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Andermatt Swiss Alps

Ski area is feeling springtime

This weekend is the last chance to fasten your bindings and take on the pistes and freeride slopes of the Gemsstock. Then the ski area will go into spring break. But post-season is also pre-season: For the past few weeks the SkiArena Andermatt-Sedrun crews have been working on closing the winter season step by step. The first phase was to close skiing on the southeast-facing Nätschen-Gütsch slope. This gives Urs Roos and his team just a month to complete the most important maintenance projects before they move on to the Gemsstock in May. Tony Cathomas and his team are at work in Sedrun. They are removing and refurbishing the slope signage. Snowcats can be used in the renovation of chairlifts and other lifts as long as snow remains on the ground. A whole list of maintenance items must be taken care of, for example the repair of snowmaking machines. Once the  snow has melted for good, the snowcats will finally receive their well-earned break. “We handle major maintenance work on the tracked vehicles ourselves. For this we have specially trained mechanics on the team”, explains Carlo Danioth, head of slope maintenance and rescue.

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Once the main jobs at Nätschen-Gütsch are done, maintenance work shifts to the Gemsstock and Sedrun. The valley descent to Andermatt is already closed, meaning the fence along the adjacent wildlife sanctuary has been removed. Freeriding on the Gemsstock places responsibility on the lift operators; they must mark the protected areas and fence them off as well as possible. “And before the spring sun has melted away the entire snow, we begin to build up a snow stockpile on the Gurschen. The accumulated snow is then pushed by snowcat up to the glacier at the Gemsstock”, tells the native Andermatter, describing this special task. For years, to prevent the glacier from melting, the ice is being covered with snow and then with a special membrane. In the fall, the membrane can be removed and the snow spread onto the slopes. In this way, even before the first snow, the slopes already have a good base, making possible the much-appreciated early start of the winter season on the Gemsstock.

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Avalanche protection must be ensured even after the slopes are closed: “Sometimes it snows even in spring. Then we have to blast to prevent avalanches on the west slopes. This season, the clear nights have made this work unnecessary so far.” In the summer, Carlo Danioth and his small team work on slope stabilization and piste improvements. Now one thing is certain: It’s time to put away the ski boots and lace up the hiking shoes.

Kleingurschli PB 2013 c_bearb.

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