THE BEST SKIS FOR VERBIER

From piste to powder, we teamed up with the pros at Mountain Air to get the low down on the best skis for Verbier’s famous terrain.

 

PISTE

 VOLKL DEACON LOWRIDE 84
This rocket ship of a ski is not for the faint hearted. From steep and icy pistes, to perfect early morning groomers, get the Deacon 84 on an edge and it absolutely flies. Stiff and lively, this Volkl powerhouse was made for blasting down FIS.

HEAD SUPERSHAPE I.SPEED
Punchy, dynamic and precise, the Head Supershape boasts accessible power that will raise the bar on every piste in the 4 Vallées. From the Tortin bumps to Piste de l’Ours, the Supershape will make you feel unstoppable.

ALL MOUNTAIN

FACTION DICTATOR 2.0
This legendary ski from a legendary local brand simply ticks all of the boxes. Used by Verbier patrollers, the Dictator is incredibly versatile and very fun. Playful and poppy with hugely accessible power, this ski will have you charging through waist deep powder in the morning and ripping down the piste in the afternoon.

BLIZZARD BONAFIDE
Robust and aggressive, the Bonafide is a bombproof weapon for Verbier’s most challenging terrain. This all-mountain ripper’s double Titanal sheet makes it a rock-solid teammate for all conditions, from powder to rock hard snow. Anyone who tests the Bonafide races about its exhilarating power and precision.

TOURING

BLIZZARD ZERO G 95
From the steepest steeps, to the longest days and the biggest vertical, this ski has it covered. A Verbier Bureau des Guides favourite, the Blizzard Zero G is a true ski alpinism partner. A light and stiff ski for the most advanced mountaineers, the Zero G feels right at home on everything from the Bec des Rosses to the Grand Combin.

BLACK CROWS CAMOX FREEBIRD
The most popular ski in Verbier, the Camox Freebird is a true one ski quiver. Light and adaptable, this ski will devour the Attelas couloirs, take you charging up Rosablanche and smashing through waist-deep powder in Barry’s bowl all in a single day. This is a ski made for Verbier.

BACKCOUNTRY

 K2 MINDBENDER 108
The K2 Mindbender is the sawed-off shotgun of the ski world. This backcountry charger is an absolute cruise missile, punching through crud and eating chopped up powder for breakfast. A go-to for local legend and Freeride World Tour star Carl Renvall, the Mindbender is a serious choice for the boldest of skiers.

BLACK CROW FEROX FREEBIRD
This access all terrain backcountry ski is the playful option for for Verbier’s open powder fields and steep chutes. This powder ski has the soul of a true alpinist, making light work of ascents and cranking the party tunes for the ride down.

 

Mountain Air features a range of skis selected specifically for Verbier’s famous terrain and is offering a special test event for locals and visitors to experience the best of the Val de Bagnes. From many years exploring every inch of the 4 Vallées, the team know what works here. Join the test program on January 10-12 and get access to the expert team and up to 35 different pairs of skis to test, plus receive a drink and bite to eat at the end of the day. Experience that Verbier feeling and get all the details here: bit.ly/MAskitest20VL


XAVIER ROSSET / FLY THE WORLD

After an intense 300 days surviving alone on a deserted island, it didn’t take long for Xavier Rosset to dream up his next big adventure. The local ex-professional snowboarder is now taking on his biggest challenge to date - to fly around the world in an ultralight aircraft…

Xavier Rosset exudes adventure. Growing up in Verbier, Xavier naturally excelled at snowboarding. During his professional career, he spent six years hurtling himself down the steep face of the Bec des Rosses in the Verbier Extreme earning second place in 2005. For most people this would be adventure enough, but for Xavier it was only the start of his journey. With the ability to make his wildest dreams into reality, Xavier took himself out of his comfort zone in the mountains to spend 300 days alone on an island on with only a Swiss army knife and a machete. After 14 months of preparation he travelled 22,000km from Verbier to set up home on a deserted Pacific island. He completed the challenge after enduring months of mental and physical challenges, only to come home and dream up an even bigger expedition – to fly around the world aboard a 230kg pendular microlight. With his flying machine, he is en route to cross five continents, 50 countries covering a distance of 80,000 kilometres around the world, traversing over Central America’s tropical forest and across the Himalayas and Greenland.

VL: How did you adapt to life back in Verbier after your time on the island?

Xavier: My return from the island in 2009 went really well. I came back to a familiar world which I really appreciated. I had left Verbier temporarily to live a human adventure and  to escape the consumer driven society, which, I must admit, gives me great liberties as a freeride instructor.

One of the richest feelings I had upon my return after 300 days on an island was to have been able to give my family a hug and to be able to converse with people other than myself.

VL: What inspired you to undertake this challenge?

Xavier: The ‘FlyTheWorld’ (FTW) expedition holds many values in common with my own previous island expedition. During my 300 days, I explored a semi-tropical jungle on foot as well as myself. With FTW, I am merely broadening my horizons. I am leaving on a pendular microlight to discover our planet, from a geological as well as a human perspectives. The idea is to show a positive side of the best things about our planet through two minute videos, photos and a documentary, which will be distributed at the end of the expedition, in three years from now. Optimists like pessimists, are contagious. I prefer to be part of the former category and to share my completed life adventures in order to showcase our planet’s beauty.

VL: You left Switzerland in July after months of preparation – how has the trip been to date?

Xavier :The expedition is progressing at its own rhythm, it has already travelled 15,000km flying over 13 countries in 120 days. This has entailed an enormous number of unforeseen events: weather, technical (flight authorizations/stays for which solutions always have to be found.) The huge obstacle of obtaining a visa for Saudi Arabia meant that we had to plan a new itinerary, which would take us to South Africa, initially. The countries I flew over provided the FTW with absolutely incredible landscapes. It’s crazy how perception of our planet changes when we observe it from above.

VL: A few weeks into your stay on the Island you questioned if you’d be able to stay for the whole 300 days, how are you feeling about this trip so far?

Xavier: The biggest challenge of my 300-day adventure was the solitude and the voluntary isolation. The Fly The World expedition has enabled me to meet people from all walks of life and I am constantly encountering fascinating cultures This has enabled me to learn a lot about others as well as about myself. A little disappointing maybe is to not really be free to fly over certain countries as I please. I have to follow regulated itineraries which strongly limit my discoveries by air.

VL: Which part of the trip are you looking forward to most?

Xavier : The expedition is flying over so many countries, it is difficult to predict what I’m going to discover and get excited about in advance, which is good because this gives me room for manoeuvre. The American continent – north and south – promises wonderful encounters and breathtaking scenery; Asia also…. Flying over Etna, the highest active volcano in Europe at 3500 metres, will remain engraved in my memory. I flew over it on an August Saturday morning at dawn, when the winds were calmest. I took my machine up to 3'950 metres for more than an hour, flying over the six craters of this ambassador of the depths of the earth.

VL: When you stayed on the Island for 300 days, loneliness was one of the biggest challenges - what has been your biggest obstacle so far?

Xavier: Probably at the end of September, when I was flying over South Sudan, I had to change course due to weather conditions. From the moment I landed in this war-torn country, an avalanche of problems arose, which became more and more important, up until the moment I was investigated by the country’s armed forces. I am obliged to keep secret the days following my arrest, but I wish to thank the Swiss Embassy which immediately put procedures into place in order to clarify and resolve the problem as soon as possible. On October 7, just as I was about to leave south Sudan, another major problem came about: a storm damaged the wing and blades of my aircraft which meant it was not in flying condition. I had to get it out of the country in order for it to undergo repairs. This was done via a cargo airplane flying to Uganda. I also had to buy all my video material again which had mysteriously vanished during my stay.

VL: How do you motivate yourself when your determination waivers?

Xavier: I am a naturally positive person, so I always find a positive point in everything that happens to me. It’s all about perception. I find it much more enrichening to see the positive – solutions - rather than focusing on a problem and complaining about it. Everything that happens, planned or unforeseen, is part of the expedition and it is important to be open to everything and ready…

VL: Where do you plan to spend Christmas this year?

Xavier: The expedition is divided into three seasons. This will allow me to come back to Verbier during the winter to work as a freeride instructor and thereby earn some money which will be re-invested into the expedition from next spring. This will also enable me to find new partners for the FTW. The microlight will spend four months in a hangar somewhere in the world awaiting my return for the next FlyTheWorld chapter. I will therefore spend Christmas surrounded by my family, sharing stories of my adventures and listening to theirs.

VL: How can people follow your adventure?

Xavier: The expedition is as interactive as possible. Everyone can follow its progress online via a tracker which is on the microlight. Videos and photos are posted regularly on social media.

www.FlyTheWorld.ch

www.facebook.com/xavier.rosset.5

www.facebook.com/flytheworld.ch

Instagram : fly_the_world

Before the departure of this expedition discovering the world, few people thought that this Bagnard ‘mountain man’ would be taking off to discover our planet on his aircraft. Now is the time to join this adventure as partners and as supporters in order to give him the necessary wings so he is able to continue this positive exploration.


VERBIER LIFE ART

Over the 12 years running the magazine, we have featured many talented photographers and artists. This winter, we have created an online platform to promote and sell their work to Verbier Life readers. Fine Art Photography graduate, Charlotte Percle, has been collecting the work of local talents including Jane Coe, Rosiland Monks Yves Garneau, Sébastien Albert, Janet Johnson and Melody Sky for the new online gallery.

“As someone who loves art, I really appreciate the talent which lives in the community here,” comments Charlotte. “The idea is to collect some of the local artists’ and photographers’ work on one platform and make it easy for people to see what is available, either for their own chalet or for original gifts. We’re in the early stages of setting up the site, but we hope to add more artists and work over the coming months.”
For the larger purchases, there will the opportunity to contact the artist to discuss the piece, and in some cases for people living locally, the option to see the art before a final decision is made.

For more information on Verbier Life, or for artists and photographers interested in featuring their work on the site, email Charlotte at charlottepercle@gmail.com

www.verbierlife.com


Top tips to improve your bumps skiing

1.Take it easy to start. Make sure you practise first on some easy smaller bumps to warm up, don’t head straight to Tortin! Even when you do get to the harder bumps, break the run into smaller sections for example just trying to ski 10 bumps at a time. Before you know it, you will be at the bottom!

2.Pick a line. Before you have even started skiing, it is so important to choose the line you are going to ski and commit to it. Pick a point down the hill and aim for it with conviction, do not hold back!

3.Pole plant! Pole planting is critical to skiing bumps, as it will help with the rhythm of your turns, provide stability for your upper body and help you to stay balanced over your skis.

4.Take a deep breath and relax… Bumps can often be intimidating, so it is important to try and keep a level head. Take a deep breath at the top of the bumps and try and just focus on one action point for the run. The more relaxed and confident you are, the more likely your legs will respond and your upper body will stay strong, leading to great fun ride down the hill!

Tips from Harry Steel - a BASI 4 & Swiss Federal Qualified Instructor working with Altitude Ski & Snowboard School in Verbier.

www.altitude-verbier.com


'LES PATROUILLEURS DE VERBIER'

While most of Verbier is enjoying breakfast and sipping on a nice cup of warm coffee, the piste patrollers are already hard at work checking safety conditions and preparing the mountain for the day ahead. This is only the start of their long day – often in dangerous and challenging conditions. Gitgo and Faction captured behind-the-scene footage of a day in the life of ‘Les Patrouilleurs De Verbier'.

“We start work before everyone, finish after all the clients, but it’s really a good job as it’s so varied. Every day out skiing. My father is a patroller also, he knows the work, he knows the risk – he knows the pleasure also. For me, to ski every day during the winter season is really a pleasure. My name is Louis Roggo – I am a patroller at Téléverbier.

Verbier is a very mountainous area. It’s very high, and that involves a high risk of avalanche. The work is very physical. We have a meeting early morning, we check the snow and see if there is new snow. It works like that to see if we need to do avalanche bombing. In the morning we each have a ridgeline. We go down there and check the area near the piste, but if there has been an avalanche on a slope of more than 30 degrees then we must release all excess snow on all aspects. We prepare the explosives early morning, then we go in the ski area and assess if there is a danger of avalanche and if there is, we start to use the explosives.”

“In the morning we have a little chat, then we hit the piste, to see if we have new snow or wind, then we decide if we need to do a bombing or not. For me, it is the best job in the world. It’s sweet, all day on skis. I mean, that’s what I wanted to do – spend every day skiing. I have a qualification in health care, and first aid always interested me… I work in the Verbier ski area. We have a beautiful landscape, an amazing view every day – my name is Megan and I am a patroller.”

“Well, we have to be aware of the weather conditions, the temperature and the wind and the depth of fresh snow. Also, if it’s a good bond or not between the layers of snow. The work? Well, it can be dangerous, but we try to make it as safe as possible. Of course we have confidence in our equipment, we have the backpack with airbag – that’s a good thing in fresh snow – also the transceiver, but most of all our colleagues. For me, the work as a pisteur is to be useful on the mountain, to ensure the safety of the clients in the ski area. My name is Jonathan Vandersteen and I’m a patroller in Verbier.”

To watch the video, go to: https://vimeo.com/factionskis/lespatrouilleurs
www.factionskis.com
www.gitgo.ch