13th February 2022
It is an absolute favourite resort of ours at PlanetSKI and is just over an hour’s drive from our current winter base in Aosta, Italy. Perfect for a day trip. NEW
Normally when a I swing through Verbier for one day the skiing takes a somewhat predictable course.
Head to Mont Fort and ski down its steep bumps and into Gentianes.
Up the Tortin lift and tick off Chassoure.
Mont Gele – front and back. Plus the side if there’s enough snow.
Then head over to Vallon d’Arbi.
Dip into all powder seen enroute, and maybe tick off a couloir if conditions allow.
This time I was with my daughter Tashie (25), and son Max (22) – both are ski instructors and have age on their side.
We were in the mood.
As we arrived at the Mont Fort cable car there was a long queue – maybe three cable car’s worth.
Mont Fort could wait.
Besides it looked a bit skied out.
We decided to give it a temporary miss and tick off Gentianes first.
We went my favourite way – skiers left under the cable car, and then down the powder field to the base of the exit from the back side of Mont Gele.
Another sharp left to traverse above the marked route and then down a steepish pitch to re-join the marked route and the bumps.
At the bottom of the Tortin lift there was another long queue.
I have a motto when skiing (and for life in general) – “All plans are made to be changed.”
So, we did exactly that.
Out went the macho hit list of all the itinerary runs… in came a tour of the whole of the 4-Vallees ski area.
We stuck to the marked piste and head across to Thyon.
After the hard work on Gentianes the gentle blue to Siviez was relaxation personified.
Park, ride and glide.
Same beyond Siviez.
Verbier, 4-Vallees. Image © PlanetSKI
We headed all the way over to Thyon passing though some spectacular 4-Vallees scenery.
We were in no rush and just took the day at a leisurely pace, enjoying each turn and not trying to race on to the next challenge.
I had forgotten how big and extensive the area is.
We hit the women’s world cup race course in Thyon – a fine and fast red run with its banks and steeps.
Worth the extra effort for this run alone and was a firm favourite when I ski guided in Verbier for the Ski Club of Great Britain some years back.
Thyon itself is 3 lifts from Verbier (1 chair, 1 button and a t-bar to be precise).
But it could be a million miles.
In places it has more than a passing resemblance to one of the high-altitude French resorts.
But not everywhere.
And its family offerings bring in the crowds.
And at the top of the final chair at the end of the 4-Vallees – one of my favourite 360 views in the Alps from Etherolla at 2,450m.
And then the route back.
We meandered back soaking up the scenery and simply enjoying each other’s company.
As the kids nattered away to each other in the gondola I could only think of my parental duties over the years and think ‘job done’.
As well as brother and sister, they are firm friends.
Skiing has contributed much to this in my view.
No extreme boxes were ticked in this trip to Verbier and very little adrenalin used.
It was utter heaven.
I knocked off a quick and updated video snow report for elsewhere on the PlanetSKI web site and social media chanels.
The day just rolled on by in a very ‘non-Verbier’ way.
On the way back to the resort one of my favourite stops in the mountains looked as magical as ever – the Cabane de Mont Fort.
We rounded the day off with a sundowner at Dahu.
Drinking in the views as well as the beer.
And a visit to another of my favourite stops in the once back in the village, Le Fer au Cheval.
And with that Max joined me for the final photo.
Earlier his sister had been more accommodating.
At the bar I bumped into a local who I hadn’t seen for a few years.
“Great to see you again Covey, it’s been a while. Fancy a beer?” he said.
I can’t reveal his name as he was supposed to be out doing the shopping and returning straight home.
“Do you know that Verbier has won an award as the best ski resort in the Alps?”
I told him that I had and that we had written about it on PlanetSKI.
“Look that’s all well and good mate, but you ought to do a personal piece on whether it really is the best ski resort in the world written from your experiences here.
“Don’t write any tourist office bullshit, but just a piece on what you think of it and how it has changed over the years – an insider’s view.
“Sadly, you don’t live here anymore but I bet it would be an interesting read as you recount Verbier’s development over your 20-odd years skiing here.
“You know the resort as well as anyone, and probably far better than all the other journalists that pass through put together.”
“You have lived here year-round, worked as a ski guide, then a ski instructor, and I seem to recall we partied on many occasions like it was going out of fashion.”
Now there’s a thought…… Verbier: Is It Really The Best Ski Resort In The World?