In a highly unusual situation almost considered alien in Austria’s cash-rich Tirol Province, the plans for improved lift-infrastructure and associated works to include a mountain bike trail in the comparatively unknown resort of Schwaz could be scuppered by the lack of available finance to bring the project to fruition.

The Kellerjoch has for many years been the subject of several ambitious plans but an absence of end product has seen each scheme greeted with greater scepticism than the last. Realising somewhat late in the day that working with its neighbour will potentially give Schwaz a better chance of attracting investment, the pooling of financial and intellectual resources with Pill could give the latest proposal the impetus to succeed where others have failed at the first hurdle.

A mandatory part of any proposition involving the refreshing of existing apparatus or the creation of new devices for resorts whose altitude is relatively modest – the Kellerjochbahn tops out at 1888m – is the provision of artificial snow-making equipment and analogous storage pond, enabling winter-sports to continue when insufficient natural snow has fallen for pistes to be safely groomed. The increasingly capricious nature of alpine weather makes an albeit hefty investment in a network of snow cannons an outlay that in future will pay for itself, especially should prolonged snowless periods befall the Tirol but temperatures nonetheless be sufficiently low for simulated snow to be manufactured.

Nevertheless, the substantial sum of €5.3 million needed to bring the plans to reality is the sticking point, €300,000 of which must finance a planning process for which there is no guarantee of a successful outcome being brokered between local residents, the municipality and related stakeholders. Much depends on the Karwendel tourism board, whose withdrawal from backing the plans would in all likelihood deal the scheme a fatal blow. A final decision is expected in mid June, which could see the proposed children’s area delivered in time for the 2015/16 winter season should the project be given the green light.

The Kellerjochbahn enables the immediate area to be accessed by families, leisure walkers and hikers in the summer, complementing a winter season generally considered throughout the Tirol to be its time of peak trading. The route culminating at the Kellerjochkapelle forms part of the Tirolean Eagle Walk, a 413 km trail comprising of 33 stages, all of which offer contrasting levels of difficulty and distances that cater for every ability.

Further reading on this matter and on the Schwaz region can be found at:

Tiroler Tageszeitung: Schwaz pins hopes on new Kellerjoch plans

Kellerjochbahn homepage

Bergfex: Kellerjoch, Schwaz and Pill

www.tyrol.com/eagle-walk