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High-wire act

21 SEPTEMBre 2017

There was tension in the air recently as the cables for the new Zermatt 3S cableway were ready to embark on the final stage of their journey, having travelled right across Switzerland to Cervinia in Italy and up to Lake Cime Bianche, also in Italy. The cables were attached to a preliminary cable with the aid of a temporary cable bridge and winched from Lake Cime Bianche (alt. 2'812 m) via Furggsattel (3'365 m) to Trockener Steg (2'939 m).  

At 80 tonnes each, the cable reels were too heavy to be transported by truck from Cervinia to Lake Cime Bianche, so the individual cables first had to be transferred to two smaller reels and loaded onto two connected trucks before being re-spooled onto the original reel at their destination. From Lake Cime Bianche the new cables would then be winched to Trockener Steg via Furggsattel. 
Before the new cables could even begin their journey, it was necessary to construct a number of installations in the weeks preceding. A temporary suspension bridge was assembled with four temporary support towers for winching the preliminary cable. This much lighter cable was transported by helicopter to the Furggsattel from the Italian side of the border and from there it was possible to span it to Lake Cime Bianche via the cable bridge with the aid of an auxiliary winch mechanism. On the Swiss side, it was possible to winch the preliminary cable over the Furggsattel chairlift pylons, partly using the helicopter and partly with the help of a snow mobile. The chairlift pylons were provisionally anchored to the glacier to ensure that they would be able to take the load. Meanwhile, let’s not forget that all this work was only preparation for the actual cable transport!

Once the preliminary cable had been spanned on both the Italian and Swiss sides, the next step was to attach first the hauling cable and then each of the support cables and send them on their way. The cables had to travel 5'500 metres in all, with an elevation change of almost 1'000 metres – a real high-wire act if ever there was one!

Once they had finally arrived at their destination on Trockener Steg, the cables had to be spooled back onto reels, and they are now awaiting final installation on the new 3S cableway. This task is due to be carried out in early November. 

Some facts about the cable winching
Support cables:
•    4 pieces, each 4'220 m long
•    Diameter: 56mm
•    Weight: 17.7 kg/m
•    Reel diameter: 3.5 m
•    Total weight per cable incl. reel: approx. 80 tonnes

Hauling cable:
•    1 piece, 9'500 m long
•    Diameter: 46 mm 
•    Weight: 7.5 kg/m
•    Reel diameter: 3.5 m
•    Total weight of cable incl. reel: approx. 76 tonnes