Carl Renvall’s winter diary: Each month, pro-skier Carl Renvall writes about his winter season, meeting fellow freeriders along the way…

The winter is on its way. In most places, people don’t ever want to see the end of summer. Here in Verbier, you can only feel excitement filling the air when knocking on the doors of the winter. We are about to step into a new, lively and eventful season. If you haven’t already, it’s time to pray to the snow gods, wishing for a deep and stable snowpack. Until then, like the squirrel living in my neighbouring tree, I’m focusing all my energy on getting ready for the long, cold winter. Only, I’m not stuffing my house with nuts. I am training hard, gaining strength, agility, balance, coordination and stamina. These are only a few of the components I will need for a successful season. Last year, I had the opportunity to compete on the Freeride World Tour. The overall experience was great, but unfortunately the strict 50/50 cut bumped me back down to the qualifier for this upcoming winter. Against all odds, we were a group of four friends who managed to qualify for the Freeride World Tour in the same year. Charlotte Percle saw the potential story and decided to set out on a mission to document it. If you haven’t seen it already, get a glimpse from the inside of what it’s like to compete on the professional freeriding circuit. Make sure to check-out the movie `ROOKIES’ by Charlotte Percle, which you will find for free online, (The film will be shown at Verbier Cinema December 2)

[su_vimeo url=""]

Carl: Knowing you did it all by yourself and on your own budget, what inspired and motivated you to do this?

Charlotte: My main motivation was to learn. I took photos for many years before this project, but have never really filmed. I was tired of being a waitress and I wanted to change my career path. The only way to really learn is by just doing it.

Carl: Where did your expectations differ from the end result?

Charlotte: I expected more face shots and slightly less mistakes from myself. But, I’m pretty happy with how everything turned out in the end.

Carl: Why do you film skiing?

Charlotte: I want to spend my days on the mountain with skis on, so filming skiing was an obvious choice. It’s also because I get to meet awesome individuals and discover new zones that I would have never known were in my back garden.

Carl: What was your overall impression of the freeride competition scene?

Charlotte: My overall impression goes a bit deep. I used to think it was a closed door club for locals only. I never got into any of the FWQ’s in Europe and had wild cards taken away, I just thought that the whole thing was designed to stop people getting in. The reason I got so angry about the whole thing is because I desperately wanted to take part. This is because the scene surrounding competitive Freeride is in fact amazing, it makes the world feel small. You meet the same people at competitions all over the planet and you could be in Japan or South America - you’d still bump into someone you know if you were at a competition. This season has deepened that view even more. The Freeride World Tour is just a little community of amazing people trying to do what they enjoy most.


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.

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.


As you read this, New Year will be just around the corner, so, in preparation for the event, I have decided to write about the unavoidable: you guessed it, the hangover.

Text: Marcus Bratter

Medical research published in 2005* tells us that: “The most effective way to avoid the symptoms of alcohol induced hangover is to practise abstinence or moderation.” I just love the pragmatic approach. However, most of us will just shrug and reach for the corkscrew. So from a realistic point of view, I have decided to try and understand why we get hangovers and what options we have to limit the effect.

It seems hangovers are produced by a variety of chemical interactions with our bodies. Histamines and sulphites in wines can cause allergic reactions but ethanol (alcohol) is the primary culprit: it produces a few by-products, including acetaldehyde, which contribute to that all-encompassing feeling of nausea we know so well the next morning.

Dehydration is a big factor, so drinking a lot of water on the night is always good, but this does leave you running to the toilet as alcohol is a diuretic.  Hangovers tend to become worse as one ages, so another solution is to either find a way not to age or drink an awful lot while you’re younger, because it’s going to hurt a lot more when you’re older.

Perhaps a more reasonable approach is to drink a little less alcohol, drink more water and, based on my personal experience, drink better. I have usually found that the better the quality of the wine the less aggressive the hangover, possibly due to fewer chemicals in the beverage.

Winemakers can use many additives when fermenting and finishing wines including sugars (to increase alcohol levels), yeasts to ferment, sulphites to stabilise and exhausters to enhance flavours. The better the quality of the grape and the more adroit the winemaker the less need for chemicals.

Locally, Didier Joris, from Valais, is making a beautiful Syrah that has low levels of sulphites; over the border in Burgundy, David Duband in Nuits-Saint-Georges is a good example of how environmentally conscious viticulture can produce good quality wines, and down south in Sicily the same can be said of Etna Rosso DOC. Across in the New World there are many producers experimenting with low or no sulphites. I have yet to find a sulphite-free wine that completely stands up but Seresin Estate in New Zealand and Dieter Meier in Argentina are doing a good job keeping sulphites to a minimum whilst maintaining standards. So keep focused, drink with enthusiasm, but drink well. Happy New Year to you all.

*Pittler Max H, Verster Joris C, Ernst Edzard. Interventions for preventing or treating alcohol hangover: systematic review of randomised controlled trials BMJ 2005; 331 :1515


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

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.