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St Johann iT lift upgrades

 Poster: A snowHead
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After enjoying the lovely, empty red down from the top to Eichenhof, followed by the inevitable row with the OH on the endless T-bars to get back up - why we decided to share one I'll never know - I had a look to see if there were plans to upgrade them. I found this story:

LAST SEASON FOR EICHENHOF LIFTS?
http://www.kitzanzeiger.at/Letzte-Saison-fuer-Eichenhof-Lifte_pid,17070,nid,60089,type,newsdetail.html

It's from August 2015. It suggests I may never need to get these T-Bars again, as they plan to replace them with a gondola for next season.
I wondered if anyone local to the area knew if this was going ahead. It might save our marriage!
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That area has always been separate from the rest of the system because of the views of the landowner. I think you may well get a chance to ride them again as the wheels of progress grind very slowly in some of these areas.
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It was really odd when I was there in January with poor snow. You could ski down from the top to Eichenhof, but you couldn't get back up from there. Runs 4a and 4c were open, but the Eichenhof II lift wasn't.
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My understanding is that this project has been confirmed, partly financed by an investment by the Swedish ski area management company, Skistar. Planned is a 10 seater gondola to replace the two Eichenhof T-bars. The lift will go up to near the top station of the current Harschbichl gondola, i.e. considerably further than the current T-bars. Two middle stations are planned (one near the Grander Schupf restaurant and another about where the Eichenhof II has a corner, I think). I believe that some new snow making related to this project was already installed in the area of the Eichenhof II T-bar for this season. Sounds good Very Happy
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Thanks for the replies.
@espri, I wondered if it would go higher than the T-bars otherwise it would feed the slow 2-man chair at Jodlalm. I only downside is I'm sure the piste won't be quite so empty!
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Drammeister wrote:
... only downside is I'm sure the piste won't be quite so empty!

That crossed my mind too.
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@espri, did I read somewhere the lift co had bought the Eichenhof area hence the new lift?
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@espri, @Drammeister, I was only placing the area in the context of WHY it is so - I believe the landowner also included some clauses in his will as to how any development would (or would not) take place. I knew the original curmudgeon, he was a real character but I doubt if he is still around as he was somewhere in his 80s when I last saw him in the late 1980s. He excluded some of his children from his will because they would not agree to some of the conditions he placed on inheriting the land and the businesses he had developed (Hotel Eichenhof - now König and a couple of huts on the hill). He was in many ways quite forward thinking believing that uncontrolled development such as he had seen in France would destroy the delicate ecosystem on the hill. I suspect the restrictions are still a stumbling block to any development. The hotel has changed its name, probably due to the family agreeing to rent (in German - verpächten) to someone else.
The article @Drammeister has linked to does not really state that all the developments will be in place by 2016/2017. Maybe someone is prepared to invest in the area but whether they can carry out their plans or not depends as much on the restrictions still in place, and many people actually like this area of the St Johann system because it is so quiet and "retro". There are other examples of where landowners' conditions or inheritance clauses have restricted the development of newer better lift and snow-making systems - The Stegbach sector of St Johann-Alpendorf is one example, as is the whole of my favourite area of the Reiteralm sector of Schladming (Forstau-Fageralm). I'm sure that there are many others both in Austria and other countries.
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@HutToHut, yes, the main lift company took over the Eichenhof lifts in 2012. And it is pretty clear that the lifts need to be modernised to increase the attractiveness of the area.

The link in Drammeister's original post was from early last year. There is a somewhat more recent report (in German) here. This doesn't seem quite to say that everything is fixed but the fact that some new snow making was installed in the area of the Eichenhof lifts for this season hopefully means that the project is going ahead this year.
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The uptrack on Eichenhof II is certainly retro @Samerberg Sue, Smile
It's like being pulled up through a 'fun park'.

You can see the new snow cannons on the bottom of 4a. I think they're new this year.
http://www.sjon.at/templates/sjon.at/php/webcamcache.php?cam=4
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The Tiroler Tageszeitung has printed a report (in German) about the planned Eichenhof gondola and it seems that the project is going ahead for next season, though planning permission is still to be confirmed. See: http://www.tt.com/wirtschaft/standorttirol/11248005-91/eichenhofbahn-ist-gro%C3%9Fes-ziel-f%C3%BCr-n%C3%A4chsten-winter.csp

The report also mentions another new hotel (to be built near the Hochfeld chairlift) and a Mountaincart track down from the Harschbichl (just for summer, I think).
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Looking positive @espri, I've booking somewhere in Waidring for next February, so if it's up and running we'll probably pop over for a day or two to try it out. Great that it's going all the way up to Harschbichl. snowHead

We just need the link to the top of the Horn now!
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There is a new link to the top of the horn, but its goes up and its a klettersteig!!!!javascript:emoticon('Smile')
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You know it makes sense.
Well, I did pop over to St Johann a few weeks ago and that damned T-bar is still there!
It looks like they will start on the gondola at the end of this season.

https://www.meinbezirk.at/kitzbuehel/wirtschaft/erst-beschneiung-dann-gondelbahn-in-st-johann-d1879358.html

Translation:
As reported, the Eichenhof tow lifts are to be replaced by a powerful gondola lift with two intermediate stations on the Harschbichl. With the 20-million-kilometer investment that will be made possible by the arrival of Skistar on the St. Johann mountain railways (we reported), a new, powerful entry into the ski area will be created and the Eichenhof area will be attractive.


After the gondola lift was already planned for this year, the plans had to be postponed to 2017. "On 22 June, the ministerial building negotiations were held, which was a positive one, and the construction phase will now take place directly after the winter season 2016/17," says Stefan Seiwald, Chairman of the Supervisory Board.

At the moment, a large amount (around 3 million euros) is being invested in snow-making. "The existing snowmaking system is equipped with new snowmakers, the pumping station of the storage pond with two cooling towers is brought to state-of-the-art technology, thus ensuring a complete snow-free snowing of the main ski runs," says Seiwald. Further plans are available for a storage pond Eichenhof and the "Sportiv downhill".
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As with others, I have mixed feelings about this. I loved my week in St Johann a couple of year's ago and although I visited 4 other areas during my stay, I actually enjoyed the local skiing the most... despite some of the archaic lifts. I think the reason was mainly down to quiet pistes and therefore better snow quality throughout the day, despite a lower altitude than other resorts.

I can't argue that the T Bar doesn't need replacing (especially when locals arrive at the weekends) and it will make the area far more attractive but perhaps less of a hidden gem. I guess the same goes for the new hotels which seem to be popping up at regular intervals. I think overall, the comparatively small size of the ski area will keep the hoards away and the new gondola will only be seen as a boon to us St Johann fans and perhaps save @Drammeister, from a costly divorce.
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 Poster: A snowHead
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[quote]
It might save our marriage!

Tbars are the most sociable lifts there are. The thought of getting on one and not talking to your partner, is unthinkable !
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The current issue of the Kitzbüheler Anzeiger contains a report on developments concerning the replacements for the Eichenhof T-bars in St. Johann in Tirol. The original plan to build a cabin lift right up to beside the top station of the old Harschbichl gondola has been scrapped. Now the idea is to have a gondola up to the level of the Grander Schupf restaurant (replacing the lower T-bar) and from there a 6-seater chairlift up to just above where the top of current upper T-bar is. That sounds fine to me. Though it is a pity that the new lifts don't go further up the mountain, maybe the plan will be to add a further chairlift if a lift is ever built to connect St. Johann to the Kitzbüheler Horn ski slopes. This change of plan means that time is needed to have the planning accepted again. SkiStar, the lift company, says that lifts could be built this year if all has been agreed by the 1st August. I rather doubt we will see the lifts next season.

Another piece of news involving St. Johann is that the Schneewinkel ski pass no longer exists. Don't panic, though, it has only been renamed now as the 3 Länder Freizeit-Arena (I prefer the old name). However, the pass now includes as well as the areas previously available the ski areas at Lofer (attractive) along with Heutal and St. Martin & Weißbach (areas I don't know and are, I think, pretty small). The link gives details of prices for next season as well as listing the areas covered by the pass.


P.S. Just as an aside as it may interest some, the next season prices for the Salzburg Super Ski Card are also already online (the Kitzbüheler Alpen AllStar card prices are probably similar). Only €697 for a season ticket, if bought before 6th December. Not bad, only being €17 more than the past season. Maybe I'll still manage to make my €10 per day goal Laughing Laughing
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@espri,
Finger crossed, but I think you right, it won't be ready for next season. Sad

I'll have a look at the new area pass, but I think we'll end up with the Salzburg Super Ski Card again. One of my daughters loves going to Kitzbuhel.
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It's coming!



When I passed through St. Johann yesterday, I saw that the valley station of the lower Eichenhof T-bar was being demolished. The man doing the work confirmed that the replacement cabin lift is coming, though he didn't know definitely that the chairlift replacing the upper T-bar would also be installed. I assume now that it will also be built this summer.

And further good news for the St. Johann pistes is that there is even more snowmaking equipment from TechnoAlpin in the car park now.



Things are looking good Very Happy
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Its certainly going to have a bigger impact on the landscape Sad
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That's no doubt true but lift stations can sometimes be attractive. We shall see.
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It is a long time coming, but I can't help but feel a bit nostalgic.
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The official details of the meeting (on 22nd June) to grant permission for the new Eichenhof lift have been published. The details are only minimally different from the first section of the original three stage gondela, so it looks as though it is assumed no problems will arise. There is, however, no mention of the chairlift which is to replace the upper T-bar, so maybe that isn't coming this year after all.
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This report (in German) confirms that construction of the new gondola will begin on 19th June and has photos of the demolition work and a sketch of what the new lift station will look like. No mention of the upper chairlift section (I have seen a suggestion that this may go as far as the top of the Jodlalm chairlift).
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'With an investment budget of more than EUR 17 million for the coming winter, a new cable car and the expansion of artificial snow will be realized at the Eichenhof. In addition, a six-seater chairlift is planned to provide even better comfort for the skier.'

http://www.seilbahn.net/sn/index.php?i=60&kat=21&news=7944

It isn't clear whether the chairlift will be built this year, I hope so otherwise a new 10 seater gondola will dump hundreds of people at the bottom of a clapped out old T-bar.
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Back on Saturday 24th June I had another look at the work being done on replacing the the Eichenhof T-bars at St. Johann in Tirol. That was about a week after the start of the operation and, to be honest, there wasn't much progress to be seen. Here's a view of the site of the bottom station of the new gondola...



I walked up to the Grander Schupf and on the way I saw a good deal of tree felling being done on the track of the gondola, one large tree toppling just as I was there...



One other interesting thing that I spotted near the old T-bar track was a rather romantic looking private swimming pool. I've never noticed that in winter...



Up at the Grander Schupf there is sadly no sign yet of the upper Eichenhof T-bar being demolished, though the bridge that carried the lower T-bar track has been (partly) removed...



Here is a photo of the upper T-bar and, if you look closely, you can maybe make out in the background that the piste has been widened a good bit further up the hill, with trees felled at the corner (I think)...



A week can make a difference, though. I took the photo below when I passed by yesterday and there has been good progress on the foundations of the bottom station (and garage) for the gondola...

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Never been to Austria... Is St Johann a good spot for an agricultural intermediate and and a good beginner. We're old and new, so we like to enjoy the piste, not fight it!

CG
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Yes, I think St. Johann would suit you well. The pistes down from the middle station of the current Harschbichl gondola are relatively easy. Further up there are some more challenging bits but still fine for intermediate skiers.

If you have the right ski pass (the 3 Länder Freizeit-Arena, formerly called the Schneewinkel), you would also have the possibility of having a day out on the Steinplatte at Waidring, about 20 minutes bus ride away, where there are also fine pistes. Eventually you might also try other areas on the pass, e.g. Fieberbrunn or the Loferer Alm, though the latter is a good deal further away.


Last edited by So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much on Fri 7-07-17 13:23; edited 1 time in total
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@espri, Thanks for that- will research more after sundown!
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@Charliegolf,
Kitzbuhel and Ellmau are also very close, both within an easy 15 min drive. There is also public transport to both. These are included on the Salzburg Superski card.

http://www.salzburgsuperskicard.com/en
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On snowHeads.com there is a report that the upper Eichenhof T-bar is being replaced by the 6-seat chairlift. Here is a photo of the Eichenhof 2.

There is also a rumour that Jodlalm lift will be replaced and extended to the top of the Harschbichl next year. All sounds good!
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https://www.facebook.com/kitzski.at/posts/1640776912621380

And for those of you who know the Jufen lift in Kitz, that's now being replaced with a new 8 seater
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Yesterday I went to the Grander Schupf in St. Johann to eat and took a couple of photos beside the restaurant to show the lift developments at the Eichenhof pistes there (just before the heavens opened). Here is the current state of the top station of the new gondola coming up from the valley (I assume the foundations of the old bridge will be removed sometime)...



And here the work being started for the lower station of the 6-seater chairlift which is being built on the upper part of the Eichenhof slopes...

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Thanks for the update. Can't wait to try it out!
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my understanding of the situation is that they are trying to turn the Eichenhof lower section into a new family area for the Schneewinkl, so that may well have adverse effects on Kirchdorf and Larchenhof ski areas. This sounds logical based on the slope steepness at the bottom.

Grander Schupf obviously having to pay a contribution as all it menu prices risen this year iirc , but spare ribs still great.
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espri wrote:
Yesterday I went to the Grander Schupf in St. Johann to eat and took a couple of photos beside the restaurant to show the lift developments at the Eichenhof pistes there (just before the heavens opened). Here is the current state of the top station of the new gondola coming up from the valley (I assume the foundations of the old bridge will be removed sometime)...



And here the work being started for the lower station of the 6-seater chairlift which is being built on the upper part of the Eichenhof slopes...



Hopefully it will be SitSki friendly! Smile
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Prompted by Nick's concerns, I went yesterday to inspect the progress on the new Eichenhof lifts. Here is a rather long report.

I looked first at the bottom station of the Eichenhof gondola, which seems to be approaching completion - the cable is mounted on all but a couple of pylons...


And it looks to me that it will have a SitSki friendly ramp for entry...


Having checked that, I drove up to the Grander Schupf restaurant and had a fine plate of pumpkin soup there for lunch. I also enjoyed going "to ra loo" - down the slide (not having read the instructions about sitting sideways) - anything downhill is good at this time of year Laughing ...


Suitably strengthened, I started up the zig-zag road on the upper Eichenhof piste. It was a fine day for an autumn outing...


This was the view looking back, with the top station of the Eichenhof gondola and the bottom of the Eichenhof Express chairlift. Since the road to the Grander Schupf stays open (mostly) in winter, it should be possible for SitSkiers to use the chairlift without bothering with the gondola at all. That would offer one good long piste, pleasant but not much variety (other alternatives, Jodlalmbahn or Harschbichl gondola, look more complicated to me)...


Going up the track there was a view over to the new reservoir which has also been built at St. Johann to support more snow-making...


The track was, however, no quiet country lane. There was a steady stream of traffic, from bikes to heavy construction traffic...


And there were many workers in action, some even seeking a higher view...


The chairlift is not as advanced in its construction as the gondola - work on it did start later and it looks as though there is still much to do. But the workers assure me that all will be finished in time. Work was continuing on cabling in places. I have the impression that with lifts there is probably more underground than you see up top...




The new chairlift runs more on the left-hand side of the piste (as you ski down), relative to where the old Eichenhof II T-bar was. Trees have been felled in a couple of places to improve the piste. I couldn't determine a great deal of difference in the position of the top station from where the T-bar ended..


And eventually, after about an hour and twenty minutes, I reached the top the station of the Eichenhof Express. Just as I arrived a tower crane was driven away, its work done, so the development is progressing. The mountains in the background are the Wilder Kaiser...


But there was still plenty of action there, lifting machinery onto the lift's frame...



A real monster as it claims!

And as I started on my way back down another two heavy loads of equipment were being delivered...


That is certainly going to make a difference to St. Johann skiing.
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Thanks Eric. Hopefully they’ll have snow all the way to the door after descending the piste, you never know they might put some ski friendly matting up to the gondola?
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