Photographer Mark Shapiro shares his enthusiasm for the numerous walks in the area and introduces a small sample
I first came here in winter 1970/71, like everyone else, for the skiing. During that winter I made friends amongst the local Swiss people,which gave me the opportunity to stay and work in the summer.
Of all the different activities, it was trekking that interested me most. There were so many places to go, so much beautful mountain scenery to see, plus mountain refuges for lunch or overnighting. Anyone with a pair of trekking boots, a back pack and protective, summer outdoor wear, no matter what their age, could participate; all spring, summer and autumn long.
During my days off I discovered that Verbier in summer was another world to Verbier in winter.
To mention just a few of the possibilities, all on well marked, signposted routes; St Christophe to Pierre-Avoi and all across to Médran; Lac des Vaux; Cabane Mont Fort to Gentianes etc. Dozens of short day treks just within the Verbier inner mountain plus La Tzoumaz and the Vallon d’Arby.
Try the Sentier des Chamois; a big, early-start day trek, starting at La Chaux, across the south west face of the Bec des Rosses, where your chances of seeing chamois and ibex (mountain goats) are pretty good. Stop for lunch at the Cabane de Louvie then head down to Lourtier for a beer or two, the post bus back to Le Châble for the lift back up to Verbier followed by a well deserved hot bath.
In 2005 I did the Tour des Combins, an awesome five-day trek with a bunch of 12 year-olds and a mountain guide, organised by the local Rotary Club. We spent nights in the Cabane de Col de Mille, hiked up to the top of Mont Rogneux, down to the Cabane Brunet, across the Corbossière Glacier to the Cabane de Panossière, up to the Cabane de Chanrion, then on the last day, lunch at the Grand-Saint-Bernard Hospice. There are variations from all these mountain cabins in all different directions. The variety of treks just in Verbier, and the Commune du Bagnes is simply endless.
Should you want to be really adventurous there is always the summer Verbier-Zermatt Haute Route in all its variations or the Tour du Mont Blanc, starting and ending in Orsières.
The Tourist Office provides an A5 size randonnee/trekking brochure with simple route maps, names and addresses of all the mountain cabins, guide services etc. and Topo-maps can be obtained from most sport shops. You can contact Verbier Sport Plus and La Fantastique guide services for information and guided tours. For mid-level treks and those interested in horticultural exploration the best option is to go with an ‘accompagnateur/rice en moyenne montagne’/Swiss Mountain Leader, available through Verbier Sports Plus or Cherries Walks