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‘Fastest Gondola in the World’ Opens in Les3Vallees

The La Masse lift in Les Menuires is not all about speed. It opens up a superb skiing area to many more people with a host of attractions. PlanetSKI was at its official opening at the weekend.

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It was emptier than could have been expected, because of the travel restrictions on people from the UK and the general lack of international skiers and snowboarders in resort.

However it’s easy to see that this wonder of modern engineering is going to help lower the queues during the peak times.

It was built over summer 2021, and replaces a lift of the same name (though in truth the old lift is actually still in place and the new lift runs in parallel)

It’s a significant new addition to Les3Vallees  lift system because it speeds up the ability for skiers and snowboarders to get to the far reaches of the Les Menuires and Val Thorens Valley.

I was lucky enough to be one of the first people on the lift.

Yours truly. Image © Chris Moran/PlanetSKI

Yours truly. Image © Chris Moran/PlanetSKI

It spreads out skiers and snowboarders on what is a less-skied area, due to the older lifts that populate this corner of the world’s biggest ski area.

It’s hard to overstate just how big Les3Vallees is, but lets just say that the La Masse peak, and the myriad of runs coming down from it, is – in itself – bigger than many resorts in the world.

And yet until now it has been an infrequently skied corner of the piste system.

But that is certainly about to change.

So well, big deal you might think what’s all the fuss about a new lift?

Well for one thing it’s billed as the fastest gondola in the world, and without any fuss or fanfare, each gondola whisks 10 skiers at a time up to the 2800 meter La Masse peak from lowest run in Les Menuires in just a few minutes.

Seems pretty quick:

La Masse lift, Les Menuires. Image © Chris Moran/PlanetSKI

La Masse lift, Les Menuires. Image © Chris Moran/PlanetSKI

Its quiet, smooth and extremely luxurious, with generous loading and unloading areas to prevent bottlenecking and that ‘quick-to-the-snow’ stampede of skiers on a powder day.

It also means skiers will be able to explore the entire Les3Vallees system without stressing too much about whether they’re going to be able to return to their home resort in time.

In addition to the new upgraded lifts in Orelle 900 it means that the VT Valley is finally on a par with its two neighbouring valleys, certainly in terms of modern infrastructure.

Val Thorens and Les Menuires often lived in the shadow of their more famous neighbours, Courchevel and Meribel.

Perhaps not so any more.

The new lift is part of a transformation over recent years of this part of Les3Vallees.

The old lift was extremely low fanfare and took two changes to make it all the way to the top (in the classic old egg fibreglass mini gondolas).

Then it unceremoniously offloaded you into some of the best off-piste in the world.

The new lift wants you to stay at the peak, to walk around the lift station and really take in some of the best views that the Alps have to offer.

La Masse lift, Les Menuires. Image © Chris Moran/PlanetSKI

La Masse lift, Les Menuires. Image © Chris Moran/PlanetSKI

There’s an enormous 360° decked platform with rather beautiful bespoke steel frames highlighting the summits, glaciers and points of interest that are visible from the top of the mountain.

La Masse lift, Les Menuires. Image © Chris Moran/PlanetSKI

La Masse lift, Les Menuires. Image © Chris Moran/PlanetSKI

There are binocular stations like at the top of the Empire State Building, and there’s both a huge picnic area as well as an upgraded and refurbished mountain restaurant for those who want to take in a vin chaud as well as the views.

If you’re heading to Les3Vallees this year (and yes, we know that’s up in the air right now) then it should definitely be on your hit list.

La Masse lift, Les Menuires. Image © Chris Moran/PlanetSKI

La Masse lift, Les Menuires. Image © Chris Moran/PlanetSKI

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