Saas (Not SaaS) Fee, Another Cute Swiss Ski Town

Sorry, this post about Saas, is not about Software as a Service (SaaS), but about the town of Saas Fee, Switzerland.    While there are several reasons to go to Saas Fee, the real attraction is its location surrounded by some of Switzerland’s tallest mountains.  Saas Fee sits at over 1800 meters ( 5,905 feet, 1.18 miles) and is surrounded by over 13 peaks of over 4000 meters (13,123 feet, 2.485 miles)!

Like nearby Zermatt, it is an adorable car-free ski town with gorgeous views.   Because it doesn’t have a view of the Matterhorn (only other giant, stunningly beautiful mountains) and doesn’t have a rail stop, Saas Fee is smaller and slightly quieter.  As a result, it is a bit more of a family destination.  Don’t be fooled into thinking Saas Fee is quiet or sleepy.  Whether it is an apres-ski bar or clubbing at night, you will be able to do it in Saas Fee.

Until a two-lane road linking Saas Grund to the village of Saas Fee was completed in 1951, Saas Fee was inaccessible by car.  The buildings are a mix of modern hotels, shops and small traditional, weathered farm buildings.

We enjoyed strolling Saas Fee’s car-free streets.  It was great fun to look at the at shop windows.  Although shops keep typically Swiss hours (with the exception of ski shops), there are many and varied.

If skiing isn’t your thing, you can try curling, ice skating, indoor swimming, mountaineering, sleigh riding, indoor tennis/badminton, dog sledding/mushing tours, sledding, night sledding, snow tubing, snowshoe trekking, or ice climbing (which sounds both dangerous and beautiful).

Saas Fee is where Wham‘s “Last Christmas” was filmed.  Just click on the link to enjoy (and search for a new hairstyle).

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Mountaineering Deaths

I try to read the paper every day to practice my French.  Almost every week, there is an article about some sort of mountaineering or hiking accident (usually resulting in death). Sometimes, the paper will note the discovery of a body from an accident decades ago.

 

When we were in Zermatt, we happened upon the town’s cemetary.  Four of the first seven people to successfully summit the Matterhorn died on the descent when a rope snapped.  Since then, over 500 people have died attempting to climb the Matterhorn.  Currently, about 12 people a year die at the Matterhorn.  These deaths are usually due to falling rocks, falls, bad weather, inexperience and the mountain’s difficulty. 

The Mesmerizing Matterhorn

Last weekend, we went to Zermatt and saw the Matterhorn!  It was insanely beautiful, even mesmerizing.  I am a child of the eighties and so I use the word “awesome”.  More accurately, I misuse it.  When you see something as awe-inspiring as the Matterhorn, you vow to use the word properly in the future so that words to describe such beautiful, moving things will have power and meaning.

We took the train up to Gornergrat (elevation 3130 meters/10,269 feet).  It has a nice view of the Matterhorn and of the glacier.
 
 
From Gornergrat, we hiked down to Zermat (elevation 1620 meters/5,250 feet).*  It was wonderful to see the Matterhorn over time and from so many different angles.  We also liked seeing the change in vegetation on the way down.  The weather cooperated.  I don’t think there was a cloud in the sky.  This late in the season meant that any snow that was going to melt had already melted.  As a result, we could really see the geology of Switzerland’s mountains.
 
When I say I was mesmerized by it, I mean it.  I took at least 300 photos of it.  He made fun of me (deservedly so), but I couldn’t help myself. 
 
Zermatt is in the valley below.  I swear it looks closer than it felt going down.  You can see the change in vegetation as we descended.  The tree line slowed down my rabid picture taking.

*The next day our quads were sore.  I may lose a toenail (or two).  Oh well, it was so worth it.