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Lift me up!

Willingen is small, but here, people think big. Very big! As well as the largest ski jump hill in the world, soon this will also be the home of the longest chairlift in Hessen: the K1. The steel parts of the mountain and valley station where the technology is housed were galvanized in Rietberg and thus protected from corrosion for decades.

-5 degrees, snow crystals glisten in the sun; an untouched piste stretches out before us. The heart of any skier beats faster – and this is definitely nothing to do with the thin air. We are not standing on a 3,000-metre-high mountain in the Alps, but on the 837.7-metre-high Ettelsberg in Willingen. The quiet district in Sauerland, in the north-eastern Rothaar mountains, has just 6,000 inhabitants, but can offer a quite a few superlatives.

The pistes on the Ettelsberg offer skiing fun for both big and small.
(Source: Touristen-Information Willingen)

The world premier is imminent
Willingen is primarily known for the Mühlenkopfschanze, which is the largest ski jump hill in the world with a ski jump record of 152 metres. At the annual ski jumping world cup, it is not just medals that are celebrated here, but also audience records and parties. But if you’re looking forward to getting onto the piste for purely sports reasons, you can already look forward to the 2018/2019 winter season. Because something really big is happening for skiers and snowboarders here - the longest chairlift in Hessen. This 1.5-kilometre-long lift will also be the most modern system in Germany and the first 8-seater chairlift of this series in the world.

So that the 10 million euro project goes perfectly according to plan, it is being built by the funicular expert Doppelmayr from Austria. A cableway of the same “D-Line” series has already been in operation since 2016 in the Zillertal ski area, but this is only a 6-seater to the peak. There has never before been an 8-seater version – so we can soon celebrate the world premier in Willingen!

Summer break? There's no such thing!
If you believe the chairlift takes a break over the summer, you're wrong. Willingen is a leisure and holiday destination all year round. For this reason, the cableway is so well designed that it doesn’t just lift wintersports fans, but also mountain bikers. Bikes can simply be fastened to the back of the chair. “Theoretically, we can decide each morning spontaneously whether we want to ride the lift as the ski or bike version”, says Jörg Wilke, Managing Director of the lift company.

For him, the funicular is an investment in the future, because mountain biking is currently very trendy. Willingen is already known for its spectacular freeride and downhill routes and for the “BIKE Festival”. When this takes place again in May 2019, there should also be two new cycling routes specially designed for beginners. Because it's not just for the superfans to have fun. “We're aiming at popular sport for everyone”, says Wilke.

The new chairlift is not “just” a replacement for the 50-year-old tow lifts Köhlerhagen 1 and 2 – the K1 project is very important for tourism. And more than 80 percent of the residents of Willingen live from tourism. What many people don’t know: With 10.000 guest beds and 1.2 million overnight stays per year, Willingen is one of the top 15 holiday destinations in Germany. “We offer the mountains for in-between. Short holidaymakers come to us from the region, from the Ruhr valley and from the Netherlands. This is why Sauerland is known as the “Dutch Alps”, jokes Wilke.  

Assembly of the galvanized steel supports at the mountain station of the 8-seater chairlift.
(Source: Liftgemeinschaft Köhlerhagen GmbH & Co. KG)

First class “chair garage”
The windproof bubble protects ski fans in the chairlift from the cold or snow. Perfect to catch your breath on the five minute trip to the peak and to spare your muscles. The chairs only get a long break at the end of the day – and in a safe place where they are protected from the wind and weather. This is where the Rietbergwerke come into play, because they galvanized the steel parts here, among other things, which made up the giant “chair garage”. 

“As early as 2007, when we were building the Ettelsberger gondola lift, we galvanized the steel structure”, remembers Michael Pauleickhoff, Business Area Manager of Hot Dip Galvanizing and Coating. “Our customer, BMS Industriebau (Briloner Montage und Schlüsselfertigbau) decided to opt for us, because we are known to be a reliable partner and we are also capable of galvanizing XXL products. This is one of our strengths and hardly any other galvanizing plant can manage this.”

“The mountain biker is the skier of the summer.” Jörg Wilke, Managing Director of the lift company Köhlerhagen in Willingen
(Source: Touristen-Information Willingen)

The cut surfaces were tricky
In the Rietbergwerke facilities it is possible to galvanize steel parts with a length of up to 23 metres in the so-called double-dipping procedure. By dipping the oversized supports twice or multiple times, however, there are a few risks to overcome. There is the risk of thermal tension and thus of warping.
 The overlap areas must also be technically and visually perfect. “You need a special plant technology and certain experience with the dipping process to achieve the best quality”, says Pauleickhoff. “And our employees have that!” The customer BMS Industriebau was also extremely satisfied that their almost 20-metre-long steel supports were galvanized perfectly.

The steel hall serves as a housing for the funicular technology of the mountain station.
(Source: Liftgemeinschaft Köhlerhagen GmbH & Co. KG)

But it wasn't just about the size of the steel parts, but also the size of the overall K1 project. There are many agents involved, many construction stages to pass through. This requires precise coordination, often paired with a high tempo: The XXL steel supports were galvanized and delivered to Willingen within just two days. “Galvanizing is often the crucial last stage before delivery to the construction site, which requires quick and flexible action”, explains Karsten Wietheger, Head of Sales in Hot Dip Galvanizing and Coating at the Rietbergwerke. “In the K1 project, we have shown how we react to customer wishes: quickly, reliably and without complicating things, true to our motto ‘it will work with us!”

Silvery shine - this is how the steel supports come out of the molten zinc.

The most important data

Cableway type: Coupled 8-seater chairlift
Inclined length: 1,442 m (between entrance and exit)
Cable length: 2,954 m
Cable diameter: 50 mm
Cable weight: 27 t
Support structures: 14
Height difference: 262.60 m
Driving speed: 6 m/s
Driving time: 4.82 mins
Conveying capacity in winter: 3,000 persons/hour upwards
Conveying capacity in summer: 1,475 persons/hour upwards

Further references of the Seppeler Group

Bilster Berg Drive Resort

Obszar: Cynkowanie ogniowe

Everything Under One Roof

Oszary: Cynkowanie ogniowe/Malowanie

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