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
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.
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.
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