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Lift off
Monday November 10, 2008 - Email this article to a friend

There are new cable cars for Whistler and Jackson Hole, The Vanoise Express re-opens, while on other lifts you can have a sauna or try your luck at a spot of speed dating.

This winter sees some of the biggest changes to the lift system in many resorts for decades. Millions of euros, francs and dollars have been spent on a whole range of new lifts across the mountains.  France has 42 new lifts this winter and now has over 4,000 lifts across its 350 ski resorts.

In Whistler the Peak to Peak gondola opens on December 12th.  It links Whistler and Blackcomb Mountain and will be the longest unsupported lift in the world with a span of just over 3km (1.88 miles). The highest point above the ground will be 415 metres (another world record) and boasts to be one of the most expensive lifts ever built in North America.

It will make a real difference to the skiing as previously to get from one mountain to the other people had to ski back down to the base of the mountain in the town and then cross over.

A few weeks later on December 20th the US resort of Jackson Hole will unveil its new tram.


vanoise_express_400In Europe the Vanoise Express, which links La Plagne and Les Arcs re-opens on the same day.   It closed last season amid much embarrassment for the operators after it failed safety tests on its cables.  It was closed for the whole winter.

New cables have been installed over the summer and the first successful crossing was made on September 3rd.  Since then further cables have been put up and further safety tests have been carried out.

One test involved loading on 16 tons of water in special containers on to the double-decker cable car.  This was the estimated weight of 200 skiers and snowboarders with all their equipment.

The Vanoise Express has an unsupported span of 2km and its highest point is 380 metres above ground.

Over in the Swiss resort of St Moritz a new cable car is to open at Corvatsch.  It has cost 13m Swiss francs and can carry 1,200 people per hour.


sauna_1One of the strangest new lifts to be built this season is a sauna gondola.  News has reached us here at that in the Finnish resort of Yllas a sauna has been installed in one of the gondolas should the urge grab you to have a quick sauna!

You change into your swimming costume in the lift station and the cabin is then attached to the main lift.  You’ll need to be quick though as the lift takes 13 minutes to reach the top.

sauna_2Meanwhile if doing things quickly on lifts is your thing then the French resort of Risoul is hosting speed dating on its 2 seater Clos du Vallon chairlift at the end of March.  Budding cupids have 10 minutes to make their mark.

The resort is hosting a Singles’ Week March 28th – April 4th and passengers will be given a glass of Vin Chaud and an invitation to get to know each other better.

Related Links
www.yllas .fi

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