The Hannig cable car legacy: love high above Saas-Fee

In Saas-Fee, renowned for its impressive four-thousand-metre peaks, a meaningful relationship developed between Christel and Beni. Their first meeting in the Hannig cable car not only heralded the dawn of their personal relationship, but also cemented their love for this special place. This story that highlights both their relationship and their bond with Saas-Fee, is deeply intertwined with the culture and tradition of the area.

It was the evening of the 28th March 1995, a Tuesday, when Beni decided to take part in one of the legendary Hannig-Evenings, organised by Paul Bumann and his team. The night air was filled with the warmth from the raclette, the aroma of meat cooking on hot stone and the sound of live music, inviting everyone to come and dance. After a convivial and thoroughly enjoyable evening, Beni decided against sledging back down to the valley, opting instead to take the last cable car of the evening. At 10pm, he entered the cable car in which Christel from Cologne sat along with Renate from Stuttgart and Engelbert from Lüdenscheid. Despite the coolness of the evening, a warm atmosphere soon kindled amongst them and a spark ignited between Christel and Beni. They decided spontaneously to see the rest of the evening out in the local Chämi-Stuba. What began as a chance meeting, soon progressed to a much more meaningful connection. The chemistry between them was undeniable and the evening ended with plans to meet up again soon. One weekend later, Beni indeed travelled to Cologne to meet up with Christel and they both began to seriously contemplate how their relationship could progress. By the way, Christel and Beni are still in touch with Renate and Engelbert, despite the fact that these two are no longer able to come to Saas-Fee.

The relationship that began in the cool mountain air of Saas-Fee, consolidated over the years thanks to regular visits. The distance between Zurich and Cologne meant that Christel and Beni’s love was seriously put to the test. The long-distance phase of their relationship lasted five years and nine months and was sometimes a real challenge. They alternated the six-hour train-ride between the two cities every other weekend. The constancy of their meetings, despite the logistical challenges it posed, strengthened their relationship immensely.

In 1999, Christel and Beni celebrated their wedding in Saas-Fee, the place where their love had first blossomed during a winter holiday. Saas-Fee provided the perfect backdrop for the ceremony, which took place in the Registrar, Mr Kalbermatten’s music room, attended by their closest friends and family members. The wedding breakfast was held in the Chämi-Stuba, accompanied by music from the unforgotten Joe. After the wedding, Christel and Beni’s long-distance relationship continued for 21 months until Christel moved to Switzerland at the end of December 2000 to be with Beni and embark on a new chapter in her life, deeply rooted in the memories of the place that was so crucial for their shared happiness.

Saas-Fee has a very special meaning for Christel and Beni – then it was here that it all began. For them, the place embodies pure emotion. Beni often jokes that he would never dare to suggest somewhere else to spend the winter holidays as it would doubtlessly lead to a serious argument with his wife! His first visit to Saas-Fee took place during the second-half of the 80s – January 1988 for the Ski World Cup to be exact. Christel on the other hand, first visited Saas-Fee towards the end of the 70s and still has a ski pass from 1979 as a memento.

The Hannig cable car, the starting point of which was the also the starting point of their love, plays a central role in Christel and Beni’s memories. The recently renovated cable car not only stands as a means of connection to Saas-Fee, but also for the emotional connection that binds the couple to this special place. Even though the legendary Hannig-Evenings now belong to the past, the journey to Hannig remains a key moment for reflection and remembering. Saas-Fee means more than just holiday to Christel and Beni. The place where they shared so many special moments has become a core element of their life together. This particularly manifests itself in the way they share this place with family and friends and encourage new visitors. The calm, relaxed atmosphere, the beautiful scenery and the chance to free oneself of the stress of everyday life, make Saas-Fee and the Hannig peak a unique haven.

Saas-Fee has undergone a remarkable transformation through the years along with its infrastructure and community life. It is especially important to highlight the memories of particular spots that hold a special meaning for Christel and Beni, such as the glacier descent from the Britannia Hut, which not only posed a sports challenge, but also the setting for social get-togethers like the annual Spring Aperitif on the Staffelwald wall. This event that always began at 2pm and carried on until sunset, remains a vivid memory. Today they enjoy the Forest Trail from Bodmen to Saas-Almagell, which offers peace and true natural beauty. Saas-Fees’ physical and social landscape had changed a lot. The modernisation of the Metro, the Alpin Express and the Feechatz lift, as well as the development of the snowmaking installations and the large parking garage have improved accessibility and the overall experience in Saas-Fee. Alongside the improvements in infrastructure, Saas-Fee also plays an important role in Christel and Beni’s lives outside of the holiday season. Meetings with many different kinds of people in Saas-Fee have resulted in firm friendships and enrich their lives, far beyond holiday boundaries.

Today, at over 70 years old, the way that Christel and Beni spend their winter holidays in Saas-Fee has changed. Their main aim is no longer two weeks of constant skiing, their bodies need a break now and then. Instead, they now value the quieter alternatives that Saas-Fee has to offer – in particular the Hannig cable car. This offers a welcome break from the hustle and bustle of the slopes. On sunny days, Hannig is the ideal place to take time out. Christel and Beni particularly value the Hannig cable car, which is situated well away from the hubbub and offers them a peaceful trip with spectacular views over the ski resort, the surrounding glaciers and four-thousand-metre peaks. The cable car is not only an ideal starting point for a ramble or mountain hike, it is also a popular spot for those who simply want to enjoy the sun. Thanks to the newest cable car investments and the restaurant on Hannig, Christel and Beni feel that they’re in good hands – this not only refers to the culinary delights on offer, but also the accessibility of this beautiful corner of Sass-Fee. They are thankful that such activities remain accessible and comfortable for older holidaymakers.

The upcoming reopening of the Hannig cable car brings new significance to Christel and Beni’s story. It shows how one special place can bring people together and shape their lives. Even after all the changes in Saas-Fee over the years, their love that began there in a cable car remains a clear example for the power of such chance meetings. Their experiences prove that one seemingly normal moment – a ride in a cable car – can have a profound effect on and enrich peoples’ lives.