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Saas Fee

by Adam Attew
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FACTS

AREA: Saastal  includes Saas Fee, Saas-Almagell, Saas-Grund & Saas-Balen

SEASON START & END: Early November – Late April

SKI ALTITUDE IN METRES:  Saas-Fee 1800-3600m / Vertical Drop 1800m  // Saas-Grund 1559-3200 / Vertical Drop 1641m // Saas-Almagell 1672-2400m / Vertical Drop 728m

PISTES: Saastal total 150km

Saas-Fee 105km ( 20km  Blue / 60km Red / 20km Black / Additional Ski routes 5km) /  20% Beginner / 60% Intermediate / 20% Expert

Saas-Grund (Saas-Balen) 34.5km ( 12km Blue / 21.3km Red / 1.2km Black ) / 35% Beginner / 62% Intermediate / 3% Expert 

Saas-Almagell 12km ( 4km Blue / 8km Red / 0km Black ) / 33% Beginner / 67% Intermediate / 0% Expert

LIFTS: Total 37 // Saas-Fee 23: (Cable cars 1 / Gondola 7 (+1 Hannig Hiking/sledding Area)  / Chair lift 2 / Drag Lifts 12) // Saas-Grund 7 :(Cable cars 0 / Gondola 2  / Chair lift 0 / Drag Lifts 5) // Saas-Almagell  7 : Cable cars 0 / Gondola 0  / Chair lift 2 / Drag Lifts 5)

SNOW: Saas-Fee: 95 snow cannons 

LIFT TICKET 2021/22 Ski Pass: Saas-Fee + Saas-Almagell Adult Local Resort: 75 CHF – 1 day / 369 CHF – 6 days // Saas-Grund Adult Local Resort: 59 CHF – 1 day / 271 CHF- 6 days // Destination Pass Adult Local Resort: 148 CHF – 2 days / 383 CHF- 6 days

Magic PassMagic Pass gives you free and unlimited access to the cable cars in 40 ski resorts in winter and 21 destinations in summer. Saas-Fee and Saas-Almagell are included in the Magic Pass for the summer season (except summer skiing and Metro Alpin) and winter season. 

CROSS COUNTRY SKIING:  26km of trails

LANGUAGE: Swiss German, German, French

AIRPORT: Bern 120km / Zurich 246 /  Geneva 226km  /  Basel 228km / Milan 186km

TRAIN: Nearest station is Visp 27 km  / From the international airports of Zurich, Geneva, Basel Euro Airport, Milan (all 3 hours away) /  Amsterdam & Frankfurt have train connections to Visp. From Visp you can take the PostBus (Bus 511 – direction Saas-Fee) every half hour directly to Saas-Fee/Saas Valley

FACTSThe area is surrounded by 18 four-thousand-metre peaks! Saas-Fee is located at the base of the Dom, the tallest mountain in Switzerland / Cars are not allowed in the village / The Saas-Fee glacier is home to one of Europe’s rare summer ski areas.

Adam Attew Saas Fee

TOWN

Saas Fee is quite unusual considering it has never allowed cars in the village, which means the streets are often narrow due to the village being originally built for pedestrians and horses with carts; this makes for idyllic streets with its old Valaisian buildings and winding cobbled lanes. The village is always framed by the giant Mischabel mountains which appear to loom over the village; there are 13 peaks above 4,000 metres with Dom, the highest complete peak (not shared with another country) inside Switzerland at 4545 metres and the third highest in the Alps. The name ‘the Pearl of the Alps’ has been given to Saas Fee because of these 18 surrounding peaks, like an Oyster shell. This means that the views from any hotel or chalet are spectacular. Among these peaks are many glaciers, which seem to hang off the surrounding mountains making the scene even more spectacular. The history goes back to at least the Romans, with Saas possibly coming from the word High and Fee relating to Vee meaning cattle; for hundreds of years the area was used for summer grounds for the cattle. The Celts, Romans and Franks feature in the area’s history, however an interesting footnote is that the Saracens invaded the Valais in 939, and the local king brought them on board to protect the mountain passes, they settled in what is now Almagell just below Saas Fee and local names such as Monte Moro, Almagell, Allalin and Mischabel may come from the Arabic! As well as place names they say the Saracens left the shape of their noses in the DNA of the local people… As in Warth in Austria, a priest by the name of Johann Josef Imseng was the first person to ski in Switzerland in 1849, he is honoured to this day by a statue in Saas Fee.

SKIING

Saas Fee is a high resort at 1800 metres and as a result it is very snow sure. The pistes up at the top  at 3600 metres are mostly on glaciers, and we all love skiing on glaciers with their perfect snow, big wide pistes and ideal slope angles; this is where you want to come to perfect your turns and in fact many do throughout the year, especially in Summer. In Summer the Freestyle park Allalingletscher opens up for training and winter continues on as summer is in full swing below and in October the best Freestyle athletes of the world can be found training here at what they call the Stomping Grounds. The higher pistes are really best for intermediate and upwards skiers, and they will certainly enjoy the area, skiing amongst the glaciers. We found the Plattjen lift and the pistes here were pretty quiet if you want to get away from the crowds. Just 5 minutes away by car Saas Grund offers a completely different experience with its mostly south west facing pistes, it receives a lot of sun which makes for some idyllic conditions but the snow can get a little soft lower down at the end of the day. One gets some great views across the valley of the surrounding mountains and Saas Fee. Saas-Almagell next door to Saas Grund is a smaller skiing area with tree skiing and various blue and red pistes. Sadly the  local glaciers are retreating noticeably due to climate change, so how ever you get here make it as carbon neutral as possible. 

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BEGINNERS –
Saas Fee has the perfect beginner Pistes down in the village on the three blue pistes called Stafelwald, wide open and with a great pitch as if designed for the purpose of learning to ski. From here the next step is tricky as most of the blues up the mountain start or finish with red pistes.

INTERMEDIATE –
The whole resort is your oyster, with the village as the pearl! Reds galore, with wide open pistes for carving to steeper pistes to practice your short turns. As I mentioned before, the high glacial pistes are made for perfecting your skiing. Also, make sure you head over to Saas Grund to explore the sunny side of Saas Fee with its long high red pistes and fun tree run back to the village.

ADVANCED –
There are not too many Black pistes, but what there are are quality, like the Oberer Spielboden and Galen. There are a few ski routes or itinerary routes if they are open. There is plenty of off piste, but due to the glaciers make sure you take a guide or you might end up at the bottom of a crevasse.

RESTAURANTS

Up on the glacier is the highest altitude revolving restaurant in the world- the Mittelallalin, go for the coffee and the view, maybe not the food though. If you want to eat amazing food up the mountain head over to the Gletschergrotte for its delicious food and spectacular location, there can be queues but it is worth it. Another restaurant of note, which many people miss is the mountain restaurant Felskinn at 3000 metres.

ECOLOGY & SUSTAINABILITY FACTS:

Sustainability is very important in the Saas Valley. 

-As early as 1951, the glacier village decided to remain traffic-free. There had previously been no road to Saas-Fee so the village has always been car-free.

-The Mattmark dam and its power station, has been supplying hydroelectric power to the whole area.

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-Saas-Fee is also a founding member of the “Alliance in the Alps”, a network of over 200 Alpine communities. They are committed to ensuring that the objectives of the Alpine Convention for sustainable development in the Alpine region are implemented in concrete terms.

-In 2002 the municipality was awarded the label ‘Energiestadt’, a record of achievement that exemplifies a sustainable municipal energy policy. Then in 2021 Saas-Fee was awarded the ‘Energistadt GOLD’ label. It is the highest European award for energy and climate and requires a score of at least 75%, Saas-Fee scores 78.6 %.

-The Wellnesshostel4000 and the Aqua Allalin mean that the village is the first high-alpine municipality in Switzerland to have a solar thermal local heating network.

Sustainability in Saas Fee

For more information visit Saas Fee

BBB Saas Fee Piste Map

Author

  • Adam is equally at home in the mountains or ploughing through a rare steak with a side of G&T. With over 40 years skiing experience from ski touring to Giant Slalom, Adam is a BASI qualified Ski and Telemark instructor and is also a member of the prestigious Kandahar Ski Club. Despite the G&Ts; health and nutrition are a way of life for Adam who has lived Paleo or 'eating like a caveman' for over 15 years. When there is time aside from all of these antics he is also an accomplished Alpine Landscape artist specialising in winter scenes.

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