Five helicopters had to be put into service to airlift more than 300 passengers to Mürren from the middle station of Birg after they became stranded.
The Schilthorn aerial cableway links Stechelberg and Mürren in the Bernese Oberland with the Schilthorn summit at Piz Gloria that offers spectacular views over the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau peaks.
Piz Gloria, with its revolving restaurant, was used as a location in the 1969 spy film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
The breakdown happened at around 11am as a cable car cabin had come to a halt in the station of Birg at 2,677 metres.
By mid-afternoon all 295 passengers and 18 staff had been evacuated.
An Air Glaciers team arrived at the spot 10 minutes after being alerted.
“We have never had to fly out so many people at once. Indians, Chinese, Japanese, old and young, we got them all safely to Mürren,” Michael Jaun of Air Glaciers told the Blick newspaper.
For many, it was their first time in a helicopter and some were scared, Christoph Egger, director of the Schilthorn Cableway told Blick. But no one refused to board the helicopter.
Egger said that because the technical problem could not be fixed straight away, and a storm was brewing, it had been decided to evacuate the passengers.
Walking back down to Mürren would have taken up to two hours, and this was not considered feasible for elderly people, he said.
The Schilthorn Cableway said it hoped to resume the cable car service on Friday.