Isenau Update 2022

The slopes at Les Diablerets above Les Mazots

The pre-eminent ski area in the Vaud Alps is the area that contains the runs above Villars, Gryon and Les Diablerets. The Les Diablerets section was much improved by the installation of a fast gondola in 2018, replacing the ricketty old chairlift up to Les Mazots. As well as enhancing the Le Meilleret ski area, it has made Les Diablerets something of a tobogganist’s paradise, providing access to a scenic 7km toboggan run. Les Mazots itself has a new cafe opposite the Les Mazots restaurant.

From Les Mazots you can easily see the cable car ascend up to the Glacier 3000 ski area on the Diablerets Glacier. However to get to the glacier you need to take the bus that runs from Les Diablerets to Gstaad and get off at the Col du Pillon stop.

It wasn’t always so. Until a few years ago there was a ski area in les Diablerets on the opposite side of the valley from Le Meilleret known as Isenau. Since 1953 it had been served by a wonderful little gondola, but the cost of maintenance proved too high and, without funding for a replacement, the ski area closed down a few years ago. As well as being a wonderful ski area, it also provided a ski connection to Col du Pillon and Glacier 3000. It was therefore possible to use a lift-served ski area that ran all the way from Villars-sur-Ollon to Reusch, near Gstaad.

Old Isenau Gondola

Ever since it closed there has been a campaign to build a new lift on the Isenau, but to date it has foundered on a number of issues, not least funding. However in December 2021, owners of the five lifts on the Isenau ski area, Télé Villars-Gryon-Diablerets SA, have transferred ownership to Diablerets-Isenau 360° Cooperative Society (SCOOP).

This takeover marks an important new step towards the rehabilitation of the area, after the acquisition by SCOOP of the buildings and land at the start and finish of the old gondola last November and the reopening of a refreshment bar at the summit of Isenau.

Plans are being developed to re-develop the lift system, but this a long-term project and the re-opening of Isenau as a ski area is still some years away. At least now it is looking like a concrete possibility.

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