Call­ing all skiers: we have lift-off

The Daily Telegraph - Travel - - FRONT PAGE -

chair­lifts re­placed two ex­ist­ing T-bars. This sea­son, a new two-stage eight-seater gon­dola will go from the re­sort’s cen­tral train sta­tion to Gütsch at the top of the Nätschen skiarea, re­plac­ing a slow dou­ble chair­lift from the val­ley. All th­ese will greatly in­crease car­ry­ing ca­pac­ity, speed and com­fort.

Also for 2017-18 the first key-link­ing lift – an­other high-speed six-seater chair­lift – will open along with new pistes. And the re­sort says that if all goes well and the snow doesn’t come too early, a sec­ond link and more pistes could fol­low. The fol­low­ing sea­son should see the link com­pleted by the open­ing of an eight-seater gon­dola and yet more new pistes.

When com­plete, the new NätschenSe­drun area will have a to­tal of 90km of pistes, best suited to in­ter­me­di­ates and en­tirely cov­ered by snow-mak­ing. Ex­perts are al­ready well catered for by An­der­matt’s north-fac­ing Gems­stock moun­tain on the op­po­site side of the val­ley, which has tough black and red runs – 30km of pistes in to­tal – and ex­ten­sive off-piste ter­rain. At last, the long-promised re­place­ment Arion­daz gon­dola from Courchevel Mo­riond (1650) to Bel Air in the heart of the ski area will be in place for 2017-18. The old six-per­son cab­ins will be re­placed with eight-seaters and it will be the first gon­dola in France to be lit in­side and out us­ing power sup­plied by on-board so­lar pan­els. It will carry 2,400 peo­ple per hour – twice as many as the old one, so cut­ting peak­morn­ing lift queues; the ride time will be cut from 12 min­utes to seven.

The run back to the vil­lage will ben­e­fit from state-of-the art snow can­nons – some of the ex­tra 115 that will be in­stalled in the Courchevel ski area for this sea­son.

A new 3km tobog­gan run has been built from the top to the bot­tom of the new gon­dola. It has eight un­der­ground tun­nels, a max­i­mum gra­di­ent of one in four, will be open ev­ery day from 11am un­til the lifts close, and flood­lit un­til 7.30pm on Tues­days and Thurs­days. The cost will be €15 (£13.50) for one ride, in­clud­ing tobog­gan and hel­met ren­tal, or €44 for four rides. The French re­sorts of Les Arcs, above, and Megève, right, are both of­fer­ing speed­ier ac­cess to the pistes dou­ble the hourly ca­pac­ity of the old cable car, cut­ting queues to ride down as well as up (there is no piste down).

The cable car ride is nearly 2.8 miles (4.5km) long, takes 10 min­utes and will set three new world firsts – it will have the world’s tallest cable car sup­port py­lon mea­sur­ing 417ft (127m), the world’s big­gest ver­ti­cal rise of 1.2 miles (1,945m) over one sec­tion and the world’s long­est un­sup­ported span cover­ing two miles (3,213m). The quad chair­lift to Palinkopf, one of the high­est points in the ski area on the Swiss-Aus­trian border, is be­ing re­placed by the re­sort’s 14th high­speed six-seater chair. It will carry 2,700 peo­ple an hour and have heated seats. But what will make it re­ally spe­cial is that, on the back of each chair, will be a por­trait of one of the stars who has per­formed the re­sort’s Top of the Moun­tain sea­son open­ing or clos­ing con­certs. Th­ese in­clude the likes of Rob­bie Wil­liams, Kylie Minogue, El­ton John and Lionel Richie. A cou­ple of years ago, the Megève lift com­pany was taken over by the Com­pag­nie du Mont Blanc, which runs the Cha­monix lifts. It is promis­ing €60 mil­lion of in­vest­ment over the next few years to mod­ernise Megève’s an­cient lift sys­tem. For

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