The Telegraph: Elite skiers use dynamite to clear path to stranded Alps resorts11 January 2018 | 01:14 | FOCUS News Agency
Helicopter teams used controlled explosions to trigger avalanches and clear dangerous areas of snow so the train line to the town could be safely reopened.
Services resumed shortly after 5pm local time (4pm GMT), finally opening a route to the resort, which had been cut off from the outside world for two days.
For most of the way the only way in or out was by helicopter airlift, with many tourists choosing to pay 70 Swiss francs (£50) for a seat on a flight.
Meanwhile there was still no sign of the British snowboarder John Bromell who went missing in France just before the massive snowfall which covered the Alps.
Fears are mounting for the 39-year-old from Lincolnshire, who went missing on Sunday in the resort of Tignes when he returned to the slopes alone “for one last run” despite worsening weather.
The search was continuing on Wednesday but hopes of finding him alive were fading.
In neighbouring Switzerland, authorities worked round the clock to reopen the Zermatt Matterhorn Railway, a vital lifeline to the snowed in ski resort. It was not just a matter of clearing 3 feet of snow from the tracks. The risk of avalanches was too high for trains to run.
Helicopter teams used dynamite to trigger avalanches under controlled conditions so the route could be made safe. But this sent still more snow onto the tracks, and initial plans to reopen the railway in the morning had to be postponed.
“The snow clearance is more complicated than expected. They are working under extreme pressure,” Janine Imesch of the Zermatt tourism office told reporters.
A small section of the railway linking Zermatt to the nearby village of Täsch was reopened on Wednesday. From there the road has been cleared and it is possible to continue by bus.
“There is no panic or fear. Everything is fine, even if it doesn’t look that way from the outside,” Ms Imesch said.
There were no shortages in the resort, she said. “Zermatt is a winter destination, so of course we’re familiar with this sort of situation. The last time this sort of thing happened was only nine years ago. All hotels and businesses have stores, we have enough for a long time. And if something is missing, the helicopter is always there.”
Helicopters were flying in fresh laundry for hotels, according to reports. Many tourists turned to the flights in order to leave after a new route to Täsch was opened, cutting the cost of a seat from 200 Swiss francs (£150) to just 70 (£50).
Meanwhile in the Italian Alpine resort of Sestriere, where more than six feet of snow fell in 48 hours, a five-storey apartment building was hit by an avalanche on Monday night.
Snow and broken branches filled the building’s corridors and staircases, but the 29 people who were inside at the time escaped unharmed.
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