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Ski resort Zermatt/Breul-Cervina, located beneath Matterhorn’s magical peak, is known for superlatives. In winter 2020/21 another highlight will be added to the list: the world’s highest cableway will connect Italy to Switzerland.
THE COUNTDOWN IS RUNNING
The cableway connection between the Matterhorn glacier paradise (Klein Matterhorn) and Testa Grigia sees the realization of a once-in-a-generation dream: to be able to travel the entire way from the Matterhorn village of Zermatt (Switzerland) to Breuil-Cervinia (Italy) without having to get your boots wet! It’s a visionary cableway project that will further enhance the status of Zermatt-Matterhorn as a premium high-alpine destination. The panoramic journey, lasting around one hour from Switzerland to Italy or vice versa, will cover an altitude difference of over 4’000 metres – the greatest by any cableway in Europe.
The opening of the world’s highest 3S cableway (tri-cable gondola lift) to the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise in the autumn of 2018 was just the first stage in the realization of a much more far-reaching vision: the creation of a continuous cableway connection between Zermatt and Italy – the so-called “Alpine X” (Alpine Crossing). This crossing will be made possible by the addition of another structurally similar 3S cableway between Testa Grigia and the Matterhorn glacier paradise.
What does an Alpine paradise look like? Probably quite like Matterhorn glacier paradise. The peak with Europe’s highest mountain station soars 3’883 metres above sea level. The peak lift takes you up to the 360º viewing platform. The view from there is like paradise.
You can see an incredible 38 four-thousand-metre peaks and 14 glaciers in the French, Italian and Swiss Alps. And a must-see in Zermatt’s glacier paradise: a real glacier palace. Up above, there is a cinema lounge, fine cuisine, superb ski slopes and a little lower, on Trockener Stage or Schwarzsee, hiking and biking trails. And on top of that many unforgettable experiences the whole year round.
The luxury doesn’t stop there: the Matterhorn glacier ride’s Crystal ride cabins are designed by Pininfarina (the design studio known around the world for its work with Maserati and Ferrari) and adorned inside and out with thousands upon thousands of Swarovski crystals; they are the first and only cabins of their kind in the world. What’s more, the Crystal ride cabins are fitted with a glass floor which becomes transparent three minutes into the journey, revealing within seconds views of the glacier 170 metres below.
EUROPE’S HIGHEST CONSTRUCTION SIT
On 1st April 2016 the official go-ahead was given for the construction of the new Matterhorn glacier ride. 145 people from 38 different companies had been involved in the biggest construction project in the history of Zermatt Bergbahnen AG. The cost of building the cableway between Trockener Steg and Matterhorn glacier paradise amounts to some 60 million Swiss francs. The project presented huge challenges to both man and machine, as at altitudes of 3’821 metres progress on the building site is heavily dependent on the wind and cold.
Daytime temperatures as low as minus 30 degrees, wind speeds reaching 240 km/h, heavy snow and dense fog are all par for the course on Klein Matterhorn. Since 2016, construction workers in expedition gear had been working on the new Matterhorn glacier ride at almost 4’000 metres above sea level and on precariously steep terrain.
Before a start could be made on the building work, the site on Klein Matterhorn first had to be made safe from rockfalls. Highly specialized workers manually put protective netting in place.