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Riding La Plagne's Super Tyro

Fast & fun zipline in connecting Plagne Aime 2000 and La Plagne Centre

Featured in: | Stuart Hamilton, La Plagne Reporter | Published

Looking for something a little different to do in La Plagne this winter? How does the idea of flying 140m above the trees at 90kmh sound? Interested? Well, the Super Tyro might just be for you!

La Plagne’s Super Tyro opened in summer 2016, spanning the ravine below Plagne Centre on a line from Plagne Aime 2000, some 100 metres higher. The route runs between two innocuous-looking huts, roughly following the path of the cable car (the Telemetro) over a distance of around 600m. It is ranked third in Trip Advisor’s ‘best things to do’ in La Plagne and enjoys a consistently high rating and reviews.

Firstly, let’s clarify a small - but important - detail. When we say Tyro (or Tyrolienne to give its full name), we’re not referring to a resident of that Austro-Italian region, the Tyrol. Nor indeed, are we talking about a form of yodelling. No, in European parlance, Tyrolienne is another word for what we would more commonly call a zipline. If you’re not sure what that is either, a zipline is a length of wire rope spanning two points which users slide down, attached by a harness. To get a better idea, watch the video - it should hopefully clarify things a bit.

Riding La Plagne's Super Tyro

La Plagne’s Super Tyro is a family business, run by Cyrile and his father. I’ve been trying to do the ride for two seasons but, each time Cyrile and I organized a timeslot, either high winds or snow meant it was cancelled (two problems particularly prevalent at the start of this year’s epic season). The zipline can only operate in good weather - and you can absolutely forget it on windy days - so it was with a keen sense of excitement that I finally made my way to the top on one of the many sunny days we’ve had recently.

The start hut can be quite hard to find so see below for directions or reference the video. Don’t be like me and find yourself aimlessly walking around the side of Aime for half an hour (all puns intended). Access is quite easy when you know how but it can be quite hard to pick out the start at ground level.

Riding La Plagne's Super Tyro

When I finally arrived, a group of three were already preparing themselves for the descent. I watched quietly as they donned harnesses and listened intently to a very simple list of instructions. There’s really nothing complex about riding a Tyrolienne. Pretty much, it’s a case of - jump off ramp, hold on tight.

Riders are attached to the line via a harness and pulley system. The pulley contains a small wheel with grooved rim, housed inside a unit which skims along the wire. This mechanism reduces friction on the line - which is how you pick up speed. Being honest, there’s absolutely no need to know anywhere near this level of detail. You could literally fall off the start ramp and you’ll still reach the bottom.

Riding La Plagne's Super Tyro

The ride lasts around 40 seconds, with the greatest increase in speed in the top third. This is also where you get the best definition of how fast you’re going as the start section runs directly through a line of trees which produce something nearing a tunnel effect. As the gradient mellows, you reach the highest vertical drop in the ride, some 140m above the ground, where there are stunning views over Mt Blanc to your left and Grande Rochette / Les Verdons to your right. Seeing the ski area from such a different perspective is invigorating as you fly high over the ant-like skiers and snowboarders far below.

All-too-quickly, you find yourself levelling out in preparation for docking at the bottom station - but don’t be under the illusion the speed drops much. On the contrary, on the approach you’ll still be going around 40kmh when Cyrile launches what I can only describe as a dart to clamp onto your pulley and bring you shuddering and swaying to a stop. I’m no expert on ziplines and, despite numerous Google searches, I still don’t have a clue how this works – but it does. He’ll signal at you from afar to lean to the right in prepartion, presumably to save banging your head on the wire. Then he slowly hauls you over the landing platform where you dismount from the harnesses.

Riding La Plagne's Super Tyro

Incidentally, while the ride might seem short, don’t let the 40 second timespan put you off from doing the Super Tyro. I’ve actually done another mountain zipslide (the Tyrolienne in Val Thorens) and, while the vertical drop was higher on the VT Tyro, I found it a little boring due to the rather pedestrian speed. Yes, the VT ride lasts longer and, yes, the vertical drop is undoubtedly bigger - but if it’s a speed rush you’re after, the La Plagne Tyro wins hands down. And anyway, the VT ride is around four times more expensive. The cost of the Super Tyro equates to the same as a couple of drinks.

It’s possible to ride to the top with your skis or snowboard meaning you can ski part-way down from Aime, jump on the zipline and find yourself back in Centre in around 40 seconds. Yes, you could ski or snowboard down – or even get the Telemetro if you want – but both options are infinitely banal compared to the Tyro. Skis or snowboards are strapped securely to your back by harnesses and accompany you on the way down.

Riding La Plagne's Super Tyro

If you want to try something genuinely different on your trip to La Plagne this year then I couldn’t recommend the Super Tyro highly enough. The views are astounding, the speed is invigorating and the height is intoxicating. Male or female, young or old it’s definitely worth making time for while you’re here.

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Essential facts

Riding La Plagne's Super Tyro

  • Start elevation: 2062m just below Aime la Plagne
  • End elevation: 1974m
  • Vertical drop: 88m
  • Average speed: 80-90kmh
  • Line length: Approx 600m
  • Ride time: 30-40 seconds
  • Constructed: Summer 2016
  • Steepest gradient: 16%
  • Max height above ground: 140m
  • Min/max weight: 20/130kg
  • With skis/snowboard: Yes
  • Reservations: Not required unless in groups of 10 or more
  • Opening hours: Typically 14.30 to 18.30
  • Price: €15 (at time of print)

Directions

Riding La Plagne's Super Tyro

The top station is located just below the large red and white pylon of the Telemetro – the cable car that links Aime 2000 with Centre. Just head in the direction of the large red building to the left of the main building at 2000 (as you look up).

If you’re coming from above on skis or snowboard, riding to the lift is probably the easiest way of accessing the Tyro. Just skirt the side of the red and white Club Med building on the Pavane run before turning left to access the top station. Follow the piste as far left as you can then, when you’re below Club Med, head left (off the main run) and you’ll find the Tyro just behind a small crest in the hill.

Alternatively, you can access via the Telemetro lift up to Aime and follow the main road until you reach the aforementioned red and white cable car pylon. From there, it’s just a short walk downhill, heading slightly right off the road.

Stuart Hamilton is Creative Director of iRide App (iOS / Android) and Editor of Ski-App and Snowboard-App (ski and snowboard video apps available exclusively on Android).

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