Skip to main content

8-CLD/B Sonntagskogel II


Flachau Premium Ropeway for the Premium Ski Area SNOW SPACE SALZBURG

It doesn't get any better than this: the world's first backrest heating system, a height-adjustable conveyor belt for convenient entry, no waiting times, and beautiful descents. The Sonntagskogel II ropeway has transformed from a mere connecting ropeway to an attraction in snow space Salzburg. Almost one million skiers used the new ropeway in its first winter season.

Initial Situation

Since the merger of Bergbahnen Wagrain and Flachau in 2017, the ski resorts of Flachau, Wagrain, and Alpendorf St. Johann have been operating under the joint Snow Space Salzburg brand. The resorts position themselves in the market as a premium ski area, and investment projects are now being planned collaboratively.

One of the initial projects was the construction of the new Sonntagskogelbahn II ropeway. Previously, the existing fixed 4-seater chairlift from 2000 primarily served as a means of connecting the Grafenberg and Alpendorf subareas. However, the level of comfort no longer met skiers' expectations, and the ropeway became increasingly crowded due to the construction of the G-Link Wagrain. Regular waiting times occurred when guests wanted to switch back from Grafenberg to St. Johann Alpendorf.

In response, Snow Space Salzburg AG decided to replace the old facility in the year following the merger, aiming for quality improvements in all aspects. After all, a premium ski area requires a premium ropeway.

Wolfgang Hettegger, CEO of Snow Space Salzburg AG, describes the significance of immediately improving the connection between the areas: "It carried great symbolic importance."

Appealing Descents

The project was executed by an experienced team. Hasenauer Architects handled the station buildings, while AEP Planung und Beratung GmbH was responsible for slope planning. Salzmann Ingenieure took charge of ropeway engineering. Hettegger praises their expertise and the open exchange of ideas, having collaborated with Stephan Salzmann and his team on numerous projects before.

After a thorough analysis, the proposal from the Bregenz office was to transform the mere connecting ropeway between the ski areas into a true attraction for skiers. To achieve this, the ropeway planners relocated the top station near the top station of the Sonntagskogelbahn III, resulting in a significantly longer installation. The bottom station was only slightly moved to the lowest point of all connected slopes.

The extension required partial removal of a rock step to maintain the required ground clearance. However, the effort proved worthwhile, as more experienced skiers now have the option of two attractive runs, while a ski trail is available for less proficient skiers.

Conveyor capacity increased

Of course, the new concept also had an impact on the transport capacity: it now had to be dimensioned in such a way that, in addition to the connecting runs, the repeat runs could also be handled well. The planners opted for a detachable 8-seater ropeway. The transport capacity thus increased from a nominal 2400 persons per hour with the old installation to 3200 now.

That sounds less than it is: fixed-grip installations often have to reduce speed when weaker skiers get on or off. In practice, therefore, they never reach their maximum conveying capacity. Moreover, the transport capacity of the new 8-seater ropeway can easily be increased to up to 3,600 persons per hour by retrofitting five additional chairs.

Comfortable ride up the mountain

When it came to the ropeway itself, Snow Space Salzburg set the tone: "The new ropeway was to deliver all the features, in good Salzburgese. The operator demanded innovations from the manufacturers," recalls Stephan Salzmann, managing director of the Bregenz planning office.

With success: Doppelmayr offered the world's first backrest heating system for the ropeway. It warms the lower back in particular. Salzmann is convinced that the technology will catch on: "It's a big plus in terms of comfort because skiers are actually more likely to feel cold at the back than at the seating area."

However, heating for the seating area is, of course, also available on the Sonntagskogel II. In addition, the ropeway has a height-adjustable conveyor belt that also allows children to enter comfortably. A weather protection hood protects against wind and cold.

Plus in safety

A second innovation combines convenience and safety. The locking bar automatically tilts forward a little after boarding. This alerts passengers to close the bar. This "leaning forward" function also benefits children: they can reach and close the bar more easily.

Also integrated into the chairs is a lock system that locks the bar after closing, as well as an anti-slip device. The bar cannot be opened during the ride, and guests remain safely in their chairs.

Maintenance by the manufacturer

Snow Space Salzburg is also breaking new ground with regard to the maintenance of the installation: a full maintenance contract was already requested in the invitation to tender, which covers the annual inspection and spare parts for ten years. Snow Space Salzburg expects the contract above all to provide cost and planning security.

The construction of the facility itself was standard procedure for Salzmann Ingenieure: tendering in February, construction negotiations in April, construction from May to October, commissioning in December. The results were spectacular: in the first winter, more than 900,000 passengers used the new ropeway. Chairman Hettegger is very satisfied: "The Sonntagskogel II is currently the most innovative ropeway we operate here in Snow Space Salzburg. A bottleneck has become a highlight of our ski area."

The Sonntagskogel II is currently the most innovative ropeway we operate here in Snow Space Salzburg. A bottleneck has become a highlight of our ski area.

Wolfgang Hettegger Chairman of the Board, Snow Space Salzburg