Shocking pictures reach us from Switzerland, where on Monday, September 19, 2022, the summit station of the Glacier 3000 gondola burst into flames. Glacier 3000 is a ski resort in the Swiss canton of Vaud, about 20 minutes from Gstaad and 40 minutes from Montreux.
The fire appears to have started on the fourth floor of the upstairs restaurant “Botta” of the gondola summit station. Thankfully the gondola station and restaurant were empty at the time as the fire broke out around 4:30 am, according to the local police, hours before anyone was going to be on the mountain.
The ski resort Glacier 3000 is owned by Gstaad local Marcel Bach and the billionaires Bernie Ecclestone and Jean-Claude Mimran, who bought the resort in 2005. Since then, they have invested heavily into the infrastructure, successfully turning a struggling resort into a year-round attraction in the mountains. The public prosecution is investigating whether it could be a case of arson. The police have put out a call for witnesses.
The fire was hard to contain, as helicopters from Air Glacier and Rega (the Swiss emergency services) had to be used to extinguish the fire since it was uncertain at the time if it was safe to operate the gondola. The building and gondola’s structural integrity was assessed and deemed sound yesterday. Forty firemen were on call in the early hours of Monday, and four firemen stayed on site overnight as the engines for the gondola were still overheated.
The gondola will remain closed until further notice. Further tests and assessments are required, but Bernhard Tschannen, the CEO of Glacier 3000, is confident that the resort will be able to open on November 5 as planned. The restaurant will not be able to reopen for the 22/23 season, so a temporary solution will be found. Tschannen further stressed that there are more on-mountain dining options to service snowsports enthusiasts.
The restaurant Botta is located on the top two floors of the gondola station, situated at 9,747ft (2,971m). It was designed by world-renowned architect Mario Botta, who also designed the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art in Charlotte, NC. The construction took ten months to complete, cost $17.6 million (CHF 17 million), and opened in 2001.
The Glacier 3000 resort was planning a season-opening for November 5 and having their latest addition, a new double black diamond run, ready for the 22/23 season start. Since we last reported on this project, another 328ft (100m) of the 870ft (265m) tunnel has been excavated. This means a total of 656ft or 75% is complete, putting them on track for completion. The fire should not interfere with the construction, as the Scex Rouge gondola is separate from the Cabane gondola. We hope the fire will not delay the construction of the resort’s new ‘Cabane Pillon’ run, but most of all, they can open as planned in less than seven weeks.
- Related: Construction Underway On Tunnel Through Mountain To Insane Double Black Diamond Run In Switzerland
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