Fabulous weekend skiing in Laax (aka Flims)

3rd March 2020, by Chris Gill

The easterly sector of Laax, seen across the dividing valley

The easterly sector of Laax, seen across the dividing valley

I’m in the first few days of my third Swiss trip of this season, in the course of which editor Watts and I will visit every Swiss resort that matters, and a few that don’t.

We started in Laax, the resort formerly known as Flims, or Flims-Laax, or Flims in the summer and Laax in the winter, or (most recently) Flims Laax Falera. They’ve now settled on Laax – a name that works well on cable cars, as you can see.

Not much doubt about where you are

It’s a sunny area of two halves, split by a long valley running down to Flims. Flims has a gondola up to Plaun in the valley, while Laax has a choice of lifts up to the westerly sector dominated by the futuristic, much photographed lift station at Crap Sogn Gion (‘crap’ means rock or peak in the local dialect).

Our lodgings were are at the friendly, well run 3-star hotel des Alpes in Flims Waldhaus, a short trip by efficient ski bus from Flims, a longer one from Laax. (And we enjoyed an excellent dinner in its restaurant-pizzeria Il Forno on the evening of our arrival.)

On day one, last Saturday, we set out in pale sun and light snowfall to explore the westerly sector dominated by two long cable cars. The first, to Crap Sogn Gion, offers a testing red piste (64) of 1100m vertical back to Laax, which I enjoyed on the way to a mid-morning meeting in the valley – crisp but good snow all the way.

The Crap Sogn Gion lift station is distinctive, but …

Long descents are an outstanding feature of the area. In the afternoon we progressed across the valley in search of a light table-service lunch (we found it in a cute converted cow shed at Alp Nagens), and after exploration of the slopes thereabouts ended the day on red piste 18 to Flims.

The piste map suggested this might be a dreary, awkward forest path providing a way home but no fun, but in fact it’s an excellent piste that we would happily have skied again. From Nagens it’s 1000m vertical to Flims.

Chill zones are not hard to find

Saturday was a very satisfying day, rounded off with an excellent dinner at the funkily traditional Casa Veglia at the Laax lift base, but was eclipsed by Sunday, which dawned sunny after a modest snowfall overnight.

We worked our way across the easterly sector towards the Vorab glacier. This has some worthwhile red skiing, but more importantly accesses the famous Sattel black run (35), down a valley that is free of lifts except the one that gets you back up to the westerly ridge.

From the glacier at 3018m this run gives a vertical of 1100m, only about 100m of which is actually of black steepness. The rest is a glorious red, on Sunday equipped with a few inches of fresh on a groomed base; fabulous – by some margin our favourite run of the trip. Like much of the Laax area, it is also surrounded by huge areas of easy (and easily accessed) off-piste.

To avoid the Sunday crowds, we had lunch booked at Foppa, an out-of-the-way place which required a descent to Flims. Rather than take the aforementioned piste 14 again, we rode up to the high-point of the easterly sector, La Siala at 2810m, and took red piste 10. This is another great, rewarding descent adding up to a massive 1700m vertical, with snow ranging from fabulous on the upper parts through more routine conditions to wet and sticky at the very bottom.

The terrace is the more attractive option at Foppa

We wrapped up the day with two final red-run descents from high-points on the westerly ridge down to Plaun in the dividing valley. Again, rewarding, varied runs, although with unremarkable verticals (by local standards) of 600m and 700m.

I’ve majored here on the long red runs, but the area also has good areas of blue skiing and a good number of ungroomed ‘Freeride’ runs that sadly we didn’t have time to explore. They’ll be top of the agenda next time. The obviously impressive terrain parks we’ll leave to others.

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