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A Skiers Guide To Verbier

Verbier ski area

The town of Verbier itself is at a height of 1550m and the ski area rises to 3300m in the high alpine above the town. Its mainly south-west facing slopes mean there is plenty of sunshine to work on your goggle tan whilst at the same time being high enough to maintain the snow.

As part of the 4 Vallees domain, which encompasses the smaller resorts of Nendaz and Thyon, there are 410km of piste to choose from, with a new stunning backdrop around every corner. Read on for a detailed explanation of each area and what they have to offer:

In recent years Verbier has continued to invest in its ski lift and snowmaking facilities, guaranteeing plenty of time on the snow from the start of December to the end of April season.

Verbier piste map

Verbier Ski Area

The main Verbier ski area is where most people start their week. The main Medran 6 person bubble lift takes you up the mountain to Les Ruinnetes about the tree line. From there a choice of lifts give access to a huge variety of run in the sunny bowl above Verbier. The Funispace lift takes you up to the Attelas ridge from where you can access to Lac des Vaux; the perfect area to warm up the legs for the first few runs in the morning. On the other side of the ridge, you have a choice of longer red and (easy) black runs which lead back down to Les Ruinettes.

Alternatively, stay left and drop over the ridge to the La Chaux area. Here you’ll find a create variety of runs packed into a small area, from easy blue to tricky red runs. This is also where you can get the pulse rate up in the snow park or the Skier-Cross run. On a powder day there is also plenty of easily accessible off-piste, From the Attelas ridge the Lac des Vaux bowl offers easy and safe off-piste to work on your powder turns, or the Creblet itinerary run gives you a longer and steeper off-piste run which opens up into a huge bowl before dropping down into the trees.

Below Les Ruinettes the pitch is generally a little steeper, and it’s here you’ll find some of the steeper red and black runs. For those not ready for that but still, want to ski back to the village there are two long blue tracks, which snake there way down through the trees.

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Is Verbier snow sure?

With skiing up to 3300m Verbier always has snow during its 5 month ski season. Normally the first non-glacial ski area to open in Switzerland Verbier opens its Lac des Vaux area (2700m) for weekends during November – Verbier was able to open for skiing on the 9th of November 2019!

Like many resorts, Verbier has invested heavily in snow cannons in recent years. This means the resort is able to put down a solid base of snow and allows for skiing back down to the Village, normally right up to the closing in the last weekend of Apri.

Mont Fort ski area

Included in the 4 Valleys Pass

Although there are only 3 pistes in the Mont Fort area, there is huge off-piste potential, with the legendary ‘Backside’ off the summit of Mont Fort and infinite ski touring options beyond.

The Mont Fort area is also where you’ll find some of Verbier’s best known off-piste routes.

Be aware you should only attempt these either with an instructor or guide or if you know the area and have avalanche equipment and know-how to use it.

  • Backside
  • Barry’s bowl
  • Stairway
  • Highway

To get there take the Jumbo cable car from La Chaux up to Col des Gentianes. Another cable car will take you up to 3300m, the temperature up here can be several degrees colder than La Chaux, so even on a warm day make sure you wear an extra layer and take some warm gloves. From the top of Mont Fort the only piste option back down is a Verbier’s toughest run, a steep black, which is often full of moguls. However since 2020 there is now an alternative way down on the Mont Fort Zip line – although this may not be any less scary, at least your legs won’t be burning when you reach the bottom!  Back down at Col des Gentianes, you can take the long and challenging red back down, with a perfect excuse to rest tired legs and take in the view halfway down at Cabin de Mont Fort.

The other side of Col des Gentianes you have Verbier’s longest itinerary run down to Tortin. This one is a real leg burner but also probably your best chance to ski some safely secured powder snow.

Whether you choose to ski back down or not, a trip up to Mont Fort is a must, The cable car up from Col des Gentianes gives you a great view of the Mont Fort moguls. According to Verbier ski instructor, Martin Lewis this is Verbier’s toughest black, and not for the faint hearted. But if you don’t fancy it, you can always take the lift back down. From the top, you are greeted by jaw-dropping 360 degree views of the alps, with Mont Blanc in one direction and the Matterhorn in the other.

At the top of the lift and before you head back down you could enjoy ‘Europe’s highest Fondue’. Probably not on your bucket list but a good talking point none the less!

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What are Itinerary ski runs?

Itineraries are controlled off-piste routes, marked out by a single line of yellow poles and bonded 20m either side, they are not pisted but are controlled for avalanches and other hazards.

Marked on the piste map in yellow, they are a great introduction to skiing in off-piste snow conditions.

Bruson Ski Area

Part of the Verbier ski pass

The Ski area of Bruson is located on the opposing side of the Val de Bagnes from Verbier. Although it is a relatively small ski area it offers some of Verbier’s most interesting and scenic skiing as well as a more authentic and local atmosphere.

The Bruson ski area is included in the standard Verbier lift pass and is well worth checking out for a day during your Verbier stay. From Verbier take the lift down to Le Châble and up the other side to Bruson.

The Bruson area is between 1,080m and 2,445m with 44km of piste and is accessed from the main La Passay chair. As you arrive at the top of the chair you are greeted by stunning views across to Mont Blanc and up the valley to the Col de Grand St Bernard.

With 4 red slopes, 1 black and only 1 blue Bruson is probably not the place to head for your first day on skis. For the early intermediate and above there are a lot of options packed into this small area, with beautiful tree-lined pistes which are always quieter than those of the main Verbier area.

However, Bruson really comes into its own during bad weather days when it’s dumping down with snow.

The place to head on a bad weather day

Almost all of the Bruson ski area is below the tree line, which means its a great option on bad weather days. If its a powder day you can bounce down through the gladed off-piste with well-spaced trees offering some definition in the fog.

Similarly, the pistes are all in and amongst the trees so you can see the bumps coming. Key to any successful bad-weather day is good restaurant options. Bruson has 3 restaurant options which are all full of character and charm, particularly on a powder day when the door gets kicked open every few minutes with and well wrapped up skiers pile in with grins from ear to ear!

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Savoleyres and La Tzoumaz Ski Area

Part of the Verbier ski pass
The Savoleyres/La Tzoumaz ski area, included in the standard Verbier lift pass, is accessed via the Savoleyres lift which is on the other side of town from the main Medran lift. From Medran take any bus for a short 5 min ride, before getting off at the Savoleyres roundabout.

From the top of the lift, you can either ski on the sunnier Savoleyres side with great views over the town of Verbier and the Grand Combin beyond, or ski on the larger La Tzoumaz area on the other side, overlooking the Rhone valley.

Again there’s a great variety of pistes here, and although it has a more family feel there are also so pretty challenging blacks as well as some great opportunities to get into the powder.

The area’s undulating terrain and sparsely tree-lined runs make it a real favourite for ski schools and for the local kids. It’s below the tree line skiing makes it a great option on bad weather days, with the very cosy Chez Simon offering the perfect spot to warm.

Savoleyres also one of the longest sledge runs in Switzerland. The 10km long run starts at the top lift and drops 848km down to the village of La Tzoumaz. You can hire sledges at Mountain Air or Evasion Sport.

Can you ski from Savoleyres to Medran?

Yes! There is a long winding blue piste which traverses the whole Verbier bowl taking you past the Carrefour restaurant and back to Medran. However, if there is a heighten avalanche risk this piste will be closed from about halfway along. In this case, there is an alternative route which takes you down a tricky red to the Les Esserts beginner area and from there you need to take the le Rouge button lift to complete the detour.

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Mont Gele

Included on the 4 Valley pass

For the advanced skier, Mont Gele alone is worth making the trip to Verbier for! A single peak rising above the Les Attelas ridge to a height of 3,000m, its 3 distinct faces are all skiable, with endless routes and possibilities on a powder day.

Although almost everyone who gets in the cable car is kitted out with fat powder skis and avalanche packs, there are two itinerary runs from the summit, although it should be said they are both pretty challenging. As with Mont Fort, if you get to the top and don’t fancy it, you can always take the lift back down.

Away from the itineraries, there are plenty of off-piste options, although you should be an experienced powder skier before attempting it, and again, either know where you’re going or be with a professional who does

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