- Highest Point: 3018m
- Descent: 2000m
- No. lifts: 28
- Lift Pass: 1 Day - €65CHF / 6 Days - €325CHF
Laax baby! Anyone with any vague interest in freestyle has heard of the place. For years the Burton European Open, now the Laax Open, has been held here while many national events like the British Champs also call it home. It’s easy to see why they pick it: with 235km of pistes, 43km of freeride routes, four terrain parks, one mother of a superpipe and a season that starts in November up on the glacier, there is plenty to keep you coming back.
Laax and Flims are the two villages which share the same incredible slopes, located a short distance from the town of Chur in Graubünden. Both are worthy places to stay but it is Laax that tends to get all the headlines over the more chilled Flims. Fair warning: this is Switzerland, so get ready to raise an eyebrow or two over the prices.
The Parks - 5/5
Without question the best destination for freestylers to head to in Switzerland, maybe even Europe. Laax has four parks, a mini pipe and a superpipe all located around the Crap Sogn Gion which adds up to about 80 individual features. All of this is overseen by the Cafe No Name, which acts as a hub and chillout space for riders.
With beginner, medium and pro kicker lines, the upper parks offer a huge and varied playground for each level. There's a good selection of easy hits, plenty of entry-level rails and boxes and now a permanent airbag to try your inverts on, as well as a boardercross park to satisfy you and your mates' competitive streak.
Right below the summit restaurant on Crap Sogn Gion is the 'No Name' park, which is dominated by the legendary Laax Superpipe - an intimidating, 200m-long, 6.9m high behemoth that gives some of the pro's jitters, never mind Joe Public. They tend to stuff this earth-shaped beauty full of the last remaining snow at the end of the season, so they can get it up and running almost as soon as the resort opens.
"P60 is a dedicated freestyle piste, with 30 or so obstacles and kickers dotted along it's 1km length"
Continuing down from the No Name park, P60 (the Crap Sogn Gion-Curnius piste) is a dedicated freestyle piste, with 30 or so obstacles and kickers dotted along it's 1km length, though this extends throughout the season and has features changes almost daily!
As if all this wasn't enough, Laax also offers Europe's first indoor freestyle academy down in town, which includes a snowflex jump into an airbag, a skatepark, and trampolines for practising inverts. Perfect for those bad weather days or evenings, although be aware that an initial introductory course is mandatory.
The Powder - 4/5
Nicolas Müller calls Laax his home, which is a good indicator that the place offers something pretty special when it comes to freeriding! There are 43km of dedicated safe freeride routes marked in yellow on the piste map, which are always the first to go on a powder day. In fact, if it's first tracks of any description you’re after then you’ll need to be up and on it, the place can get pretty tracked out fast. It's worth noting that a lot of Laax off-piste terrain is over a super rocky base, so tread with caution at low tide or you could well find yourself snagging a shark and getting well and truly broken.
The section down from La Siala summit is a good starter and can be tackled by most intermediates. It is an established freeride route down, but it’s easy to work out a good line from the chairlift as you head up. The Vorab Glacier provides access to the Sattel which has some fun lines in, but this area can slide, and there’s two large hidden cliff faces past the restaurant so go careful. The Vorab Pign has some good freeride routes and the top of the Crap Masegn has a few easy hikes that should get you a few clean lines. The Cassons area in Flims is pure off-piste but it is rare that the resort can be bothered to run the cable-car up there. However, below that the area from Naraus to Foppa is great after a good dump for beginner and intermediate freeriders.
The Pistes - 3/5
The resort has an excellent range of pistes, from the high altitude open runs at Nagens to the twisting trails which run through the trees back to Laax and Flims.
Hardpack lovers who want things steep should try the black 'Home Run' down from the Crap Sogn Gion, which is genuinely sheer in places and will certainly put a smile on your face. For some serious mileage, work your way up to the Vorab Glacier and wind all the way down into Flims - a decent of nearly two vertical kilometers that can take you from dry powder to full on slush. Entry-level riders should head to the beginner area, which includes four blue pistes and a rope lift for complete newbies in between.
How To Get There
Laax has an easy rail link with Zurich Airport - the train to Chur connects seamlessly with the bus that goes straight to Laax.
The Parties - 3/5
If you thought the lift passes were expensive, just wait until you see the price of a pint - eye watering! The Rocks Resort is where it's at in Laax - architecturally striking, it consists of numerous identical square buildings made from local stone. The lower floors house the various bars, restaurants and shops, and the rest taken up by lavish apartments available for rent. The Indy Bar is the hub for après beers and then gets going again in the late evening for what can be a pretty racous affair. The now slightly overshadowed Riders Palace is still banging though, and has a bar that opens until 4am and a club downstairs opens for events.
"If you thought the lift passes were expensive, just wait until you see the price of a pint"
Not to be outdone, Flims has the Living Room, which is behind the 'Kiosk' on the main street. It’s the bar of choice if you’re after a chilled out evening. It’s also worth checking out Europe’s highest brewery Surselva Bräu in Flims-Waldhaus. The main club is The Arena which is opposite the lifts on the main road.