History & chronicles

1873 Rudolf Riemann builds the first path up to the Schmittenhöhe.
1874 August 23rd: Ceremony to mark the opening of the Alpine Association House on the Schmittenhöhe
1875 August 6th: the “Giselabahn”, a railway named after the eldest daughter of Emperor Franz Josef I and Empress Elisabeth, is opened and connects Zell am See to the railway network of Austro-Hungary.
1876 The first “Rangglerfest”, a festival of country wrestling on the Schmittenhöhe
1877 Construction of the first meteorological station on the summit of the Schmittenhöhe. Founding of the “Beautification Society” (later to become the Tourism Association)
1879 August 21st: Opening of the so-called “Pinzgau Walk”.
1882 Construction of the Schweizerhütte (later the lift mid-station)
1885 August 9th: Empress Elisabeth (Sissi) visits the Schmittenhöhe.
1887 Prof. Koch and Engineer Lukritz plan construction of a cog railway.
1888 First post office at the hotel on the Schmittenhöhe, with twice-daily postal pick-up/delivery from July 15th to August 31st.
1892 Construction of the first avalanche-prevention barriers.
1893 Baron Lambert and Capt. Wittek make the first successful ascent of the Schmittenhöhe on skis. July 1: Emperor Franz Josef visits the Schmittenhöhe and spends the night at the mountain hotel.
1897 Construction of the first wind breaks and the stone wall on the Schmittenhöhe.
1898 January 3rd: Opening of the Pinzgau local railway line.


The Schmittenhöhebahn in Zell am See has been in existence for an impressive 85 years. It was true winter sport pioneers who laid the foundation for this success story. 

The founders included lawyer Dr. Eduard Bittner from Zell am See, Dr. Ludwig Margreiter and Leo Gastgeber. Banker Carl Spängler junior, hotelier Willi Schandlbauer and former mayor M.A. Josef Wisgrill joined the team of three shortly thereafter, at which point the project was presented to the governor at the time, Dr. Franz Rehrl. Financial plans were forged and in January 1927 the governor greenlighted the construction.

The first cut of the spade for the lower terminus followed at the beginning of May 1927. The cable car became operational on 31st December 1927, when it officially started running at 1.30pm. Therewith the first aerial cableway in Salzburg, and the fifth in Austria, was born.

In the 85 years since the Schmitten has evolved into a tourist stronghold and has expanded on all sides. In today’s Schmitten-gondola by Porsche Design passengers ascend the mountain in a modern and comfortable way. 

1902/03 Dr. Pircher, along with a small group of other enthusiasts, brings the sport of skiing to Zell am See; the two-pole prevails over the one-pole technique.
1904/05 Carl Haschke, owner of the summit hotel, builds the Elisabeth Chapel as a memorial to the Empress Elisabeth, who had been murdered in Geneva in 1898.
1906 February 19th: First winter sports festival in Zell am See with a long-distance downhill ski race from the Schmittenhöhe.
1919 Renewed upswing in the region due to increasing popularity of winter sports.
1924 October 30th: The efforts of Dr. Bittner, Dr. Margreiter, Leo Gastgeber (with the support of the mayor, Josef Ernst) pay off, as they are awarded a preliminary concession for construction of a cable lift.
1926 Autumn: Presentation of a polished project proposal to the provincial governor, Dr. Franz Rehrl; the trio now became a sextet with the additional support of banker Carl Spängler Jr., hotelier Willi Schandlbauer, as well as the former mayor, Josef Wisgrill. October 18th: First public presentation of the project
1927 Groundbreaking for the base terminus of the Schmittenhöhe Lift. December 31st: The SCHMITTENHÖHEBAHN officially goes into operation, making it the first cable lift in Salzburg and only the fifth in Austria.
1946/47 Construction of a ski lift on the Breiteckalm (opened March 1947)
1951 Construction of a “Bunny Lift” by the base terminus
1957 Opening of the SONNENALMBAHN
1958 Building of the Ketting Lift
1961 Building of the “Chapel” and Fallegg lift
1965 Building of the Ebenberg lift
1969 Building of the Hochmais lift, as well as construction of the Hochmais and East Face ski slopes.
1969/70 Building of the East Face lift
1970/71 A second route up to the Schmittenhöhe comes to fruition through construction of the AREITBAHN (double chair lift) and its connecting lift, the “Glocknerlift”; construction of the Schüttlift.
1971/72 Building of the Hirschkogelbahn, the Bruckberg lift and the Hahnkopf lift.
1973/74 Building of the Breiteck lift
1977 The ZELLER BERGBAHN commences operations, running from the town centre to the mid-station. Construction of the Sonnengratbahn.
1978 Completion of conversions to the SONNENALMBAHN; Construction of the Enzian lift.
1979 Construction of the summit lift, a 3-person chair lift
1980 Construction of the new Fallegg lift
1981 Building of the Sonnengrat lift and the Edelweiss lift
1982 Building of the new Ketting lift and the Schmiedhof lift; conversion of the Breiteckbahn.
1984 New construction of the Sonnkogel lift, now a detachable triple chair lift; addition of a mountain restaurant
1987 60-year anniversary of the Schmittenhöhe lift, having now carried more than 12.5 million people since its opening.
1988 Since their existence, the 26 lifts – servicing 70 km of slopes – have transported more than 130 million people. New construction of the AREITBAHN and GLOCKNERBAHN: at a cost of 180 million schillings, the Areitbahn is converted into a gondola lift with 6-person gondolas, while the Glocknerbahn becomes a detachable quad chair lift. In the process, great attention is paid to the environment and to blending harmoniously with the surrounding countryside. Through construction of expanded snowmaking capability, now servicing some 17 hectares, snowmaking also becomes possible on the “Standard” and “Trass” hills, on the slalom run and the Schmittental ski trail, thus guaranteeing quality skiing all the way down to the valley floor. The cost is around 43 million schillings.
1989/90 Expansion of snowmaking on the “North”, “Standard” and “Trass” hills – total of 38 hectares now serviceable by snowmakers.
1994 Introduction of the Skidata 350 ticket system featuring the KeyWatch, KeyCard etc.
1995 Rejuvenation and renovations to the High Promenade between the Schmittenhöhe and Sonnkogel; Construction of an interactive trail with uniform sign-posting and boards providing fascinating information. Areit Snowmaking Machines: Reliable snow conditions for the “Glocknerwiese”, the “Hirschkogel” hill, connecting trails and the “Schütt” run – taking into account the snowmaking capacity of Zell am See, some 65 hectares are now covered by snowmakers. “Gallery on the Slopes” with ten artworks by renowned sculptors displayed on the slopes of the Sonnkogel and Sonnenalm.

Expansion of the Areitbahn with two additional sections (AREITBAHN II/III: gondola lift with 6-person gondolas). This provided a direct lift connection from Schüttdorf up to the Schmittenhöhe. With the new lift completed, a new dining establishment opens at the Breiteck summit terminus

Permanent Halfpipe on the Glocknerwiese

Areit snowmaking coverage now extended to an elevation of 1,700 m (Breiteckalm).

1998 Hirschkogelbahn is converted into a quad chair lift. Additional snowmaking capability in the area adjacent to the mid-station. 
“Gallery on the Slopes II”
1999 Expansion of the Intersport Schmittenhöhe service network (incl. Zeller Bergbahn and the Drive-In located at Areitbahn III)



Conversion of the Ebenbergbahn (into a double chair lift)


Take-over of the Zell am See Cruise & Ferry Service from
the City of Zell am See (May 7)

Conversion of the Kapellenbahn (to a quad chair lift)

Expansion of snowmaking capability to an elevation of 2,000 m

Update of the ticketing system (now exclusively touch-free access via KeyCards)

Completion of the “Gallery on the Slopes” (now featuring 27
wood sculptures) 


Rejuvenation of the “Schmittenweg” path between the Schmittenhöhe and Panorama-Pfiff restaurant.

December 31st: Start
of 75-year anniversary festivities incl. re-enactment of the very first
lift ride by officials from the Zell am See city government. 


Year marking the 75-year anniversary of the Schmittenhöhebahn

March 14: Prof. Heinrich Harrer, World Champion in the Academic Races held
on the Schmittenhöhe back in 1937, returns 66 years later to the site
of his success and relates tales from his life.

Summer: Construction of a second reservoir, the “Brunnermais”;
conversion of the “Zeller Bergbahn” into the “cityXpress”;
completion of the plateau project at the summit, and creation of the “Elisabeth
Trail” which circumnavigates the summit of the Schmittenhöhe.


A year of investments:

Shipment: Acquisition of the ms schmittenhöhe. The luxury ms is fitted out with the latest technology and a high level of comfort. On 12th May the ship-baptizes is celebrated at the zeller lake. The investements for the new ship: EUR 2 Mio.

Investments Mountain: Construction at the area of sonnenalm/Hochmais. A new 6 person chairlift with bubbles and heated seats is built together with a new slope and a snow-system. Investments for sonnenalm/sonnkogel: EUR 14 Mio.


80th anniversary celebrations.

Construction of segment Xpress and reconstruction   of new Breiteckbahn.


Red cablecar cabins of Schmittenhöhebahn are replaced by new cabins designed by Porsche Design Studio, Zell am See, equipped with bar and multimedia system. 
Construction begun of reservoir Plettsaukopf    
Construction of Kettingbahn to replace Gipfelbahn and Kettinglift,  

Construction of Cabrio Bar Restaurant at Areit I base terminal, snowmaking facilities expanded to cover 100 %, 

Construction of uphill belt “Magic Carpet” in valley area Areit I, 
Design of a new construction of ski deposit and picnic room, 
Widening of ski route Hirschkogel, 
Construction of ski-movie trail and of funpark Rome Park Schmitten on the Hahnkopf

Investment in summer attractions:
construction of the new family adventure trail “Schmidolins baptism of fire”.

Total investment: 17 mil. Euros


Building of a new office building near to the Areitbahn valley station and building of a new bottom station at the Schmittenhöhebahn/trassXpress, finalisation of the reservoir Plettsaukopf, 

New design of the high altitude promenade 
Total investement: 19 mio. Euros


Extension ‘Schmidolin’s Baptism of Fire’ around the E-motocross track ‘Schmidolin’s Fire Chair’

Expansion playground Plettsau pond

5th Mountain Art symposium under the title ‘Höhenluft’ (‘Mountain Air)’ with three new works of art

New construction of the Sonnengratbahn (4-seat chair lift with comfort seats and conveyor belt)

Reconstruction of the lower terminus cityXpress

Construction of a conveyor belt on the Glockner grassland close to the upper terminus Areitbahn I

Amount invested: 6,6 million Euro 


Expansion of ‘Schmidolin’s Baptism of Fire’ with two new stations

Opening of the Freeride E Center Schmitten

Extension of the Sonnkogel hiking trail to Sonnenalm

Photovoltaics system (attachment of 2,300 m² PV panels onto the station buildings)

New construction of the Glocknerbahn (8-seat chair lift with comfort cushioning, heated seats, bubble and conveyor belt access)

Funslope XXL, the world’s longest Funslope at 1,300 m

Children’s playground ‘Schmidolin’s Dragon Park’ at the Glocknerbahn upper terminus.