In the grand scheme of the Zillertal Gerlos isn’t regarded to be in the same league as nearby Mayrhofen. Just by population size alone it is dwarfed by its glamorous neighbour synonymous with winter sports excess, although in Austrian ski resorts residential populations bear little relation to the scale of winter influx that exponentially swells even the most modest of settlements.

Rarely can the financially underwriting of Gerlos’s new €30 million cableway be less commensurate to a village’s size – at the last census accounting for less than 800 of the Ziller Valley’s permanent residents. The astonishing ability that many Tirolean villages have to accommodate the winter sports fraternity can though see a residential population increase at a geometric rate by 10, 20, or even 50 times during peak weeks. Such influxes are not universally popular with locals but the underpinning of regional economies by the ‘white euro’ is often reflected by off peak downtime that sees many hotels and some lifts close during the summer.

Gerlos’s new cableway represents another huge investment in and commitment to Austria’s ski scene. Coming in at €10 million over budget presents a need for it to not only recoup the estimated cost but also the overspend, which will hopefully make all year round operation a necessity. It is nevertheless sad to see that the complex includes a seven-storey car park which will offer little visual appeal set against the Zillertal’s dramatic backdrop, although there is little chance of the multi-story ‘parkplatz’ being anywhere near as ugly and incongruous as Saalbach’s finished but aging article. Despite its conception born from a desire to divert cars away from Saalbach’s centre the Glemm Valley’s entry for ugliest building in an alpine setting must surely rank as one of Salzburgerland’s greatest architectural blunders yet.

Source material courtesy of: Tiroler Tageszeitung –