When it comes to awe-inspiring, spectacular Alpine scenery, Switzerland is impossible to beat, and for the highest mountains of them all, it has to be the Valais region, home of the stunning Saas-Fee/Saastal.
This region draws mountain and snow lovers from around the world each winter, is surrounded by 18 four thousand metre peaks.
Snow sure Ski area
As well as providing an amazing backdrop to your Swiss winter holiday, these high mountains offer snow-sure skiing with slopes from 1,500 metres altitude right up to glacier runs at 3,600 metres.
This is such a snow sure ski area in fact that it’s one of just a handful open in July till October for summer skiing, attracting racers like Dave Ryding for summer training, alongside anyone who just wants to get a summer, then autumn, snow fix. and Saas-Fee then stays open for one of the world’s longest ski seasons, extending for more than eight months through to next spring.
So, unlike 99.9% of ski areas in the northern hemisphere, it should be open today!
The Villages of Saas-Fee/Saastal
The holiday region is home to four villages of various sizes, Saas-Almagell, Saas-Balen, Saas-Grund and of course, the internationally famous and car-free Saas-Fee, located beneath Switzerland’s highest mountain entirely on Swiss soil, the Dom (4,545 m). With the guest card (SaastalCard), the bus in the holiday regionis included at no extra cost from the first overnight stay. So no matter which of the four villages you stay in, you can get to know all the ski areas comfortably. The SaastalCard also brings a wide range of other discounts across the region.
Despite its fame and popularity, the village of Saas-Fee has managed to keep true to its roots and not become overdeveloped, something which just adds to its appeal as the years go by. Cars have always been banned here, and you’ll find yourself wandering along cobbled lanes between centuries-old wooden buildings laden with snow, creating a truly magical, enticing winter holiday location.
The only vehicles allowed are small electric cars, which can only be operated by the village’s larger hotels and businesses so they are themselves limited in number.
XL Skiing and Boarding
Saas-Fee/Saastal has a ski area with over 150 km of slopes, perfectly suited to everyone from complete beginners to experts, and a world-class 1,800 metres of skiable vertical up to some of Europe’s highest lifts-served ski slopes.
Most of the skiing here can be talked by confident intermediates, with red and blue runs right across the ski area making up around 80% of the main ski area.
These include the gentle reds up high on the Allalin glacier and more challenging variants descending from Spielboden or Plattjen. One of the nest descents down from the highest lift at Mittelallalin over 1,800 vertical metres of descent to the village is a “must ski”.
Besides the groomed black runs for advanced skiers Saas-Fee has a further 5km of off-piste itinerary routes – not groomed but patrolled and kept avalanche-safe. Some of these offer tree skiing on their lower sections. The steepest terrain groomed terrain is in the Felskinn and Spielboden sector. You’ll find steep runs like the ever popular Galen piste and lots of variety too, including challenging mogul trails.
At the other extreme, for beginners and children there are excellent gentle nursery slopes right next to the village in Saas-Fee. There’s an easy to use conveyor lift as well as a ski carousel for the kids. Thanks to the snow sure altitude means the beginner area is just a short walk from your accommodation, without the need for a ski bus or to master lifts to get up to the kids area.
Kian’s adventure land in the Furggstalden ski area above Saas-Almagell, home of the dragon Kian, is a big attraction for families with younger children. They’ll discover a tepee, an igloo with family movies, a free snowtubing track for the whole family and children’s snowmobiles suitable for kids aged six or older. For the very youngest ones there’s even a playround and carousel.
Once you’ve mastered basic technique you can progress to the gentle blue runs around Morenia or try the quiet slopes of Saas-Almagell or the famously sunny slopes of Saas-Grund.
The skiing area offers best conditions from December to mid-April. At this time there is a lot of sunshine and the best prepared slopes. The highlight in Saas-Grund is the fun slope for young and old.
Saas-Fee/Saastal has a strong reputation for freestyle skiers and boarders, with a good mix of fast aerial lifts and few flats to slow boarders down. The worldclass Morenia snowpark has a great selection of boxes, jumps and rails. These include different lines for different abilities, but there’s also a separate beginner-only park with gentle features in the beginner’s area. Apart from the snowsure glacier and the reassurance you get from the high-altitude terrain available.
The British Connection
The valley has a long association with the Brits; the first tourists came from England and built the Anglican Church in Saas-Fee (now known as the Evangelical Church). Sass-Fee is also where Wham! shot their Last Christmas video almost four decades ago. So, you are seeing Saas-Fee nearly 40 years ago on the TV each December, fortunately, it hasn’t changed much since! You can even take a themed walk around the buildings and cable car in the video when you visit.
You can also enjoy the Aqua Allalin, which has a spacious indoor pool and a relaxing wellness area. Saas-Fee also has a fun and lively apres-ski scene that you can join after a day of skiing. Of course, there are superb dining options, with about 100 restaurants in the whole holiday region to choose from, many offering traditional Valais cuisine up to the gourmet level.
Besides Skiing and Boarding
Although famous for its snow-sure skiing, many other activities are offered in the same spectacular mountains where the perfectly groomed slopes snake down. You could take a tour over the glacier, do a via Ferrata in winter, sign up for snowshoeing, explore 26 km of cross-country trails in the valley, go winter hiking in your snow boots with a 60 km network of paths, try some sunrise skiing and much more. In Saas-Grund, there’s even an amazing 11 km toboggan run to enjoy.
Book your winter getaway now via saas-fee.ch
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