Loen Skylift – World’s Steepest Tramway – Opens in Norway

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A new Garaventa aerial tram opened today along a Norwegian Fjord with a vertical rise of more than 3,000 feet and only one tower.  Photo credit: Hoven Loen AS

From Fjord to Sky in Five is the tagline for the Loen Skylift, a spectacular new sightseeing tramway and adventure destination in Norway that debuted this morning.  Rising from the sea to 1,011-meter Mt. Hoven, the brand new Garaventa aerial tram becomes the steepest jig-back built in modern times and is already being hailed as one of the world’s great lifts.  “The Loen Skylift is the quickest and easiest way to explore the best of what Norwegian mountains have to offer,” said Richard Grov, general manager of Loen Skylift. “The trip from the fjord to the mountain only takes a few minutes.”

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The Loen Skylift is 2.5 times steeper than the mechanically similar Jackson Hole Aerial Tram, which only averages 19.1 degrees. Photo credit: Hoven Loen AS.

An ascent from dock to dock is 3,248 feet over a slope length of 5,021 feet, yielding an insane average grade of 53 degrees.  That’s much steeper than every lift in North America, the steepest of which averages only 34.3 degrees.  At seven meters per second, a Skylift ride takes just five minutes and the machine can transport 460 passengers each hour in two 45-passenger CWA Kronos cabins.  As the Doppelmayr annual brochure notes, “[The Skylift] features one strongly-overhanging tower standing on two feet and anchored back with a tie bar.  The tramway has two sets of track ropes and no track rope brake.”

The Loen Skylift is unique in that the $33.7 million project is a joint venture between the local municipality, numerous private partners and Garaventa AG, which owns a stake.  The group also completed Europe’s longest Via Ferrata suspension bridge, a carefully-designed restaurant and numerous hiking trails.  Hosting an estimated 40,000 visitors annually, the Skylift will operate year-round and also provide access to backcountry skiing like the similar oceanside Sea to Sky Gondola.  Congratulations to the Hoven Loen team and Garaventa on realizing this remarkable project.

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4 thoughts on “Loen Skylift – World’s Steepest Tramway – Opens in Norway

  1. Peter May 21, 2017 / 10:21 pm

    Why this move away from track rope brakes? Elevators still have emergency brakes, no?

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    • Peter Landsman May 21, 2017 / 10:28 pm

      My understanding is the shift away from track rope brakes came out of the Squaw Valley incident. By eliminating the need for track rope brake shoes to be able to pass through, tower saddles can hug more of the rope and make de-ropement less likely. People are always surprised when I tell them we don’t have track rope brakes at Jackson Hole. They assume three ropes means triple redundancy, which is not the case.

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  2. Larry Wollum May 22, 2017 / 7:45 pm

    Carriages without track brakes eliminate the socket attachment at the carriage; the rope is a spliced rope loop (like nearly every other type of Ropeway).

    This allows for easy rope MRT inspection, also makes the cabin assembly lighter.

    But main improvement is, as you say, much better track rope retention over saddles.

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  3. Peter May 23, 2017 / 8:40 pm

    Thanks for the answers.

    Maybe it’s better that way, but eliminating the track rope brake backup system gives me the weebie-jeebies especially when I look at the second picture in this post. This thing is ridiculously steep and puts practically all of its weight on that skinny little haul rope that threads through, what, four or more wheels at the top station?

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