A crowded premier at the Glacier 3000

  16.11.2022 Sports & Leisure

Saturday morning on 12 November at 8 AM: the car park on the Col du Pillon was practically still empty, but two hours later, there was hardly a space left. As expected, most of the vehicles came from the French-speaking part of Switzerland, but also some with number plates from the cantons of Bern, Zurich, and Basel were spotted. The winter sports enthusiasts - young and old - gathered close at the entrance to the gondola lift, impatiently waiting to go up. "We were expecting around 2000 guests," said Bernhard Tschannen, CEO of Glacier 3000. In the past few days, there had been around 40cm of fresh snow at 3000 meters above sea level. “I am happy to report that advance sales of the Magic Pass have started very well," the CEO said.


Cross-country ski instructor Erika Reymond-Hess

Erika Reymond-Hess had travelled from Saint-Légier above Vevey: "It's my first day on skis this winter," she explains. The skiing legend from the 1980s is taking her first refresher course for ski instructors this weekend - but not in alpine skiing as before, but in cross-country skiing. "I do both, need both," she says. "With cross-country skiing - you can quickly go skiing for just an hour, and then you are satisfied with a great workout, and your whole body has gotten a really good exercise." But she will, of course, continue to alpine ski. "I still really enjoy skiing," emphasises the 60-year-old multiple world champion.


One week later than planned

Initially, the season should have started a week earlier. But after the fire in the Botta restaurant on the night of 18 to 19 September, some precautions had to be taken. Fortunately, the rink was not affected by the fire. "We kept the safety installation running longer to transport as much debris and material as possible down to the valley by aerial cableway instead of by helicopter. This put us a little behind schedule with the general overhaul of the cable car," Bernhard Tschannen explained. "The team has done a great job, and we are very happy that we can open today.


The safety of our staff and the guests is our top priority. The fire destroyed the restaurant's interior on the fourth floor but left the building structure intact. "We completely dismantled the fifth floor and removed all the facades and walls on the fourth floor to mitigate the wind forces." A temporary tunnel now leads from the building to the exit. "This is for overall safety, preventing that snow or ice cannot fall on anyone's head."


Re-opening of the Botta restaurant is planned for the end of 2023

Construction work will begin in the spring, and if all goes according to plan, the restaurant is scheduled to reopen at the end of the year. "We can't commit to an exact date because the planning is not yet in place. In addition, we are exposed to wind and weather up here at 3000 metres above sea level, sometimes making things a little tricky," says Tschannen.


In the meantime - as far as catering is concerned – improvised solutions have been found. There is a coffee shop with drinks, cakes and sandwiches in the souvenir shop and a snack bar on the ScexRouge terrace with hot snacks. "By Christmas, a temporary chalet will be set up with room for 70 people," Tschannen says. Until then, the restaurant down on the Col du Pillon will remain the ski area's main restaurant. In addition, the "Refuge l'espace" will be open, as well as the Midterm Bar Oldenalp and the SAC hut later in the season.

Link to video here

Based on AvS | text and photos by Anita Moser

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