Right in time for the 2017 hiking season, the new 142 meter long bridge traverses the Gurgler Ferner in Obergurgl-Hochgurgl. Therefore walkers enjoy a safe and easy crossing of the huge glacier ravine. The bridge is named after the Piccard Family, a renowned dynasty of explorers and adventurers.
The suspension bridge over the ravine of Gurgler Ferner glacier is not another tourist attraction but a necessary construction as the already existing alternative was built on the valley floor where safety was not guaranteed anymore due to a high risk of falling rocks. Additionally, the bridge was destroyed several times by floods. In the 2016 summer the new project started at 2465 meters above sea level, and was finished only 8 weeks later in autumn.
The end of a temporary solution
"The one and only permanent solution of this problem was to build a completely new bridge over the entire valley. Especially for hikers the bridge is of utmost importance, and I hope that many walkers will also use it," states Franz Reich from Obergurgl. Due to the continuous glacier recession the situation changes quickly by increasing also the risks. "Our guests must have the chance to enjoy a safe tour," explains Reich, pointing out the importance of this project and its investment amount. Also Georg Gufler, hut tenant of Langtalereckhütte, is convinced about the new suspension bridge: "Normal hikers couldn't cross the valley basin anymore. Many walkers avoid glacier crossings on high Alpine loop tours, therefore all neighboring mountain huts are happy about the project which also prevents that the number of guests decreases."
A symbol deeply rooted in history
A new name for the bridge was found very quickly - in honor of the world-famous Piccard Family, renowned for their high-altitude flights and adventures. In May 1931, the stratosphere expert Auguste Piccard was forced to make a spectacular emergency landing at Gurgler Ferner Glacier, very close to today's new suspension bridge. The little mountain village became famous almost overnight thanks to international media reports. In January 2017 his grandson Auguste Piccard followed the tracks of his grandfather and visited Obergurgl-Hochgurgl for the first time.
A joint project
The total costs of the bridge, already built by the official Obergurgl-Hochgurgl committee, amount to Euro 411,000.00. Further development funds were provided by official partners - namely Land Tirol, Ötztal Tourismus and German Alpine Club.
Closed in winter
The construction workers of Ötztal Tourismus rebuilt the hiking trail on both sides of the suspension bridge to assure a safe access route. Furthermore, all technical features and conditions are checked by the maintenance team every year. As avalanches are coming down from the Ramol slopes in winter, the hiking trail will be covered on a length of about 30 meters. Therefore the bridge is not accessible from October to the start of the summer hiking season.
Piccard bridge at Gurgler Ferner glacier
Sea level: west 2490 m, east 2470 m, valley 2380 m
Length: 142 m
Height: 100 m above the ground
Width of walkway: 0.7 m
Building construction: steel
The new suspension bridge is accessible for hikers from early July to late September.