Saas-Fee/Saastal has altitude. Slicked by glaciers and encased by mountains punching above 13,000 feet, the region encompassing the car-free village of Saas-Fee sits deep in the Valais Alps, close to Italy. In winter, it’s a full-on winter wonderland, with flakes falling thick and fast and snow-sure slopes above the magic 11,800 feet mark. Beloved by speed-obsessed snowboarders and off-piste powder seekers, these mountains are monsters: high, vast and steep. Whether sunrise skiing, husky sledding, snowshoeing or alpine canyoning, here are eight ways to embrace a new Alpine challenge.
1. Hike across the Fee Glacier
Best for offbeat adventurers
You can admire the glinting Fee Glacier from valley level, but to really appreciate its scale and frozen splendour, nothing beats grabbing snowshoes, ski poles and a climbing harness to hit the ice on a four- to five-hour glacier hike. Kicking off at Längfluh mountain station, the hike is immediately spectacular, traversing huge crevasses and seracs, while secured by the rope of your mountain guide. The view of the 18 individual 13,000-feet summits from the top? Spectacular.
2. Night sledge at Kreuzboden
Best for thrill-seeking families
Night sledging ramps up the adventure for families in the chilly white nights. No matter what your age, you’ll whoop with joy as you pinball down the slopes, past hamlets and through snow-laden forests. And what a toboggan ride this is: almost seven miles of downhill fun, with the pearl-white mountains and stars shining above. Sledges can be rented at the station in Saas-Grund. The route starts at the Kreuzboden cable car mountain station.
3. Ski at sunrise at the Allalin viewpoint
Best for fans of fresh slopes
As the peach-pink light of dawn creeps over the mountains and illuminates the summits one by one, the only way is up. In the hush of early morning, take the cable car up to 11,500 feet for breakfast at the world’s highest revolving restaurant at Allalin, before sunrise skiing. It’s silent — well, apart from the gentle swoosh of your skis as you make tracks in the snow — spreading out before you like a pristine white blanket.
4. Husky sled in the Saas Valley
Best for husky encounters
As the huskies yelp in excitement and gather speed, dashing through the glittering snow and forests of pine, it feels a little like flying. Ruddy-faced and exhilarated after husky sledding, you’ll return to base for a mug of glühwein. Or if you prefer more one-to-one time with these beautiful Nordic dogs, go husky trekking instead.
5. Go alpine canyoning to Saas Grund
Best for new experience seekers
Winters in Saas-Fee/Saastal are not just about the downhill buzz. Alpine canyoning also hits the intrepid sweet spot. Linking the villages of Saas-Fee and Saas-Grund, this pulse-racing via ferrata reveals the Alps in a whole new light, as gravity-defying zip lines, suspension bridges, pendulum swings and vertiginous ladders take you breathtakingly close to caves, canyons and waterfalls. Harnesses, helmets and via ferrata equipment are provided, and even seasoned adventurers are required to travel with a mountain guide.
6. Snowshoe at sunset at Lagginjoch
Best for nature lovers
In the dusky pink of sunset, the Alps glow as if lit from within and all you can hear is the crunch of snow underfoot as you pad in quiet wonder on snowshoes. Your mountain guide will take you 1640ft up and over the Hohlaub glacier to the 11,500ft knife-edge ridge of Lagginjoch, where top-of-the-world views of over 13,000ft peaks unfold. Then it’s time to snowshoe back to Kreuzboden for fondue before nightfall.
7. Ski touring at Fluchthorn
Best for expert skiers
The skiing in Saas-Fee/Saastal is out of this world but — as any local will tell you — the real thrills lie off-piste. With sky-scraping mountains everywhere, this is ski touring heaven. For a deep dive into the white wilderness, go with a pro. At around 12,450 feet, the Fluchthorn is a sensational backcountry adventure, whether skiing, boarding or telemarking, with staggering views of Monte Rosa East Face and long, sweeping descents back to the valley.
8. Eat fondue in a gondola
Best for cheesy romantics
To cap off an adventure-packed day and for a blast of romance, there’s nothing like hopping in a gondola to drift above the glittering snowy slopes and frosty forests of Saas-Fee as the stars come out to play, while digging into a pot of bubbling, gooey cheese fondue by candlelight. Kids love the experience, too, with toys to keep them amused on the hour-long ride above the Alps.
Plan your trip
Available from 1 November to 23 April, the Snow Magic package covers accommodation and ski passes on stays of more than four nights, giving access to over 90 miles of pistes. Visit saas-fee.ch for the inside scoop on Saas-Fee/Saastal and its flurry of winter activities.
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