Fingers turn a key, push a green button and the gears of le telepherique grind to life slowly. A Simple Machine: The Life and Death of the La Grave Cablecar is the story of the contraption that, for decades, has carried skiers 7,000 feet up from a tiny village in the French Alps over glaciers and crevasses, providing access to steep off-piste skiing. The yellow and orange gondola cars soar overhead with the help of longtime machinists, who lovingly grease, weld and replace the parts to keep it running smoothly. But the future of La Grave’s cablecar — as well as the town’s connection to its skiing heritage — is uncertain because the lease on the machine is up in 2017, and no one has stepped forward yet to take it over.
- Greg Hackett