There are closed ski resorts with old, abandoned lifts rotting away all over the world. But a remote mountain in Spain takes the lost ski area to a new level with tens of millions of dollars of half-completed lifts (including a 3S gondola) that never opened. Doppelmayr partially built three lifts at the Vall Fosca Mountain Resort and abandoned them after the developer went bankrupt at the height of the 2008 financial crisis. It’s a fascinating story of boom and bust all too common in the ski industry.
Construction began back in 2006 and the resort was scheduled to open for the 2008-09 ski season. The plan included a €230 million pedestrian village with 965 homes at 4,000 feet. A 3S gondola was to connect the village to a new ski resort with four chairlifts. At the time, only Val d’Isere and Kitzbuhel had Doppelmayr’s tri-cable gondola technology and Vall Fosca was destined to have the first 3S outside of the Alps. That title ended up going to Whistler-Blackcomb.
The 3S was supposed to be 11,000 feet long with 40 CWA 30-passenger cabins, moving 4,000 passengers an hour at 7 m/s. Vertical rise was 2,600 vertical feet with three intermediate towers. Towers and footings for the 3S terminals were completed in the spring of 2008. A Uni-G detachable quad was nearly completed along with a fixed-grip chairlift.
The developer, a company called Martinisa Fadesa, went bankrupt in July 2008 with debts of €5.2 billion from many projects. The government had insisted ski and golf facilities be built before real estate and the company ran out of money before it could sell enough homes. Martinisa Fadesa ended up being liquidated as part of the largest bankruptcy in the history of Spain. Doppelmayr stopped work and left by the end of the summer, taking equipment that could be removed and abandoning the rest. Towers and terminals for the lifts remain on the mountainside with little else around in a town of 54 people.