Bond's top Swiss location out of reach

The Schilthorn cable railway has been closed since the end of December Keystone

One of the best-known peaks in the Swiss Alps will remain off limits until mid-March after the Schilthorn cable railway was damaged last week.

This content was published on January 5, 2005

The Schilthorn, which boasts a revolving restaurant on its summit, featured in the James Bond movie On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

Officials say the closure of the cable railway has so far had only a limited impact on tourism in the mountain resort of Mürren although it means that skiers cannot access the Schilthorn summit.

Mürren’s legendary Inferno ski race is still scheduled to go ahead later this month.

Peter Feuz, director of the Schilthornbahn company, said an investigation was under way into what had caused a cable to chip.

“Independent accident investigators are examining the cable. At this stage we assume it was a technical defect,“ Feuz told swissinfo.

The three kilometre-long cable, measuring 40mm in diameter, was damaged at the surface at one point, breaking a 6mm outer layer.

No danger

Experts have confirmed that there was no danger of the cable snapping, according to Feuz.

He added that it would take several weeks before a new cable could be installed and a regular service between Mürren and the Schilthorn resumed.

The incident has left engineers perplexed, since the railway was given a complete overhaul just a year ago.

“Safety experts tested the cable last April and gave us the go-ahead for the next three years,” Feuz said.

Piz Gloria

In the 1969 movie, the Schilthorn mountain – renamed Piz Gloria for the film – serves as the alpine headquarters of Bond’s archenemy, Ernst Blofeld.

The plot features a gripping ski chase and exciting final sequence in which the villain’s mountaintop clinic is blown up.

Last week cable railway services were suspended after a driver reported hearing a strange noise. More than 50 passengers had to be rescued from the gondola by helicopter and lifted to safety.

The authorities also ordered the temporary evacuation of several homes situated directly below the cable railway route.


The closure of the cable railway and the significantly reduced skiing have not led to a drop in holiday bookings at the Mürren ski resort, which is particularly popular with British tourists.

“We have had an excellent start to the winter season and the hotels had virtually no vacancies over the Christmas holidays,” said Peter Lehner of Mürren tourism.

He said they hadn’t had any last-minute cancellations as a result of the suspension of railway services.

But he said there were noticeably fewer skiers coming just for the day, although those who did come were benefiting from price reductions and perfect weather conditions.

“The Schilthorn is the key attraction in our region for skiers,” Lehner told swissinfo.

Alternative run

The incident at the cable railway has forced organisers of the oldest downhill ski race, the Inferno, to change the route.

The amateur competition is still scheduled for January 22 but the approximately 1,800 skiers will begin the race below the usual starting gate, missing out on some spectacularly steep and narrow sections.

Competitors will have to walk uphill for about 15 minutes before they can put on their skis and speed down the slopes.

The organisers say they will try their utmost to prepare a racetrack to the village of Lauterbrunnen at the bottom of the valley to make up for the shortened upper section.

swissinfo, Urs Geiser

In brief

The Schilthorn cable railway suspended services on December 29 after the surface of a cable was partially damaged.

It will take until the middle of March to repair the cable railway, which links the mountain resort of Mürren with the Schilthorn summit (2970m).

The mountain, also known as Piz Gloria, and its revolving restaurant were used as locations for the 1969 James Bond movie On Her Majesty’s Secret Service starring George Lazenby.

Piz Gloria is one of the major tourist attractions in the Bernese Oberland, along with the Jungfraujoch.

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