Le Grand Bornand. Tourism and disability: a caterpillar to move independently in the mountains

The all-terrain caterpillar allows people in wheelchairs to move on ground that is neither solid nor flat. It is available for hire in Le Grand-Bornand (Haute-Savoie). (© Axsol)

L’Accessibility for people with reduced mobility (PMR) is an important issue in which there is still a lot of progress to be made in France. In the mountains and in ski resorts, this problem is also present. To go on holiday in these places, especially in the middle of winter, can prove to be a real ordeal to move around.

In particular, the wheelchairs not adapted to ride on snowy ground. But on this point, that can now change. A company, Axsol, offers to rent a all-terrain caterpillar, so that people in wheelchairs are no longer limited in their movements in the ski resort.

In Grand-Bornand, in Haute-Savoie, a model is already available for hire.

“Open the field of possibilities” for PRMs within the resorts

The Freedom Trax FT2 all-terrain tracked vehicle, it’s a platform on which the PMR can place and secure your wheelchair. “It allows you to move, thanks to a joystick, on terrain where a conventional wheelchair cannot usually go, or only when accompanied: in off-trail forests, on sand, muddy ground, or in the snow”, explains the CEO of Axsol, Jean-Paul Mignard to News Haute-Savoie. She can ride up to 6 km/h maximum.

“It’s one of the keys to enabling people with disabilities to be more independent, and to no longer depend on their loved ones during their holidays. It’s easy to store, move and use. And we don’t no longer have to wait on the terrace for our friends to come back from skiing or hiking, we can take part in winter sports activities! It opens up the field of possibilities within the resorts!”

Jean Paul MignardCEO of Axsol

The French company Axsol, which specializes in the distribution of equipment for mobility and accessibility for people with reduced mobility, is the sole European distributor of this American device. “We had a growing demand for this type of device in tourism for several years, and in particular for ski resorts,” says Jean-Paul Mignard.

The need is such that the association Handiski Grand Bornand decided to buy a model, in order to offer it in hourly rental in the station. Disabled people can now rent it to be able to hike in the snowy mountains or simply to get around Le Grand Bornand.

A weekly rental is also possible

However, if you want to spend a holiday (or live) in another ski resort, and/or want to keep the device for the duration of your stay, it is also possible to rent directly from Axsol, as an individual.

The company can also take care of delivering and picking up the tankette at your place of stay. The cost of this weekly rental is 55 euro per day, not including shipping costs. And if you prefer to buy it… You will have to pay 8 710 euros.

With this arrival in the resorts, the caterpillar should now allow people with reduced mobility to travel better on the snowy mountains. And its use could extend in the years to come: Axsol is already in discussion with other structures to offer new caterpillars for hire in ski resorts in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region.

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