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Saalbach and Zell am See connection

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Does anyone know if there a plans to connect this resorts?

I have heard rumours that they will need linked some day.
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We have also heard rumours that it is in the '5 year plan', but so far, we have been unable to figure out if they are just rumours, of if there is anything in it. we heard them off estate agents in the area in both Saalbach and Zell, so obviously they have an interest in selling property, although I guess the rumour must have started somewhere!

Not heard anything official yet!

D
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Have seen somewhere that the link will occur in the village of Viehofen. There is a piste down to there off the Sallbach lifts already, but no lift out to either Zell or Saalbach.
As property is at a premium rate in Saalbach and Zell, an alternative may be Piesendorf which is supposed to be getting a lift into the Zell an See system.
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arlberg, I was looking on Google Earth last night and that does look like the most likely place to join the 2 up. 1 lift from Vierhofen back into the Saalbach area and a lift + run (or 2) from the Zell side down to it should do the job nicely.
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This is often discussed in the local press, but correct, there are no official plans. I have been told that Saalbach is reluctant for fear that people would want to stay in Zell am See, which is larger, prettier etc, and just ski over to Saalbach during the day, thus leaving empty beds in Saalbach. Whether this would be the case remains to be seen. The most likely link would be to Viehofen. I think it's a long way off though - but expect that property prices at the Viehofen end of the valley are already reflecting this! I would think there's also environmental opposition because a new piste would have to be created outside of the exisiting ski areas.
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sounds like an estate agents link
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nice, I'm not surprised that Saalbach are (alledgedly) reluctant. I think Zell would have much more to gain by linking to Saalbach's fairly extensive ski circus, whereas I don't think Saalbach would stand to gain all that much.

Don't get me wrong, we bought a place in Zell and are very happy with it, with or without the link, but I can see that the benefits of such a link would be all on Zell's side.

Empty beds in Saalbach would be a worry - we were planning to buy there until we looked at potential yield and discovered how quiet it is in the summer. As it is our summer season is almost as profitable as winter, and we even have bookings in the real off season (e.g. next week!).

D
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thats all very intresting...if it helps any ive the proposed location of the lift system just outside the villge of piesendorf, its a 8 man gondola,which then forks off to 2 six man lifts.....incidentaly on the piesendorf side they have already cut the return runs out of the forest,i was there 4 weeks ago local bridges are being replaced an upgraded as are the speed control in the town....
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extremesportsboy, interesting, I wasn't sure how far progressed the discussions on Piesendorf were, but if they're already making investment in infrastructure then that sounds like it might be happening. Will be a nice extension to the Zell area.

Thinking about it, there could be loads of scope to keep tacking extra hills on along that valley carrying on west from Piesendorf. Mittersill already links up to Kitzbuehel's area in this way. I guess they would be mainly skiable to mid-station outside of the main Jan-Mar weeks, as that side gets the sun.

D
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Deliaskis, hi...if you would like me to email you the the lift picture i have, send me your email address...also who is your rental agent, would you reccomend them..regards andy
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extremesportsboy, you have mail.

D
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I don't think that the lifts planned from Piesendorf onto the Schmittenhöhe are in any way a link to Saalbach and the Glemmtal. Piesendorf is south and west of Zell am See and on the opposite side of the mountain range from the Glemmtal. The Piesendorf lifts (a gondola and 2 chairlifts, I think) are aimed at relieving the load on the Areitbahn in Zell.

There has been talk of a link from Viehofen to Zell am See but that is still a long way off (10-15 years I have read). And Viehofen isn't at present linked into the Saalbach Ski Circus (you can ski back to Viehofen, snow allowing, but there is as yet no lift up from Viehofen). So any linking of the two areas would need new gondolas on both sides of the Glemmtal, I believe. There is a discussion of this in German at the alpinforum.com. Any idea of linking from the Schmittenhöhe over the Maurerkogel to the Schattberg, i.e. the direct link to the main skiing above Saalbach, seems to have been abandoned at present.

Maybe the link from Fieberbrunn to Hinterglemm will come sooner (to throw another idea into the cooking pot) rolling eyes
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Reading further about the proposed lifts from Piesendorf over the Hochsonnberg to the Schmittenhöhe, there is a criticism of ecological aspects (in German, dated 02.08.2010) from the Landesumweltanschaft (review authority for ecological planning) in Salzburg to the Schmittenhöhe lift company's plans for this development. Given the objections listed there, I'm not sure the project will go ahead, though extremesportsboy's observations seem to indicate that the lift company thinks work is worthwhile.
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The lift company has now put a piste map on the Internet, showing the proposed lifts. Seemingly they plan to start building in 2011 and finish the project in 2013 and the impression is that the project will be completed.
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Pistes 2-5 look like they will be a nice little addition to the area. Can't imagine 1 will be much fun in sunny weather but still, it will be interesting to see how it pans out. Starting building in 2011 feels like it's tangible and within reach, rather than the legend of the Saalbach link which I suspect will always be a legend.

D
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There are reports in German here and here about the hearings on the project which are taking place on Monday and Tuesday this week. Although the management of the Schmittenhöhe Lift Company is pressing for the implementation of the new lifts, linking Piesendorf to the Schmittenhöhe, some groups are strongly opposing it, arguing that the idea is environmentally and practically unsound.
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I do hope they get the go ahead, Zell needs more territory to compete with the linked resorts in the SkiWelt and Ski Amade. If the other towns and villages grow and compete with Zell as a resort - in terms of hotels, facilities, shops etc and Zell fails to grow and improve its skiing terrain then in 10 or 20 years it could suffer badly.

FWIW I do think the money would be much better spent on a Saalbach link but that seems to have died a death, presumably as Saalbach/Hinterglemm have little to gain from the link, unless they can do it in a way that brought them more summer visitors?

espri, What is your take on it, my German is not good enough to read the nuances of the report.

Is there a genuine environmental issue, or it is more ecopolitical with a few NIMBYs added for good measure?

I would tend to agree about some of the practical aspects as the valley run will do well to be a 3 month wonder in most winters!
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My feeling is that the objections are quite serious and chances of getting the go-ahead may be about 50/50. The reports mentioned above don't really say anything new, just describe the proposed project. The environmental objectors argue that this is a new development (i.e. not allowed) rather than just an extension of an existing area. As you say, the south-facing aspect might be a problem, though I assume the lift company has done its homework. Maybe the development will often only serve to move people onto the Schmittenhöhe (using the gondola up and down; I presume the upper lifts will have snow for most of the season).

We'll just have to wait until the hearings produce some result.
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robboj, my take is that it is part NIMBY, part environmental. One of the key anti initiators owns land that will be affected, but it is not clear exactly how. I don't think on those reports either group is presenting strong arguments one way or another.

I agree that the Schmittenhöhe does need to do something or it will slowly but surely lose out to the more integated areas closer to the motorways (remember the bulk of trade in Austria drives to the resorts).

I never understood how the Saalbach connection was to materialise to be honest - all the plans I've seen mean it will still be a separate area linked by buses or similar. It could never be a true integration could it? Puzzled
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espri, Thanks. I can't see how they can win the new development vs extension argument, especially as it is physically linked to the existing runs? Nor as it surely could not survive as a resort on its own?

Samerberg Sue, I don't know enough about the practicalities of linking the two but thinking of the terrain between the top of the Schmittenhohe and the top of the Schattberg it doesn't look insurmountable with a few new runs and chairs? I could be talking tosh but it doesn't strike me as a mammoth feat of engineering?

I think its more political, Zell would gain a massive amount of skiing territory and Sallbach/Hinterglemm would only lose out to Zell as a (currently) prettier, better resourced, more developed and non skier friendly town with many good hotels that would encourage people to base in Zell rather than in Saalbach or Hinterglemm?

S/H can be a ghost town in summer whilst Zell can be like Brighton on a bank holiday. Unless they did it in a way that it brought Zell visitors to S/H in summer then it seems unlikely as the only way to do that would be with gondolas or cable cars which would be a real feat of engineering!
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Samerberg Sue, having looked at maps and terrain when the S/H-Zell link was last being talked about, I think it could be achieved by one massive new lift (which strikes me as similar in massiveness to the Obergurgl/Hochgurgl one or the Kitzbuehel 3000 one), and then about 3 smaller ones with shortish runs attached.

robboj is right though, Zell stands to get all the benefit of a massively increased ski area, and Saalbach would be the loser. There are already too many tourist beds in Saalbach for a lot of the season, as the village was extended along the valley, whereas Zell can't extend much more due to geography, so filling beds is less of a challenge. Also Zell will always have more summer trade because of the lake and more general 'resortiness' of it, and so I can't see how a link would benefit Saalbach in the summer either - walkers are hardly likely to ride 3-4 lifts to access Saalbach walks, they'll just get the bus round, which they currently do anyway.

Whilst I would love to be able to ski S-H from Zell, it only takes 10 minutes to drive round, and so on the whole I'm not desparate for it, but I do think Zell is starting to look a bit limited skiing wise compared to other more integrated areas.

The Piesendorf link would add a few new runs and somewhere smaller/cheaper to stay but it doesn't massively change Zell's prospects I don't think.

D
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robboj wrote:
espri, Thanks. I can't see how they can win the new development vs extension argument, especially as it is physically linked to the existing runs?

I suspect that it would be classed as a "new" development, for the pistes open up new areas. My understanding (probably incomplete) is that developments these days are more or less restricted to upgrading existing lifts and, perhaps, adding occasional linking pistes.
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espri, that's what I've been told by a friend who works on planning and upgrading lift systems as his summer job. You can replace old equipment and, if as a result of the upgrade, there are possible dangers/bottlenecks created, then pistes can be added and modified to remove these. Creating new pistes and putting lifts where none were before is difficult but not impossible (see the Buchau Gondola in St Johann-Alpendorf as a good example).

The Piesendorf link will probably be trying to be worked in under the same reasons I suspect, but there is a very vocal campaign against it. The Buchau lift was built on land owned by local families actively involved in the ski and mountain tourism business. The principal landowners both run mountain restaurants near the new pistes and one of them now runs the restaurant at the base station of the new lift.

I don't see the Saalbach-Zell link ever coming into reality under the current legislation though as it really is not physically needed. There is enough terrain to ski and the links by road to other areas are more than adequate. We seem to be obsessed with high mileage areas which, to be brutally honest, the vast majority of holidaymakers on a standard one week holiday have not got a snowball in hell's chance of covering. Even using a season ticket every single day of the season, you would not be able to cover every run of every resort in some of these linked areas. We go on holiday for a holiday don't we? So why are we turning them into competitions as to who can cover the most miles (kms) in a day, a week, a season, blah blah blah? Puzzled

Even with my Salzburger Superski season ticket, I have no intention of trying to ski every single resort, let alone every single run. It is just more cost-effective to have the season pass allowing me to ski different areas as and when I want to. I tend to stick to a few regular areas and know the runs quite well as a result. That's useful in poor weather conditions. (Whoops going into thread drift - better stop now Laughing )
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I will be in the Piesendorf / zell area in the next few weeks.....il try an give you an update on my return.

i was there in december 11 an can tell you that large old buildings with land in the town are being bought an knocked down.......be intresting to see 3 months on whats gone up.

regards

extremesportsboy
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Deliaskis,

i dont suppose you were over there at easter were you.....saw a landrover with chesire reg plates ...

regards

andy
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Piesendorf UPDATE.

The town seems to be all ready to grow up an join the modern world, shame in some ways as it was so tranquil. anyway take a look at this.

http://www.schmitten.at/de/hochsonnberg/das-projekt/pisten-lifte/

if you know the top of the mountain, when you ski down the back an to your left, there is an old T-bar lift.....takes you to the top of a medium length blue run, at the Top of that T-bar is where the Piesendorf lift will be.

When you look at the mountain from Piesendorf you can see all the piste area an lift landing site have all been prepared on a long standing plan.

From what we saw in Feb at the bottom of the Arietebahn.....they really do need the addition of this lift as the que to get up the mountain was to the car park.

Hope this helps

regards andy Smile
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Interesting. I guess all of the efforts/ budget will now go on this project at the expense of any possible link to Saalbach
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I don't think that the link between Zell and Saalbach was ever going to happen - environmental issues, econominc situation, number of lifts needed, the fact that Saalbach-Hinterglemm-Leogang already has a 200km+ circuit and has little to gain.

Over the last 5 years, Saalbach-Hinterglemm has invested millions of Euros in new lifts and snow-making facilities, which suggests that their mind was made up long ago that they would invest inwardly and not in a link to Zell. In Saalbach, the old T-bar on Turm has been replaced by a 6-man chair; the old Bernkogel chairs have been replaced by brand new bubbles, with the T-bars at the top due to go this summer, linking to the new replacement chair over to Hinterglemm. Same story in Hinterglemm (new U-Bahn bubbles and Hasenauer chairs) and Leogang (big 8-man chair on Asitz). The other area of investment has been in summer facilities, particularly the mountain bike trails and parks, and in the zip-wire and other activities at the end of the valley at Lengau. Although Saalbach and Hinterglemm are not as busy or as pretty as Zell in the summer, there have been far more summer guests in the last 2 years than in previous years and the Tourist Office seems to be heavily marketing the summer programme and the free Joker Card, that gives free or discounted access to most of the lifts and other facilities.
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some of my favourite skiing is at saalbach/hinterglemm although the main run from the top of zell anyway down is hard to beat, clacks 14,13, 11 the view on the way down towards zell an the lake is amazing. i head back to Piesendorf area this summer, it will be intresting to see if progress is underway.......the ques on dutch week at the arietebahn say it should.
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On 12th June the Austrian Umweltsenat (Environmental Senate) decided against the project to build lifts from Piesendorf up onto the Schmittenhöhe (overturning a decision of the government in Salzburger Land). The reasoning given was based on the unsatisfactory nature of the area for a ski piste, south-west facing and low and e.g. the width of the piste in places. This means that the project is currently stopped, although the lift company has the right to object to another court, possibly proposing an altered plan (e.g. with only a connecting lift from the valley without any piste).

Full details, in German, can be found at the Umweltsenat web site and abbreviated reports (again in German) at the Salzburger Nachrichten and Wirtschafts Blatt.
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espri, interesting, whilst disappointing for Zell in commercial terms looking back at my post on 8/12/10 I did and still do feel they have a point in the reasons for their decision. I presume the point about the width of pistes was that they were too wide and therefore too difficult to keep covered?

Will at least make Schmittenhoehe Bahn AG look at options?
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robboj wrote:
I presume the point about the width of pistes was that they were too wide and therefore too difficult to keep covered?

No, the pistes were too narrow and therefore too accident prone (they also objected to bottlenecks on the pistes).
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Can't see the point of the continual quest to link Resort X with Resort Y and maybe Resort Z via a short bus journey, just so they can claim to be the biggest area in the area etc. All it does is push up lift pass prices and makes a few taxi drivers somewhat richer. Money better spent by ripping out any remaining T-bars and shoring up the snow management.
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Agree with you there Bode Swiller, the taxi fare from Saalbach to Zell isn't exactly expensive if you do want to do want to ski both areas. The more places that are linked up, the more risk there is of getting caught out in the 'wrong' valley at the end of a day.
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espri, right, so one part of the solution would be to widen the pistes? that's hardly going to help them keep it covered with artificial snow? Confusing, sounds like a case of Austrian QUANGO self justification?

Bode Swiller, agree completely there are still half a dozen T bars on the mountain and bambi lifts in the beginners area that are a real pain in the a*se for all concerned. Zell as a resort would be very attractive to beginners if they would make the logistics a more pleasant experience.

FenlandSkier, also agree but Zell just needs more runs - not necessarily any linked runs, which I still think that S-H would be daft to agree to anyway?
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robboj, no, there isn't really the room to make bigger pistes. The major problem is that the location of the slope, on the south-west side of the hill, isn't really conducive to pistes. They won't hold the snow.

With regard to making a bigger area, I don't think that that was - in the short term - the real aim of this development. It was more just to relieve the Areitbahn gondola which can be overwhelmed at busy times (I know I gave it up and drove on to Kaprun one day this winter). However, in the longer term there may be some thought of providing a link from the Zell area to Kaprun (and the Kitzsteinhorn) - maybe a railway? Just why anyone would want that escapes me, though!
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Half a dozen t bars in zell? I can only think of one. Pretty unimportant one at that. Snowmaking is good too? Bigger area is needed, of course one can drive somewhere else - but how is that the point? Commercially, bigger ski areas attract more people and more revenue ,higher property prices ,more tax receipts more investment etc... Saalbach and zell would benefit from a link. Total numbers going to both would increase. Trick is to make development attractive and not to harsh on environment.
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Viehofen is too low for a major link West from the pinzgauer hutte is the only way surely?
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(3rd October 2012) As other posts have stated the extension to the lift system at Piesendorf has been rejected and the lift company is now focussing attention on the link to Saalbach. The land for the new lift stations has been acquired and permission is being sought to build the lifts and create the necessary new runs. The link has the support of the major landowner in the region, which is the Porsche family. I even know one of the locals who has bought a piece of land for a new restaurant in anticipation of this link! However, environmental and other considerations can still derail the project. Some posts have questioned the need for the link given that the two resorts are already linked by a bus service (or short taxi ride). The background is that resorts in the Alps are in competition for visitors and following the introduction of carving skis - which allow intermediates to cover vast daily distances - one of the key competitive factors is the number of skiable kilometres. By combining the two resorts both areas would be able to be marketed as one of the largest ski areas in Austria. It's true that Zell would add more kilometres than Saalbach (which is probably why the link hasn't happened in the past), but with Kitzbuhel now linked into the Ski Welt, and St Anton linked to Kappl (and hence Ischgl, albeit by bus) the competition is hotting up for Zell and Saalbach.
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Brownbear101, welcome to snowHeads snowHead

Insightful first post - thanks for the update/information.
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