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Sunday July 8, 2018 - Email this article to a friend

Zermatt's latest lift, The Matterhorn Glacier Ride, is scheduled to open at the end of September. It's quite a project. UPDATED

It will be the world's highest 3S cableway lift and has been built by LEITNER ropeways and will enable visitors to reach the Klein Matterhorn 365 days a year.

It replaces the cable car that was often affected by high winds.

The 3S cableway is one of the stongest lifts and can withstand some fairly extreme weather conditions.

38 companies from Switzerland and Italy have been involved in the project and it is Zermatt Bergbahnen AG's largest-ever construction project.  

145 people have been involved in the construction and the lift will be able to transport 2,000 skiers and snowboarders per hour.

The new gondolas for the Zermatt glacier, the Klein Matterhorn, have arrived this week.

And in spectacular fashion through Italy, to Cervinia before being lifted by air to the bottom station.

The new 3S gondola lift to serve Europe's highest ski runs has 25 cabins, each including 28 seats.

Several cabins are sponsored by Swarovski Crystal and will have crystals encrusted on paint, as well as transparent floors.

"Now it won't take long until the opening of the 3 S Railway in autumn - we are in the final sprint," said a lift company spokesperson.

The new lift is scheduled to open on 29th September, 2018.

Matterhorn Zermatt BergbahnMatterhorn Zermatt Bergbahnen

Matterhorn Zermatt BergbahnenMatterhorn Zermatt Bergbahnen

It is Europe's highest construction site and is a project like no other. 
Matterhorn Glacier RideMatterhorn Glacier Ride


Daytime temperatures are as low as minus 30 degrees with wind speeds reaching 240 km/h.  

Heavy snow and dense fog are all par for the course on Klein Matterhorn.  

Since 2016, construction workers in expedition gear have been working on the new Matterhorn glacier ride at almost 4000 metres above sea level and on precariously steep terrain.  

Because of the lack of oxygen at high altitude the individuals working on Europe's highest building site can only perform at around 60% to 80% of their normal physical capacity.  

The materials too are pushed to the limit.  

Concreting work can only take place at temperatures of 5°C or more, so the concrete is mixed using warm water at the intermediary depot at Lake Cime Bianche on the Italian side of the border.

It must not be allowed to cool below 8°C during its journey on the transport lift.  

The construction machinery also had to undergo technical modifications to cope with the extremes of pressure and temperature.  

At an altitude of almost 4000 metres the air pressure, as well as the amount of oxygen contained, falls to 60% of that at sea level.  

And the cost?  

A cool CHF 52m, that's £39.5m

Here at PlaneSKI we saw the work in progress as we visited the resort last April.   

Work in progress Work in progress

Matterhorn Glacier Ride under constructionMatterhorn Glacier Ride under construction

Our editor, James Cove, was in the resort for the Unplugged Festival:  
James by evening at Zermatt UnpluggedJames by evening at Zermatt Unplugged


James by day at Zermatt UnpluggedJames by day at Zermatt Unplugged

At PlanetSKI we're looking forward to riding it next winter and will keep you updated as it opens later this year. 

See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the mountains.

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