The third and newest stage of a gondola at Russia's Northern Caucasus Resorts will soon be Europe's highest aerial lift, reaching 12,621 feet. Built on the side of the 18,510-foot dormant volcano Mt. Elbrus, the gondola will have seven feet on Mont Blanc's Aiguille du Midi tram in Chamonix, France. The gondola is part of a massive $15 billion dollar project to draw tourism to a region plagued by terrorism; in 2011, a terminal of lift at a nearby resort was bombed.
Construction is apparently underway, with the gondola slated to be operational this upcoming season. The cabins will hold eight people, with the lift's hourly capacity starting at 750 riders per hour and growing to 1,500 per hour as more cabins are added later on. This third stage will rise from the 11,335-foot Mir station to its terminus at the Gara-Bashi station and will serve all levels of skiers.
This stage of the Mt. Elbrus lift alone is estimated to cost about $15 million, still a relatively small part of Northern Caucasus Resorts' plan (started in 2010) to draw European skiers to Russia by building multiple resort clusters. What remains to be seen is what effect all this development has on the region's political conflicts.
· Northern Caucasus Resorts [Official site]
· Europe's Highest Ski Lifts Rising Above the Caucasus [Argophilia Travel News]
· Russia Builds Europe's Highest Ski Lift [First Tracks]
· New 'Undiscovered' Ski Area Opens in New Zealand [Curbed Ski]
· The World's Next Great Ski Destination is....Iran? [Curbed Ski]
· Eastern Switzerland Is Getting a Brand New Ski Area [Curbed Ski]