Each stage of the UIAA Ice climbing Tour has its own unique character and Saas Fee, one of Switzerland’s most famous ski resorts has “cool” written all over it.
The Swiss village of 1,600 people which can handle as many as 7,600 people during peak season has become one of the liveliest and interesting stops on the tour.
The unique competition wall in this idyllic car-free town (1,700 meters) which lies on the other side of Zermatt and Mount Matterhorn is situated indoors, 10 floors high, in a circular car park at the edge of town – against the spectacular backdrop of towering alpine mountains.
A second wall outside the car-park called the Old Wall fills is used for speed qualifications.
“Take a look,” says Ziga Ster of the Slovenia Climbing Federation who is head of the jury for the Saas Fee competition. “This is one of my favourite venues.”
“It has an amazing structure, a place for the audience, a really good organization and a great after-party,” said Ster.
To add to the flavour, organizers have built a lounge area on the Ground Floor called The Cave, home to the after-party, which gives new meaning to the world “cool.”
Lukasz Warzecha, the UIAA’s official photographer who loves returning to Saas Fee says the intimate nature of the structure which allows the audience to watch the competition from several levels, that circle around the climbing wall is special.
“The atmosphere is electric,” says Warzecha about the crowds that jam the venue.
People who work in Saas Fee like to say that village has everything and more than what next-door Zermatt can offer, except, of course the Matterhorn.
It’s a year-round ski resort and considered to be one of the most snow-sure areas in the Alps.
It’s also home to the highest ski-metro in the world, which zips skiers thousands of metres up the middle reaches of the mountain, not to mention its ice caves and the “highest” revolving restaurant in the world.
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