The Swiss Abyss
The World's Longest Pedestrian Suspension Bridge Is Literally Breathtaking
“People who have problems with a fear of heights, they have to close their eyes.”
—Edith Zweifel, spokesperson, Zermatt Tourism
PHOTO BY GFC COLLECTION/ALAMY STOCK
Look out below. Hanging precariously over the Swiss Alps, the world's longest pedestrian suspension bridge opened in July—and it took only 10 weeks to build. The Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge, named after the project's biggest sponsor, spans the Zermatt Valley in southern Switzerland, running 494 meters (1,621 feet) long and 85 meters (279 feet) high. The path cuts travel time between two alpine towns from four hours to just 10 minutes.
Bridge and railway construction company Swissrope/Lauber Seilbahnen AG built the replacement bridge higher to avoid falling boulders, which wiped out the previous bridge linking the two towns. With the region's inclement weather looming on the horizon, the team had to stick exactly to schedule.
“All material had to be delivered just on time,” says Swissrope owner and engineer Theo Lauber, Frutigen, Switzerland. Given the remote area's lack of road access, all materials were shipped in via helicopter.
To ease any users’ safety concerns, Mr. Lauber says he added extra tension on the cables to create less movement for pedestrians. Still, adventure seekers take note: The bridge's deck is see-through—and just 64 centimeters (25.2 inches) wide.
The Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge
DON'T LOOK DOWN
The bridge deck is transparent