Plans to dismantle the last two remaining chairlifts of their kind have met with protest from heritage groups and nostalgia buffs decrying the end of an era.
They say these wooden lifts should be recognised as cultural assets and kept in operation, in the same way 100-year-old steamboats have remained in service on Swiss lakes.
A ride aboard the "nostalgic chairlifts" either in the resort of Kandersteg in the Bernese Alps or in the Jura Mountains near Solothurn is a short, but memorable journey.
Sitting sideways and suspended only a few metres above the ground, passengers can be forgiven for feeling they are "floating by" mountains and meadows, as promised in the Kandersteg brochure.
Yet, the owners of the nearly 70-year-old Oeschinensee lift in the Bernese resort are in the process of shutting it down for good. Work has begun on the installation of a multi-person gondola to replace it. The Weissenstein company near Solothurn plans to follow suit.
Not only will the new, closed-in lift double capacity, but the annual operating costs will be considerably lower than the price tag of maintaining the old chair system, which includes ensuring it meets the latest safety standards.
The Swiss government has sent out mixed signals. The Federal Heritage Commission has recognised the Oeschinensee chairlift as a monument of national importance, while the transport authorities have issued a licence for the new gondola.
With construction well advanced, the Swiss Heritage Foundation – a non-governmental organisation – stepped in last month and issued a formal appeal to put the work on hold.
The heritage society argues that the two facilities represent "a unique part of Switzerland's mountain lift history" and insists the authorities have not done enough to clarify the possibility of keeping them operational.
The main owner of the Oeschinensee chairlift, David Wandfluh, told swissinfo he would withhold comment until the matter was settled.
But for amateur historian and ski lift collector, Jakob Schuler, the old system is a reminder of the pioneering days when there were countless small manufacturers churning out a wide variety of designs.
The Austrian-based Doppelmayr/Garaventa Group is now thought to control more than half of the worldwide market.
"Lifts are mass-produced and they are all the same across Europe and in North America. They don't have any unique characteristics as did earlier ones," Schuler told swissinfo from his home that doubles as a shrine to old ski lifts.
The first Swiss ski lift was installed in Davos in 1934. The oldest piece in Schuler's remarkable collection of T-bars, chairlifts, cables and clamps dates back to 1941. The most unusual object is a leather belt that skiers had to wear in order to attach themselves to the lift.
"The authorities should create a special law to allow the operation of old ski lifts for a few days each year, like steam trains which aren't run everyday but only occasionally at the weekend," Schuler explained.
To this end, the National Heritage Foundation would like to see the creation of a non-profit organisation to safeguard what's left of Switzerland's mountain lift history.
The idea has won over Schuler and a handful of like-minded enthusiasts across Switzerland who have already formed a loose association of supporters.
"The Oeschinensee and Weissenstein lifts are the last two remaining facilities of their kind and when they are dismantled there will be none left that are worth preserving," Schuler lamented.
But amateur photographer, Markus Klopfenstein, who travelled to Kandersteg to take photographs he will turn into postcards, is more realistic.
"The waiting times for the old lift are too long, and it will cost millions to maintain," he told swissinfo. "You don't expect the people of Zurich, for instance, to still be riding around in trams from the 1930s."
Dale Bechtel in Kandersteg
Squaw Valley Festival of Lights
November 24 - December 24, 2007
The annual Squaw Valley Festival of Lights is a wonderful time of year with Santa in the Village for Christmas photo opportunities, holiday shopping and dining and other great events and activities. We will also officially begin receiving toys for the Toys for Tots toy drive as well.
Squaw Valley Lift Tickets & Lessons
One of those sure signs that the season is almost here is the Canadian
Ski Patrol's Annual Winter Extreme Ski/Board Show and Swap. Winter
Extreme returns to the Soccerquest Sports Dome this weekend. Equipment
drop-off is Friday night from 6:00pm to 9:00pm. After dropping off your
equipment on Friday night check out the outdoor ski and snowboard show.
Then, be sure to arrive early Saturday morning for the opening of the
swap. Doors open at 9:00am. The show and swap is open all day Saturday
until 4:00pm. Admission on Saturday is $1.00 for adults, and free for
those sixteen years and under. For more information, visit the Winter
Extreme website http://www.winterextreme.com/
Freestyle Films Festival
Saturday, November 10, featuring films from Matchstick Productions
Fernie Alpine Resort’s newest mountain lodge, Juniper Lodge, is now available for immediate occupancy. The 42-suite Juniper Lodge is located at Timberline Lodges, a Resort within the Resort
Fernie Alpine Resort www.skifernie.com is part of the Resorts of the Canadian Rockies Inc. (RCR) family. Fernie Alpine Resort is one of the Top 5 Ski Resorts in North America
Teton Gravity Research -
LOST AND FOUND is the story of the extraordinary season of 2007 as seen
through the eyes of world-class skiers and snowboarders. With global
drought persisting and ski resorts closing around the world, athletes are
forced to follow the snow, sending them deep into the uncharted north
country of Alaska and Canada. Filmed almost entirely in North America, LOST
AND FOUND is a testament to the terrain and conditions that only exist in
the Western Hemisphere. This film will take you into the vast, unexplored
Tordrillo Mountains of Alaska, proving that some of the best big mountain
riding in the world is still completely undiscovered. Athletes take
advantage of the bountiful winter in British Columbia, hit disturbing park
features in Aspen and score over-the-head powder pillows at Skeena
Heliskiing. The winter of 2007 was feast or famine; LOST AND FOUND
documents the feast.
PLACES: Tordrillo Mountains AK, Skeena Heliskiing BC, Jackson Hole, Utah,
Montana, Aspen, Pemberton BC, Kicking Horse BC, Austria, Switzerland and The
Free Shipping on entire order with any The North Face Purchase
The North Face Men's Amplitude Triclimate Jacket
The new Olympic Express detachable-quad chairlift
provides high-speed access to Olympic Downhill, three new trails and
Nevada Woods - home to some of the best tree skiing in North America - letting
guests more easily experience a part of the mountain that has been under-utilized due to
the existing fixed-grip lift. Olympic Express also gives guests accessing the
resort from Heavenly’s Stagecoach or Boulder Lodge a quicker route to Dipper Express, Comet
Express and East Peak Lodge (snowboarders rejoice: no traverse!). The new lift will
only take three-and-a-half minutes to ride, compared to 11 minutes on the old
Dragon Mountain, China
Subscribe via rss reader
To find information on a resort, event or topic, use the
"SEARCH THIS BLOG "
field at the top of this page.