February and a special theme day, ‘70 Years at the Alp’, is planned for 23 April 2006.

Other resort developments include a new red run, Belvedere, from the top of the Dôme des Rousses; a free beginner rope tow by the Rif Nel drags and an expansion of the learning zone at Oz en Oisans.

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