Adventure park at the Croda Rossa
Rudl & the Rocky spirits
Rudolf, or “Rudl” as his friends and acquaintances call him, has been technical director of the 3 Zinnen Dolomites ski resort for many years. In his role he is responsible for all the resort’s cable cars and lifts, as well as around 200 employees. Originally a qualified restorer and craftsman, he has retained his great love for drawing and working with wood, despite his extensive duties. It’s this creativity that he taps when he designs nature parks such as Olperl’s nature park on Monte Elmo and the new Realm of the Gigante on Monte Baranci. Today, Rudl is once again sitting at his desk surrounded by sketches; he is working on a new project. You can see by the gleam in his bright blue eyes that the project he’s working on is very special indeed – it’s the new “Rocky Spirits” adventure park at Croda Rossa.
We asked Rudl a few questions to learn more about him and the new adventure park "Rocky Spirits" on the Croda Rossa.
As technical director you bear a lot of responsibility, which places considerable demands on you. Yet you always manage to find the necessary time and motivation to work on new parks. How do you do it?
As with everything else, there is never quite enough time for such projects of course. There’s so much more one could do. I simply try to do the best I can in the limited amount of time I have. I make use of any free minute to think about ways in which we can further develop our “summer ski resort” to remain an attractive destination. What motivates me time and again are the wonderful opportunities we have in this fantastic landscape to create attractions that are close to nature and that fascinate visitors. And by visitors I don’t just mean the tourists, I also mean the locals, for whom our parks offer an opportunity to spend time with their kids and enjoy the mountains. The parks are intended to entice people out into nature, so that they come to appreciate and love its beauty.
You’ve already designed and built Olperl’s Nature Park, the Realm of the Gigante and the Dwarf Village on Monte Baranci. But the “Rocky Spirits” park is a very special project for you. Why?
For me, every park is special. I put my heart and soul into each one of them. But yes, the new park is something of a pet project for me. The reason for this, I guess, is because this project is so rich in alpine history and adventure. At Croda Rossa, we are in the midst of the mountains and right up close to the rock faces. At each of the individual stations, there are mountain stories to tell – true stories, stories about us, because this is who we are. We were the first to climb the Dolomites, we’ve had to carry out different kinds of work in this challenging landscape and we have lived for many years with a fascination and respect for the mountains. Now, we can tell our visitors all about these things. There are so many stories, it’s impossible to tell them all.
If the park turns out the way I image it, I’m sure people will be enthralled.
“Rocky Spirits” is somewhat of an unusual title for an adventure park. How did you arrive at the name? What does is represent?
The park is essentially a fantastical adventure trail through the rocky landscape of Croda Rossa. Many of the old tales feature spirits and other suspect creatures – creatures that people were also a little afraid of. Of course we’re not setting out to scare people. But we do want the park to have something mystical about it. That’s why there’s no better name for it than “Rocky Spirits”.
You conceive the parks and the stories they tell. And then, what happens next? Who builds the parks in line with your ideas?
We have our own construction crew within 3 Zinnen AG. This creative group largely consists of the lads that you’ll meet at the various ski lifts during winter. We are really glad that we have such talented employees. This way it is much easier for us to realize the parks, instead of working with external firms. I tell them about it, give them my plans and drawings and they build it all in line with my intentions. And they also contribute their own ideas. For very specific things, we sometimes employ tradespeople, such as a blacksmith or wood carver. Everything else we do ourselves.
You have pretty much “always” worked for the 3 Zinnen Dolomites ski resort and have seen it all, from the basic basket lift through to the new premium gondola. Did you ever toy with the idea of doing something different?
Over the course of my many years of working I had the good fortune of being given increasingly interesting tasks. The challenges grew bigger and bigger and that’s exactly what motivated me to carry on and keep finding new solutions. After all these years, I have arrived at a point where I can say that I couldn’t have wished for a better professional life. Even though it wasn’t always easy – quite the opposite in fact. There are always highs and lows, but if you have an aim, if you can accept change and especially if you can embrace it, then it’s easier to negotiate those highs and lows. Nobody has all the skills ever required, but I try to make full use of the skills that I have in the best way possible. It’s great to have the opportunity to implement your own ideas and dreams. I would never have thought that this company, the 3 Zinnen AG, would get so far in this short time. Most of all, I’m inspired by the company’s courage to move forward and to create fantastic products for our sport and mountain destination. It’s wonderful to see that everyone is passionate about what we do and that together even seemingly hopeless situations can be overcome. If all this belonged to me, there isn’t a single thing I would do differently.