Just scratching the Serfaus…
The final day of the season (at least for me) always brings mixed emotions. Excitement at the prospect of summer months spent hiking and exploring the mountains on a bike, tempered by the fact that skis will be waxed and packed away until next winter. Of course it’s always nice to end the winter on a high, with perfect spring snow and sunny weather, but it’s slightly bittersweet when you’re forced to take the last turns of the season in soft knee-deep powder. It just doesn’t seem right.
Well, that’s how my last day turned out, as I headed to Austrian resort of Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis on Easter Sunday. Fluctuating freezing levels had brought rain to some lower resorts in the area, but with 62% of their pistes above 2000m and base areas above 1400m, Tirol’s fourth largest ski area (smaller only than SkiWelt, St Anton and Ischgl) was looking like a good bet for some late-season powder. If you haven’t heard of Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis before, don’t worry, the majority of Brits haven’t, though the area is popular with Germans, Austrians and Dutch.
Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis, like many areas throughout the Alps is an cluster of ski areas that have grown together over time, and it’s now run by one bergbahnen (lift company) with one lift pass. Though with 212km of pistes spread between the resort base areas one day is only enough to scratch the (terrible pun alert) Serfaus.
There are trees lining the lower slopes, but heading up the Lazidbahn we soon rise above them. Unfortunately there’s thick cloud which has reduced the visibility, but off the side of the north-facing slopes under the Lazid, there’s plenty of light dry powder. While Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis does have a growing reputation as an off-piste destination, marketing efforts seem to be predominantly aimed at capturing a bigger slice of the ‘families’ pie, so there are barely any tracks in the fresh snow.
The runs and marked ski routes off the Obere Scheidbahn are a little steeper and more featured, and with a bit of hiking there’s some tasty looking freeride terrain within easy reach. The Moosroute off-piste route leads down to the most far-flung reaches of Serfaus, which includes the new Pezidbahn gondola and the six-seater Masnerkopfbahn. The snow is deep and light and the snow is still falling, and it’d be easy to spend the rest of the day lapping these lifts that access the highest slopes in the resort (up to 2820m).
But the cloud cover is lingering, so we head back towards the more central slopes of the resort and refuel at Restaurant Lassida. It’s quiet for Easter holidays, and while the food is self-service style it’s hearty and filling Tirolean fare, at easily palatable prices.
Emerging into the daylight post-lunch, the cloud has partly cleared, revealing powder-filled couloirs and white peaks high above us. With improved visibility it was possible to explore some of the long red pistes (or more accurately the powder beside the red pistes) around the Planseggbahn and Königsleithebahn. Dropping down towards the resort base at Fiss the snow was heavier, but the vast area between Serfaus and Fiss would be ideal for those dabbling in a bit of off piste skiing or refining their powder technique, with plenty of on piste skiiing for intermediates too.
Overall Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis feels like quite a ‘corporate’ resort, and that’s mostly a good thing. The whole place seems to be well integrated, the lift system developed and sensibly laid out, and passing over the top of the beginners and children’s areas it’s clear that the place has a lot going for it when it comes to families. For me though, one day wasn’t enough to make much of a dent in the huge amount of terrain, so this is one place that’s high on the list for when the bike is packed away and snowflakes are falling once more…
Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis is included in the Tirol Snow Card, which provides access to 4000km of pistes, more than 1000 lifts and 86 ski areas throughout Tirol.