A look behind the scenes at the Kaiserlift
Insider facts about the single-seat chairlift
How many single-seat chairlifts are left in Austria? How safe is a ride on it and why is the Kaiserlift so popular? Question after question, which I will personally ask our experts. I will look over the shoulder of Kaiserlift employees as they work, and learn fun, exciting and interesting details about the nostalgic chairlift.
"The first ride took place in summer 1971", explains Martin Tschurtschenthaler. For 40 years the Kaiserlift transported hikers and nature lovers to the Wilder Kaiser, until, to everyone's disappointment, it was stopped in 2011, reveals employee Markus Lamplmair.
A large investment was necessary to renew the chairlift operating license, and it was not financially viable for the operator at the time. For a long time no solution was found, until Stadtwerke Kufstein took over the nostalgic lift. "From the start of 2014 until May 2015 a major renovation was undertaken. The (modernised) turnstiles opened again right on time for the start of the hiking season on May 1st, 2015. It's a great feeling, especially when you realise that there are only around ten single-seat chairlifts in all of Austria", explains Martin. There was great enthusiasm both from the locals and also holidaymakers.
The Kaiserlift guests
In accordance with the motto "Age knows no boundaries", the Kaiserlift offers experiences for everyone. "From babies to 100-year old grandfathers, there's something for everyone", grins Martin. Even folding prams and wheelchairs are not a problem for the modernised single-seat lift. "They're simply hung on a seat and carried up", reveals Markus.
The entrance - the start of enjoyment
Through the turnstile and into the "starting position", a marking on either side of a raised step. "Before you get on, an employee pulls the chair back quickly until the guest sits down on it", says Martin Tschurtschenthaler. But what do the yellow and red flags mean? "Older guests, who need more time getting on and off, have a yellow flag on their seat. This gives the staff on the mountain "advance warning". A red flag means that the lift needs to be stopped briefly when the guest is getting on and off."
The most important thing that we tell our gusts is: "pull down the strap to the top right, and then only open up the bar shortly before the middle station." After 20 years of experience Markus has learned which guests he can have a little fun with. Once they're swinging up the mountain he calls out to some of them: "There's no point in calling for help now, you're stuck on the lift" ;)
The ride into the greenery exceeds expectations
The trip from the valley up the mountain takes 20 minutes – with a short stopover and change at the middle station. And the 20 minutes have a lot to offer. During the ride through unique nature there is plenty of time to relax. "For some people it's so relaxing that we need to wake them up at the middle or top station", laughs Markus.
Getting off at the Duxeralm middle station
It can feel a little strange to get out of a chairlift without skis on. But with the help of the lift attendants it's easily managed. "We pull on the chair a little so that there is enough time to get out. So far everyone has made it out safely", emphasises Martin Tschurtschenthaler.
From the middle station you can continue all the way up - to the top station at Brentenjoch
Experience pure happiness once again. After passing Duxeralm the lift glides over spruces, fir trees and beeches. A glance back opens up a sensational panorama of Kufstein and the Bavarian Alps. It's unbelievable that the experience of the final meters can top view. And yet it does. The final meters of the second section are spectacular.
Shortly before the top station the imposing Wilder Kaiser rises up before you. An impression that you won't quickly forget. And after getting out you can enjoy the panorama on the high plateau. "Lots of guests ask about popular tours on the mountain. We're always happy to help", explains Markus. There is a wide range of options, from simple, wheelchair-friendly paths to challenging tours in the high Alps.
Who needs a heating system in a lift? "Back to the roots" is the motto of the nostalgic Kaiserlift. "When the wind blows a little more strongly we have warm seat cushions for our guests", Martin adds. And there's something for loyal, four-legged friends too. "Soon after the modernisation we realised that lots of dog owners want to take their pets up the mountain with them. Necessity is the mother of invention, and that's why we mounted two dog boxes on the seats of both lift sections. Small dogs may ride up on their owner's laps", says Markus.
"According to transport statistics, our single-seat chairlift is one of the safest means of transport in Austria", emphasises Markus. Numerous control mechanisms, cable car monitoring and technical features all contribute to this safety. "And if there's anyone who still feels a little worried then we're happy to look after them personally", Markus smiles reassuringly.
Working at the Kaiserlift
One thing is immediately obvious: no matter which member of staff you come across they're all friendly, helpful and polite. "In total ten people work at the Kaiserlift", says Project Manager Martin. But why are they all so happy? I asked: "I guess there's no workplace more beautiful than here in the middle of the nature reserve", says Johannes, who works helping people get out at the middle station. There we also find a woman who works as a machine operator at the Kaiserlift: "You need a bit of strength to push away the seats. And you can't be afraid of heights, because we're often climbing around on the supports. But I love technology and enjoy working out in the fresh air", explains Manuela.
Fun insider stories
"We've had quite a few experiences over the years", grins Markus. He remembers a couple that conquered the Kaiser with a total of four dogs. "Two in the boxes and two on their laps – here (almost) anything is possible", continues Markus. Martin also has a few funny stories: "I remember an older man who was quite scared. Despite his concerns he decided to ride on the lift. And then he ended up liking it so much that he wanted to stay in his seat and go around again!", says Markus. Everyone agrees on one thing: "A ride up to the Kaiser needs to be experienced!"
Excellent Kaiserschmarrn with a panorama
The lift attendant is happy to give tips, like "the Weinbergerhaus has the best Kaiserschmarrn!" You can reach the rustic alm hut at 1,270 meters in only five minutes.
Conclusion: An indescribable adventure
You can do a lot of research about the Kaiserlift. But if you want to experience this feeling for yourself – a mixture of rest, happiness and relaxation, then you need to plan a ride up into nature as soon as possible. You'll love it!