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Andermatt Swiss Alps

The last T-bar lift attendant at Oberalp

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Bronzed by the sun and wearing sunglasses and a broad smile on his face, Baseli Huonder mans the base station of the Oberalp-Calmut T-bar lift. He has an instant word for every skier and snowboarder – a bit of encouragement for beginners, or a compliment for the ladies. Seemingly incidentally, he hands them the T-bar. Baseli Huonder has been working for the lift company for 35 years. “For me, the daily contact with the guests is an enrichment. I know the regulars by name, and I have also made some lasting contacts”, tells Baseli Huonder. On a peak day up to 7,000 skiers take this ski lift – a lift that will soon be a thing of the past.

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“Over the years I’ve noticed a change amongst the guests. Mainly it’s become more international. And it’s now increasingly common that skiers try to sit on the bar because they are used to chairlifts”, smiles Baseli Huonder. Next summer this ski lift will finally be taken down. It will be replaced by a comfortable chairlift to Oberalp. “Of course that makes me a bit sad, because it’s the end of an era. But on the other hand, change is good, and it’s time that the SkiArena Andermatt-Sedrun is modernised.” This isn’t the first time he’s seen a change of the ski lift at Oberalppass, which looks back on an eventful history.

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Ski tourism on the Oberalp has long tradition, as shown by undated photos of the train, Restaurant Calmut and skiers. A beginners’ lift was initially installed here in 1955. But the layout was less than optimal and the capacity was insufficient for the throngs that came, so in 1966 the lift was moved and extended. 20 years later the current ski lift was built, which pulls skiers and snowboarders up to the summit at a rate of up to 1,200 people per hour. “Now it’s time for further progress”, Baseli Huonder says reflectively, but only to add quickly, with a twinkle in his eye: “But the snow sport enthusiasts will still notice that a special atmosphere reigns here with us on the Oberalp and that we are doing everything to make sure our guests get that perfect winter feeling”.

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