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Verbier, Switzerland February 2015

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 

Working at a school I may get lots of holidays but also these holidays are set in place with the school year, having a long weekend in the middle of February seemed perfect to ski somewhere in Europe I have never been before. Criteria was to get there in the space of a morning so that we can get an afternoon ski and same on the last day where we can get a morning before returning home. Two options that came up were flying to Zurich and some of the Austrian resorts or Geneva with lots of options within a good range. Once looking at all the flights, trains and buses we came up Verbier, heard so many good reports so had to see what it was about.

 

Finishing work at 330pm, it was first time to travel down to Edinburgh for the evening and visiting my sister and using her flat for a few hours of sleep. We had a lovely meal at a French restaurant before heading for a couple drinks then back to my sis’s and asleep by 11pm with the alarm set for 3am.

 

Boarding our flight to Geneva form Edinburgh at 625am, it was a lovely smooth two-hour journey, after arriving we got our bags quickly and we managed to catch the 1024am train. The train was very scenic, with views of the Alps and Lake Geneva, the train headed round the lake then stopping in Martigny, where we went from an Inter regional train to a regional one. The regional train headed up through the valley, past mountain vineyards and little villages to our end destination of Le Chable.

 

After dumping our clothes at the De La Poste hotel, it was a case of getting changed quickly; grab some hire skis for my Dad and then head up the mountain and ski. We got a great afternoon in, skiing the like and run on some icy but fast pistes in the Attelas area. That first afternoon made me thinking that I have made the wrong decision taking my ON3P Billy Goats as at 118 wide they suck on ice! My legs fatigued fast during the afternoon and were feeling the hips so the travelling had certainly had taken it out of me. We managed to get a good 3 hours skiing in and heading back down to the Medran base and to what would be our Après spot – Offshore bar. We had a coupe drinks and a nice desert then headed back to the hotel to chill for a while. That evening we had a lovely meal just locally then early to bed.

 

Me with Verbier in the background

 

cruising

 

 

 

Saturday morning we were up early at 730am, and on the mountain by 9am using the Medran base to access the mountain.  Not really knowing the mountain we headed back to the same lifts that we had done on our previous day, having a nice few warm-up runs.  The mountain was nicely pisted the ice had gone which led to some nice runs over the mountain. After a while we headed over the famous Mont Fort area and spent a good few runs there and this terrain was great fun from nice steep areas at the top to a lovely long cruising run to the bottom of the lower tram. My dad left me at about 2 as his legs were getting tired so I spent the rest of the afternoon to our rendezvous at 4pm trying to do the runs and lifts we hadn’t skied yet and get the feel for the mountain.  The evening was spent having dinner at a gorgeous grill place right in the centre of Verbier, which was very busy on the Saturday night expensive!

 

 

 

Looking towards Mont Blanc from the viewing station on Mont Fort

 

Sunday was supposed to be a day of heavy snow from Saturday night but we woke up in the morning to day of showers and sun. I was hoping for some nice fresh snow but in village there was lucky to be an inch, the higher we went the more snow there had been and was falling. We ended up at Mont Fort again skiing in what ended up being in some areas a good 4 to 6 inches, had some great runs then we decided to head down the off pisted run down to The Tortin area, this run started off awesome, with lovely smooth POW turns then once it got to the steep narrower bit, there was massive bumps, I traversed across and found some nice powder in the steeper areas, my dad however stuck to the center and somehow managed to jerk his back skiing in the moguls, at this point he certainly was not a happy man.  He headed back and I headed back over to Mont Fort for the afternoon, skiing some nice powder. Heading down the mountain to meet at Offshore again, we had a nice couple of drinks then back to get changed before heading out for dinner. The Sunday night dinner was by far the best meal of the trip and I certainly would head back there again. Wondering round the center of the town after, it was dead and shows that most of the partiers from the night before were weekenders who had heading home on the Sunday evening.

 

Mont fort

 

Skiing towards the Tortin area

 

Monday for no apparent reason we were slightly later and got caught up in the ski school traffic, which made navigating through the busy Medran station very slow. Once up we headed over the Mont Fort and had a great morning skiing the two tram stations. Again with my dad’s back being stiff he only lasted till about 1, this allowed me to ski the valley run where he got injured taking a very different route down and still managing to find some powder, then head up the Mont Gele tram and spend the latter part of the afternoon skiing the steep front side of the that mountain. Mont Gele has a great reputation and it is certainly a one in a kind lift with some very steep terrain on the front side. Monday night was spent locally again eating in a nice little restaurant and a couple drinks before bed.

 

Mont Gele

 

Tuesday our last day and we were only able to ski till 12, so my dad and I headed up to Mont Fort again doing his favourite red run from the top of the first tram to its base then we went back up and parted ways as I wanted to do some steep stuff. I then spent the next couple of hours skiing under the lift on the top station on Mont Fort and then the steep chute on the front side of Mont Gele, after doing that it was time to head down the mountain and meet my dad at the hotel before getting everything packed up and our 117pm train back to Geneva airport. Flying back via Heathrow and arriving in Edinburgh just after 10pm, we drove home to Aberdeen and I was in bed by 1am.

 

view up one of the lines off the front of Mont Gele

 

Overall the trip was awesome, I can see why Verbier has such a good reputation, as there is certainly some awesome side country access. The lifts in Verbier are very clustered and not what I was used to with my last two trips to Europe being Trois Valley and L’espace Killy. Verbier certainly seems to be a mountain town with exceptional skiing and mountaineering rather than a purpose build ski resort. Switzerland is certainly one expensive place compared to the other Euro currency Alps destinations but it has an awesome atmosphere and some great skiing. One thing that was very apparent was the number of Americans there, felt like the place was Swiss, English or American with equal numbers, must be in lots of American Brochures! Verbier itself seems a place for weekenders as well as the usual holidaymakers, it also is far bigger than I thought it would be and what I am used to in the Alps and without the buses it would take a long time to navigate.

 

Bec des roses the mountain for the free ride finals

 

Most importantly I certainly would go back there… it reminds me of Snowbird but bigger mountains…

 

 

 

 


Edited by scottydonald - 3/8/15 at 12:17pm
post #2 of 22
Nice video and trip report. If you will forgive the ignorant American question I am wondering how you decide where it is safe to ski since it appears you did not have a guide. I am trying to figure out how I am going to take a European ski vacation but am a little unclear on this issue.
post #3 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SB77 View Post

Nice video and trip report. If you will forgive the ignorant American question I am wondering how you decide where it is safe to ski since it appears you did not have a guide. I am trying to figure out how I am going to take a European ski vacation but am a little unclear on this issue.


in all honesty - experience and observing others...

 

Lots of stuff i didn't ski as i wasn't sure where it went... i was skiing on glacier off piste but stuck close to previous tracks etc... A good example is the run over the back of Mont Fort - i wanted to do it but without knowing where it was going and i couldn't see it, i certainly didn't do it, especially as i was on my lonesome then and my dad wasn't skiing with me... 

 

Yes it is very different to the inbounds snow gates... 

post #4 of 22
Thanks. I did notice you skiing close to other tracks in areas where others had already skied in the video and wondered if that was part of the methodology.
post #5 of 22

Excellent video and report.  I'd love to go there, but realistically I don't believe I'll ever get the chance.

 

"One thing that was very apparent was the number of Americans there, felt like the place was Swiss, English or American with equal numbers, must be in lots of American Brochures"

 

Maybe the americans were there looking for Claude LeSeur and Mt. Rose.  (50 pts and a beer to anyone who knows that:)

post #6 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SB77 View Post

Thanks. I did notice you skiing close to other tracks in areas where others had already skied in the video and wondered if that was part of the methodology.

 

yep... thats how i learn most places... 3 trips of 10 days to Snow Bird and Alta were similar and now i know it well... Somewhere like Val D'sere or TIgnes where i grew up on vacation there every year and now spent mid thirties weeks there i know the huge area very well...

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by northeasterner View Post
 

Excellent video and report.  I'd love to go there, but realistically I don't believe I'll ever get the chance.

 

"One thing that was very apparent was the number of Americans there, felt like the place was Swiss, English or American with equal numbers, must be in lots of American Brochures"

 

Maybe the americans were there looking for Claude LeSeur and Mt. Rose.  (50 pts and a beer to anyone who knows that:)

 

hmmmm no points for me then... 

 

seems there is similar number of americans there this week... all english or american after the weekenders left, unfortunately its not me that is there... i have to wait till April to hit up SLC...

post #7 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by SB77 View Post

Nice video and trip report. If you will forgive the ignorant American question I am wondering how you decide where it is safe to ski since it appears you did not have a guide. I am trying to figure out how I am going to take a European ski vacation but am a little unclear on this issue.

 

The first step is to scope out terrain from the lift or from below to make sure there's a safe exit. The second step is to check the avalanche danger in the area (most trail maps near lifts will have an indicator for avalanche danger). After that, you have to use your judgement for the avalanche danger for the particular terrain you want to ski. If you have any doubts about either, then skip it.

 

If you do arrange a trip to the Alps, check with the local ski school or guide company to see if they have any off-piste groups you can join for a day or more. The guides will take you to some nice stuff.

post #8 of 22
Good tips-thanks. The big unknown for me as a never ever European skier is the crevasse issue but the lack of avalanche control work off piste should be at least as significant. I really like the off piste group idea.
post #9 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by SB77 View Post

Good tips-thanks. The big unknown for me as a never ever European skier is the crevasse issue but the lack of avalanche control work off piste should be at least as significant. I really like the off piste group idea.

 

Crevasses are only a danger when you're on a glacier, which is a small percentage of the terrain in most places. For most off-piste terrain, the big dangers are avalanches and cliffs. Once you're off the marked trails, even if you're well within the resort boundaries on terrain that's easily accessible from a lift or groomer, the terrain probably won't have any avalanche control done unless it poses a threat to lifts, marked trails, or buildings below. Also, most hazards like cliffs and dangerous gullies won't be marked.

 

It's easier to find off-piste groups in some of the more famous resorts like Chamonix and St. Anton, but there's more competition for powder in those places. Less-popular resorts will usually have guides, but they might not have regular groups running. That's fine if you have your own group of skiers who can split the cost or you're happy to pay for a private guide session.

post #10 of 22

SB" Nice video - a question as usual GoPro angle makes slopes seem a lot more friendly i.e. flatter than they are, seemed like nice powder but very steep runs/slopes you were on, any comment, comparables to get a degree of difficulty assessment for a terminal intermediate. Verbier known for skier injuries caused by difficult terrain. 

 

You grew up and are an expert about Val d'Isere and Tignes, hmm, we are going there April 3. It's not the best snow year but the snow is there correct ? And will be there in flakes when we get there. And CBV has given us a lot of info, and kind of swayed our decision. Any insights you may offer , here on in International Zone thread where we posed questions - all ears.

post #11 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SB77 View Post

Good tips-thanks. The big unknown for me as a never ever European skier is the crevasse issue but the lack of avalanche control work off piste should be at least as significant. I really like the off piste group idea.

 

My other half just went of a ski course in Verbier for a week, she loved it, wasn't a fan of the individual instructor but was happy with everything overall. She skied trying terrain with him, it wasn't cheap but was what she wanted and now when we get to Snowbird and Alta in a couple weeks she is hoping to join me on some of the harder stuff...

 

In all honesty i have skied a lot in Europe and have set off a few little avalanches myself but again i am very careful and wouldn't do anything stupid. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dustyfog View Post
 

SB" Nice video - a question as usual GoPro angle makes slopes seem a lot more friendly i.e. flatter than they are, seemed like nice powder but very steep runs/slopes you were on, any comment, comparables to get a degree of difficulty assessment for a terminal intermediate. Verbier known for skier injuries caused by difficult terrain. 

 

You grew up and are an expert about Val d'Isere and Tignes, hmm, we are going there April 3. It's not the best snow year but the snow is there correct ? And will be there in flakes when we get there. And CBV has given us a lot of info, and kind of swayed our decision. Any insights you may offer , here on in International Zone thread where we posed questions - all ears.

 

Yes most of my afternoons were spent either on Mont Fort or Mont Gele so all very steep, kind of like high rustler etc at Alta or off cirque near the tram pylon or down barry barry steep.

 

As mentioned in my last quote my other half who is a good technique but slow intermediate loved Verbier and got better skiing the tougher pistes there, like she thought she did when she was in Val Thorens at New Years. http://www.epicski.com/t/131525/val-thorens-les-trois-vall-es-new-year-week-2014-15

 

Val D'ISere is awesome and already thinking about a New year trip there this coming winter.

 

here is 2014 new years trip report - 

 

http://www.epicski.com/t/124753/tignes-new-years-2013-14

 

here is the 2013 new years report - 

 

http://www.epicski.com/t/116893/tignes-and-lespace-killy-new-years-2013

 

as an intermediate one thing you have to do is get to Grand Motte on the Tignes Glacier first thing in the morning when its freshly groomed and you can cruise down it... i managed to get my fastest 79.9mph whilst turning on very soft pair of Kung Fujas rather than on my proper GS race skis there in 2013 new years trip.

 

just Pm me any specific questions... its hard off the top of my head...

post #12 of 22

Thanks Scotty - appreciate the TR's - got it, Gran Motte, first morning perhaps ! 

post #13 of 22

Enjoyed your report as I've been to Verbier a number of times and your pics / words brought back good memories. I've had guides and hooked up with locals which kept me both safe but also brought me to areas I wold have never found. I hope to return some day.

 

Again - great report - thanks for sharing

post #14 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by falcon_o View Post
 

Enjoyed your report as I've been to Verbier a number of times and your pics / words brought back good memories. I've had guides and hooked up with locals which kept me both safe but also brought me to areas I wold have never found. I hope to return some day.

 

Again - great report - thanks for sharing


what was your favourite area there then???

post #15 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by scottydonald View Post
 


what was your favourite area there then???

 

I enjoyed the trails off of Mont-Fort and Greppon Blanc. Its been years since my last visit so my memory is a bit foggy. Still good people, good food and great skiing. This year I skied Utah resorts including Snowbird the last week of February. Unfortunately the champagne powder I had hoped for was missing as a low snow year. 

 

Utah resorts offering challenging skiing but are a fraction of the size of Verbier.

post #16 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by falcon_o View Post
 

 

I enjoyed the trails off of Mont-Fort and Greppon Blanc. Its been years since my last visit so my memory is a bit foggy. Still good people, good food and great skiing. This year I skied Utah resorts including Snowbird the last week of February. Unfortunately the champagne powder I had hoped for was missing as a low snow year. 

 

Utah resorts offering challenging skiing but are a fraction of the size of Verbier.


yep i am off to Utah a week on Monday... 4th Spring trip in a row... love it there...

post #17 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by scottydonald View Post
 


yep i am off to Utah a week on Monday... 4th Spring trip in a row... love it there...

 

Wishing you only powder !!!!!
 

 

 

 

 

post #18 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by falcon_o View Post
 

 

Wishing you only powder !!!!!
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

like this - 

 

post #19 of 22

Nice TR.  Thanks for sharing. 

post #20 of 22

ScottyB: Where would one ski if there is total whiteout on the upper slopes? We are right in front of the Tufs or Tufts life from Friday afternoon onwards ? (April 3 onwards!). Tignes and Val d' got 33 inches a bit over 24 hours ago - and the Arlberg got more I read as did Zermatt !! 

 

Well, fingers crossed. 

post #21 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dustyfog View Post
 

ScottyB: Where would one ski if there is total whiteout on the upper slopes? We are right in front of the Tufs or Tufts life from Friday afternoon onwards ? (April 3 onwards!). Tignes and Val d' got 33 inches a bit over 24 hours ago - and the Arlberg got more I read as did Zermatt !! 

 

Well, fingers crossed. 


its actually tricky as you are in val claret and there is no such thing as a tree there...

 

Personally i would go up tufs then down the 8 tow(rubbish at names but more picturing the lifts)... then ski past Follie Douce and ski the trees down to La Daile...

 

further afield - 

Also i love the solaise main run back to Val base.

Also the bowl on Solaise side is easy cruisy skiing but no trees.

 

In all honesty unless you know where you are going just stick to pistes and follow the poles on side of the pistes and feel from your own poles!!! - up the other side where its the six chair then up another 6 chair over the Tignes Park is easy skiing and never too far away from the val claret base...

 

hope that helps.

post #22 of 22
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trekchick View Post
 

Nice TR.  Thanks for sharing. 


no problem... love looking back at these so they help me also... SLC one to come in a couple weeks...

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