Zermatt, the Swiss ski resort town home to Europe’s highest open-air cog rail and cable-car station, will soon have another superlative to add to its roster of vertiginous vehicles.
On October 27, after three years of construction, the world’s highest 3S cableway will begin whisking passengers from Zermatt up the Klein Matterhorn, the little sister of Switzerland’s famed peak. The 3S system, also in use for Whistler Blackcomb’s Peak 2 Peak gondola, works by a trio of cables that allow the gondolas to run in a stable, continuous loop. The technology used to build the new Matterhorn glacier ride is also semi-sustainable: Solar panels are expected to save 37.1 tons of CO2 emissions annually.
Travel between the new mountain stations at Trockener Steg and Klein Matterhorn—a 3,000-foot climb—takes just nine minutes on the new ride. An additional 2,000 guests per hour will be able to ride along the mountain in 25 state-of-the-art cabins. They’ll feature panoramic windows (perfect for eyeing the Matterhorn) and heated leather seats (a nice touch from the Italian design studio Pininfarina, famous for shaping many a Ferrari and Maserati).
The new gondola will run 365 days a year regardless of weather, matching the glacier’s never-ending ski season. The best part? For just 10 Swiss francs (about US$10), you can upgrade your ticket to “crystal class” and take a seat in one of the four glass-floored cabins decorated by Swarovski.
The ride itself isn’t the only worthwhile part of the journey. At the top is Matterhorn Glacier Paradise. The mountain is one of the best spots for viewing—and Instagramming—the most celebrated peaks across Italy, France, and Switzerland. In winter, it’s a playground for skiers and other winter sports enthusiasts. There’s a restaurant, viewing deck, cinema lounge, glacier palace, and a lodge. In summer it serves as training ground for some of the world’s national ski teams, and visitors can go snow-tubing or take advantage of the numerous hiking and bike trails.
More stations are being planned in coming years to improve skiing connectivity between Switzerland and Italy. Ultimately, the area will become one of the largest skiing areas in the world, with over 372 miles of slopes.
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