Elbrus Gongola sept 2013

///Resorts News

//Resorts News

Patrick Thorne

21 May 14

Europe’s Highest Peak to Get Highest Gondola, Next Stop, World’s Highest Lift

Patrick Thorne

21 May 14

(Gondola construction at Elbrus)

Mt Elbrus, in Russia’s Kabardino Balkaria region, the highest mountain in Europe with a peak at 5,646m, will have a new gondola reaching 3,850m next winter, according to Russian developers  (Northern Caucasus Resorts (NCR).

Elbrus has had ski lifts for many years and has offered late spring and summer skiing on its upper slopes thanks to their high elevation reaching permanent snowfields, but their operation has been plagued by mechanic failure, power cuts and the operator’s decision not to run them if there were not enough people on the slopes to warrant it, according to visitors.

The area was also attacked by terrorists in February 2011, blowing up a lift and murdering three skiers on a coach trip from Moscow.

The new gondola to 3,850m will replace an old single chairlift reaching 3500m which also previously had a cat service to take skiers to around 3,700m.

French experts employed  on making Elbrus a higher quality, modern, year-round destination say they are looking at the possibilities of building lifts up to 4700m, and possibly 5000m, with the aim of creating the highest ski lift in the world with the biggest lift served vertical.  They expect to know if such a project would be feasible by the end of the year.

Currently the highest lift in Europe, a drag lift to 3,899m, operates in Zermatt on the Klein Matterhorn.  The only other lift on the continent officially above 3,800m is the Aiguille du Midi cable car at Chamonix, the top of the building where it is located reaching 3,842m

Following the closure of the highest lift in the world at Chacaltaya in Bolivia (5,200m) after its snowfield melted away due to climate change, the highest ‘proper’ ski area is currently Gulmarg in India with a top lift height of 3,979m.

However there are reported to also be small basic ski areas at the top of high altitude gondolas in China. Jade Dragon Snow Mountain which has a gondola lift to 4,506m that opened in the mid-1990s initially did not have any skiing but has recently been reported to have a surface lift at the top for limited snow sports.

The world’s highest lift is believed to be a Doppelmayr gondola to the 4843m high Dagu Glacier, also in China, but this is not thought to have any winter sports facilities.