Skiing in Laax
Quiet, well maintained slopes, the majority of them above 2000m; Flims Laax is a jewel of a resort for both serious skiers and boarders.
Laax Ski Area Overview
With 220km of ski pistes, Flims Laax offers its guests a diversity of terrain across a substantial area of 81 hectares – nearly triple that of the renowned St Moritz’s ski area. Furthermore, the majority of pistes (70%) in Flims Laax are above 2000m, meaning excellent snow quality for truly exceptional skiing. This is further enhanced by Flims Laax’s south-east location in the Swiss Alps. This area receives more and better snow fall than the south-west regions and is thus called the ‘White-Arena’.
The most popular areas of skiing are the runs leading from Crap Sogn Gion (2228m, the Vorab glacier (3018m) and the area between La Siala (2810m) and Nagens (2127m). Each area offers something special, whether it be fantastic free-ride, park or tree-lined skiing. However, if you’re looking for steep, difficult terrain, you may be disappointed by some of the black runs at Flims Laax. Nevertheless, each of the resort’s slopes are unique and offer something which is bound to please all but those who are thrilled only by the extreme steeps.
The Vorab glacier (3018m) provides the management of Flims Laax with the opportunity to offer an extended season of winter sports. Opening in October, it is possible to ski the 2-3km glacier two months before most resorts open. Whilst it will take about an hour to get there from any of the three towns, riders are often more than happy to make their way 10,000 feet above sea level. Once at the summit, riders can enjoy the super pipe, an array of large kickers and the dozen or so rails which the glacier offers during its opening two months. Once the whole resort has opened, these features are relocated to the Crap Sogn Gion area, creating a massive expanse for skiing on the glacier. From the summit of the glacier, the views are spectacular, affording a panoramic view of the inspiring neighbouring peaks- provided the weather is clear. If, however, the weather isn’t great and there is a strong wind, the chill factor is extreme and your main motivation will be to ski the glacier’s beautifully groomed, wide piste to a more sheltered area.
From the base of the glacier, the best skiing is to be found by heading towards Nagens (2127m). You have the opportunity to ski either easy or intermediate slopes, or if there has been a good dump of snow, the free-ride areas may attract you to some awesome powder skiing. These free-ride areas are consistent with Flims Laax’s serious skiing/snowboarding attitude, offering areas of piste which are not groomed, thereby providing opportunities for natural powder skiing. In total, Flims Laax offers 40km of free-ride piste.
Nagens is situated just above the tree line and the wooded area continues all the way down to the three resorts. From Nagens, you should continue down to the town of Flims. Whilst you can get there on a choice of numerous runs, all of which are magnificently scenic, the best must be run number 18. The run starts off wide but gradually gets tighter and tighter, meandering through dense wood land and at one point narrows to a mere few metres’ width as it passes in-between two immensely huge boulders. The ever changing gradient, width and surrounding of this particular slope makes it something very special and will remain one of your lasting memories of the resort. Once you have reached Flims, you can stop off at Legna or Iglu bar for a drink or go straight back up the Arena Express 1, a cable car which takes you back to Plaun.
Plaun (1630m) is one area in-between Crap Sogn Gion and Nagens, where a great, fast, long run from Crap Masegn finishes. If your stretched Swiss francs can afford it, you should reward yourself with a magnificent gourmet meal at the Argentinean La Vacca or ‘Tipi’ restaurant, or just grab a drink from the mountain bar next door. From here one can either go up to Nagens or towards Crap Sogn Gion, which can lead to Crap Mesegn or to the Vorab Gletscher.
Crap Sogn Gion
Similar to Nagens, Crap Sogn Gion (2228m) is located just above the tree line. Whilst the Nagens side of the mountain offers plenty of free-ride skiing, this side of the mountain focuses on park skiing, offering enough kickers, rails and half-pipes to keep any pro rider happy- and I mean seriously happy!
Piercing the sky on top of Crap Sogn Gion, sits Flims Laax’s signature landmark, the building which houses the cable car station, two restaurants and hotel and a bar. Surrounding this there are three snowparks, each of varying difficulty, offering kickers, boxes, rails and a wall.
Next to the Crap Sogn Gion cable car station is café no-name- a modest bar, but a bar with an awesome atmosphere none the less. With its cranked up music banging out over its snow covered terrace, it has spectacular views looking down the tree-covered valley and the two half pipes. This is a truly inspiring place to have a drink before you drop into either the ‘beginners’ 100m half-pipe or the 140m super-pipe.
If however, park skiing is not your thing, there are still plenty of slopes leading to and from Crap Sogn Gion to keep you more than entertained. One particularly special run is the black number 65, running from Crap Sogn Gion all the way down to Laax. Similarly, starting and finishing at the same place is red run number 60. Both have a vertical drop of over 1,100m. The latter is a less taxing run and passes through Curnius and right next to ‘Tegia Curnius’- a perfect Swiss mountain bar. Being so close to the bottom of the slope, it is ideally located to have one, or if you want to adopt the Swiss ski culture- half a dozen drinks, before the final stint of skiing to Laax.
Beginner Skiing in Laax
Although Flims Laax may not be the best place for beginners to learn to ski, it certainly does offer enough easily manageable blue runs to keep beginners busy for a week.
The area above Flims offers a number of blue runs for beginners to learn and gradually increase their confidence. One of these runs is blue number 10 which gently snakes its way through the wooded area back to Flims. Another fabulous stretch of skiing to be enjoyed by beginners, are the combination of blue 52, 54 and 53 to Fallera. Once beginners have successfully skied these runs and need a new challenge, they should venture up to the base of the Vorab Gletscher, to ski the long, blue 30 to Nagens. From here they can either attempt the red 18 which rejoins the blue 10 to Flims or get the cable car down.
Ski Schools & Ski Lessons in Laax
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Intermediate Skiing in Laax
There is an abundance of intermediate skiing in Flims Laax. Greeting you from nearly every lift station are at least two intermediate runs to choose from. Many of the runs are wide with a suitable gradient for fast, smooth carving.
There are also some great red runs through the tree line which are an absolute joy to ride and you’ll finish the run in one of the three towns feeling ecstatic. An epic ski journey which characterises this is the 14km from the Vorab Gletscher to Flims, made up of a combination of red and blue runs.
Another great run is that of red number 66, which takes you from Crap Sogn Gion to Plaun. Start off by going over some of the kickers on the left and you can open up for some great carving and even get some air as you go over some of the ridges as you hit the tree line. Two amazing runs are those of red number 18 and 60 which run to Flims Laax and Flims respectively. Cutting through the wooded area, the gradient and direction of the runs continually change, letting you enjoy the varying scenery as you pop off little bumps and carve past the towering trees next to you. Be sure to enjoy these runs in the morning and mid-day however, as they can become slightly crowded towards the end of the day as people head back to their resorts.
Advanced & Expert Skiing in Laax
Although approximately 25% of slopes at Flims Laax are designated black, these may well prove disappointing for the discerning skier. Generally, Flims Laax lacks the serious steeps which fulfil the needs of advanced skiers like those of Verbier, Val d’Isere or Chamonix.
There are, however, areas where some testing skiing can be found. The black run which starts from the Vorab Gletscher all the way to Alp Ruschein is a monumental ski run. From here, make your way over to Crap Sogn Gion and you’ll be tested by black run 67 to Plaun, or black 65 which will take you all the way back to Laax through the gorgeous tree line- although you will probably be distracted by the stunning scenery. Also, the testing off-piste area from Cassons has the potential to shake the nerves of even a great skier.
In addition to these runs, the massive area which Flims Laax’s 220kms of slopes cover, means that there are always little treats of demanding off piste to be found. One such area is on red number 60. Stick to the right hand side and you’ll find yourself skiing along a ridge which you can drop off, back down on to the main slope.
Boarding & Freestyle in Laax
Flims Laax is often referred to as Europe’s freestyle Mecca. The plethora of rails, boxes, kickers and half-pipes the resort offers from October to April keeps the most talented riders coming back year after year.
Flims Laax attracts a large number of snowboarders to its slopes. The several snowboarding events hosted by the resort, its snowparks and the fact that the resort’s owner is the president of what was the International Snowboard Federation (ISF) facilitates this influx of boarders. In fact, in a survey by Swiss boarders, Flims Laax was voted the best snowboarding resort in Switzerland.
Perfectly situated just below Café No-name, two of Flims Laax’s most prominent freestyle features attract many riders and onlookers- the 100m half pipe and 140m super-pipe which, because of its six meter high walls is aptly referred to as a ‘monster-pipe’. The daily maintenance of the half-pipes using the resort’s ‘Pipe Dragon’ and ‘Zaugg Pipe-Designer’ shapers ensures that the pipes are always at their world-class condition ready for anyone, including the many pros like Nicolas Muller who frequently session here.
The features of Flims Laax’s three snowparks, which can be accessed from Crap Sogn Gion vary in difficulty, to suit aspiring riders as well as pros. They vary from 3m to 15m kickers, about 20 rails (including rainbow, straight and A-rails), boxes (including kink, straight, S and C-boxes) and a wall. There really is something for anyone to try out. In addition, the Crap Sogn Gion area also features an impressive boarder/skier-cross. The layout of the course includes tables, steep curves, large moguls, double jumps, bumps and dips and is approximately 600m long.
For those who are serious about backcountry free-styling, there are plenty of areas where you can build some kickers in the off-piste areas for some serious fun.