Today it is April fools’ day and if you are normally the one standing there with rosy cheeks after having been fooled again by the strangest of stories, you should definitely read this. I cannot cover everything about Verbier so I thought, why not write an educating article about Verbier’s biggest lift – here’s European Snowsport’s guide to “The Jumbo”.
Where did “The Jumbo” get its name from?
The Jumbo is, as you probably know, the name of the big cable car that goes from La Chaux to Gentianes in Verbier. The lift was named after one of the first animal superstars, the circus elephant Jumbo. Sounds bizarre doesn’t it? The explanation is quite simple. When the excavations started to build the Jumbo, the builders came across an elephant skeleton. Thereafter the construction, and later also the lift, was nicknamed the Jumbo. When the skeleton was examined more closely, it showed that it most likely was one of the elephants that Hannibal used when crossing the Alpes in 218 B.C. The name “Jumbo” stuck and is now a fitting name for one of the biggest cable cars in Europe.
Why don’t they run both cars at the same time?
Many of our clients ask why they don’t run both cable cars on the Jumbo at the same time. I have heard all sorts of more or less crazy explanations to this; gravitation, wear and tear of the cables, union rules, etc. Some people are even blaming Téléverbier for not being able to run both at the same time. Of course they can, just look at all the cables they are attached to! They could even run one faster for keen skiers who are in a hurry to get up the mountain and the other one slower for those who are just going for the scenery. The real reason is that if they ran both at the same time, there is a risk that you would be waiting for more than 20 minutes for the next lift! The ride takes a minimum of ten minutes one way so if both cable cars left for the top as you arrived at the waiting area, you would have to wait a long time at the bottom.
What does Diana Ross have to do with the Jumbo?
If you get on the Jumbo, you might see a brass plaque just under the ceiling which is signed by the legendary disco star Diana Ross. This might seem a bit weird. However, the reason she has her name on the lift is because she was the first woman to ski the big mountain on the right hand side as you go up the lift. This mountain only had a name in Patois before 1970 when Mrs Ross skied it and since she was the first woman to conquer this beast of a mountain, the commune decided it should be called the Bec des Rosses. A bit of additional trivia is that it was after this (female) virgin descent that she wrote the song “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”.
I hope this short article was enlightening and if you get fooled this year, it will not be on some cheap histories about The Jumbo.
Jonas Sundstedt works for ESSE Verbier and frequents the Jumbo every week. He likes elephants, scenic lift rides and disco music.