Facilitating Slovenia’s highest skiing the eponymous Mount Kanin cableway, in the country’s northwest, continues to enjoy an upturn in fortunes since the near catastrophic collapse of several of its carriages in 2013. Remaining closed for several years amid claim and counterclaim that ultimately failed to establish beyond reasonable doubt the cause of the accident, the Bovec-based gondola eventually secured finance from central government to reactivate operations, a feat itself that not only acknowledged the national significance of its existence, but also the collateral damage caused to the area by its inactivity. Nevertheless, state-intervention raised eyebrows in other Slovenian resorts, desperate themselves for financial stimulus. Now, the Kanin cableway is to receive a further upgrade, slated for completion in 2021.
Although seemingly exhibiting favouritism by aiding one resort over several others, there was not only a compelling case to do so but also a motivation by the ambiguous nature of the circumstances which brought about the cessation in operations above Bovec. Many of Slovenia’s struggling ski resorts are situated at far lower altitudes, and suffer from an ever-increasingly capricious meteorological climate. Snow can be plentiful, even overabundant, or as is now often the case – non-existent. With global warming the central plank to climate change, the chance of the sunny side of the Alps receiving “green” rather than white winters could see the end of many ski resorts, with even the likes of Maribor Pohorje, in the east of Slovenia, at times seeing the presence of snow as an exception, rather than the rule.
While climate change is visible from the highest ski areas down to the more altitudinal challenged, Kanin was a far better bet for a government bailout than elsewhere in Slovenia. It could also be argued that the reason(s) behind its closure have never been established, although a freak but to this day unmeasured gust of wind could have brought down the thankfully empty carriages. Money though ultimately talks, with a greater return for the country’s largesse benefiting the area’s bottom line that sees tourist euros(€) kept in Slovenia, rather than being lost to the Italian side of Kanin, at Sella Nevea.
Reports of a renewal of the already renewed cableway will undoubtedly come as a surprise to many, including this reporter. Without state assistance today’s rebooted version of the lift would not be operating, which begs the question how the reported €25-30 million will be sourced, and, will the government’s stimulus package be repaid? A mix of investors, not all necessarily local to Slovenia’s northwest, that could include the immediate area’s municipality, European Union(EU) and once more the state, will be needed to literally get the concept off the ground. There is though conflicting data suggesting that the EU doesn’t invest non-refundable monies in tourist-related projects, probably at the risk of accusations of corruption, favouritism and anti-competitive practice. It isn’t known if any caveats were included within the original deal with central government, or if it was a straightforward grant without any need for repayment, now or in the future, and only under certain circumstances. Nevertheless, surely questions should be asked how the proposed project can be realized when previously, the lift would have remained dormant without state intervention.
Perhaps with a knowing nod towards the likely, but still unsubstantiated reason behind the 2013 collapse, it has been insisted that any new design accepted for the project must be able to withstand the at times destructive nature of winds in Kanin’s locale. Without wishing to state the obvious this should be the bare minimum expected for any cableway, although a more modern, and quicker lift will be able to operate in most weathers – a luxury not afforded to Kanin’s current apparatus. At the time of writing, on the last day of the meteorological summer, the lift is not operating because of inclement weather.
As the unpredictability of the world’s weather precipitates changes in habits, farming practices, and perhaps even vacation plans, winter sports aficionados will increasingly have to seek higher terrain and eventually glacier resorts, for snow-sure adventures. It is only right that Kanin has a viable, modern, and fully-functioning cableway to assist Bovec and the surrounding area in its diverse, all year round tourist economy. From a personal point of view I hope, even as an obvious way to pay back loans arranged to finance the proposed lift modernization, that hikers will in the summer season be able to access Primorska’s highest trails seven days a week, in contrast to where at times it has only operated on certain days.
In an area that isn’t unfamiliar with earthquakes, a relative seismic shift from a dormant facility with a bleak future to the prospect of an entirely new lift for the zeitgeist, has occurred in a remarkably short space of time. In an area replete with alpine opportunities and mountain expertise, it is hoped that the lessons of the past, whatever they prove to be, that ultimately caused a cableway disaster that could have had deadly consequences, have been learned. As a cautionary note to the finer points of the scheme that detail the need for additional car parks and attendant facilities, I hope Slovenia remains unwavering in its commitment to the alpine environment, which continues to have an uneasy relationship with the sacrifices it makes for every new and updated cableway development.
Source material and further information:
Goriski Portal: http://go-portal.si/leta-2020-zacetek-gradnje-zicnice-na-kaninu-25-milijonov-evrov/
Primorske Novice: www.primorske.si/primorska/goriska/v-bovcu-nacrtujejo-novo-zicnico-na-kanin