The skiing in Laax takes place on the 3018m Voralb Glacier and on the slopes of four other interconnected peaks. Much of it is above the tree-line and suited to skiers from beginner to advanced, but particularly intermediates in search of long cruising runs. Beginners should, however, make sure they choose their accommodation near a lift station, as the distances in the spread-out villages can be quite big. There is also plenty of steeper terrain, divided by bands of rock and steep gullies in the Siala and Cassons sectors. A long itinerary from the glacier descends 2000m to the remote hamlet of Ruschein Ladir. “The long black off the back of the little glacier at the top of the resort is superb, and there is some good ungroomed itinerary terrain”‘ advised a reporter. Another recommends: “my favourite run has to be from La Siala at 2810m down to Flims at 1100m, a thigh-burning 12km in all – it’s the longest in the resort”.
Long wide trails and some steep pitches
The top of the glacier is the starting point for the annual Weisse Schuss, a 14km pro-am downhill race that ends in Flims Dorf. The undulating FIS downhill course from Crap Sogn Gion down to Laax-Murschetg provides plenty of scope for boy and girl racers, but no great technical difficulty when not prepared for racing. A more challenging descent is the Platt’Alva itinerary from Nagens or the black Sattel from Voralb down to Alp Ruschein and Ladir.
We couldn’t mention Laax without talking freestyle. The resort was one of the first ski areas in the world to embrace the freestyle skiing and snowboarding movement that erupted at the turn of the millennium. It has since established itself as a superpower in its area of expertise, hosting (among others) the Burton European Open and The Brits (British Snowboard and Freeski Championships) each year.
It’s probably worth mentioning The Brits – which Ski Sunday/High Altitude presenter Ed Leigh described as “Glastonbury meets the FA Cup on snow” – in a little more detail. If donning XL ski pants and practicing your spins in the park sounds like you, then The Brits is the event for skiers and snowboarders from the UK. The competitions are a magnificent spectacle, whilst evening entertainment in the past has featured performances by DJ act Scratch Perverts and Mercury Award Nominees The Go! Team.
Laax is a prime destination for freestylers
But back to the mountain itself. Laax boasts four terrain parks. One of these is on the Vorab Glacier at 3018m, and is maintained only during the spring and summer, whilst three more centering around the mountain’s freestyle hub at Crap Sogn Gion (no, we didn’t make this name up: in this part of Switzerland, ‘crap’ means ‘rock’ in Romansch). It’s more like one giant super park in our opinion, with every route away from the cafeteria at the top of the Crap Sogn Gion offering freestyle features.
The cafeteria No Name pumps music across a beginners’ area – which has some smaller rails and boxes as well as a twin line of smaller kickers – and the No Name and Plaun parks, which between them have two half-pipes. One of these is the massive 140m super-pipe – biggest in Europe. There are also several kicker lines and over 20 rails/box/wall features.
…and for snowboarders
Laax is also magnet for the snowboarding population of Zurich, who gather at the terrain parks and half-pipes at Crap Sogn Gion. Several big annual events now take place in the resort, including the Burton European Open and The Brits (British Freeski and Snowboard Championships).
If you’re after tuition, Snowboard Fahrschule (+41 81 927 7155) has branches in Flims, Laax and Falera, and Snowboard Freestyle Academy is for those who yearn to be a cool jibber or reckless ripper.
Despite its gold-plated freestyle credentials, Laax is less popular as a freeride destination. Unless you’re riding with a guide, you’ll find the off-piste terrain quite bland. Nevertheless, it’s worth noting that Laax can get heavy snow when the rest of Switzerland is dry (because it shares in the storms from the north that dump on Austria and often miss most of the Alps). So if you’re on the hunt for powder, you should always check out conditions here.