Collectively, we spend a fair amount of time weekly seeking out mountain experiences, stories, and destinations. You can catch us perusing ski magazines, vintage ski photography, or nose deep in an alpine adventure tale most days, and one component of mountain life that has us captivated is the cable car.
Popular in the alpine regions of Europe for their minimal environmental impact and ability to blend in seamlessly with their setting, cable cars and gondolas have been propelling skiers up steep mountainous terrain for ages. Originally constructed to move soil and assist in mining, the first cable car was powered by horses, and was built in 1964 in Gdańsk.
Aerial tramways designed to aid in moving people were popularized in the early 1900's, and proliferated Europe and the Alps, with Chamonix receiving one of the first. In America, Cannon Mountain in Franconia, New Hamphire was the first to receive a cable car, built in 1938. Offering skiers access to steep terrain and shielding them from the elements, gondolas have become a well-loved mode of transport ever since.
We love them for their (often mid-century modern) aesthetic appeal and ability to shuttle us to some of the world's best terrain, in a space that is conducive to meeting others who share our love of the mountains, warming cold fingers and faces, and jotting notes
Alpinist Robert Cocuzzo, while living in La Grave and documenting his experiences tracking legendary big mountain skier Doug Coombs, mentioned that he did some of his best writing in the Gondola on daily rides up La Meije, a mountain that he said will "strike fear in your heart". Hear Robert recount more tales from La Grave in our recap of his "Designed by Tradition" talk in Boston on December 17th.