Gornergrat Railway: up, up and away!

Story 58

For 58 years, Gornergrat Railway transported passengers and goods exclusively by rail. The management then decided to create two aerial cableways to the Stockhorn. It was a brave decision that not only presented railway master Cäsar Lauber with enormous challenges.

Development of a unique skiing area

In 1952, Gornergrat Railway applied for a licence for an aerial cableway running from the Gornergrat to the imposing Stockhorn via the Hohtälligrat. The aim was to extend the Zermatt winter season by several weeks thanks to the excellent snow conditions on the Stockhorn in spring. When the concession was granted in 1954, Paul Schneller, Director of Gornergrat Railway, handed over the local construction management to railway master Cäsar Lauber.

Hard work at unfamiliar heights

At the end of May 1955, work began on the first section, which ran from the Gornergrat to the Hohtälli, at an altitude of 3,275 metres above sea level. Cäsar Lauber was nervous because winter had persisted in the high mountains and delayed the start of construction by weeks.

Despite the difficult circumstances, Lauber planned efficiently and coordinated the work of the contracted companies down to the last detail. The construction work at this height placed unusual demands on both people and materials. During the construction period, he received around 1,070 wagonloads of material with a total weight of 9,500 tonnes.

But Lauber was lucky. Thanks to the mild autumn, the construction workers were able to make up for the delay.

New altitude record in Switzerland

Lauber was proud that the first section to Hohtälli was completed on schedule in 1956. Initially, the first cableway only transported materials, but from the spring of 1957 onwards was also used to transport passengers.

The second section was opened in autumn 1958, up to the Stockhorn (3,407 metres above sea level). At the time, it was Switzerland’s highest aerial cableway.

Following the merger of Zermatt Bergbahnen, the aerial cableways became the responsibility of Zermatt Bergbahnen AG. In April 2007, the company ceased operating the cable car between Gornergrat and Stockhorn. Since 2021, the valley station of the Hohtällibahn has been home to the interactive “ZOOOM the Matterhorn – See. Feel. Marvel.”.

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