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Verbier: A First Timer's Experience Skiing In Switzerland - Page 2

post #31 of 33
Keyword in doing off piste w/o a guide is knowledge. As in local knowledge about terrain. As well as knowing about / being able to judge snow and the local snow situation. Then knowing what to do if things go south. Just because you can see ski tracks somewhere doesn't mean it's safe.
post #32 of 33
Thread Starter 

You put down an excellent narrative on paper , enjoyed your Zermatt report, and now this Verbier report. Some obervations/queries , if I may?

  • Is'nt Zermatt much bigger ? Verbier is big, but Zermatt I was almost certain is bigger, especially for off-piste.


dustyfog, Zermatt may be bigger, I don't know, but both are huge! Zermatt had a lot off off-piste terrain but it didn’t seem as varied as Verbier. As noted above, Verbier is actually a town, the ski area is multiple ski areas that are connected.


  • Quote: "Bar down! I know you should always put the bar down on a chairlift, but I’m guilty of not doing ..." : Interesting, yes, bar should come down and I don't get why anyone would not but I know, stateside, lots of especially old-timers get real crotchety about this, it's comical, put the damn thing down, but nicely, don't hit anyone on the head with it! Nice sidebar PL, funny.


I do like chairlift bars, especially the bar on the Red Dog chairlift at Squaw. I’m just not a huge fan of footrests on those big 6 person chairs, but then again there were some really long chair rides in Verbier and Zermatt and the footrests were nice.


  • Quote: "Once I got my train ticket at the Geneva train station office,..." the most dangerous place in Switzerland for life and limb (Except above a cliff face !) , Geneva train station. Crime-or-rama...A bit like Molenbeek, everyone knows, no one does nothing about it...


The Geneva train station at the airport is “Crime-or-rama?” Although the train station was mostly empty, I never felt me or my belongings were a target in anyway.


  • Noted you like Verbier more, could not put my finger on why ? Other than Z is a bit 'flatter' than V, and piste runs narrower ? Anything I missed, do put out a one-liner as you have written enough for TripAdvisor to include this on their website.


The off-piste terrain in Verbier seemed more accessible and more varied. Overall, the groomed runs were wider in Verbier and often had various rolling pitches throughout the runs. The piste runs in Zermatt were long, which was great, but where often flat, like long roads.


The town of Verbier had an outdoor enthusiasts feel too it and I felt people were there to primarily to ski. Zermatt had great skiing and was also a tourist town. There were a lot of people in Zermatt that weren’t there to ski. Zermatt also has the Matterhorn which is truly impressive. Zermatt would be a great destination if you went with someone who didn’t ski, or who was just a casual skier that also enjoyed shopping, etc. Don’t get me wrong, I most definitely want to ski Zermatt again, but right now, if/when I go again, I’d like to go to Verbier and Chamonix.


  • You must be an author or attorney in your other life, the writing is too good! Enjoyed thoroughly


I’m neither, but thank you for the kind words. I’m happy to hear you enjoyed reading my trip report.


  • And for off-piste, Zermatt unless guided can be downright dangerous no ? Place above Rothorn over the back, coming down from Monte Rosa, anything below Stockhorn or below it ? Off the backside of Rothorn, not for the faint of heart, nor for any unguided puttering about ?


Granted, off-piste skiing at any resort can be dangerous, and the one rule I made myself follow was that if I was in doubt, I opted out. Basically, if I didn’t know where something ended up, or I hadn’t scouted the terrain from a lift or tram, I didn’t ski it. There was terrain all around me that I wanted to ski, but didn’t because I didn’t know where it ended up. A guide would have given me the opportunity to ski more terrain.


  • Quote : "“You need a guide.” You don’t. ..." This surprised me. At Zermatt, instructors warned us, even in that bit under the Matterhorn, next to the piste which you boot-pack up on skiers right, and then drop in-between, no guide, no go, as there are crevasses everywhere. Anyway, you are an expert skier clearly but that terrain, Zermatt back near Rothorn, off to Zermatt or the back towards Fluhalp, the faces looked ferocious, and forebidding w/o a guide. Very different experience, i.e. L'Espace Killy, unless you know exactly, don't do it w/o a local or a pro, same for Lech-Zurs. Interesting perspective indeed.


When I say you don’t need a guide I mean that there’s a lot of off-piste terrain that’s easily assessable and you can see the whole run when you ski it, or you’ve been able to scope the line from a chair or tram. When I go back I’d like to get a guide. Not to ski crazy lines, but just to know where to go and to ski with someone that can take me to off-piste terrain within my ability. Mont Gele´ was a good example of this. If I hadn’t met those people at the top of the Mont Gele´ tram who let me ski with them I would have taken the tram back down; only because I didn’t know were to go and I knew enough to respect the terrain. Nothing was too terribly challenging where we skied, but they knew where to go, and where to traverse to to make the most out of the run down to the Tortin tram. I wanted to ski Mont Gele´ again, but ski a different part of it. However, the people I’d just met were headed to another part of the mountain and I wanted to ski Mont Fort later in the day. If I’d been with a guide, skiing Mont Gele´ a few more times would have been a lot of fun.

post #33 of 33
Thread Starter 

If you’ve been meaning to go on a ski trip this winter, but have yet to make it happen, I encourage you to do your best to make it happen this year. I’ve wanted to go to Revelstoke and Kicking Horse for years and although it’ll only be for four days, I know it’ll be a a lot of fun. And just like Switzerland I know I’ll be very happy that I didn’t put it off for yet another winter.


I post that here because rereading my own thread, (I’m the OP) gave me the push I needed to commit to the trip which takes place the second week of March.


While visiting my brother-in-law over the holidays in Minnesota back in December, he said he was planning a trip with two buddies to go to Revelstoke and Kicking Horse and that he’d send me some information, which he did. Well, he emailed me last week and said the trip was on and asked if I’d like to go. Right away, I started to think of every reason I could as to why I couldn’t make the trip. It was like those years when I kept passing on the opportunity to ski in Switzerland. But when I finally set aside my anxieties last year and agreed to go to Switzerland it led to an unbelievable skiing and cultural experience.


So, start planning that trip you’ve been thinking about these last few years and make it happen.

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