Facilitating connections, ensure snow, securing ski areas or diversifying activities… in recent months, all of the teams of the French industrial group MND have remained mobilized despite the health context to meet these key challenges for mountain areas. In total, nearly 100 installations have been commissioned in all mountain areas throughout the world to support the development and contribute to the attractiveness of winter and summer destinations.
Despite the closure of ski lifts in France and in some other countries, the protection of ski areas and their infrastructures is a priority for the resorts that have maintained avalanche risk prevention this winter: it is in this context that new Gazex and O’BellX remote triggering systems have been deployed in Flaine, Morzine, Chamonix, La Clusaz, La Mongie, Val-Thorens, at the Portalet pass and on the 7 Laux ski area in Isère.
Made in France technologies have been exported again this year to Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Slovakia, the United States, Canada and for the first time in Georgia in the iconic resort of Gudauri at an altitude of nearly 3,000 meters.
MND, n°1 worldwide in avalanche risk prevention and control via its business line MND SAFETY, with its Georgian partner Mountain Resorts Solutions (MRS) have deployed the first ever avalanche risk control systems within a Georgian ski area. Operational since this fall, this large-scale project is already a reference in the region and allows Mountain Resort Development Company (MRDC), the Georgian state-owned company that manages the operation of the Gudauri, Bakuriani, Mestia, and Goderdzi resorts, to benefit from explosive-free systems and controllable remotely.
The Gudauri ski resort, the largest ski area in the Caucasus Mountains, has chosen “Made in France” technologies and equipment to prevent and secure avalanche risks – a first in Georgia. Located at an altitude of more than 2,000 meters, the resort is equipped with 24 Gazex, 10 shelters / mini-shelters, 1 DaisyBell and a new generation of global monitoring system, including 1 weather station and 1 infrasonic detection network, to continuously analyze and monitor the site in real-time. Since the beginning of the season, the 20 installed fixed systems have allowed to carry out 3 avalanche control days to secure the resort which, although closed to skiers, guarantees a secondary connection between Kobi and Gudauri.
MND SAFETY systems use a technology based on an explosion of mixed gases and are remotely controlled to allow a total safety to the operators working on the field. This is the only system worldwide that do not require the transportation, storage and manipulation of explosives, therefore eliminating the need to handle explosive charges as well as eliminating human intervention in the secured avalanche area. Very quick to implement, they can be operated at all times, in any type of weather, generating one or more powerful explosions above the snowpack and without environmental impact contrary to all explosive solutions. These features, both in terms of safety and the environment, are what convinced the managers of this high mountain Georgian site.
The equipment installation and MRDC team training have been provided by the group of companies comprising MND SAFETY and its local partner MRS.
Irakli Chirakadze, General Manager of MRDC, said: "We wanted the most efficient solution to secure our ski area. The systems offered by MND SAFETYenable rapid and completely safe intervention, regardless of the weather and is respectful of the nature. They are equipped with the last modern technology that guarantees our employees’ safety and permanent system availability in a high-risk area. This is a first in Georgia."
Sergo Shugarov, Chairman and CEO of MRS, added: "Thanks to the French know-how of MND Safety, we have been able to provide a global answer to manage the avalanche safety of Gudauri and this in record completion times for such a site. Other touristic sites as well as road infrastructures could benefit from these explosive-free solutions in order to control the avalanche risk."
MND SAFETY’s avalanche risk prevention and control systems are present on the snow-covered slopes of more than 22 countries – Russia, United States, Italy, etc. – in order to prevent the avalanche risk in ski areas and over roads, railways, mines or industrial sites. To date, this is the most used solutions with nearly 3,000 systems which are in operation to anticipate and control avalanche risks without handling explosives. These French solutions are unique in the world and are protected by numerous patents.
In addition to the ski areas, the challenge of securing and maintaining access to numerous roads has also been reinforced with the addition of additional equipment, on the roads in Tignes on behalf of the Savoie Department, in Arcalis, Andorra, and for the protection of the Haukli road tunnel in Norway.
As the only systems in the world that do not use explosives, MND SAFETY’s solutions guarantee the safety of personnel and the ecosystem in which they are installed. Two key elements to support the Alpine Skiing World Championships in Cortina d’Ampezzo in the protected Dolomites Natural Park in February 2021 and to serve the future Olympic Games in Milan 2026.
While the weather conditions were particularly difficult and pushed back the start of the events to Thursday 11th February, the MND SAFETY teams remain mobilised throughout the week to enable those in charge on site to carry out numerous preventive activations in order to ensure the safety of the slopes, skiers, teams and also the infrastructures. Triggers were carried out on their 20 removable O’BellX solutions as well as thanks to the DaisyBell, a heliborne system that is the perfect complement to the stations installed on the slopes to quickly secure a precise point.
The preparation of the slopes, which had begun in early December due to very heavy snowfalls, made it possible to validate the use of the O’bellX systems in difficult conditions with no less than 15 firing sessions.
Alongside the Province of Belluno and the Fondazione Cortina 2021, MND was entrusted with this safety work with the objective of minimising the impact on the ecosystem while guaranteeing maximum protection. Thanks to 20 removable systems, Obell’X, as well as solutions for monitoring the evolution of meteorological conditions in real time; the approach chosen is intended to be the finest possible in order to prevent and control the danger before/during/after. With no risk to personnel and with a minimal footprint on the site, the solutions chosen respect the Dolomites Natural Park thanks to a patented technology that replaces explosives with mixted gases.