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Unique ski lift celebrates its 55th birthday

A CABLEWAY at Chvatimech near the municipality of Valaská in Brezno District celebrated its 55th birthday on February 12. Although it lost its operational licence to carry people 15 years ago, fans of the cableway are seeking to have it work again so that skiers and tourists can once again ride up the hill on this technologically-unique facility. Currently, it is only working as a cargo cableway.

Hoping to save this 'unique technology' at Chvatimech. Hoping to save this 'unique technology' at Chvatimech. (Source: TASR)

A CABLEWAY at Chvatimech near the municipality of Valaská in Brezno District celebrated its 55th birthday on February 12. Although it lost its operational licence to carry people 15 years ago, fans of the cableway are seeking to have it work again so that skiers and tourists can once again ride up the hill on this technologically-unique facility. Currently, it is only working as a cargo cableway.

“The idea is to connect two technological monuments – as the historical narrow-gauge forest railway, Čiernohronská železnička, is also in the vicinity,” the operator of the cableway, Robert Hauer, told the TASR newswire. The cableway lies in the Slovenské Rudohorie mountain range, on a hill called Chvatimech and is still operational even though the operators forgot to have it undergo an inspection 15 years ago and it lost its license for public operation.

Hauer leased the cableway in 2003 from a former club of Slovak skiers and tourists, Strojáreň Piesok, knowing that it no longer had a valid license for public transport. “So I just transported cargo up the hill and from time to time also several tourists. Later, an inspection stopped me from doing that.” Hauer tried to save the cableway through Slovak authorities but failed and then turned to the International Museum of Cableways in Germany in Berlin. “They came here and as soon as they saw the facility they were astonished with the unique technology we have preserved here.” The Museum issued a certificate that Chvatimech cableway is a technological monument.

The cableway has 32 seats, is over 600 metres long and covers a vertical drop of about 280 metres. “Its approximate transport capacity is 120 people per hour,” Ján Palinský, a cableway enthusiast, said, adding that “the wonderful thing about this cableway is that as early as the 1950s, people didn’t have to unfasten their skis when using it.” Skiers arriving at the bottom station could immediately mount the chairlift and leave it in an equally comfortable way at the top station. He explained that the cableway has a unique construction style, a portal type of console, typical for older anchor-type ski lifts. The motor system - a reel - is also different from standard cableways and was originally meant for sea ships. “This should be proof of how perfect and inventive in engineering our grandparents were,” Palinský said.

The facility was built by volunteer ski fans in about two years. “This was not an official construction and we did it as volunteers,” said one of the cableway’s builders, Július Starke, age 83. Their decision to start building the lift was also influenced by a ski slope nearby as in 1950 the Slovak Championship in downhill skiing was held there. The father of the project was Gábor Ťatliak, a technical designer in the Strojárne Piesok machine works .


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