The Sunkid with Gallery enclosure faces its ultimate test
One Sunkid Wonder Carpet with Gallery enclosure withstanding the most extreme weather conditions on Europe's longest glacier – at almost 3,500 meters above sea level
Next to the Matterhorn, the Eiger, Jungfrau and Mönch are the best-known mountains in Switzerland – if not in all of Europe. The world-renowned Jungfraujoch lift has been carrying passengers up to the saddle of the three famous Dreigestirn peaks for over 100 years. Just below the upper lift station, at approx. 3500 meters above sea level and at the top of the longest glacier in Europe (23 km), the scene of pure snow and ice draws tourists from the farthest corners of the earth. These 'exotic' elements, and the experience of direct proximity to them, is the primary interest of all visitors.
At the 3500-meter funpark!
All sorts of snow sports can be tried
The ski- and snowboard park and the 'fun arena' play a particularly special role. This is the place to rent equipment to attempt a first descent, or to sample various other winter sports and fun activities. For many visitors, these are their first steps on snow, so the facility operators chose one of the safest lift devices available: the Sunkid Wonder Carpet. The 120-meter conveyor lift replaces a tow-lift which was in operation until early summer of this year, and guarantees optimum safety and comfort for passengers.
The technicians at Sunkid-Borer had to face two difficult challenges in this project. First, the Wonder Carpet had to be firmly anchored to withstand peak gusts of over 220km/h. Second, the overall structure had to possess a certain degree of flexibility, because the conveyor lift would be subject to permanent movement on the shifting glacier ice. Because the flow rate of the ice varies significantly in different places, a conventional anchoring would risk serious deformation and damage to the conveyor due to the immense forces at play. The technicians solved this problem by mounting the conveyor belt and gallery enclosure to wooden beams and guide rails.
The problem of extreme wind speeds was solved by the manner in which the surrounding snow (and not the glacial ice!) was pushed up against the gallery from both sides. The method compresses the snow so that it presses on the gallery with very high pressure and provides stability. The (emergency) exits are located only on the leeward side of the lift.
These features ensure that the wind can hardly find any surface to push against or catch on. By placing the construction 'under pressure', this method also prevents the substrate on which the Sunkid Wonder Carpet sits from melting under intense solar radiation during the summer. At the end of the summer, the conveyor lift is completely disassembled and relocated for the winter months to the "kleinen Scheidegg" ski area farther below. Once there, it is reconstructed with a length of 86 meters. The number of visitors to the snow arena has now tripled compared to the days of the older lift. This is a clear indication that the Sunkid Wonder Carpet offers a greater feeling of safety for beginners – whether due to the comfort and stability of the lift or to the impressive feeling of being nearly 'in the glacier'.
The owner, Jungfrau Lifts, and the operator, Grindelwald Sports, will be wrapping up the first summer season for the Jungfraujoch funpark in just a few days – with very positive results. Expectations for the first season were more than exceeded, and the operator can now look forward to using the Wonder Carpet in its winter home, 'kleiner Scheidegg', with confidence.