Image Credit: © Zermatt Bergbahnen

One of the world’s most unique gondolas has opened in Europe. On June 30th, a grand opening ceremony was held for the Matterhorn Glacier Ride II. The gondola opened to the public on July 1st.

The event was hosted by celebrity Michelle Hunziker and also featured Christophe Darbellay, who is the President of the State Council of the Canton of Vallis, and Renzo Testolin, the President of the Government of the Valle d’Aosta Region, among other business and political leaders.

The gondola is a ginormous achievement because it connects the famous ski resorts of Zermatt and Cervino by lift for the first time. Skiing between the two resorts was previously possible, but this makes the voyage easier for the general public. The gondola connects the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise mountain station (3883 meters/12739.5 feet) to the Testa Grigia Valley station.  

The 3S Gondola, which was built by Leitner-Poma, features cutting-edge technology. It can hold its own against heavy winds and can move swiftly, with a maximum speed of 7.5 meters a second.

The new gondola is full of monumental feats. The ride, which takes around four minutes, brings passengers from the Klein Matterhorn Glacier Paradise in Switzerland to Testa Grigia in Italy. There are ten cabins overall, which can fit 28 people a piece. The new gondola is the highest border crossing by a gondola in the Alps at 3480 meters/11417.32 feet (you may want to bring an oxygen tank with you). One of the new mountain stations doubles as a photovoltaic facility, with the potential to produce 16,875 kWh of renewable energy each year.

© Zermatt Bergbahnen

The opening officially completes Matterhorn Alpine Crossing, which saw multiple new lifts. The cost of these projects was around CHF 140 million (around US$163,455,180).

The Matterhorn Glacier Ride I, which opened back in the autumn of 2018, is another beast of a lift. The Ride I has a travel time of 9 minutes, and has an uphill carrying capacity of 2000 passengers an hour. It also has a maximum speed of 7.5 meters per second and can carry 28 people in a cabin. The top terminal is connected to the new gondola to Cerivina.

Federico Maquignaz, President & CEO of Cervino S.p.A. said the following about the monumental project:

“The new trans-Alpine connection between Switzerland and Italy further enhances the offering from Zermatt Bergbahnen and the Zermatt-Matterhorn resort. It is an attractive addition to our services, both for individuals and small groups of travellers, creating a range of options for existing international guests and opening up fresh markets. The pricing strategy will not serve to promote mass tourism or visitors in transit but focus on the experience of the individual guest.

The Matterhorn Alpine Crossing is a joint endeavour that intensifies the partnership between Zermatt and Cervinia. We collaborate on a wide range of activities and attractions, from winter sports to the year-round visitor experience. The new crossing is a very welcome development and a great boost to the services offered by both partners.” 

They aren’t done with investing in this ginormous lift network though. Here’s what Franz Julen, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Zermatt Bergbahnen, had to say about new lifts that will come in the future:

“People started to think about creating a year-round cableway connection between Zermatt and Cervinia as long ago as 1939. Now, more than 80 years later, this vision is becoming a reality. Pioneering spirit, innovation and tenacity are synonymous with Zermatt. We have faith in tourism and will continue to develop our services step by step – including the Matterhorn Alpine Crossing. The name is a premium brand that stands for a unique high-level experience spanning two countries and cultures. 

Over the next ten years, Zermatt Bergbahnen will invest some CHF 200 million in the two cableways and the staging of events focused on the crossing experience. These investments further enhance the appeal of the Zermatt-Matterhorn resort and are expected to generate an annual income stream of approximately CHF 40 million.”

Click here to learn more about this new monumental gondola.

Image/Video Credits: © Zermatt Bergbahnen, Zermatt Matterhorn

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