Sonntags Blick, Switzerland

Von Guido Schätti
6 December, 2009

Gotthard Pass road, an aerial tramway from Göschenen railway station directly to the Nätschen ski area

A gondola that glides 480 meters above the Gotthard Pass road, an aerial tramway from Göschenen railway station directly to the Nätschen ski area, more than 200 kilometers of ski slopes with 70 percent snowmaking coverage: Andermatt Welcome to the future!

Driver of the mega project is the Egyptian Investor Samih Sawiris (52). More than one billion Swiss francs he plans to invest in his new resort in Andermatt, Uri Canton. With six hotels, 490 apartments and 25 to 30 villas the new Andermatt project is the largest construction project in the Alps.

Skiersuse the region today, but normal consumers get onto the steep slopes and become quickly weak in the knees. ¬†Sawiris wants to change that together with the Andermatt Gotthard Sportbahnen (AGS) and the Andermatt Sedrun Bergbahnen he wants to convert into a mass-alpine playground. “The new holiday resort is to rely on an expansion of the ski area”, says Franz Steinegger (66), Chairman of the AGS.

SonntagsBlick is located in front of the master plan prepared by Ecosign Mountain Resort Planners Ltd., from Whistler, British Columbia. The Canadians are the world’s first address in the planning of ski resorts. Of these, the designs are for the facilities of the Olympic Games in Calgary 1988 (CDN), Salt Lake City 2002 (USA) Whistler (CDN) and Sochi (RUS). Ecosign plans to mould Andermatt in three stages as a top destination.

Stage 1:  Instead of six existing chairlifts and ski lifts, two new gondolas and 3 quad chairlifts. Four new lifts are added, including a connection with the ski resort Sedrun.

Stage 2: ¬†A cable car from G√∂schenen to the G√ľtsch will bring day tourists directly to the ski area. In addition, a quad chairlift opens up the area on the St Anna’s glacier.

Stage 3:¬† ¬†The culmination of the Sawiris-winter dream: the aerial tramway from N√§tschen to Gurschenalp, across the Gotthard Pass road. With that we could “bring together the entire ski area‚ÄĚ, said Steinegger.

A similar tramway was opened in 2008 at Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia. At 4.4 kilometers this is significantly longer than the cable car above Andermatt but the latter would be higher at 480 meters above the valley floor. ‚ÄúThat would be a world record‚ÄĚ, confirmed Benno Nager (53), project manager at the AGS. The Whistler Peak2Peak gondola has a highest point at¬† 436 meters.

“Technically, the 3S cable car is achievable,” says Istvan Szalai (50), CEO of the lift builders Garaventa, whose parent company also built the Whistler lift. “Commercially, however, there are still many open questions,” said Steinegger. Around 200 million Swiss francs is needed for the whole ski project. The cost of the aerial link is estimated to cost at least 16 million francs.

However, mass marketing of Sawiris’ super lift would propel Andermatt into its own league in Europe. ¬†Ski legend Bernhard Russi (61), sits on the Board of Sawiris and he says: “Until we are so far in Andermatt, it is still a long way.”

The ambitious plan for the new Andermatt.

Thus, the Andermatt ski resort could look like this in 15 years. With a shuttle train to commute between the ski areas and Nätschen Gemsstock. Day trippers can take a cable car direct from Göschenen ski area. Andermatt-Sedrun includes more than 200 km of slopes, of which about 70 percent can be artificially snowed.

Gemsstock Andermatt