Emergency centres set up in Moutiers

28th February 2015, by Abi Butcher

The rockfall has caused a huge crack near the road out of Val Thorens

The rockfall has caused a huge crack near the road out of Val Thorens

Emergency centres have been set up in Moutiers to cope with skiers stranded because of the rockfall in Val Thorens.

Yesterday afternoon (Friday, 27 February) a large rock fell onto the road down the valley from Val Thorens, Les Menuires and St Martin de Belleville, cutting off the resorts from major traffic.

Traffic has been re-routed via a small, single-track road that can only be used by small vehicles, so coach-loads of skiers and snowboarders hoping to leave the Three Valleys resorts today have been stranded or forced to evacuate in the gondola to Orelle or on foot. Drivers bound for Val Thorens, Les Menuires and St Martin are being urged to stop in Lyon, Grenoble, Chambéry and Albertville.

“It was a miracle somebody wasn’t injured or killed,” said Helen Raemers, owner of The Alpine Club, which operates chalets in St Martin de Belleville. The 50 cubic-metre rock fell onto the road and has cracked the ground.

Christine van Zadelhoff, owner of Ski Amis, was up all of last night replanning their Saturday transfer schedule, and a few hours ago described the situation to us.

“There is a very small single track road which is the only alternative route in and out of the valley — but of course as it’s single track the authorities can only allow traffic in one direction at a time, and the road is scary as hell!! It can only be used by small vehicles – coaches can’t navigate it at all. Our minibuses are just about ok with care but have to shuffle back and forth on the corners in order to get around them,” she explains.

Ski Amis had a guest injured on the slopes yesterday who required hospital treatment in Moutiers. They were not able to return to their chalet until 3am this morning.

“During the night, the authorities were allowing an hour of traffic coming up and then an hour of traffic coming down (hence eventually getting our client back to the chalet) but from early this morning they have not allowed any traffic at all up the mountain yet and of course the traffic coming down is completely jammed.

“We woke our drivers and outbound guests up very early this morning to try to get them out as early as possible – most will make their flights we think but this is an ongoing saga.

“We currently have guests stranded in Moutiers having taken the overnight train but have no way of getting them up the mountain at the moment. We have many others on their way in from the airports who will not be able to get further than Moutiers either.”

In addition, due to the build up of traffic because those going to the Val Thorens valley can’t go anywhere there is chaos around the whole area again, so skiers going to all the resorts in the area are being affected — particularly those heading into the Bozel Valley (Courchevel, La Tania, Meribel) as the diversion to the Val Thorens valley also uses part of this road.

Mrs van Zadelhoff added: “It’s yet another interesting transfer day this season. It started with the New Year emergency situation and carried on through January and February with heavy snow and traffic every Saturday so we haven’t had a straightforward one yet! 

“Next week is the annual motor show in Geneva so expecting the next two Saturdays to be chaos too!”

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