Once again, Austria led the way over the summer when it came to building new lifts for the upcoming season.

Chris Madoc-Jones' full round up of new lifts can be found in Issue 2 of this season's Ski+board

So much so that their market-leading lift manufacturer Doppelmayr – which is based in the Tirol – had to move into a new, 62 million home as they had outgrown their old headquarters.  Among many others, look out for two big new gondolas in the Ziller Valley, a replacement for the key access gondola at Zell am See, yet another luxury fast lift in Ischgl and Kitzbuhel’s seventh (yes seventh) eight-seater, fast chair.

This article was originally published in the November 2017 issue of Ski+board, read the full magazine online here.

We start with the most expensive project of the winter, the new Spieljochbahn access gondola in the Ziller Valley at Fügen. Coming in at a massive 40 million, the new ten-seater lift covers almost 3km to access the popular Spieljoch Mountain. Particular attention has been paid to the new lift stations, which feature a unique wooden design that is bound to turn heads this winter.

Another 40 million project has been finished at the small resort of Ifen, right on the German border in the Kleinwalsertal Valley. The new ten-seater access gondola runs from the base all the way to the summit of the popular family ski area. It joins the six-seater Olympiabahn chairlift that was built last season to complete a full overhaul of the resort that is now home to only fast, new lifts.

In addition to these two major lift projects, no fewer than seven other resorts are the proud owners of new access gondolas this season. One of these is Finkenberg in the Zillertal Valley, a stone’s throw from the party town of Mayrhofen. The new Almbahn gondola – equipped with wi-fi and heated seats – has replaced a 30-year old workhorse, doubling the uphill capacity to 2,400 people per hour in the process. Just a short bus ride away from Mayrhofen, this new lift will provide a great alternative route up to the sunny Penken Mountain during busy periods.

The ski area of Igls-Patscherkofel, one of Innsbruck’s three local ski areas, is another to boast a new access gondola this season. A replacement for the Patscherkofelbahn has been built by Doppelmayr to whisk 2,450 skiers from the outskirts of the city to almost 2,000m in around ten minutes. This key lift will serve the downhill racetrack used at both the 1964 and 1976 Winter Olympics – one of the most famous runs in the Tirol region.

Another historic resort, Alpbach-Wildschönau, is now also host to a new 4km long Doppelmayr D-Line access gondola. A replacement for the vital Schatzbergbahn was built over the summer, almost doubling the uphill capacity in the process. In a great twist, the 32-year old lift it replaced has been packed up and sent to Pakistan, where it will be rebuilt as a tourist attraction near the base of Nanga Parbat, the ninth highest mountain in the world.

Remarkably, a second old lift has headed to more exotic climes from an Austrian ski resort. The new ten-seat AreitXpress has replaced one of Zell am See’s most important access lifts, with the old lift being rehomed at a Colombian theme park. With a capacity of 3,600 skiers per hour, the new lift promises to cut queue times in the morning and aid downloading at the end of the day, especially at the end of the season when the snow melts from the resort runs.

The fifth resort to see a new access gondola this season is the small resort of Hochficht. A new ten-seater has replaced three old draglifts from the base, via a new mid-station, to the summit of the Reischlberg mountain. The new lift will transform the beginner options at the resort, especially on bad weather days and in low-snow years.

St Johann in Tirol, one of Austria’s top family destinations and recently taken over by the Scandinavian company SkiStar (owner of among others Åre, Hemsedal and Trysil), has installed a new access gondola too. The Eichenhofbahn has replaced an old T-bar that used to suffer during particularly low-snow years. In addition, further up the mountain a brand new fast six-seater chair was built – it is clear that SkiStar’s first foray into the Alps means business.

And finally, in the Arlberg, the resort of Warth-Schröcken at the northernmost end the linked ski area has got a new gondola for the 2017/18 season. Although it is only 420m long, the new 3.5 million Dorfbahn Warth links the town to the slopes, making access to the huge 305km of linked pistes easier than ever.

It’s not all about gondolas in Austria however; four big chairlift projects were completed over the summer. The headline grabber comes from Kitzbühel, where the resort’s seventh eight-seater chairlift was built. The new, Leitner-built Jufenbahn serves some of the best steep terrain in the resort, but for those feeling nostalgic for the old Jufenalm chairlift – the old chairs were sold for a bargain price of 120 a pop.

Another eight-seater chair went in at high-altitude Obertauern, a first for this resort. The luxury Seekarspitzbahn, complete with seat heating and bubbles, serves some of the resort’s best and most snowsure red and black runs.

It wouldn’t be a new season in Ischgl without a new lift, and 2017/18 is no exception. As always, the resort management don’t do things in halves, so the replacement for the Palinkopfbahn is equipped with bubbles and racing car style, heated leather seats.

Little-known Nauders on the Italian border has invested in the only hybrid lift to be built in Austria over the summer. The new Goldwasserexpress has replaced two ageing draglifts. It will run with six-seater chairs throughout the winter months, before shifting to an eight-seater gondola for the summer to more comfortably shift hikers and bikers up the mountain.