The Vall Fosca (Dark Valey), which can be found in the north of the comarca (local district) of El Pallars Jussà, offers a highly suggestive landscape in which water, mountain scenery and the most varied array of fauna and flora harmoniously coexist. The height of the mountains in the highest part of the valley means that the sun goes down very early, at around 6 pm, even at those times of year when the days are at their longest. This peculiarity has earned this valley the name of “the dark valley”.
The highest village in the valley is Capdella, which stands at an altitude of 1,420 metres above sea level. This is just one of a series of rural nuclei in the Vall Fosca that includes: La Pobleta de Bellveí, Estavill, Envall, Antist, Castell-estaó, Beranui, La Plana de Mont-rós, Astell, Oveix, Aguiró, Paüls, Pobellà, Mont-rós, Molinos, La Torre de Capdella, Aiguabella, Espui and La Central de Capdella.
The river Flamisell serves as the main axis of the valley. Following its course upriver, it is possible to enjoy constantly changing scenery that leads visitors to the very top of the Vall Fosca. There, visitors can take the cable car that bridges a 500-metre cliff and travel up to the feet of peaks whose summits stand at an altitude of almost 3,000 metres and where there are more than 30 pools to visit.
The Sallente-Estany Gento cable car provides a comfortable ride up to an altitude of over 2,000 metres from where it is possible to follow one of the routes through the Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici National Park.
The origins of this cable car service date back to the early 1980s and the construction of the reversible hydroelectric power station (it is called reversible because water flows down the mountain during the day to produce hydroelectric power, but can be pumped back up the mountain at night, if required) the waters of Sallente. Until that time, it was only possible to get to the Estany Gento pool on foot, which implied a steep climb. A number of factors, but above all meteorological considerations, meant that it was not feasible to build a road up to the pool. It was therefore decided to install a cable car capable of carrying all of the raw materials required to construct the reversible hydroelectric power station up the mountainside and to the work site.
Once the construction work had finished, the cable car was made available to the public. It now carries visitors up the mountain at a constant speed of 1 m/s, taking 13 minutes to cover the 450-metre climb.
The cable car was installed in 1981, when Sallente’s reversible hydroelectric power station was constructed. The company that provided it - the electric power company Fuerzas Electricas de Cataluña, S.A. (FECSA) - chose this system as the most practical way of replacing the previous system for transporting people and materials up to the lake (consisting of two cable railways and a narrow-gauge rail connection –or little train-). This facilitated the task of transporting people and materials to the construction site during construction of the new Sallente-Estany Gento reversible hydroelectric power station.
This cable car is one of the biggest in Europe in terms of its carrying capacity, as it can transport loads of up to 25,000 kg. During work on the hydroelectric power station its loads included a cement mixer carrying a full load of concrete. The beautiful scenery of Estany Gento (2,154 m) and the neighbouring lakes attracted more and more visitors and it was for this reason that, from 1991 onwards, the cable car was eventually opened to the public during the summer months.
The cable car can carry up to 60 passengers at a time and takes them from an altitude of 1,747 to one of 2,154 at a velocity that is ideal for enjoying a view of the local scenery. The service operates from 1st July to 30th September.