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World’s highest 3S gondola lift opens in Switzerland

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Mountain Technology,

Last week the world’s highest 3S gondola lift opened on the Klein Matterhorn, following two and a half years of construction. The gondola lift, constructed by LEITNER ropeways, will take visitors on a journey covering 900 vertical m to the top station at 3821 m, Europe’s highest.

The ‘Matterhorn glacier ride’ is a tricable gondola lift with 3S technology designed to provide wind resistance. It features 25 cabins, each with 28 seats, and panoramic views. After three minutes of the nine-minute rise, at an altitude of 170 m above ground, the cloudy glass floor clears to deliver a view of the glacier landscape below. This is made possible by active laminated glass that changes from milky white to transparent under the influence of electric current.

The 8-km long hauling rope weighs 67 t and is freely suspended over a distance of 3 km at the longest span of the system.

Martin Leitner, Member of the Board of Directors of the LEITNER group of companies, said: "A total of 27 000 hours of project work by our technicians went into the 3S system. In addition, the highly specialised team mastered a multitude of challenges, from transport logistics to the prefabrication of the stations in Vipiteno and the work on the mountain, which was characterised by the most difficult weather conditions."

Markus Hasler, CEO of Zermatt Bergbahnen, said: “Enormous progress has been made since the first summiters took the aerial tramway up to the Klein Matterhorn in 1979. But one thing remains true: the magical attraction that the Klein Matterhorn exerts on people. Thanks to the "Matterhorn glacier ride", a technical masterpiece by LEITNER ropeways, this magical mountain is easily and quickly accessible for our guests. In addition, the foundation was laid for the planned Alpine Crossing, which will connect the areas of Zermatt (CH) and Cervinia (IT) all year round for hikers."

The 3S gondola lift forms part of a plan to create a unique Alpine crossing between northern Italy and Zermatt and, in the long run, the connection of the Zermatt, Cervinia/Valtournenche and Monte Rosa ski resorts.

Leitner added: "The facility is a prestigious project with a worldwide reputation that fills me with great pride. It not only increases the value of our company, but also proves that the seemingly impossible can be made possible!"

Video and image credit: LEITNER ropeways

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