A new project : the « PIPE »

Compagnie du Mont-Blanc

A new project : the « PIPE »

Completion : April 2016

Taking its name from its shape, which resembles a pipeline, this structure created for the Company du Mont Blanc by IMPLICITE, will make a very old project possible at the Aiguille du Midi: linking the Mont-Blanc Wing to the Rebuffat Terrace.

This liaison will create a thematic route for visitors, who will now be able to go from the Piton Nord to the Espace Vertical, then to the terrace at the top and to the Pas dans le Vide, before visiting the Mont-Blanc Wing and then from there, thanks to the pipe, reaching the Terrasse Rebuffat and returning to the waiting area to go back down to Chamonix. No more to-ing and fro-ing, continually going backwards and forwards but a real sense of flow which will enable the visitors to move around the site.

For almost 20 years, lots of ideas, plans and attempts have been proposed and tested, but it is extremely complicated to actually make such a project happen due to the altitude, the weather conditions and the configuration of the site.

In particular, the force of the firn on the southern face has to be taken into consideration – the firn snow which builds up during the winter creating a force of up to 12 tons per metre. It is with this in mind that the 30m long tubular shape has been chosen, that the size of the concrete base supports has been calculated, that suitable materials have been selected… Each element has been designed and created specifically for this project.

Safety has obviously always been at the heart of all the planning for this project, for example in the choice for a stainless steel roof for maximum protection from any small rock falls, for an exterior made from Corten steel, for better resistance to rust which stays on the surface without causing wear on the inside etc etc….

The budget for this single project is almost 2.5m€ and the provisional planning is currently on track.
So, we can expect it to open in spring 2016
Pipeline Aiguille du Midi

Plans for the site:

2013 : Restoration and strengthening of the rock on the south faceMaking of the concrete base supports for the structure (150m3 of concrete by helicopter)
2014 : Fabrication of 13 hoops for the structure (6000 hours of labour)
Winter 2014/2015 : Break for the winter because of the weather conditions – restart in the Spring
Spring : Clearing the snow from the area
Summer 2015 : Completion of the last base support
Autumn 2015 : Putting the structure in place (120 tons of steel divided into 13 hoops helicoptered up in a Super Puma in 13 trips)
Winter 2015/2016 : Work on the fixtures on the inside of the pipe (floor, windows, dressing)

Opening planned for Spring 2016