Current projects of Bergbahnen Destination Gstaad

  14.04.2022 Local News

Bergbahnen Destination Gstaad AG (BDG) has drawn up several development planss in the last two years. They affect its entire area: Wispile, Eggli, Schönried-Saanenmöser and Rinderberg.  

More water from the river Saane
The Eggli development plan includes the toboggan run, combined with a new snow-making system and a new water catchment in the Saane. "So far we have been making snow in stages," explains Matthias In-Albon, managing director of BDG. "In the future, we want to make enough snow as soon as the temperatures are low enough then turn off the snow guns and stow them away. It's all about efficiency when temperatures are low enough." Guests should see as little of the snow guns as possible. "If the amount of water is sufficient, we don't have to prioritise and we can safely open the slopes at Christmas," says In-Albon.

At the moment, 110 litres per second are taken from the Saane in Rougemont and 120 litres in Rübeldorf. With a new water intake on Egglistrasse in Gstaad, an additional 200 litres per second are to be taken from the Saane. "When we need the water, the Saane carries enough water," Jannik Sager, project manager at BDG, answers a corresponding question. The residual water quantity must be maintained, he says, and this is checked regularly. "The canton has direct access from Bern to the measuring station at the Bellerive bridge. They can monitor us around the clock," explains Heinz Brand, chairman of the BDG board of directors.

Snow-covered toboggan run and slope to valley station
A new toboggan run from the mountain station to the valley station is planned at the Eggli. Tobogganing is a growing trend, says In-Albon. "A well-designed toboggan run that is snow-covered and lit is the expectation nowadays." The slope to the valley station will also be equipped with technical snow production, even though it is not expected to become a busy slope. "But thanks to the snowmaking facilities, you don't have to take the gondola down to the valley."

The toboggan run will be built on the existing terrain. "It will certainly be a bit more challenging than the previous one, but there is no ice channel," assures In-Albon. The owner and operator is BDG. "Club de Luge may possibly participate in the financing, but they don't have exclusive rights. The toboggan run will be open to everyone," says Brand. The canton of Vaud is also participating in the financing of the water transport pipeline for the overall project. The remainder will be financed with the BDG’s own resources.

Schönried: no new cable car without a multi-storey car park
The new cable car is the main element of the Schönried-Saanenmöser development plan. It should go all the way to the Hornbergkessel with a middle station on the Horneggli. The plan also includes new bike trails from the middle station in cooperation with Gstaad Saanenland Tourismus. A prerequisite for the new railway from Schönried to the Hornberg is the multi-storey car park. "We have to provide parking spaces for a new cable car," explains Sager. "Without this proof in the project plan, there is no new cable car."

A new chairlift is to go from the Saanewald to the Hornfluh. It will replace the existing T-bar, which is too steep according to the new regulations. "Otherwise we would lose the permit for the T-bar in the future," explains In-Albon. The new chairlift provides access to the Gfell and the two restaurants.

Enlargement of the reservoir
To ensure that there is enough water for the snow-making season in autumn, the existing reservoir on the Hornberg is to be enlarged or a second one built. This is worthwhile, says In-Albon. "Thanks to the investments we made in 2016/17 with additional snow guns, the connections and optimisations, we were able to open all the lifts by Christmas even in difficult conditions," he explains. "This makes a big difference in terms of turnover." To produce snow as early as possible is key, he says. People want to get on the slopes as early as possible in autumn, and when the first flowers sprout, the desire for winter sports is over for many. The current reservoir is far too small and empty within one day of snowmaking, so a larger reservoir is necessary.     

Tree-top walk on the Wispile
Wispile should become more attractive in the summer season with various new. For example, theme trails, a zip line from the top station to the middle station, platforms, a treetop path with viewing platforms in the forest and the summer use of the ski lift are being considered. The terrain would lend itself to small bike trails for children," explains Sager. "We have had strong summers in recent years. But we want to expand the summer offer further and invest accordingly," emphasises In-Albon. "Children want action," the father of two knows from his own experience.

No fixed time frame
Over the next few weeks and months, the development regulations will gradually be put out for public consultation. "Nothing is set in stone yet in terms of timing," emphasises Brand. "We want to plan ahead and submit the zoning ordinances early so that we can begin construction when a project is approved and the finances are available." The aim is to prevent the expiration of the concession for the old cable car before the new cable car is built, as it happened with the Saanersloch railway. "That could happen to us in Schönried," he warns. The reason for such a scenario could also be the lifespan of the installation and thus the availability of spare parts. "If, for example, the engine breaks down, the railway can be at a standstill for six months, because many spare parts are no longer available and it therefore needs custom-made parts," explains In-Albon. "If major changes have to be made, this is considered a major intervention, so the new standards apply to the whole railway. We could no longer meet these with the current cable car."

Owners have been or will be informed
"We don't do anything without the affected landowners being aware of our plans. We want to prevent them from finding out from the newspapers," Brand and In-Albon emphasise. "We have informed the affected owners of the plans at the Eggli individually, and they have basically given their consent for us move ahead," explains the chairman. The planned multi-storey car park could become a sticking point. Brand and In-Albon are confident, however. "Together with the municipality of Saanen, we are in good dialogue with the landowners," they emphasise. 

"With regard to the other projects, we will still contact the landowners concerned," Brand promises. "We have not been able to tackle them all at the same time," he adds and hopes for understanding among those affected.

Based on AvS/Anita Moser

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