The latest quad chairlift, called Dámská, is the ski area’s third installation with orange bubbles.
Photo: Doppelmayr
New ropeways

ISR REPORT

Klínovec – ski area in the orange look

A further upgrade for the biggest ski area in the Ore Mountains – with a chairlift with orange bubbles.

Created by Roman Gric

Ski area with a long history

The slopes of Klínovec (1,244 m above sea level), the highest peak in the Ore Mountains on the border between Germany and the Czech Republic, offer ideal conditions for winter sports and attracted the first individual skiers at the beginning of the 20th century already. In the interwar period, earthworks were carried out to create natural ski jumps and a toboggan run. And organized skiing was not long in coming, either. Following tree felling to harvest the timber, the first local ski slopes were made available and, in addition to recreational skiing, downhill ski races were also held. After the 2nd world war the area was included in the restricted zone on the border with Germany, and public access was not permitted again until the 1960s. In 1965 the first ropeway was built: a single chairlift serving Klínovec from the southwest. Then, starting in 1968, surface lifts began to mushroom in the area. In the 1980s the first snow groomers went into service, and one of the trails was illuminated for evening skiing.

 

Photo: Doppelmayr
Thirty chairs are parked on the bottom station turnaround of the Dámská chairlift and the remaining 50 on the parking rail on the right.
Photo: Doppelmayr

Taking off after privatization

In 1991, that is soon after the transition to democracy in the former Czechoslovakia, the ski area was privatized. Since then, the operating company has made a consistent effort to modernize and gradually upgrade the area. The construction in 2011 of the first quad chairlift with orange-tinted bubbles by the name of Centrální (CineStar Express) – the first chairlift with weather covers in the Czech Republic – was the subject of a report in ISR 3/2012 (p. 26-27). This was followed in 2014 by a second, identical quad chairlift with orange bubbles, namely the Jáchymov – Klínovec (Prima Express), which was built as a replacement for the old single chairlift. A 400 m extension of the line in the direction of the valley to a car park for 600 cars and thus closer to the spa town of Jáchymov also created a second entry point to the ski area and significantly reduced travel time for visitors from the Czech Republic (see ISR’s 5 Country Special 2015, p. 14-16). This ropeway operates all year round, providing access to the 3 km long slope with 480 m of vertical in winter and 67 km of mountain bike trails in summer. Four downhill trails, from the easy 10.3 km Azur trail to the difficult 5.2 km trail, start at the top and end at the bottom station of the chairlift.

Pre-owned installation for the interim

The most popular blue slope, the Dámská, on the north side of the ski area was originally served by a surface lift, but that was replaced by a pre-owned Graffer Seggiovie fixed-grip triple chairlift, which opened in the winter of 2005/2006. The lift was acquired from the Italian Marilleva ski area (Malga Panciana – Orso Bruno). At its new location, the installation was additionally equipped with a loading carpet, and the old mechanical haul rope tensioning system in the top station was replaced by a hydraulic system.

Third identical type of chairlift

Following an upgrade to the popular blue trail, the fixed-grip triple chairlift was no longer equal to requirements in terms of transport capacity and the quality of the ride. Although consideration was initially given to replacing the chairlift with a more efficient pre-owned installation, it was finally decided to build a completely new ropeway. And since the two orange chairlifts had already become iconic for the Klínovec ski area, it was only natural that the third detachable chairlift should also be designed with orange-tinted bubbles. The stations in the classic Uni-G look also match those of the lift’s two elder sisters. There is parking for all 80 chairs at the bottom station, with 30 on the turnaround and 50 on a parking rail located next to the station. The new ropeway, which has chairs with heated seats, reduces transit time by half, and transport capacity has been increased by 800 pph.

Construction work began in July 2019, and the ropeway went into service on December 14. In difficult terrain the towers were lifted into place by helicopter. The load and brake tests were not performed with canisters filled with water or sand as ballast, as is usual in the Alps; a total of 200 barrels of beer were used instead, as that is the tradition for ropeway testing in the Czech Republic. The author of this report was unfortunately not able to check whether all the beer barrels were still full when they arrived back at the brewery, as the ski area operator claims.

Capital spend in the ski area

Prior to the 2019/2020 winter season the operator, Skiareál Klínovec, spent 150 million Czech crowns of its own money and of bank loans (about 5.8 million euros) on the ski area, without any subsidies. The chairlift alone cost 110 million Czech crowns, while the rest was spent on the snowmaking system, mainly to increase the capacity of the reservoir by 65,000 m3. Even though the plan for a ropeway linking the Klínovec ski area with the neighboring Fichtelberg in Germany has still not been implemented, there is cross-border cooperation between the two areas in the form of ski passes valid for 1.5 days and more.

TECHNICAL DATA

Quad chairlift Klínovec, Dámská
with orange-tinted bubbles and heated seats

Elevation of bottom station1,003 m
Elevation of top station1,235 m
Line length1,210 m
Vertical difference232 m
Haul rope diameter38 mm
Drivebottom station
Rated output (starting/continuous) 321/236 kW
Tensioning systembottom station
Number of chairs 80
Transit time4.4 min
Max. line speed5.0 m/s
Rated capacity 2,175 pph
Manufacturer, year of constructionDoppelmayr, 2019
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