Swiss Ski Resort Opens World's Highest Tri-Cable Gondola Lift
Switzerland has found a new way to wow travelers, particularly those who have no fear of heights.
The country is now home to the world’s highest tri-cable gondola lift, a feat that alone is worthy of notice. But this is no ordinary gondola. The Matterhorn Glacier Ride, located at Zermatt, a Swiss Ski Resort, begins and ends at Europe’s highest mountain station. And still, there’s more.
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The new gondola apparently cost $60 million to build, according to Bloomberg, a price-tag that has much to do with the fact that its construction included one million sparkling Swarovski crystals.
If all of that’s not impressive enough, some of the gondolas also have glass floors.
The new offering is the result of a collaboration between Italian ski lift manufacturer Leitner Ropeways, car design house Pininfarina and crystal giant Swarovski, Bloomberg reported.
Opened in late November, the new gondola has been immensely popular, transporting as many as 2,000 passengers per hour on a journey that includes traveling 2,950 vertical feet in nine minutes.
The gondola takes passengers to a 12,740-foot summit known as Klein Matterhorn. The experience provides an unforgettable view of the glacier that wraps around Matterhorn’s base, a view that’s even more spectacular in the four “Crystal Cabins” featuring matte glass floors that turn transparent once the lift reaches 560-feet.
All 25 of the new gondola cabins offer such luxe perks as heated leather and faux suede seats, which were designed by Pininfarina.
The project’s $60 million price tag isn’t entirely the result of the Swarovski crystal factor.
Bloomberg reported that the steep cost of the project is also related to ambitious engineering feats such as the gondola’s distance. Its longest cable span is 1.6 miles long, which is a record in Europe.
Additional factors that drove up the price included wind- and fog-related weather constraints, and the challenges of working at such high altitude. For more than two years, the gondola project represented the highest construction site in Europe.
The new gondola is attracting an influx of millennial visitors to the ski resort, a group of travelers the resort has long been targeting.