- Highest Point: 3600m
- Descent: 1800m
- No. lifts: 22
- Lift Pass: 1 Day - 72CHF / 6 Days - 365CHF (winter) or 404CHF (summer)
Saas-Fee is a gorgeous old village set in a stunning location in southern Switzerland. With its high altitude glacier, the resort offers riding nearly all year round. Rising from 1800m to 3500m, Saas Fee is usually very snow-sure, with top to bottom riding available well into April. It’s only ten miles from Zermatt as the crow flies, and the villages do share a lot in common. As well as their general look and setting, both are car free. There are giant multi-story car parks on the edge of the village, so you either have to walk with your kit to your hotel, or jump on one of the many electric taxis that creep up behind you without warning!
The first large settlements in the area were created during Roman times, and the valley started becoming a tourist destination as early as the nineteenth century. Many of the old buildings still exist, along with quite a few grim-looking apartment blocks. Don’t be put off though – for a relatively small village there is quite a lot going on.
The Parks - 4/5
The main terrain park is located in the Morenia area at a height of 2600m, so having enough snow to build features is rarely a problem. It tends to have two separate kicker lines, a rail line, a quarter-pipe and a few other jib features. The pro kicker line features some 18m kickers, and they host various competitions during the winter.
Alongside all of this is a well-shaped halfpipe, and they have a full-time team to keep everything maintained. There is a small beginners’ park located in the Stafelwald area on the edge of the village, which usually has three lines of increasingly larger features. In the summer the park up on the glacier opens and they don’t cut corners here either - the perfect halfpipe is even larger than the one they build in winter and is accompanied by about fifteen other features including a few mighty wedges.
Pre-season is arguably the 'parkiest' time of year, where The Stomping Grounds crew takes over the shaping duties and crafts one of the sickest pro parks going. This year there's a long rail garden with a gentle incline that turns right into either a mini pipe, more rail features or the monster summer halfpipe, with the former opening up to an insane set of two Olympic sized booters. This is where most of the international elite choose to spend chunks of the autumn, so don't be surprised if you see the likes of Danny Davis, Sven Thorgren and Halldor cruising these jumps as you hit the more reasonable sized ones nearby.
"The summer halfpipe is even larger than the one they build in winter, and is accompanied by about fifteen other features including a few mighty pro-sized wedges"
The Powder - 2/5
Saas-Fee is not a resort to be messed with, and because of the crevasse danger you're generally limited to the lower part of the mountain if you don’t want your day to end in abrupt tragedy. If you really want to explore the glacier then a guide is an absolute must.
Once up, the runs off the Allalin drag lifts will sort the men from the boys, with some good freeriding to be had and some fast steep sections to try out. If you like trees then you’ll find some suitable areas off the Platjen gondola.
The Pistes - 3/5
With 100km of pistes, Saas-Fee isn’t exactly the largest area in the world, but there are some good, long, leg-burner runs that can take you down from 3500m back to the village.
While there are not that many black pistes, some of the intermediate trails can be testing in places, and there is enough here to keep most happy for a week. Beginners are well catered for with plenty of novice runs, but some of the blue pistes have long flat sections that may catch you out. Drag lifts are also hard to avoid, especially up on the glacier.
The lower pistes have a bit of a reputation for rocks and worn patches, so take care when you first head out. If you get bored you can always head to nearby Saas- Grund. It only has 34km of intermediate pistes but with two gondolas taking you from 1500m up to 3200m it has a decent amount of vertical, and the lift pass is much cheaper. There is another area, Saas-Almagell but it’s not up to much.
How To Get There
Saas-Fee has easy rail links to both Geneva and Zurich Airports.
The Parties - 2/5
Saas-Fee isn’t the largest (or cheapest) alpine village in the world, but there are quite a few decent hangouts, especially for après. Nesti’s Ski Bar, Black Bull, the Skihütte in the Hotel Burgener, and the Alpen Pub are all worth a visit.
"Should you wish to party into the early hours, watch out for the ‘hush police'"
Local snowboarders have for years headed to the Popcorn Bar & Snowboard Shop in the centre of the village. During the day you can grab a beer and sit outside, and inside you can check out the latest snowboard gear. In the evening all the swag gets packed away and the shop becomes the coolest bar in the village.
There is an underground nightclub called Poison, should you wish to party into the early hours. Leaving the bars, watch out for the ‘hush police’ – if you make too much noise after 10pm then you could face a sobering fine.