'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.”

[su_vimeo url="https://vimeo.com/191703289"]

“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


Max Chapuis, from ‘Downhill’ to ‘Endurance’

Max Chapuis, from ‘Downhill’ to Endurance

Text and photos: Anthony Brown (www.anthonybrown.ch)

The earth is dry, the air is fresh and the Bagnard trails have many happy days ahead of them. Among the faithful mountain bike regulars, there is one who continuously returns to Verbier’s single trails. Despite being a Geneva resident, he knows the mountains and their steep slopes very well. Favouring those with generous turns and those without snow and where nature has regained control, the Verbier Bikepark ambassador rides fast, really fast even, in spite of his calm, restrained nature.

Maxime Chapuis, a young sportsman, is under the spotlight as he takes a chance in ‘Enduro’, a new mountain bike discipline:

It didn’t take long for Max to become interested in mountain biking. Even in the city, where a bike is perceived more as a way to avoid traffic, he caught the mountain bike virus.

Dominated by the Salève mountain, Geneva is on the end of the Jura mountain range, which, despite not being as high as Mont-Fort’s 3328m, still offers many possibilities.

From the Salève to Verbier via Dovenaz, Maxime honed his mountain bike skills and found himself, at 12 years old, on top of the Croix-des-Ruinettes for the start of his first ever downhill competition. Ten years and many competitions later, he is lining himself up at the start of the Downhill World Cup stages. 2015 Swiss champion and vice-champion the following year, Maxime has been reaping impressive results at a national level, bringing him added confidence during international events.

However the level is extremely high in the World Cup and even though he often comes out at the top of the Swiss delegation, he hasn’t won any medals so far. Being a bit tired, he is setting his sights on the invariable downhill runs and he is now veering towards this new discipline, cousin of the downhill, the ‘Enduro’. A seasoned downhiller, Max is first and foremost a fan of road biking and the climbs he has to accomplish are for him part of the game. From 2015, he has tested himself in the Enduro Helvetic Cup races and managed to win it in 2016.

For passing visitors, it’s sometimes difficult to follow the development of all the ‘’new school’’ sports found in Verbier. Let’s give it a go: from outside, these youngsters ride the cable car up and all hit the bike park runs as quickly as possible on big bikes. However, some take off to go straight down whilst others prefer to take detours, their legs doing the work in further uphills, to then take advantage of a great technical downhill trail to go down.

In terms of the mechanics, the ‘Enduro’ bikes are completely suspended and have smaller cogs (and therefore slower speeds). This allows ‘Endurists’ to cycle up climbs, whilst simultaneously comfortably go down the single trails. The ‘Enduro’ trails are therefore really different to Downhill. The riders go up by cycling up (contrary to downhill) and they are only timed when they go downhill.

‘Enduro’ athletes’ days are much longer. They spend between six and eight hours on their bike, compared with downhillers who do two to three descents per day. In short, ‘Enduro’ biking is longer and more physical (whilst still maintaining a high technical level) and downhill is faster and more difficult.

These are strategic times for Maxime. The ‘Enduro’ founded its own federation (EMBA) in 2012 and launched an appealing international race circuit: the ‘Enduro World Series’. It’s all new and there is a lot to be done. He participated in the last stage of the 2016 event and obtained a wildcard, inviting him to participate this year. In 2017, Max has been taking part in all the series and has already achieved 14th place in the Rotorua event in New Zealand.

At the first stage, he declares his ambitious personal challenge to make the top 15 in one of the stages. There remains one challenge, just as risky: staying in the top 30 of the overall ranking – he currently holds 29th place.

By training in Verbier, Max has some of the most technical terrain available to him for him to improve his ‘Enduro’ skills. He also benefits from welcome support, where the competition is stiff, sometimes organized in a team and also has technical support also. Essentials which Max currently has on his own, from his own bike saddle.

Taking advantage of a shorter winter at 850m altitude, mountain bikers can use the cable cars over a longer period than skiers can.

Its gastronomic specialties, location in the heart of the Alps, many natural Valaisans trails and installations in Le Châble all make Verbier a prime choice for the ‘Enduro’ scene. If tourists use the lifts sometimes, sometimes, cycling to new trails is also a luxury.

Follow Max on:

www.instagram.com/maxchapuis

www.facebook.com/ChapuisMax

www.maxime-chapuis.ch

Follow Anthony on:

www.anthonybrown.ch

https://www.instagram.com/brown_anthony/

https://www.facebook.com/anthonybrownswissmadephoto/

 


VERBIER ROAD CYCLING WITH HAUT VELO

 Mountain biking is not the only activity that is increasing in popularity in and around Verbier. In recent years, lycra-clad road cyclists have been increasing in their numbers to, taking advantage of the numerous stunning routes on offer in the Valais region. Adam Sedgwick and Jonas Sundstedt recently set up Haut Vélo, a holiday and guiding service, to show visitors what’s on offer throughout the region.

Verbier draws cycling enthusiasts from around the world – having previously hosted the Tour de France and the Tour de Suisse, the likes of Chris Froome, Peter Sagan, Fabian Cancellara, Cadel Evans and Lance Armstrong have pedaled their way up the winding roads of the area. Within cycling distance of Verbier there is also the UCI global headquarters in Aigle, with its world class facilities including its Velodrome and BMX track. The Val de Bagnes has access to some spectacular cycling, from mountain passes climbing to France and Italy, to flat rides along the banks of the river Rhône through orchards and vineyards. Historic routes meandering through traditional alpine villages or adrenaline fuelled sweeping descents – there’s something for everyone. Passionate about cycling, Adam and Jonas decided to set up a road cycling travel company to share their experiences and the beautiful area with other cycling enthusiasts.

VL: When did you start road cycling?
JS: About 25 years ago. I had quite a few friends who did it and that was how we solved the world.
AS: In the summer of 2005, between my summer season and winter season, I thought it would be a great way to get fit for skiing. I used to head out on my old mountain bike on the local roads but I would regularly be overtaken by people many years older than me on road bikes. I thought I need one of those bikes… and I’ve never looked back!!

VL: Do you mountain bike too?
JS: Yes I used to be a mountain bike guide here in Verbier.
AS: Yes - I love the journey aspect of cross country and the challenge of technical climbs.

VL: You both work up in Verbier during the winter months, did you manage to bike at all earlier in the year?
AS: Yes absolutely, I try and ride all year. The mild winter last winter certainly helped. I also purposefully sign up to a long sportive in the early spring to give myself a target. This year it was the 275km Liege Bastogne Liege, Ardennes spring classic in Belgium.
JS: Yes, thankfully! It was a comfort during this winter, the warmest I have experienced in more than 15 years here in Verbier.

VL: Do you need all the gear to get started?
JS: No, not at all. I get the feeling people think it’s a complicated and expensive sport but it really doesn’t need to be. Just get out on a bike and ride! I recommend getting yourself a helmet, padded shorts, gloves and a puncture repair kit. Take it easy for the first month until you build confidence, but just get out and enjoy the experience.
AS: This is a question we get asked a lot by people who want to give cycling a go. So much so we are in the process of developing a course for beginners to gain experience and confidence in the basics of cycling. We’ll run sessions on how to complete simple road side repairs, what to carry when you’re out, how to set up your bike, how to ride the bike efficiently and most importantly what cakes are the best source of mid-ride nutrition…

VL: Where’s your favourite route to take beginners?
AS: That’s easy – through the stunning Swiss villages, vineyards and orchards along the banks of the river Rhône. You can also ride from Martigny along the cycle path to Lake Geneva passing the UCI headquarters and velodrome.

VL: And more experienced cyclists?
JS: When the snow clears, you can ride the big cols and passes in the area, for example the Col de Forclaz and if you have the energy, head up to Emosson dam. Other favourites are the St Bernard pass, Col de Lein, bike up to Champex Lac, Fouly or head out and take on as many of the local hills as your legs will allow!

For more information on holidays, cycle guiding and Haut Velo, go to www.hautvelo.com


TOP HEALTH TIPS

Holistic Health and Nutrition Coach Sian Leigh takes time to share 4 tips you can implement for free to improve your health and make the most your of life in the mountains everyday. Sian moved to Verbier in 2015, “just for one season” with her family, but still hasn’t managed to leave. She has clients all over the globe and is a Yoga instructor at Wholeycow, as well as on YouTube…

Even if your body is lithe from a season skiing, the dry scaly winter skin definitely doesn’t inspire confidence. Don’t worry though, I’m here to keep you informed on how to make the best of what you’ve got with 4 essential tips:

 

  1. Drink more water – Ok, I’m not re-inventing the wheel with any of my tips, particularly when I tell you to drink more water. Try to get a litre in before breakfast. Because we lose around 250ml while we sleep, we need to top ourselves up as soon as we can. Now, I’m going to complicate things – don’t drink with your meals, give yourself half an hour on either side. It’s basic chemistry: the pH of our stomach acid which breaks down food is around 3 and the pH of water is around 7, so I’ll leave it to you to work out what happens when you drink water while you eat. The good news is there is one liquid that has a PH similar to our stomach acid. YES, Vino! Just don't drink alcohol on an empty stomach if you want to keep your gut lining intact.

  1. Breathe - When we are feeling anxious and we shallow breathe, our fight or flight system is activated. Our body thinks we are being chased by a bear and so it steals the blood from our digestive system and it sends all of the blood from around the body to places it deems necessary for immediate survival. Our heart rate increases, our vision narrows, our muscles become tense, we start sweating, our hearing becomes more sensitive. Is the body thinking ‘I’d better leave that blood supply with the digestive system because I may stop for a feed while I’m being chased by the bear?’. Hell no. So when we aren’t breathing properly, we aren’t digesting food and we aren’t getting nutrients. As a mother, I am frequently in a bit of a fluff by the time I sit to eat (at least I sit these days). So, my gift to you is this little trick. Take yourself off somewhere quiet, take 3 deep breaths all the way to your belly. This will switch off your Sympathetic Nervous System, and switch on your Parasympathetic.

 

  1. Eat more whole foods and vegetables - Now this seems like a no brainer, right? My clients (and family) get sick of me harping on about this: “half your plate should be green at every meal” is my mantra. Whole foods contain thousands of Phytonutrients (chemicals which protect the plant from germs, fungi, bugs and other threats). So when we eat them, we are building a protective shield to protect us from the very same beasts. So start small, introduce a salad at every meal and make your plate look as colourful as possible – the more colour, the greater the variety of phytonutrients you are absorbing into your cells. And best of all, this will show on the outside: you can dramatically slow the signs of ageing by changing to a whole food diet.

  1. Sleep

We spend the first quarter of our lives not having any respect for the main thing we spend the next 75% trying to get enough of. Sleep. When we sleep our growth hormones kick in, so even if you’ve stopped growing upwards, you’ll be healing your tired muscles and any injuries when you sleep. Sleep also regulates your hunger hormones: how quickly do you reach for sugary snacks when you are tired? Not only is your body craving a quick energy shot, but because your hunger hormones are out of whack, you don’t know when you are hungry or whether you just need to lie down and rest. Again, I’m not going to tell you anything you don't know, but don't take screens into your bedroom, keep a regular sleep rhythm (don't sleep in on the weekends), and keep the bedroom only for sleep and sex. In equal amounts, preferably.

 

To find out more, go to www.thehealthshed.life

 


OLAF BREUNING: SAVE THE CLIMATE!

The New York-based Swiss artist Olaf Breuning is presenting new photographic work in Verbier this summer. The Verbier 3-D Foundation invited him to reside in Verbier and develop new material responding to the social and glacial environment. The work, SAVE THE CLIMATE!, creates a platform for visitors to consider the role human migration plays as a contributing factor to climate change…

Text: Anneliek Sijbrandij

Photos: Olaf Breuning

In 2017, many art lovers will embark on ‘the Grand Tour’, a year in which to visit the quinquennial Documenta in Kassel, Germany (and this time also in Athens, Greece), the Venice Biennale, and the decennial Skulptur Projekte Münster, Germany, all in a matter of weeks. A visit to Art Basel can also be squeezed in, and then it’s time to retreat to Verbier for the summer. In Valais, Cezanne will be on view at the Fondation Pierre Gianadda from mid-June, and the Triennale d’art contemporain Valais 2017 will start at the end of August. Even closer to home, you can be inspired by the Verbier 3-D Foundation, that unites artists, locals and scientists to chronicle the impact of the surrounding glacial environment as part of a 4-year initiative that launched in 2016. Here, Olaf Breuning (1970) discusses his Verbier-developed work with Anneliek Sijbrandij, the founder of the Verbier Art Summit.

 

Anneliek Sijbrandij: First of all, Olaf, you live in New York, do you come back to Switzerland often?

Olaf Breuning: I have lived in Manhattan for eighteen years, and since 2 years I’ve lived in upstate New York, in the green… and it’s nice, I have a little more quiet time. I visit Switzerland around 3 times a year. I love it and it’s beautiful, I grew up there, but I’m not a nostalgic person. My father still lives there, but otherwise I don’t miss it so much.

AS: Your work ranges from photography, to sculpture, installation and performance, films and drawings. How do you decide which medium to use?

OB: I get bored quickly, so when I get bored with things, I’m happy to change… it’s a different approach, I make a lot of drawings, I’m happy to do something in ceramics, happy to do a photograph… when I made a movie, I was so sick of making a movie, I needed a few years to make another movie. I like that about my art, that I have the possibility to change.

AS: ‘Home 3’, a film commissioned by the Dutch art collectors Allard and Natascha Jakobs, who frequently visit Verbier and are Strategic Members of the Verbier Art Summit, addresses contemporary communication culture. It’s a document of early twenty-first-century New York: there is humour, but the work is also deeply melancholic. Are these common denominators in your work?

OB: The idea is I always think about my life and my work and this world I live in and I transfer it into an easy, understandable language. That could be sometimes with a lot of humour, but there is also a more serious side, and sometimes a highly philosophical side. In the Verbier photo I did, you can read “SAVE THE CLIMATE” on their butts, and you see them sticking the ski things up, and they have their pants down, but then you don’t know what it really means. Do they party? Do they protest? And there is, in my language, in general, the moment where it gets interesting, because it’s a simple language, but it oscillates in a meaning where it’s never really clear what it means. I think all my works mostly do that.

AS: The clear language here deals with our contemporary understanding of climate and glacier awareness. What would you like the Verbier visitors to consider when looking at the work?

OB: It reflects more or less a conundrum we are all in. We all want to do something against it, in our hearts, we want to make that planet a good place, but then at the same time we realise in many, many, ways, we don’t – like, I still drive a car and all these things, but it takes time to change, not only in your mind, but in your daily life as well.

 

SAVE THE CLIMATE! will be on view until 17 June 2018 in the Verbier 3-D

Sculpture Park on the path between La Chaux and Ruinettes, at an altitude of

2300 metres. A making of the work will also be exhibited on the path from

Ruinettes to Croix-de-Coeur documented by Verbier photographer Melody Sky.

www.3-dfoundation.com

www.olafbreuning.com