ALTITUDE is not a guarantee of good snow, but it is the nearest thing we've got - and certainly right now altitude is the key to pleasant skiing. When, back in October, I drew up a comparative table of the altitudes at which skiing takes place in different resorts, Saas Fee in Switzerland was streets (well, 300m) ahead of its nearest rival, Val Thorens, with an average skiing altitude of almost 3,000m. Between the top station of the Metro underground funicular (3,500m) and the restaurant at Maste 4 (2,550m), there are almost 1,000 vertical metres of reliable snow. If the skiing to the village a further 750m down is in good condition (which it usually isn't), that's a bonus.

PLUS POINTS: Car-free village without too many electric taxis. Pleasantly unpretentious clientele. Good, gentle nursery slopes. Awe-inspiring glacier scenery. Departure point for serious ski tours.

MINUS POINTS: Spread-out village with most lifts at one end. Traditionally queue-prone, and possibly still so until construction of the top half of the new gondola duplicating the cable car. Ski area not huge, with limited off-piste potential.