Spring cleaning at 3,000 metres

27th of March 2019
Spring cleaning at 3,000 metres

Alexandra Lachner reports from Zugspitze, Germany’s highest mountain and popular ski resort.

Nine mountain railways and ski lifts, 20 kilometres of pistes, a passenger carrying capacity of 9,040 people per hour and around 250,000 visitors in the winter season:  this is the Zugspitze ski resort in numbers.

As ski resort manager Manfred Haas has responsibility for the infrastructure. In winter this means ensuring the safety and quality of the pistes, and in summer making preparations for following season. “This means unscrewing every single little screw, beginning with the snow groomers, which are operating for 153 skiing days each winter.” 

The 10 vehicles are completely dismantled, serviced and reassembled, after which the interior is cleaned. “After this full service they are then stored in the garage, ready for next year.”

A further major responsibility is the servicing and maintenance of the ski lifts. Depending on the weather, all the sections are covered to inspect the supports.  New rollers are installed, parts subject to wear replaced, all components greased and the surplus oil removed.

“We must take great care not to overlook anything or make mistakes, since the safety of the skiers is at stake.” At the tow lift stations the hangers – 380 of them in total – are also dismantled and serviced. “To remove any residue of dirt or oil which might be left on the hangers, they are finally cleaned with brake cleaner.”

Once the technical audit is complete, any dirt which has built up during the season or during the cleaning process is removed from the stations themselves.

There is still more work to do at the chairlift stations – the 110 chair hoods are treated with special products and polished to make them UV-resistant. If the synthetic covers have been damaged they are replaced. Along with that, the seats receive a steam jet and polish treatment.  “The stations themselves have numerous window areas which we have to clean – we do that either on ladders or scaffolding, depending on the height at which we are working,” says Haas.

There is another special job at the mountain terminal for employees on the new cable car which opened in December 2017. “The cableway is in itself quite unique”, explains Verena Lothes, communications manager at Bayerische Zugspitzbahn. “Along their journey, the two cabins traverse the world’s tallest steel pylon for cable cars at 127 metres and experience the world’s greatest total change in altitude of 1,945 metres over one section as well as the world’s longest unsupported cableway span of 3,213 metres.”

Fully glazed, the mountain terminal provides a 360-degree panoramic view of over 400 alpine peaks in four countries. “To enable visitors to enjoy the view, the windows have to be cleaned regularly – a track runs round the building on which a window cleaning platform carries a Zugspitze cableway employee from window to window,“ explains Lothes.

 

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