Arosa Bergbahnen AG
"Black Diamond Slope" (Piste 12) - snow sports treat at the Brüggerhorn
The "Black Diamond Slope" starts at the top of the Brüggerhorn in 2,447 m above sea level. The slope branches off eastwards above the monument slope. Below the Brüggerhorn-Schulter, the slope carries on gently couped with a dreamlike panorama to the start of the truly steep slope. This one is quite something. After turning into the Tomelitäli, the slope ends at the Tomeli Valley ski lift.
With the technical snowmaking at the "Black Diamond Slope", the Brüggerhorn offers pretty much all downhill options to make the snow athlete's heart beat faster. These include the red slope 10 via Sattelhütte-Traxloch middle station, the panoramic slope Leichte Maran 11 (blue), the yellow descent 12a (secured, marked, but not prepared) through the Tomelitäli, and, of course, the black slope 12 Diamond Slope for the ambitious snow athlete.
How did the naming came about
How did the "Diamond Slope" or "Black Diamond Slope" get its name? The naming of the slopes in the snow sports area Arosa usually originates from the creative ideas of the employees of the slope/rescue service. The veteran slope patroller Willi Kuhn, who died in April 2011 and had to leave us far too early, took up the idea of the American name for the slope. There, one has so-called "double black" slopes. He did not like this name very much since the challenging steep slope on the Brüggerhorn actually only describes one character of this new slope. The new slope preparation is very varied and has so much to offer in terms of the terrain and the views that it reminds more of the peculiarity of an uncut diamond. Willi Kuhn's proposal to name the slope 12 “Black Diamond Slope” as a diamond slope was unanimously accepted. Unfortunately, Willi didn’t have the opportunity to test the finished Diamond Slope.
Baptism of Fire 2012
The Arosa mountain railways created this attractive route in the terrain many years ago. However, the previously necessary gentle terrain corrections were delayed until Summer 2011 due to a delayed approval procedure, when finally the earthworks were carried out. For the preparation of the approximately 2.4 km long slope, one thing was required above all before the first opening: a lot of natural snow. Just a few months after the completion of the terrain correction, the snowfall volume on January 2, 2012, amounted to 2.3m after abundant fresh snowfall. Shortly afterwards, the Black Diamond Slope experienced its baptism of fire, and the snow sports enthusiasts were delighted with the new slope. After that, the slope was never prepared again due to the lack of natural snow until the comeback year 2018. It was marked in the official slope plan as a yellow route (marked and secured, but not prepared) and open to snow sports enthusiasts who wanted to use the slope even with less snow.
The comeback of the “Black Diamond Slope” in January 2018
The snowy winter made it possible. The Diamond Slope at the Brüggerhorn made a comeback on January 26, 2018. For the first time in 6 years, the Arosa Bergbahnen was in the position to prepare this attractive black piste at the end of January. Since the beginning of the year, and after the vast amounts of fresh snow in November/December (total 2.70 m), the management had been checking the chance of a slope preparation. After further snowfall in the first week of January 2018, they decided to include the attractive black "Diamond Slope" in this year's program.
Together with the necessary amount of natural snow, the slope construction is challenging. Especially the steep slope is complex in terms of preparation. The slope preparation takes about 7 days. Since no technical snow can be produced, the snow on the steep slope must be pressed and carefully solidified. The daily preparation of slope 12 takes between 6 and 7 hours. The mountain railways had to expand the vehicle fleet with an additional rented snow groomer. The additional costs for the "Diamond Slope" in winter 2017/18 amounted to around CHF 100,000.
... and once more in January 2019
Winter 2018/19 was similarly snowy. The snowfall was somewhat more delayed than in the previous year but very intense. From January 3, 2019, one saw a period of frequent snowfall, and January fulfilled all the wishes of those who can never have enough snow. Meteo Switzerland reported on January 14, 2019, with 180 cm in the village the most substantial measured amount of snow in Arosa in 70 years at this early time of the year. Ideal conditions to prepare the "Black Diamond Slope" once more. On January 31, 2019, the time had come: the opening for all snow sports enthusiasts who were delighted with the repetition slope offerings.
"Black Diamond Slope" forever – the project for technical snowmaking in the Winter 2020/21
Following the realisation of the Arosa Lenzerheide ski area connection, Arosa Bergbahnen AG is focusing on the qualitative development of the snow sports area in the Arosa area. In the course of the planning approval process for the Arosa Lenzerheide connection, the mountain railway company had to make concessions for the extension of the ski area (no development Ochsenalp), thus directing the flow of skiing guests to the slopes and areas of use that have existed for many years. The construction of the new 6-seater chairlift Brüggerhorn in summer 2019 and further planned measures to strengthen the Arosa-East area are intended to improve product quality. This includes the expansion of technical snowmaking on existing slopes to ensure guaranteed snow for the main winter business between December and April. The project for the technical snowmaking on the black slope 12, which is the most attractive snow sports slope in the Arosa area, is a unique selling point from a skiing point of view and part of the basic offering in the main ski area.
Qualitative service development on the mountain
The system-independent and unsupported commuter railway between Hörnli and Urdenfürggli (Urdenbahn) is the heart of the new Arosa Lenzerheide ski area connection. The two mountain railway companies, appear together as one snow sports area with the winter brand "Arosa Lenzerheide". As a consequence, the connecting railway (Urdenbahn) is a connecting element between the two destinations Arosa and Lenzerheide from the start of the winter season (at the end of November) to the end of the season (around mid-April) in continuous operation.
To ensure good snow sports from the end of November to mid-April, the technical snowmaking on the slopes is essential. With the partial revision of the local planning at the Hörnli/Brüggerhorn site in 2014, the prerequisites were created to increase snow safety further. The concentration of forces aims to improve the quality of products and quality of services rather than quantitative expansion. The improved quality of the products also includes the expansion of technical snowmaking on existing slopes, ensuring guaranteed snow for the main winter business from December to April.
Increase in proportion of snowmaking on slopes
After the completion of the general development plan for snowmaking in 2007, about 58.74 ha of snow-covered slopes were available in the Arosa snow sports area. Looking at a total slope area of 120 ha, this corresponds to a coverage of almost 50%. The additional snowmaking areas at Hörnli and Brüggerhorn, as defined in the usage planning, are virtually without exception between 2,000 m and 2,500 m above sea level. With the realisation of the planned snowmaking facility on the Brüggerhorn as the 3rd stage of expansion, the proportion of slopes with artificial snow in the Arosa snow sports area will increase from 50% to 75%. With this range of usable slopes, the mountain railway company meets the customer's expectations for a secure snow sports operation and the competitiveness to competitors in neighbouring South Tyrol and Austria (snowmaking level >80 %). All projected snowmaking facilities are located on intensively used and prepared ski slopes. No additional slope planning is necessary.
The black slope 12 is an attractive alternative to the other slopes in the Weisshorn/Brüggerhorn region with the artificially snowed slope No. 10 from the Weisshorn summit to the middle station. This section of slope increases the variety of options: Arosa has only an 8% share of the total slope offerings with demanding black slopes. With the replacement of the 49-year-old Brüggerhorn 2-seater chairlift in summer 2019 with a new comfortable and modern 6-seater chairlift on the same railway line from the middle station, the Brüggerhorn will undergo a significant upgrade in the Winter 2019/20. Train frequencies in December and January 2020 increased by 60% compared to previous peaks. On the other hand, the disadvantage is that the flow of guests from Brüggerhorn cannot be routed via slope 12 or the "Leichte Maran" 11 slope with modest amounts of natural snow, and thus sees a strong concentration of skiers on slope 10.
The snowmaking facility on the Brüggerhorn is located on the already used slope or route within the winter sports zones, which are preloaded with corresponding transport facilities, operational buildings, signal stations, etc. Runway 12, which is intended for snowmaking, is prepared by machine. In the environmental impact report on the GEP, planners already take into account nature conservation zones and inventoried conservation areas for the development of the overall concept. This includes various measures to protect the environment, such as the restriction to the most important areas, no pipelines through valuable wetlands and nature reserves, or the minimisation of noise emissions with optimised lines and choice of snowmaking units. With environmental organisations and landowners, the management was specified during an inspection in Summer 2014 as part of the partial revision to the local planning.
Compared to the initial situation in the course of the partial revision of the Hörnli/Brüggerhorn planning, the situation regarding water supply and water availability for technical snowmaking has improved significantly in Summer/Autumn 2019. The joint project of the municipality of Arosa and Arosa Bergbahnen AG with the new construction of the promenade pumping station aims to use the groundwater lake Isel to increase the fire water reserve for the inner Arosa area, and to improve the snow efficiency of the technical snowmaking. The construction work was completed in November 2018, and groundwater could already be used for technical snowmaking in the Winter 2018/19. The additional water supply of 60 l/s has the positive effect that the construction of another reservoir can be omitted.
In principle, Arosa Bergbahnen AG provides for technical snowmaking on the Brüggerhorn, slope 12, with mobile snow generators. Due to its preferred topographical location with lower temperatures, the mountain railway company expects more favourable conditions and more efficient use of technical snowmaking. Slope 12 will be integrated into the snowmaking concept for the development of the Arosa snow sports area and will occupy a central position in the Arosa East area. Combined with the aim to open the attractive slope 12, if possible on Christmas day. After completion of the initial snow layer, it is planned to dismantle the snow generators and install them on other sections of the slopes.
The snowmaking pipe starts at the top station of the Brüggerhorn chairlift and leads to the valley station of the Tomeli ski lift via Tomeli-Täli. From there, the guest arrives on the Tschuggen, where he finds numerous downhill variants.
|Pipe diameter:||100 mm to 250 mm|
|Depth:||1.60 m (frost depth)|
|Snowmaking area:||5.23 ha|
|Construction time:||approx. 14 weeks (70 working days)|
|Execution date:||from the beginning of July 2020 to mid-October 2020|
Avalanche protection with detonation towers
In the upper section of the terrain between Brüggerhorn mountain station and "Pyramid" (field name), the slope runs along a northern flank for about 400 m. There, larger snow deposits are common after heavy snowfall with wind. Hence, this section of the slope has to be secured with altogether two avalanche detonation towers. These are erected on a concrete foundation. Each detonation tower has 12 explosive charges of 5 kg each. The charges can be activated by GPS transmission with remote triggering. This method has been tested in numerous snow sports areas and is considered as a standard solution.
Expiration of construction activities
Two types of construction equipment are used for the trenching and laying work to carry out the work from the Brüggerhorn mountain station and Arlenwaldstrasse. A crawler excavator opens the trench, the pipes are inserted and the second crawler excavator closes the trench. The two avalanche detonation towers are erected in the terrain by an external specialist company. The electrical development of the snowmaking facility is carried out in close cooperation with the local energy supply company Arosa Energie.
Based on the planning documents and inspections at the site in Summer 2019, rough cost estimates were given, or indicative offers for the planned snow system requested. The entire project is based on an assumed price base as per January 2020, which should be close to the effectively expected costs:
|No.||Service providers||Costs in CHF (excl. VAT)|
|1||Techno Alpin (manufacturer, supplier of technical snowmaking||1’980’000|
|2||Construction work (route/digging, pumping station outflow)||750'000|
|3||Arosa Energy, electrical access with transformer station||950'000|
|4||Swiss Heli, Transport flights||135’000|
|6||Planning, permits, environmental construction support||20’000|
|7||Arosa Bergbahnen AG, own services||90’000|
|Total excl. VAT||4'425'000|
|Total incl. VAT||4'766'000|
Photos from 20 July 2020: work in progress
Model photo of a realized ski depot: Tschuggen East will look like this or similar.
Available from winter season 2020/21 at the valley station of the Tschuggen Ost chairlift
Enjoy the slope, store the equipment, and return to the slopes the next morning with dry equipment! In a top location, directly at the valley station of the Tschuggen East chairlift, Arosa Bergbahnen AG and Luzi Sport jointly create a modern ski depot with 210 lockers for a maximum of 630 guests. Marc Gisler, ABB's project manager, emphasizes: "Arosa is a predestined "skiin-skiout" holiday resort. We want to use our location as a ski resort in the village to our advantage with good projects. The need of the guests for a comfortable ski depot with direct access to the ski resort has been known for a long time. Now, we are implementing the project." Located right next to the train station, the depot also appeals to snow-sports enthusiasts from the Chur area. "Guests can now enjoy the journey on the train from Chur to Arosa and back without the tedious carrying of their equipment", Gisler is convinced
The guest can conveniently load the access to the depot on the key card with the ski ticket. The operation via a touch display is straightforward. The total of 210 lockers for skis and snowboards offer plenty of space. Each locker is designed for two adults and one child:
• space for 2 sets of skis or 2 snowboards for adults and 1 set for children
• heating rod for 3 pairs of ski boots or snowboard boots
• shelf for 3 pairs of gloves
• storage for 3 helmets
During the summer months, a sample locker will be displayed at the LAW valley station for inspection. The seasonal or annual rent for a whole locker (2 to max. 3 spaces) is CHF 400 for holders of a valid Arosa Lenzerheide season ticket. Pre-bookings are already possible.
Marc Gisler is satisfied with the progress of the construction: "The work assignments have already been finalized. Together with the depot locker manufacturer Wintersteiger, we attach great importance to a beautiful design with a comfortable ambience and good lighting. The rear room with lavabo will be cladded with reclaimed wood from the Sattelhütte facade." The opening with a public viewing is scheduled for mid-November 2020. Arosa Bergbahnen and Luzi Sport are investing CHF 380’000 in the new "skiin-skiout" offering.
Flyer with prices
A fantastic panoramic view, as well as a rustic and homely ambience, that’s what awaits the snow-sports enthusiast at the typical Arosa Sattelhütte at 2401 m above sea level. Here, the guest enjoys Swiss specialities and treats himself to a well-deserved break between the descents on the free sun loungers or at the "Sattelbar". The ski club and the EHC are a part of Arosa, just like the «Spiagelai» to our «Sattelröschti». That’s why Arosa Bergbahnen, as the owner and operator of the Sattelhütte, revive the good old days in the two stüblis.
Old is, in the meanwhile, also the roof, which is leaking in some places, just as the facade. From an energy point of view, the ageing building shell no longer corresponds to state of the art, and the heat loss is considerable. Marc Gisler, Head of Building Management and Project Manager, on the program of the complete refurbishment: "The Sattelhütte will receive a new all-round facade made of local larch wood. The old Eternit facade will be completely replaced, and we will replace the Eternit roof with a new slate cover. The entire building shell will get equipped with modern thermal insulation. This will reduce the cost of electric heating." Gisler is particularly impressed by the stylish larch formwork. "This fits perfectly with the mountain landscape; the Sattelhütte will be a real eye-catcher." The construction will begin in July and is expected to last until October. Arosa Bergbahnen is investing CHF 750’000 in the refurbishment. The investment project is part of the mountain railway strategy to make the snow-sports area Arosa East more attractive and stronger.
A look back
The Brüggerhorn used to be a popular destination for ski tourers. As a result, the Arosa Ski Club built the Brüggerhornhütte (Ferdinandshütte) in 2330 m above sea level at the North Foot in 1911, which was replaced in 1930 in its function by the Weisshornhütte (now Sattelhütte). In 1938, the Arosa Bergbahnen opened up the area with a tow lift. This system, called the Weisshorn or Saddle Lift, essentially followed today's ski slope from the end station of the Riedlift to the Sattelhütte. In 1970, the demolition of the ski lift followed in favour of the Brüggerhorn chairlift, which runs directly to the Brüggerhorn from the middle station of the Weisshornbahn. In the same year, the Arosa Bergbahnen bought the Sattelhütte from the Skiclub Arosa, partially rebuilt and extended the building. The "new" mountain restaurant opened in 1972 and was well received by the public. The next development step is present to all: new 6-seater chairlift and opening on December 19, 2019.
Photos from 20 July 2020: work in progress
New 6-seater chairlift Brüggerhorn
Ski run /surface correction "Vettertraverse" (Ski slope No. 15, section Tomelistrasse to the valley station Tschuggen Ost/Seeblickstrasse)
1. Initial situation
The ski run Tschugga East to the village centre and with a direct connection to the station is the most important downhill run in the snow sports region Arosa. With the new Passerelle between the station and Seeblickstrasse, constructed in 2014, the Tschugga East downhill run has become even more important since snow sports fans can now make their way directly (without detour) from the ski run to the station. In the bottom section of the ski run, the so-called Vettertraverse, the Tschugga East ski run becomes narrow and steep, is often frozen-over and too difficult for children and less experienced skiers and snowboarders. With the partial revision of local planning in 2016, the municipality and the Arosa Bergbahnen laid the foundations for the widening of the piste in the area of the Vettertraverse. This will create diversion opportunities. Integrated to the partial revision is also the route of the ski path between "Seeegga" and the valley station of the chairlift Tschuggen East, which was actually already planned for the current zone plan. This cannot be used as a ski run at present due to the current descent.
2. Description of the project
After the presentation of the permission for woodland clearing, respective woodland areas were cleared in September 2018. The clearing concerns an area of altogether 1453 m2. Together with the clearing, changes of the terrain are also necessary. For a distance of approx. 150 m, soil is to be removed immediately after the underpass Tomelibrücke and to be deposited as support for the existing dry-stone wall. The existing narrow ski path will be slightly lowered, and the soil will be deposited directly next to it. The cubic volume of the cleared soil amounts to altogether approximately 1966 m3. No material will be added or removed. The marked area for the path amounts to approximately 1325 m2. With the lowering of the current level of the ski run and the earth shifts, the snow-making facilities from 1996 will be updated and replaced by the new efficient snow producing generation.
The ski run correction eliminates the bottleneck between the Tomeli underpass and Seeblickstrasse. With this project, the current safety risks will be massively reduced. It defuses this “bottleneck” and allows for a more evenly sized piste, which reduces the hump formation, improves the flow of guests, and reduces the accident risk. This involves relatively modest interferences, which will impair the landscape insignificantly. The Arosa Bergbahnen are most concerned with an optimal and most careful execution of the piste corrections, which they have already successfully demonstrated in preceding projects involving area corrections (Traxloch, Schlittelbahn, Skilifttrassee, Strohkurve). The works are to be carried out in summer 2019.
To complete the offers for bikers, Arosa Tourism and the Arosa Bergbahnen AG have decided to realize a temporary skill centre during the summer months, similar to the training area “Honigland” in winter, in the vicinity of the Hörnli-Express valley station, and to submit the application for use with the planning application to the municipality Arosa in February 2019.
A skill centre for bikers offers a training platform with relevant bends, root, wood and stone elements, which will prepare bikers with the necessary bike techniques they might need to enjoy the Hörnli Trail, or individual routes in the area, afterwards. For the construction, only minor earth shifts will be necessary, and no concrete work will be carried out. Additional elements are made available with mobile facilities, which are in each case dismantled by the end of the summer season. This concerns, for example, the conveyor belt, which is already used in the winter for the Honigland at the Prätschli, or mobile wood ramps.
The skill centre is available to all user groups free of charge and will be in operation exclusively during the official opening times of the Hörnli-Express (Summer 2019: daily, between the 29th of June to 20th October 2019 from 9 am to 5 pm).
To ensure that user groups are accordingly equipped, the Hörnli-Express valley station will also offer bike rental and a kiosk. The operation of these services is also reduced to the opening times of the Hörnli-Express. The expected service offerings will be publicly tendered in the current issue of the Aroser Zeitung, which allow interested enterprises to establish a summer business and create jobs.
The bike masterplan of Arosa Lenzerheide points out that there is room for development for Flow Trails in the region of Arosa Lenzerheide. The new Flow Trail at Hörnli in Arosa aims at filling this supply gap. Trail developers as well as other bike experts agree that the Hörnli Flow Trail is set to become a one-of-a-kind bike experience in the Alps. The distance of just 7 km as well as the topographic setting at the Hörnli allow for a unique Trail Flow that can accommodate nearly all levels of riders, even families.
The project of the snow sports experience park Tschuggen highlights the two concepts of Arosa: «the ski area within the village» and «snow sports youth development». The concepts aim at facilitating the access to snow sports and at developing the Tschuggen hill into a unique and creative snow sports experience park over the course of several years. The Tschuggen area is located around the middle station where the bears will find their new homes in summer 2018. In coordination with key service providers of Arosa, the Arosa Bergbahnen AG chose to incorporate the theme of the bears into the development of the snow sports experience park Tschuggen.
Stage 1; «Honeyland» at Prätschli (Opening Winter 2017/18)
Arosa Bergbahnen AG launched the «Honeyland Prätschli» in winter 2017/18 as part of the overreaching tourism project by Erlebnisplan GmbH. The Honeyland is a public and free skiing area for beginners and kids with the aim of facilitating the learning experience to newcomers to the sport. It should also address the needs of returnees and rekindle their joy of snow sports. In addition to a 45m-long conveyer belt and the Prätschli skilift, the area is transformed into a Honeyland with bee hives, honeycomb chairs, honey parcours, etc. The first batch of honey at the Prätschli was «produced» on the 23 December 2017.
2. Stage; Ski lift Tomeli and «Bärensnowpark» Ried (opening winter 2018/19)
The 2. stage includes the snow sports production of the mountain station Prätschli, designed as an apiary, with a passage to the valley station of the ski lift Tomeli, where a hibernating bear, displayed as a photo point silhouette, is dreaming at the station building. The ski lift follows the bear enclosure, along to the Tschuggen. From there, two signposts show the guests the way to the «Bärensnowpark» at the ski lift Ried. There, young snow sports enthusiasts between 6 and 12 years can enjoy the publicly accessible and Bärenfunpark free of charge: on the stream, the forest trail, the rocky slope and the windy river, the children will explore with simple obstacles different routes from the view of a bear.
In order to increase snowmaking efficiency, the Arosa Bergbahnen AG will start using the water reserves at the Isel groundwater lake from November 2018. The partner project between the municipality of Arosa and the Arosa Bergbahnen AG aims at capitalising on existing infrastructure and at avoiding bottle neck situations. The existing groundwater pump at Isel is currently transporting water to the Reservoir Promenade. Following the construction of the reservoir, the municipality can significantly improve the reserve of fire-fighting water in the area of Waldpromenade and Innerarosa and close an important safety gap. The Arosa Bergbahnen AG benefits by feeding the water from the Isel pump directly to the snowmaking system at Tomeli. The water is either used immediately for snowmaking at the Tschuggen or diverted to storage facilities at the middle station of the storage reservoir. Construction and modification to existing facilities will begin in June 2018. The project should be operational at the beginning of the winter season 2018/19.
The first vision of connecting the two winter sports regions of Arosa and Lenzerheide had first been developed in the 70’s. The large-scale project of constructing a pillar-less, system-independent cable car between Hörnli and Urdenfürggli was realised during one summer season in only 8 months. The inauguration took place on 14th January 2014.
The two stylish design gondolas can fit 150 people. Guests travel at a speed of 12 m/s and reach the neighbouring holiday region within 5 minutes.
The new winter sports paradise of Arosa Lenzerheide boasts 43 lifts and around 225 km of pistes. It is the largest connected ski area in the canton of Grisons and among the top ten ski resorts in Switzerland.