The information event about the replacement of the Horneggli lift met with great interest, the atmosphere was good and the information was open and transparent. The overall concept includes the replacement of several lifts, the enlargement of the water reservoir, a new car park and the expansion of snowmaking facilities.
The information event took place in late September in Schönried under the by now familiar 3G rules. The village organisation of Schönried and the Bergbahnen Destination Gstaad AG (BDG) hosted the event, which drew a lot of interest. About 120 people attended. Although the title of the event was "Replacement Horneggli", information was provided on the entire development strategy of Horneggli/Hornberg. BDG president Heinz Brand emphasised that the new infrastructures were not designed for the masses: "With the planned measures, we want to increase the comfort of the guests."
Trigger for new plans
BDG managing director Matthias In-Albon explained that the planning was triggered by various investments that will have to be made in the near future: the replacement of the Schönried-Horneggli chairlift from 1984, the replacement of the Saanewald-Hornberg chairlift from 1986, a new lift for the Hornfluh-Gfell piste, the unsatisfactory parking situation in Schönried and the expansion of the reservoir on the Hornberg.
The Horneggli chairlift in particular is in urgent need of renewal. It is still a safe means of transport, but since many components of the cable car are no longer manufactured, the risk of operational failure is very high. In the case of a retrofit, so many adjustments would have to be made to comply with the currently standards that a refurbishment would be practically impossible, would not be worthwhile and would not offer any visible changes for guests.
Accordingly, the BDG, together with GST, started planning the development regulations in May 2020. The new lifts are defined in these plans, as are the reservoirs, summer offers for bikers and families, and a new car park in Schönried.
Replacing the Horneggli and expanding the reservoir
In-Albon began his presentation with the replacement of the chairlift Schönried-Horneggli. A new two-section lift will take guests to the Hornberg basin, with a middle station on the Horneggli. The top station will be slightly offset from the current top station of the Saanewald-Hornberg chairlift. This is where children will make their first turns in the snow paradise in winter. The children's paradise at the valley station will remain. In summer, the Hornberg will be staged as a mountain experience for families.
The expansion of the reservoir is necessary because the existing volume only allows for one day of snowmaking. A total of three lakes are planned. The existing lake, a new one with three times the volume and the retention lake. In the large lake, the water from the Saane river can circulate and cool down before it will be used to produce snow. "In late autumn, every degree decides whether you can produce artifical snow or not," In-Albon explained.
Replacement Hornberg with new mountain station
The Saanewald-Hornberg chairlift is also to be replaced and the top station moved to the current top station of the Hornfluh ski lift. Under future regulations, the current t-bar lift will be too steep. Although the regulations are not yet legally valid, they are already taken into account now. A chairlift was considered in Gfell a long time ago. Artificial snowmaking is also planned for the Gfell piste to ensure snow safety. These projects will be included in the development regulations.
Multifunctional building at the Horneggli valley station
The new Horneggli valley station will also have a multi-storey car park, a cross-country ski centre, the ski school office, a ski school assembly point and ski boxes for winter operations. For summer operation, there should be a washing facility for bikes, because the Horneggli is to become attractive for bikers. The bikes can be easily transported with the new lift. Flow trails for pleasure bikers will then lead from the mountain station to the valley station.
Multi-storey car park replaces parking in the field
The new multi-storey car park is designed for 500 cars. It is intended to alleviate the precarious parking situation in Schönried. It will not create any additional spaces, but it will replace those on the meadow and thus contribute to a better quality. "We hope that Waldmattenstrasse will have less search traffic as a result," said Rolf Schwenter, president of the Schönried village organisation.
Earliest start in 2024
The planning is complex and time-consuming. In addition to the partners, a total of 20 administrative offices are involved. Ideally, construction on the Horneggli will start in spring 2024 and will take about two years.
It is still too early to give precise investment figures, In-Albon said upon request. He expects the total project to cost at least CHF 70m. The Horneggli two-section lift will cost around CHF 30m, similar to the Saanersloch lift. The parking will be around CHF 20m and the Hornberg chairlift at around CHF 20m. It is expected that 40 per cent of the costs will be borne by the BDG and 60 per cent by the municipalities and partners.
Based on AvS/Blanca Burri