Calling all skiers: we have lift-off
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