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Seilbahn Gargellen © Gert Krautbauer / Vorarlberg Tourismus
It´s all up and down

What do you need to run a cable-car system?

A guided tour of Gargellner Bergbahnen will show you that cable cars are not only for transporting people – not by a long shot...

Perhaps a few numbers first, says Manuel Stross, because numbers are the best way of explaining what really goes on. For example: 10,600 kilograms of French fries every year. Or 850 kilograms of spaghetti. And more than 30,000 eggs, wait a minute, he looks it up: “Last year, it was 31,600 eggs, to be exact. That’s what we took up in the cable car.” The deputy manager of Gargellner Bergbahnen stops to think for a moment. “As far as I know, not one broke.”

Before the tour that shows visitors what really goes on behind the scenes at a cable-car system, you’d be forgiven for thinking that cable cars only transported passengers up and down the mountain.

Seilbahn Gargellen © Gert Krautbauer / Vorarlberg Tourismus
Bergbahn Gargellen © Gert Krautbauer / Vorarlberg Tourismus

Technical questions: Manuel Stross uses a modelto demonstrate the mechanics of how cars are suspended from the bearing cables on cable-car systems

Before the tour that shows visitors what really goes on behind the scenes at a cable-car system (which is available in Gargellen once a week), you’d be forgiven for thinking that cable cars only transported passengers up and down the mountain. Passengers are transported, of course. But that’s not all that goes on – not by a long shot. Its employees, for instance, have to start climbing into the snow groomers in the late afternoon to prepare the slopes for the following day. They are also responsible for creating the right amount of mechanical snow. And they’re responsible for rescue missions out on the slopes. And for avalanche blasting. They also run a winter-sports equipment store and a locker station for drying 500 pairs of skis and boots in Gargellen in the Montafon. And they get everything up the mountain that the restaurant needs: frying pans, beer mats, toilet paper. Plus the aforesaid 31,600 raw eggs.

Seilbahn Gargellen © Gert Krautbauer / Vorarlberg Tourismus

Point of return: The hub of Gargellner Bergbahnen where the cable car travels from the village to Schafberg Hüsli at an altitudeof around 2,100 metres

The cable car also runs in the summer but that’s also when the entire system is checked – which takes months

You’ll discover all this on the guided tour behind the scenes. “Most people believe that we start the big motor in the morning and then everything happens more or less automatically,” Manuel says. “But they soon realise that it’s not at all as easy as it looks.Most people understand when they’ve been on the tour why ski passes cost what they cost.” Gargellner Bergbahnen employs 100 people in winter and around 50 in summer. Most of the summer employees are almost exclusively busy carrying out checks. “Everything is checked during the summer. All the cars, all the suspensions, every metre of cable – that takes months.” And then? When you’re finished? “That’s when it usually starts snowing again.”

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