The journey across the Zermatt Valley has been cut from four hours to 10 minutes.
Acrophobics, consider closing this tab before reading any further; thrill-seekers, adrenaline junkies, and lovers of heights, this one’s for you. According to the Zermatt, Switzerland tourism office, the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in the world opened this weekend.
The Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge, constructed by SWISSROPE in just 10 weeks, spans the Zermatt Valley in the Swiss Alps and is a whopping 1,621 feet long. The bridge, which takes 10 minutes to cross, is part of the Europaweg trail and reaches heights of 7,218 feet above sea level, according to a press release from Zermatt Tourism. Not to mention, hikers on the suspension bridge will have to walk up an incline of 279 feet to reach the other side.
The release notes that alpine hikers with a fear of heights should consider avoiding the record-setting bridge because through the structure’s lower grates, as “it is possible to look into the precipice below one’s feet.” Those who dare to keep their eyes open, however, will see the Matterhorn looming ahead as they walk toward Zermatt from Grächen, while those passing in the opposite direction will have an unbeatable view of the Bernese Alps that surround the “deepest-cut valley in Switzerland.”
The pedestrian suspension bridge was named for its primary sponsor, psychologist and winery co-owner Charles Kuonen, and cuts travel time across the Zermatt Valley by nearly four hours, according to CNN. At the bridge’s official opening on Saturday, July 29, Daniel Luggen, director of Zermatt Tourism, could barely contain his excitement, CNN reports. “How often do you get the chance to cross a real-world record suspension bridge?” he said. “The thrill experienced high over the precipice is indescribable.”
As for those heights-averse alpine travelers who bravely want to take advantage of the newly constructed shortcut across the Zermatt Valley, Zermatt Tourism spokesperson Edith Zweifel recommended on Saturday that “people who have problems with a fear of heights, they have to close their eyes, or have someone to walk just behind,” according to CNN.
Though the new structure is the longest suspension bridge in the world, it’s by no means the first gravity-defying, heart-stopping pedestrian overpass to be constructed among one of the world’s most majestic mountain ranges. The Aiguille du Midi Bridge in the French Alps is a whopping 12,500 feet above sea level and features an adjoining glass skywalk called “Step Into the Void.” And if that’s not high enough for you, the Titlis Cliff Walk along the alpine Mount Titlis in Engelberg, Switzerland, is the highest elevation suspension bridge in Europe, clocking in at 10,000 feet above sea level and allowing travelers along its 328-foot span to peer into “the abyss of the south wall,” according to CNN. All are valid options if skiing the Alps just isn’t enough to satisfy your adrenaline cravings.
Conde Nast Traveler | July 2017