When it comes to our ski holidays, the one thing we all want to be sure of is that whenever we take our trip, there’s going to be good snow cover.
Surrounded by eighteen 4,000 m peaks, including the highest mountain entirely on Swiss soil (Dom 4,545 m), and with its ski lifts climbing among the highest in Europe as well as having a season that starts on 1 November then lasts to the end of April, it doesn’t get more snow-sure than Switzerland’s stunning Saas-Fee/Saastal holiday region.
For skiers and snowboarders there are 150 km of ski slopes located between 3,600 and 1,500 m asl, with blue, red, black and yellow slopes as well as funparks and challenging courses to provide even more fun on the slopes.
The extra good news is that besides a big ski area with a huge lift-served vertical, the Saas Valley also offers numerous experiences off the slopes as well. If you have non-skiers in your group, want to do something more besides sliding downhill, or even want a winter snow holiday without skiing or snowboarding at all, the Saas Valley has you covered.
Visit The Glacier with a Mountain Guide
It’s easy to reach the incredible mountain landscape of the Saas Valley’s glacier by taking a lift up to the Längfluh Mountain Station accompanied by a mountain guide. Wearing snowshoes and carrying ski poles, the guide will lead you on an incredible 4-5 hour tour across the Fee Glacier over untouched powder snow. You’ll wear a climbing harness and be roped to the guide as you pass huge ice formations and glacial crevasses to first reach the Panorama Place, then hike down to the Spielboden Station.
Besides the Fee Glacier tour, the guides also offer the Blue Ice 3000 hike up to the Hohsaas at 3,200 m, which offers one of the most beautiful viewpoints in the Alps. This is also the start of the Trift Glacier, home to more incredible ice formations. The tour, offered every Wednesday afternoon, takes about two-and-a-half hours and is suitable for families and groups, and again you’ll carry poles and wear snowshoes and a harness.
Winter hiking is a popular activity in the Saas Valley and there are 60 km of cleared and marked paths to enjoy. These range from gentle routes of just 30 minutes, or with only a metre of altitude gain, to longer, more strenuous routes of up to 14 km and with up to 875 m of vertical ascent. However, all are rated easy or moderate, with the longest expected to take about four hours. All mountain lifts in the Saas Valley are included with a winter hiking pass, which makes the hiking much more enjoyable!
Via Ferrata in Winter
Via Ferratas, marked climbing routes where you clip onto cables for extra safety, have become increasingly popular in summer across the Alps, but in the Saas Valley, you can enjoy this activity in winter too! The Winter Via Ferrata in Saas-Grund starts right at the edge of the village, with a rapid ascent, eventually climbing 150 vertical metres. You do need to be fairly fit and also to have ness and a head for heights, but you are accompanied by a mountain guide to ensure all goes smoothly. The experience takes about two hours and culminates with a thrilling abseil down about 40 m back to the valley floor.
Sunrise Skiing with Breakfast in the Highest Revolving Mountain Restaurant in the World
Sometimes it can be hard to get up early, especially if you’ve had a late night the previous evening enjoying great dining and perhaps a few drinks. But it’s well worth it if you are going to enjoy a mountain breakfast high on the mountain and be the first on the slopes, with the slopes prepared just for you! This opportunity is offered most Wednesday mornings from late December to early April. On the shorter days of mid-winter, you only needed to be boarding the Alpin Express lift at 7.15 a.m. to make it up for sunrise, but as the daylight hours get longer, it’s closer to 6 a.m. by the start of spring! You’ll be whisked up to 3,500 m for the sunrise and enjoy breakfast in the revolving restaurant Allalin before you are first onto the fresh snow.
Visit the Ice Cave Allalin
Also up at 3,500 m at the top of the Metro Alpin you’ll find the spectacular Ice Cave within the glacier itself. Visitors enter into a magical grotto carved within the 2,000-year-old ice where fairytales, myths and legends from the region are depicted in ice carvings and displays within the vast 5,500 m³ Ice Cave Allalin. The grotto has recently been enhanced by the addition of eight themed stations around the glacier.
Sledging During The Day Or Even At Night
The Saas Valley is home to three exceptional toboggan runs, some floodlight for fun in the evenings and the longest an incredible 11 km long. Each can be accessed using ski lifts and toboggans can be hired nearby. The Kreuzboden above Saas-Grund is the longest of them all, an amazing descent down to the village. As you glide down, you’re treated to fabulous views of the Mischabel massif and the Mattmark region. Slide down this run at night, it’s open to 9.45 p.m. on selected Wednesday evenings from late December to early March. A third, 3 km long, sledge run above Saas-Almagell leads down from Furggstalden and is open to 7 p.m. on Wednesdays.
Main Image © (c) Saastal Tourismus AG-Amarcster Media
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