A new ski season means new lifts to discover across European ski resorts. Find out what's new this winter!

Here is a round-up of the latest lifts from around Europe: 

France

All of the major French resorts seem to have invested heavily over the summer, but the prize for most impressive project has to go to La Rosière, where two new fast six-seat chairs open up a whole new sector of the mountain after two years of construction. A whole new sector of the mountain has been opened up by two new fast six-seat chairs – Moulins and Mont Valaisan. Five new snowsure runs have been added to the piste map, topping out at almost 2,800m, significantly higher than the resort’s other lifts. The two combine to produce over 800m of vertical drop and promise to open out some great off-piste – this area will undoubtedly become a firm favourite for visitors to the resort. If this wasn’t enough, a new draglift has also been built over the summer, making the Clarines drag the third new lift of year.

 

Not content with the new Solaise lift last season, another ten-seat gondola has been built in Val d’Isère. This time, attention has turned to La Daille – home of the OK racetrack. The new lift will serve the lower part of the course and for those keen on après ski, the top station is right next to the world-famous Folie Douce – perfect if you’re not looking to ski down at the end of the day. Also in the resort, the Leissières ridge – renowned for its hair-raising up-and-over chairlift – is to be served by the rebuilt 3000 draglift which has been out of use for many years. Steep off-piste runs drop off either side of the ridge, holding great snow throughout the year, so the drag will no doubt prove popular.

 

At the other end of the Espace Killy, access from Tignes 1550 has been significantly improved through the construction of the new Géant eight-seat gondola. The new lift links to Tignes 1800 and the Boisses gondola, which then whisks skiers up to the Marais plateau and the rest of the vast ski area.

 

Over in the Three Valleys. major work has been carried out above the resort of Méribel. The Plan de L’Homme chair has been replaced by the luxury Legends lift – kitted out with bubbles and padded seats. Keen to recycle the old lift, it will be refurbished and installed further up the mountain to replace the Cherferie draglift. Capacity in this sector will quadruple and to reflect this, a new red run has been marked out for the winter ahead and additional snowmaking has been installed. Look out for brand new cabins on the Mont Vallon gondola too.

 

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After access was transformed above 1650 last winter, attention over the summer transferred to Courchevel 1550, where the Gragnettes gondola was replaced. The new queue-busting ten-seater is certain to cut peak time queues, both heading up the mountain in the morning and down the hill at the end of the day.

 

Although nothing new has been built, three lifts out of Les Menuires have been upgraded ahead of the winter. The Bruyères gondola will see upgraded, faster eight-seat cabins this season, making the ride to the Col de la Chambre more comfortable than ever. More chairs have been added to the Granges chairlift to increase capacity by almost 50 per cent and the station of the Roc 1 gondola has been extended to allow for more cabins to be added to the lift, upping its capacity from 2,800 skiers per hour to 3,200.

 

A lift removed from the Three Valleys has made its way to Les Arcs 1950, where the old Portette quad from Val Thorens' – taken out last winter – has replaced the Comborcière chair below the new village. As with last year’s Datcha chair in Val d’Isère, the old lift has been refurbished and reinstalled to significantly speed up the return towards Les Arcs 1600. An additional red run has been created by the lift too, giving people the option of a red or black run, rather than a single black run previously.

 

On the other side of the Paradiski, another fast six-seater has been constructed in La Plagne. The snowsure Inversens bowl below the Roche de Mio will be served in only six minutes by the new chair and pressure is likely to be released on the key gondolas linking to the Glacier de Bellecote. 

In the Grands Montets sector above Argentière in the Chamonix Valley, a new fast six-seater has been built to ease congestion on busy days. The new Leitner-built Tabé chair replaced two lifts, a slow four seater and a slow double to better access the area’s best blue runs. In addition, the new Marmottons drag has provided access to an improved beginner zone. These new lifts will be especially important following the devastating fire that took out the iconic Grands Montets cable car station in September.

Looking to the southern French Alps and the start of a vast €500 million investment in new lifts and facilities at Les Deux Alpes is under way and a “new” eight-seat chairlift will be ready for the 2018-19 season. The former Glaciers 2 lift has been moved to provide access to the world-famous park at La Toura, which will now be significantly faster and more comfortable thanks to the upgrade.

The first phase of a new gondola project in Alpe d’Huez was built over the summer, connecting Les Bergers to the heart of town. Once complete – the second phase is due for construction next summer – the lift will eventually also link to Huez 1550. Traffic around town should be significantly reduced, boosting the resort’s environmental credentials.

A key link in the Portes du Soleil above Châtel has been bolstered for the upcoming season. The new Pierre Longue six-pack will increase capacity to 3,000 skiers per hour and cleverly reuses nine of the old lift’s pylons to save on construction costs and to lower the environmental impact.

A new six-person chairlift has been built in Serre Chevalier in the southern French Alps, the resort’s eighth such chair. The new Côte Chevalier lift replaces a slow quad and an ancient Poma, speeding up access around Fréjus.

In Le Corbier in the Les Sybelles ski area, skiers will be whisked up to the Pointe du Corbier at over 20kph by the new Corbier six-seater. The BMF-built chair serves a multitude of blues and reds, many of which are fully equipped with snowmaking, and should also improve access to the linked resort of St Sorlin d’Arves.

After installing new snow machines last winter on the popular Combe du Mottet red run above Valmorel, a fast six-seater was built to serve that run for 2018-19. The new Mottet lift will more than double uphill capacity to 2,400 skiers per hour and will also serve the Mottet freeride zone.

An €18 million project was completed in the resort of Val Cenis, a resort in the Savoie that certainly deserves more recognition. Access to the heart of this varied ski area has been transformed by the new ten-seat Vieux Moulin gondola, which replaces a rickety 35-year old lift.

In little over four months, the first of two planned fast six-seat chairs was built above the resort of Foux d’Allos. The Marin Pascal lift replaces two old, slow lifts, and will link neatly to the future Vescal chair – mooted for construction in 2019.

In arguably the most efficient project of the summer, a new six-seat Doppelmayr D-Line chairlift (the first of its kind in France) has been built to replace not one, but three lifts above the resort of Les Orres. The €8 million lift will rise almost 600 m in just over four minutes, providing rapid access to a network of tree-lined greens, blues and reds above the 1550 village.

One of the key lifts in Puy St Vincent has been upgraded. The new Crête de Bans high-speed six-seat chair will rise almost 700 vertical metres from just below the middle of the three resort villages. The new Doppelmayr lift will travel at 19 kph, cutting ride time by almost a quarter.

Situated high on a plateau above Lake Annecy, the main lift at the small resort of Semnoz has been replaced by one of two French chondolas this season. The Belvédère lift only rises 171 vertical metres by the only new, but the lift will transform this family-friendly resort – both in summer and winter.

Nestled in the Jura mountains to the north of Geneva, the small resort of Monts Jura splashed €7 million on a new telemix lift. It will run a combination of six-seat chairs and ten-seat gondolas to not only assist families in winter, but also walkers and bikers in the summer.

In the Pyrenees, after the construction of the new Savis chair last summer, the missing link in the Domaine Des Campels section of hidden gem Ax Trois Domaines was completed ahead of the season. The new Bisorne chair, a fixed-grip quad, will serve popular blue runs including FontFrede and Prat.

MARC GASCH

Andorra & Spain

In the Andorran Pyrenees, the high-altitude freeride mecca of Arcalis saw the construction of a major new lift over the summer. The new Tristaina gondola has ten-person cabins and utilises Doppelmayr’s D-Line technology to whisk skiers and snowboarders from L’Hortell to La Coma, right at the heart of the resort’s freeride zone which plays host to the Freeride World Tour each winter.

 

Skiers and snowboarders visiting Baqueira-Beret in the Spanish Pyrenees will notice a big difference this winter. Although only €1 million has been spent an additional 14 hectares of slopes has been created. Firstly, a slow three seat chair has been built above Beret to serve five new beginner runs, but more excitingly, a new drag lift will create three long runs near the Lacs du Baciver. It will reach 2600m – the highest lift-served point in the resort – and promises to also open up some exciting off-piste terrain.

copy 2010 by Bernhard Spoettel

Austria 

Once again Austria has led the way and, as with years gone by, the sums of money being pumped into building the next generation of lifts is astonishing.

 

After the first section was completed two winters ago, the second part of the Kirchenkarbahn has been built in Obergurgl. Rising to 2,839m, the new lift promises to showcase some of the most snowsure runs at this already extremely reliable resort for snow. Two new runs – numbers 43 and 44 – are bound to be popular and will add great variety in the sector above Hochgurgl.

 

It wouldn’t be the annual Ski+board new lifts summary without a new lift at Ischgl and once again the resort’s owners have not failed in their task. Rising a massive 924m, the new Gampenbahn serves some incredibly long, thigh-burning runs and off-piste terrain. And don’t worry if the weather is bad, in true Ischgl style the lift of course has heated seats and bubbles. In addition to the new lift, two new restaurants have been built, so this sunny sector promises to draw in the crowds this winter.

 

Two lifts have been replaced at Kitzbühel in the often-overlooked Kitzbühlerhorn sector of the resort. First, the Raintal chair, which dated back to 1967 has been upgraded to a top-of-the-range gondola, equipped with seat heating. Second, the Brunelle chair also brings an element of luxury to the slightly old-school part of the resort. The seats are heated and protected by bubbles, but importantly on this exposed part of the mountain, the lift hangers have been specially adapted to increase stability on windy days.

 

For 2018-19 there are more options that ever for quickly getting to the slopes above Mayrhofen. The new Möslbahn utilises the latest Doppelmayr D-Line technology and the distinctive Mayrhofen branding is visible on the boldly designed cabins. A descent down the valley on Run 16 below the lift is also a must, especially following the creation of a new race track where your run is filmed..

 

A huge new project to connect Kaprun directly with the Kitzsteinhorn Glacier is well underway. The first part of the “K-onnection” was completed over the summer and a new ten-seat gondola has been built up the Maiskogel ski area. With a new middle station, the lift rises an impressive 800m in less than 12 minutes, providing access to the underused local hill above Kaprun. By next winter however, the €85 million project will be completed by a new 3S gondola, linking the top station of the new gondola with Langweid just below the glacier ski area. Ski-in, ski-out glacier skiing will therefore be offered for the first time, making Kaprun a very attractive alternative base to Zell am See in this beautiful region.

 

Though the link to Zell am See is not quite complete, the astonishing levels of investment at Saalbach continue, with a further €37.5 million having been ploughed into the resort ahead of the upcoming season. Two new lifts will be spinning by early December, both of which will carry over 3,000 people per hour, cutting queue times even further. The new Kohlmeisbahn completely transforms access out of Saalbach itself, providing access to popular runs such as piste 52 and piste 53. It will also speed up access towards the second new lift, the eight-seat Asitzmuldenbahn. As seems typical for Saalbach, the lift will have bubbles, heated seats and automatic bars and it astonishingly becomes the third eight-seater in the Asitz sector of the resort.

 

Dubbed the “Generationenprojekt” by the resort’s management, the new Schlossalmbahn is certainly a once in a generation project in Bad Hofgastein. The powerful ten-seat gondola will more than double uphill capacity to 3,000 skiers per hour and cuts travel time to around ten minutes. It is part of a wider €85 million project that includes a transformation of the valley station – which is spectacular in itself – and a vast snowmaking system to cover most of the mountainside.

 

Another new lift has sprung up over the summer in the Zillertal Arena. As with most of our new Austrian lifts this summer, guest comfort is a high priority and the new Larmach six-seat chair has seat heating as well as protective bubbles. Such is the preponderance of seat heating in the Königsleiten sector, that skiers and snowboarders can spend the entire day on lifts which keep you nice and toasty.

 

At the resort of Kaltenbach in the Hochzillertal, a long new gondola has been built. The Wimbachexpress rises over 700 vertical metres and a new restaurant at the top promises to be a hit with its panoramic views over the valley. If heights aren’t your thing then maybe don’t venture out on to the new viewing platform at the top, but the views on a sunny day are more than worth a queasy stomach.

 

A monster new 'telemix' lift has been built at Obertauern to replace the Plattenkarbahn. With eight-seat chairs and ten-seat gondolas, the new lift will shift over 3,600 skiers per hour to the top of popular slopes including 3a and 3b.

 

Across in Seefeld, the 25-person cable car to the summit has been renewed ahead of the winter season. It tops out at just over 2,064m, providing well over 800m of vertical decent to the valley from the top via a network of groomed runs.

 

Whisking skiers and snowboarders up the mountain at 22 kph this winter will be the new Silverjet I lift at Katschberg. This vital access lift to the Aineck ski area has been upgraded to an eight-seat gondola and promises to shift 2600 riders up the mountain each hour, almost twice as many as the old lift – so wave goodbye to morning queues.

 

The epic Königstour in the Salzburg mountains now has a sixth summit to conquer. Above Maria Alm, the new Natrunbahn links the Aberg mountain to Natrun, courtesy of a high-tech Doppelmayr gondola. A new piste, fully equipped with the latest snowmaking technology has also been constructed, adding to the 120km of slopes in this under-rated ski area.

 

Parts of the old Natrunbahn lift from Maria Alm have made their way to the slopes of Montafon via the Doppelmayr head factory for refurbishing to help build the Jochle six-seat chair – another clever use of recycling old lifts that looks likely to save the resort 25 per cent on construction costs.

A vital new lift has been built at the resort of Damüls-Mellau. The new Oberdamüls lift replaces an old two seater and with heated seats, blue bubbles and automatic bar locking technology, this lift is as high-spec as they come. The bubbles in particular will come in handy at a resort famed for its incredible snowfall – an average of 9.3 metres lands here each winter.

 

And finally, yet another fast eight-seater has been built at the resort of Wagrain – the resort’s fourth. The new Sonntagskogelbahn II serves the popular piste 41 and bolsters the link between the resort and Alpendorf. As seems standard for new Austrian lifts, it has heated seats, bubbles and automatic barriers. But there is one extra feature that promises to make this the ideal family-friendly lift – the rolling mat adjusts automatically for the height of the people boarding the lift, clever stuff. 

Switzerland 

After years of planning, more than 130 million Swiss Francs and three busy summers of construction, the two resorts of Andermatt and Sedrun are finally linked. The new ten-seat gondola from the Oberalppass up to the Schneehühnerstock joins the circuit, opening up 120km of linked, snowsure pistes, more of which are equipped with snowmaking this season too. Beneath the lift itself, a new itinerary run – route 30 – is likely to be very popular on the many powder days at this snowy resort. In addition, a new 70-person cable car should run from Sedrun up towards the Disentis ski area by the end of the season. The connection can’t quite be made on skis, but this cable car adds even more variety to the skiing options in the region.

 

Three years is also how long it took to build – in our opinion – this winter’s most impressive new lift in Zermatt. The incredible new Klein Matterhorn lift tops out at 3883m, crosses mighty glaciers and rises almost a kilometre from Trockener Steg. Each cabin of the 3S gondola lift fits 28 people and it promises to transform access to the glacier slopes which are open every day of the year. Just take care when departing from the top – the air is thin but views of the mighty Matterhorn to the west are more than worth the few extra breaths.

 

A 38-year old gondola has been replaced to transform access to Saanerslochgrat in the Gstaad ski area. With an angled mid-station, the new Doppelmayr lift utilises the latest D-Line technology to ensure a smooth ride for the passengers taking the 11-minute journey to the top.

 

15 million Swiss Francs have also been ploughed into building a luxury new gondola out of Les Diablerets. The new Vioz-Mazots lift will significantly improve access to a network of tree-lined blues and speed up travel times to the larger area above Villars.

 

The little-known Swiss resort of Obersaxen has gained its third fast six-seater for 2018-19. Departing from Untermatt and arriving 2km later at Stein, the new lift promises to transform the mid-mountain skiing. It serves a myriad of runs, including the popular pistes 1 and 5, both of which are amongst the first to open each winter due to a comprehensive snowmaking system. 

Italy

 

It has been a busy summer in the Dolomiti Superski area, where several new lifts have been installed, along with further snowmaking upgrades. Firstly, a short but important lift has been installed at the popular resort of Alta Badia. The Roby lift has been upgraded from a slow quad to a fast six-seater, cutting queues in the La Fraina area, where the cruisey blues and multitude of mountain restaurants are a hit with families. 

 

If having arguably the world’s best gondola system wasn’t enough – 21 of the resorts 32 are lifts are powerful gondolas – Kronplatz upgraded one of them this winter this winter. It might be short, but the Skitrans Bronta is a vital lift linking the San Vigilio sector to Piculin and the upgrade to new 12-seat cabins will significantly improve this important link. In addition, the Arndt chairlift has been refitted completely to bring it up to date. The entire electronic system has been replaced as has every chair – the new ones feature leather seats and new footrests.

 

Over in Seiser Alm ( Alpe di Siusi) another fast six-seater has been added to the lift fleet in the Dolomiti Superski area. Capacity will be increased by the new Mezdi lift, which rises 250m in just over three minutes and can drop 2,700 skiers and snowboarders at the top every hour.

 

A similar lift, built by Leitner – the Mittelstation – has been installed at the Drei Zinnen resort of Sexten. It has heated seats and should make laps of the blues and reds on Monte Elmo quicker and more comfortable than ever. 

 

In a quiet part of the ski region, a big gondola has been installed at Jochtal, another resort in the Dolomiti Superski area. The Ski Express ten-seat gondola rises over 500 vertical metres and a new red run – 23a – has been built beneath it.

 

Another major gondola has been built out of the village of San Martino di Castrozza. The Colbricon Express has replaced two old chairlifts in the Valbonetta section of the resort, serving some gentle tree-lined blues. Look out for the distinctive cabin design utilising bold red and black seating in the new 10-seat gondolas.

 

And finally, above the resort of Pozza di Fassa in the Val di Fassa, a new quad has been installed on the Ciampedie slopes. It serves the popular piste 4 and piste 5 in an underutilised section of the resort – most people head out across the other side of the valley to join the Sella Ronda circuit.

 

Arguably the biggest Italian update comes from the now-linked resorts of Haideralm and Schöneben. A massive new gondola, stretching for almost 6km in two sections has been built by Leitner – it is their longest gondola project ever. Offering panoramic lake views of Reschensee throughout, the new lift promises to be a game-changer for these small resorts that now boast 65km of linked, snowsure pistes high in the.

 

Also in Südtirol, the new six-seat Wallpach chair in Meran2000 will serve popular intermediate runs at mid-mountain level and with a new capacity of 2,200 skiers per hour, queues look set to be a thing of the past.

 

At the resort of Rosskopf-Monte Cavallo, a brand new Leitner telemix has been built. The new Panorama lift features six-seat chairs and eight-seat gondolas and replaces a 30-year-old lift.

 

It has clearly been a busy summer in the Südtirol and keen to not miss out was the resort of Klausberg. The new Panoramabahn gondola has spectacular views and is bound to be popular on cold, snowy days thanks to heated seats in the ten-person cabins.

 

Moving west, a key access lift in the Monte Rosa ski area resort of Champoluc has been replaced in time for the 2018-2019 season. An eight-seat gondola replaces a 1983 model, upping capacity and speeding up access to the slopes of Ostafa.

 

Finally, two new chairs have been built at the small resort of Melette just outside of Asiago to the north of Venice. A fast six-seater and a slow double have been built to access the gentle slopes on the plateau located at around 1500m in the foothills of the Dolomites. 

Germany

It is rare for a resort to close to rebuild a lift, but at Königsee in Germany, that is exactly what happened last winter. An ancient two-person gondola dating back to 1953 was replaced by a modern ten-seater, transforming access to the 1800m high peak. The lift utilises the DirectDrive system developed by Leitner to improve efficiency and cut down on delays. In addition, a brand-new six-pack chair has been built to improve the slopes on the upper portion of the mountain, and another such lift is planned for next winter.

 

The small German resort of Willingen in the central mountains of Sauerland has built its second six-seat chairlift over the summer. The new Köhlerhagen chair will access much of the ski area, including the popular piste 11.