Workplace at a lofty height
“The guests are usually so impressed by the surroundings that they have no time to be afraid,” laughs Manuela Jucker, tourism professional at the SkiArena Andermatt-Sedrun. In the summer she operates the gondola that ascends from Andermatt to the Gemsstock summit, so she gets to experience the reactions of the guests first hand. “The mood in the cabin can vary greatly, depending on the group. Children tend not to think so much about the height; they like to amuse themselves playing with the poles and bars. I have seen adults ride the whole way with their eyes closed, with hands clinging tightly.” One of the questions that Manuela is asked most often during the ride is about the path of the ski slope. “The summer guests can hardly believe how steep and rocky the terrain is where the piste will be in winter.”
But it’s not only trips with guests that the Gemsstock cableway makes in summer. As part of the maintenance programme, for example, crews work on the individual masts. When their task is done, they must be picked up again by the gondola. “It’s a challenge to find the right braking point to drop off or pick up a worker at a mast, especially when the fog is thick or the wind is blowing.” Other than that, Manuela is completely relaxed on the ride from 1,400 metres a.s.l. to nearly 3,000 metres a.s.l. She is not bothered in the least by fear of heights, queasy feelings when the wind blows, or passing the masts. “I have faith in the engineering and in the materials. And in comparison with the winter, when I have mainly administrative work at the cashier’s counter, this is a great change of pace. I also like the direct contact with the guests.”
Lift service to the Gemsstock summit has been in place for over 50 years – a genuine engineering triumph, considering how steep the mountainside is and the locations at which the four masts stand. And even though the gondola ride high above the craggy cliffs is not everybody’s thing, every passenger is rewarded with the panoramic view of over 600 mountain peaks from the summit, right in the middle of the Swiss Alps. On the journey back down, a stop at the restaurant at Gurschenalp is always worthwhile.
During these golden days of fall, the cableway will remain in operation through October 19. It will close October 20 for a short period in preparation for the winter season, which begins on the Gemsstock on December 6th.
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