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18 August 2017

Plans to Link Famed Swiss-Italian Ski Areas Unveiled

News has emerged from the pistes of Southern Switzerland and Northern Italy which will fill you with either excitement or trepidation, depending on your outlook, concern, and priorities. I refer to the recently announced plans to link the Cervinia-Zermatt ski area, located in the vicinity of the Matterhorn on the Swiss/Italian border, with Italy’s ‘Three Valleys’ of Monterosa some 8km to the south-east.

Looked at purely from the perspective of a winter sports enthusiast, the announcement is momentous as the two areas combined would contain around 530km of piste, making it the second largest ski area in the world according to official figures. Each of the aforementioned areas is famed and beloved by skiers in their own right, so if combined the result would be truly awe-inspiring.

Italian newspaper La Stampa reports that two modern 3S Gondolas would be used to make the 8km connection, each capable of carrying 35 people per cabin. The project is estimated to cost around €65 million, with backers asserting that this would be covered by various ski lift companies and would not require additional public investment.

However environmental concerns have led to some opposition to the project, largely due to the planned route between the two locations. The proposed route passes through an area of pristine alpine valley and could cause significant disruption due to the necessary installation of four to five support towers. This would not only spoil the scenic appeal of the region, but could also cause harm the local flora and fauna as initial installation works are carried out and regular maintenance occurs in the future. One nature photographer quoted in the La Stampa newspaper described these plans as “insanity”, and his assertion is not without merit.

An alternative route plan, which incorporated direct links between Plateau Rosa, Valtournenche, and the Ayas region, was scrapped due to an estimated price tag of €250 million. This does seem to suggest, at least to some degree, that the planners prioritise finances over environmental concerns; if an eco-friendly route was not viable, perhaps the plans should be scrapped altogether…

Before any plans can be put into motion, locals will first get their chance to raise any concerns and objections at a referendum to be held in the Monterosa resort of Gressoney-Saint-Jean.

Sam Bonson

Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for the written word. Currently working as a content writer, journalist & editor, his time at many UK festivals has taught him the importance of keeping warm.