A wind of change is blowing across the Swiss Alps, particularly in the little known resort of Flims. A breeze from the west that’s bringing with it a refreshingly proactive attitude towards improvements that’s blowing the cobwebs away from the traditional staid Swiss attitude.
A resort little known to British holidaymakers, Flims offers a better-than-usual range of the new sliding environments (halfpipes, sliderails and first-rate terrain parks) that keeps them up with the Joneses – all good stuff but not groundbreaking. A little more unique are the dedicated freeride areas, all marked on the pistemap and slotted in nicely between the usual red and blue lines. Made safe and patrolled, these oases of adventure skiing are left to thrill-seekers to slice and dice snow that’s been groomed only by Mother Nature. Most resorts would rather shut these runs fearing exorbitant insurance premiums or grade them as off-piste itineraries and charge a higher rescue fee should any mishaps occur. Flims is only too happy to open and make these backcountry slopes safe with just the usual, cursory, avalanche warnings. A refreshing approach that finally treats responsible skiers and boarders as grown-ups.
Up the small cable-car to Cassons is the biggest freeride area, which has upped the ante on the bragging stakes with a piste-map grading of triple black diamond. The mountain, accessed by a 30-person cable-car, is an 800 vertical metre freefall and you half expect to be issued with a parachute at the top. A big-mountain classic with a continual fallline of “Holy-brown-trousers-Batman” steepness. All these areas are for experts only: Alp Ruschein above Falera offers a classic big-bowl descending down a series of gargantuan white-walled amphitheatres without the associated bowl contortions of Cassons. The rest of the terrain is mainly made up of long, intermediate runs and a top to bottom sojourn will cover more than 12km of ground. Large bowls make up the majority of the ski area that rises to more than 3,000m and covers over 100 sq km. And wherever you venture there’s a little bit of something for everyone. The stunning Sattel black that tumbles from the Vorab glacier in a remote glacial valley will be the highlight of the skiing for good intermediates, while the cruising from Crap Sogn Gion is glorious in all directions.
Kev Wolff arranged an apartment through the Flims central reservation office and travelled with easyJet to Zurich.
Resort information: www.alpenarena.ch