The almost 80-year history of the chairlifts from Flims to Foppa and on to Naraus is coming to an end. On Sunday, 26 March 2023, guests and locals will be able to travel towards Naraus for the last time. In spring, the cable car will be dismantled so that construction work for the new FlemXpress gondola lift can proceed according to plan. With Daniel Conrad and Conrad Lerchi, we take a look back at the history of the chairlifts.
Kids walk past the LAAX School office in Flims full of anticipation. On their shoulders they carry skis that they will soon strap on. For them, the chairlift will take them from Flims in the direction of Foppa to Naraus. Meanwhile, Conrad Lerchi and Daniel Conrad sit down at the Caffè Flims. Conrad, better known as Conni, has been employed by the Weisse Arena Gruppe for 16 years. He works as a personnel planner for the mountain railways. Daniel Conrad, known as «Coruba», has been with the local ski school for over 40 years. The two of them know the chairlifts from Flims to Foppa to Naraus better than anyone else. They have spent quite a few rides on them.
A long era comes to an end
Now the almost 80-year history of the chairlifts is coming to an end. This also gives rise to some melancholy. «I learned to ski on this slope as a child, was in the Flims ski club there – I associate many childhood memories with it», says Coruba. At that time there were three slopes, «in winter we practically lived there», he elaborates. For example, he says, the people of Flims used to go skiing at higher altitudes in the direction of Nagens and La Siala only in spring, when the snow was not so good.
The chairlifts of Flims-Foppa-Naraus are not only close to the hearts of the two gentlemen, but to the entire population of Flims. «In the past, this chairlift was the lifeblood of Flims», says Conni. «It’s just also a summer lift, you can go biking and hiking», he elaborates. In Flims, summer remained the main season until the early 1970s, thanks to Lake Cauma and the Flimserwald. There was a Foppa Chilbi, a Naraus Chilbi – all attractions and memories shared by many. «Such occasions were very popular with guests but also with locals», says Conni.
Innovative FlemXpress replaces chairlifts
The chairlift from Flims Dorf to Foppa was built in 1945 by the then Bergbahnen Flims. It was the world’s first detachable chairlift. In 1947 the lift was extended by a second section to Naraus. In 1986 and 1989 the lifts were replaced. With the new FlemXpress, another pioneering project is being realised, continuing the history of innovation in chairlifts and giving way to nostalgia and anticipation. With the FlemXpress, the UNSESCO World Natural Heritage Tectonic Arena Sardona will be accessible from Flims via Foppa, Startgels to the Segneshütte and from there optionally to Nagens or Cassons. The FlemXpress is the world’s first gondola lift to operate according to the so-called Ropetaxi system. The gondolas run according to the individual passenger’s wishes: Before boarding, the destination can be selected by pressing a button. The selection before boarding enables an unimpeded journey without changing trains directly to the destination. «Something cool is coming with the FlemXpress and we are really looking forward to it», says Conni. The snow sports instructors are also looking forward to the new lift, says Coruba: «We are happy with the new solution. You can get on the gondola with all the ski school classes without any problems. In addition, there are a lot of new possibilities due to the accessibility».
Farewell party for the chairlifts on 26 March 2023
On Sunday, 26 March 2023, the chairlifts will run for the last time. They will be bid farewell at a party with locals, second-homers, guests and employees. Tickets for the chairlifts are free at the «Last Ride» event. The party is in the «Ustria Naraus». In the «Legna Bar» there will be an auction of the inventory, with chairs, pictures and other memorabilia. Conni already has an old armchair in the garden. Coruba, on the other hand, still has room for it: «I would also take a nice Foppa armchair as a souvenir of the good times», he says with a smile on his face.