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Grey slopes, snowfields, remnants of a glacier. This is the southern flank of the Zugspitze. At an altitude of 2,650 metres, in the summit region of Germany's highest mountain, part of the steep rock face is currently being scaffolded. The 28-metre-long protective and working scaffolding stretches over the almost vertical rock face in two levels. The first section spans a rock section five metres high, the second leads up another six metres.
The scaffolding erected by XERVON at the beginning of August enables the rock face to be restored. It is to be secured against falling rocks with shotcrete, as the Schneefernerhaus, an environmental research station for high-altitude and climate research, is located directly below the steep slope. The location of the scaffolding was as unusual as its realisation. After all, the Zugspitze is largely accessible to tourists, but as a high alpine region, it is not easily accessible. Therefore, special tasks had to be solved in the preliminary planning - not only with regard to the scaffolding construction, but above all with regard to the material preparation and logistics.
Coordinated with the loading limit of the Zugspitzbahn, each individual part of the 9.5 tonne scaffolding was brought up by rack railway. For the stretch from the glacier railway station to the research station, the scaffolding specialists reloaded the material onto handcarts. It was then transported by hand to a roof of the station where the stair tower set up by XERVON led to the actual site of the operation. The XERVON team itself arrived on the mountain by cable car and spent the night at the research station. A daily ascent and descent would have been too time-consuming.
In principle, the scaffolders would have had a spectacular panoramic view of several hundred Alpine peaks at the top of the mountain. However, during the erection, all the pitfalls of the alpine weather became apparent. The rock face to be scaffolded was often surrounded by thick clouds. In addition to this, the thermometer dropped to minus temperatures, snow began to fall and strong winds meant that work had to be interrupted time and again for safety reasons. Nevertheless, XERVON only needed three days to complete the scaffolding on the Zugspitze as planned.
The alpine location was something special. Ultimately, in our profession, every project is unique. And success always comes from a coherent concept, well thought-out planning and precise implementation.
Scaffolding in the high mountains is rare but not unusual. A few years ago, XERVON scaffolded the Wendelstein church Patrona Bavariae at an altitude of 1,760 metres. Further information and a video show the special challenges of the Wendelstein project: