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|Resort: Saas Fee
Our holiday: We're a thirtysomething couple who started ski-ing a few years ago, this was our 5th week of ski-ing lessons. We were on a package tour with Inghams.
Website : http://www.saas-fee.ch
Basics : Saas Fee is in the Valais region of Switzerland, it lies near the head of a valley branching off from the Rhone valley. Italy lies beyond the end of the valley and Zermatt is over the mountain. The coach transfer from Geneva took about three hours, the first two hours a relatively fast run along the shore of Lake Geneva and the final hour up the twisting Saas valley from Visp.
Lift system : The main gondolas out of the village Speilboden, Alpin Express and Plattjen seemed a bit prone to queuing in the mornings. We were departing with the main ski school and there were cases when the first lift was delayed for avalanche clearing. There was only one chairlift of the mountain, the remainder of lifts were draglifts. Including the Feechatz â€śmother of all t-barsâ€ť, which runs on the glacier.
The terrain : The nursery slopes close to the village are surprisingly pleasant. The remaining ski=ing divides into 3 broad areas. The area on the glacier, the area below the top of the Felskinn lift, and the area served by the Plattjen lift. We didnâ€™t visit this third area, which is a little divorced from the other two areas. Itâ€™s over a year since we were in Saas Fee, my memory is that there were a range of gentle blues with some steepish reds linking them, little in the way of exposed, scary ski=ing. I thought ski=ing on the glacier was fun, although there was little in the way of steep gradients. The red 4a run down from Morena can get a bit tricky around lunch time, when the ski schools are making the home run for a 1pm finish, compared to much of the rest of ski-ing it is moderately difficult (relatively steep and narrow in places)
The snow : The snow for our trip was great, there had been a bit of a famine before we arrived but around 25cm fell on our first day. Clearing the avalanche risk in the morning seemed to take a while.
Off-piste : Canâ€™t really help here, believe they are limited due to the glacier.
The resort : The village of Saas Fee is, without doubt, the most pleasant alpine resort Iâ€™ve been to. It is surrounded by 13 peaks over 4000m which do feel like they are bearing down on you sometimes. The village is littered with ancient barns, and there were ice sculptures at every turn for our visit. There is a bustling heart to the village and a hotel dating back to the early days of British tourism to the alps. The walk through the trees to Saas Almagell is very pleasant and so is the gondola to the top of Hannig and the walk back down (the Hannig lift serves a non-ski=ing area). We also visited the glacier â€śEispavillionâ€ť, exhibits varied between artistic, scientific and tat â€“ but definitely worth the modest entry fee.
Food : None of the on slope restaurants we visited particularly impressed me, they all felt like slightly run down transport cafes. The Bodmen, which is on the walk to Saas Almagell is quite pleasant. We didnâ€™t try the Gletscher-Grotte (part way down the 4b), which I hear is better than the others.
Accommodation : We stayed at the Hotel Bristol, very close to the bottom of the nursery slope lifts. Price not too bad, food pretty good, room fairly small â€“ but well appointed.
Costs: Food and drinks were eye-wateringly expensive, in fact Iâ€™ve blanked the experience of paying approaching ÂŁ10 for a plate of sausage and chips out of my mind Accommodation and ski gear werenâ€™t so noticeable over priced.
Conclusion: Saas Fee is definitely the prettiest and most characterful ski resort Iâ€™ve been to, the scenery is stunning. Iâ€™d definitely like to go again to catch a few of the runs I missed this trip but canâ€™t see myself coming back repeatedly.
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Ian Hopkinson - Contains extended scenes of peril - Me & Mrs H
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