Smooth piste skiing in Saas-Fee

10th February 2011, by Chris Gill

The Felskinn slopes on Thursday morning

The Felskinn slopes on Thursday morning

So, the day after leaving Zermatt, here we are in the mini-Zermatt over the hill, Saas-Fee. Like Zermatt, an old village with car-free streets and super-high slopes. Not so big, not so international, not so ostentatious. Lovely.

In my blog from Zermatt I speculated that the piste conditions here might be the best of the week. In fact, I would rate the two resorts exactly the same. The best pistes are pleasantly grippy, the worst a bit hard, requiring good edges and good edging for complete control. Not surprisingly, after seven weeks with no snow, the pistes in the four Valais areas we have visited are not the stuff of dreams; but they are in pretty damn good shape, really. I have had a superb week.

We started today by going right to the top – which here means the top of the underground funicular to Allalin at 3500m. After a quick tour of the world’s largest ice grotto (or pavilion, as they prefer to call it here) we were off carving down the smooth, easy red runs at the top of the area; then the slightly more challenging red from Egginerjoch, then a couple of descents at the heart of the slopes, on the Morenia chairlift. Then down to the base, on slightly harder snow, for the gondola up to Spielboden and the Längfluh sector. This is my favourite bit of the area – the Längfluh cable car serves a decent red that becomes an easy black; only 400m vertical, but very rewarding.

Sadly, we didn’t have time for laps here – it was time to head over to Saas-Fee’s second mountain, Plattjen. It’s easy to overlook this lower, smaller hill, but it offers challenging red/black gradients, a modern gondola and the best restaurant in the area, the Vernissage at Berghaus Plattjen. This mountain refuge is now run by the resort’s one five-star hotel, but they do it with a wonderfully light touch. The food and wine are superb, but the simplicity of the place is retained – as is the fabulous view. Marvellous.

A couple more runs down Plattjen, and it was time for a wander around the streets of the village before knuckling down to this blog. That’s our seven days skiing in Valais completed. If you are in doubt about coming out here because of the lack of recent snowfall, relax. Aim high, and prepare to enjoy.

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