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NEW LIFTS THIS WINTER - Jane Peel, Chief Reporter
Monday September 19, 2016 - Email this article to a friend

They include a laser-controlled adjustable one to suit the tiniest children, Italy's first heated chairlift, and a mega development creating one of biggest linked ski areas in the Alps.

Updated Saturday 22 October 20, 2016

Tens of millions of Euros and Dollars have been spent improving lift access at ski resorts for the coming winter season.

It happens every year, of course, but for Winter 2016-17, there are some pretty special new builds.

Let's start with the most impressive of the lot.

Four new lifts in the Arlberg - built at a cost of €45 million  - will create the biggest lift-linked ski area in Austria and one of the biggest in the Alps.

View towards Zurs, Arlberg, AustriaArlberg Ski Area













For the first time it will be possible to ski the entire 305km without hopping on a bus.

The new lifts will complete the on-snow connection between all the resorts in the area, including St Anton, Lech, Zürs, Stuben, St Christoph, Zug, Warth-Schröcken.

There is also an upgrade for the Oberlech lift.

This short video shows where the connecting lifts will take you:

Chris Gill, co-editor of the Where to Ski and Snowboard Guide, recently said that France was generally recognised as having the best lift system in the Alps, but it was now being overtaken by Austria.

We, at PlanetSKI, believe this set of lifts is a game-changer.

We will be in St Anton to check them out as they open.

Read our earlier article about the changes here

We will also be in Stubai - the biggest glacier resort and one of the best in Austria  - in October as the cables start up for the new 24-seater gondola.

New lift valley station, StubaiNew lift valley station, Stubai













It will replace the queue-prone 6-seater Eisgrat lift, halving the journey time from the base up to 2900m.

The glacier was closed this summer while construction was carried out.

You can watch the progress of the building work in this construction-cam time lapse footage.

Updated Saturday 22nd October 2016

PlanetSKI was on the first ride of the 3S Eisgratbahn lift on Stubai Glacier as it opened in October.

The lift takes 11 minutes from the base to 2900m and offers free Wifi.

Also in Austria - in  Zell Am See - a new 10-seater gondola, the Zell Am See Xpress will give lift access to the re-opened downhill run, which was in use between 1930 and 1980.

zellamseexpressZell Am See Xpress













The run has been open for ski tours down to Viehhofen since the winter of 2014/15.

From this season a 3.3km red piste, equipped with snowmaking, will take you to the corner station above Viehhofen,  from where the gondola head up to the top station on the Salersbachköpfl at 1920 metres, giving access to the other side of the Schmitten, and the vast Saalbach-Hinterglemm-Fieberbrunn ski area.

The second stage of construction will involve a lift from the valley up to the corner station.  This is scheduled to be opened in the 2018/19 season.

Zell Am See lift plansZell Am See lift plans















Some of the lifts due to open this year are certain to become firm favourites of the PlanetSKI team.   

They will offer free WiFi - something close to our hearts.

They include the 10-person gondola from the main snow front at the French resort of Val d'Isere up to the Solaise sector.

It is due to open in December.

Looking down towards Val d'Isere from La FaceVal d'Isere












It will replace two lifts - the Solaise Express chairlift and an ancient cable car and will increase capacity by 40 per cent.

New Solaise lift under construction, Val d'IsereUnder construction - photo c/o Radio Val d'Isere













It is claimed that it will be one of the fastest lifts in the world.

As well as being quicker, it will set you down at a much more convenient location.

There will no longer be a requirement to haul yourself along a rope tow or tire yourself out skating on the flat section.

This video animation is fun if you want to see more of what you'll find on the way to and at Solaise.

The Solaise gondola will also have heated seats, a welcome addition for those bitterly cold January days.

Talking of keeping warm, Italy is about to get its first heated chairlift.

It's a high-speed 8-seater in Val Gardena in the Dolomites which replaces the 30-year-old button lift, Gran Paradiso on Piz Sella.

It will move 2 and a half times as many people per hour.

It's longer too and will give skiers and snowboarders access to the Passo Sella and a direct connection to the clockwise route of the Sella Ronda.

It's also a rather lovely blue colour.

New Gran Paradiso lift, Selva Val GardenaGran Paradiso chairlift















Klosters in Switzerland will be using lasers to control its new high-speed 6-seater chairlift in the Madrisa ski area.

The idea is to make it more suitable for children, however small, and disabled skiers.

New Madrisa lift, KlostersLaser controlled















A laser scans passengers as they move into the loading area to determine their height.  The seat is then adjusted automatically to suit the shortest person on the chair.

Clever.  But perhaps it might be advisable not to get on at the same time as a tiny tot.

If the Klosters lift is clever, then the next one - or so we are told -  is "ingenious" and will defy the wind.

The new 8-person chair in Ischgl in the Austrian Tirol will cross an existing chairlift  "spectacularly" mid-journey.

Pylon 3 of the new Flimjochbahn (which replaces a 4-seater), will also be Pylon 9 of the existing Hollboden 8-seater. 

The lifts will cross and then continue on their separate ways.

That should be fun!

The Flimjochbach, which will carry passengers from the main lift hub at Idalp to Flimjoch, has a "downwind exit" which will be used in high winds and the whole unloading area will have a surrounding windshield.

If you need help getting down the mountain in Ischgl this winter, rather than up, then how about this exhilarating way to travel?

You will reach speeds of up to 84kph (52mph).

Ischgl Skyfly parallel zip wireIschgl Skyfly
















Skyfly will whizz 2 people at a time along parallel zip-wires for 2km from the Silvretta gondola mid-station into the valley.   

It will offer an alternative route home if you are too tired to ski and your gear will be hooked up to fly down with you.

It's not included in the lift pass and will cost adults €35 and under-17s €21.

Just up the valley from Ischgl, at the family resort of Galtür, a 10-seat gondola is replacing the Breitspitzbahn chair, serving the runs above the Kopsee reservoir.

It will extend the ski area with the bottom station by the dam at the far end of the lake, far lower than it is now.

There is also a new 3km long piste sweeping down to the foot of the gondola at 1768m.

In Verbier in Switzerland, there are two welcome developments.

A slow 4-seater chairlift, La Chaux, is replaced by a fast 6-seater.

And down in the valley at the village of Le Châble, after 30 years of negotiations, the railway station is in the process of being completely rebuilt at a cost of CHF27 million.

Rebuilding work at Le Châble stationRebuilding Le Châble station

















St Bernard Express at Le ChâbleSt Bernard Express at Le Châble













The station is the terminus for the St Bernard Express, a popular and convenient way to travel to Verbier from Geneva airport and other locations in Switzerland.

There is a direct link to Verbier from Le Châble station by post bus or gondola to Medran.

So what else is new for 2016-17?

Here's our round-up of the best of the rest:


Gerlos  - in the Zillertal has an extra10-person gondola which should help ease queues.

Saalbach - a 10-seater gondola to replace the old Schönleitenbahn  (in which you had to stand) and a 10-seater to connect the Zwölferkogel and the lifts in the area of the Westgipfel.

The old Schönleitenbahn, SaalbachThe old Schönleitenbahn

















Sölden - a new 10-person gondola will replace the old Giggijoch gondola from the town, significantly increasing capacity.

Zell am See - a 10-person gondola with heated seats and free WiFi which will service a new red run of more than 3km on the back of the Schmittenhöhe mountain.



Alpe d'Huez - a new set of lifts, including chairs and gondolas,  for the Signal area to replace 2 very old chairlifts and 4 drags.

La Plagne - a new 6-person chair to Aime 2000 which will further speed up access to the main ski area from the village of Plagne Montalbert.



Saas Fee - a 10-person gondola replaces the smaller gondola to the Spielboden area, almost halving the journey time.

St Moritz - a 2km-long high-speed 6-seater chair will replace the longest T-bar in the Corvatsch area.

Villars - a 4-person chair between Villars and Les Diablerets to replace a 2-person.  There is also a new fast 6-person chair instead of the T-bar on the Les Diablerets side.

 Zermatt - a 6-person chair between Gant and Blauherd to replace the 4-person gondola, cutting the journey time by almost 40 per cent. 



Jackson Hole - the Sweetwater gondola will replace a couple of slow chairlifts.  It will increase capacity and, over time, provide access to a new and enhanced children's ski school area near the Solitude mid-station. 

New lift, Jackson Hole, WyomingJackson Hole, Wyoming  - photo c/o
















Vail - a high-speed 4-seater chair in the back bowls to replace the Sun-Up, the last remaining slow lift in the area.

Sun-Up triple chair, Vail, ColoradoSun-Up



















Scotland - Over the summer the Nevis Range, which prides itself on its green credentials, has been installing a hydro-electric system to power its lifts as well as its café and offices.  Any excess electricity will be sold back to the National Grid, as PlanetSKI reported earlier this year.

And finally there is this one.....

What happens here?



















We can't tell you where it is.

And we don't know what the sign is supposed to mean.

If anyone has any idea, we would love to know Wink

See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the world of snowsports.

PlanetSKI: No1 for ski news

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