It was fantastic to see some snow and sparkles in the Swiss Alps after a celebratory Christmas in Denmark – contrary to popular belief, it is not complete darkness throughout winter there but you do get less than 7 hours from sunrise to sunset around winter solstice. While Morten was diving with The Reef in Thailand, I went skiing for the New Year with The Rock in Verbier.
I have been to Verbier quite a few times before but never for more than three or four days and it was never my all time favourite place to go (you may get the hint already from our Ski Guide in just the opening page: Verbier). The skiing is undeniably great and challenging, but the town centre is just a roundabout, the lift system could do with a bit of modernisation and expansion (sometimes at Medran you can wait up to an hour to get on the mountain), and the valley is filled with probably thousands of chalets with very few hotels for short stay. In fact, it is a very un-Swiss resort.
To my surprise, having spent a full week there this time, I am warming to Verbier – a lot. We had an excellent chalet which was literally ski-in/ski-out and lunch booked every day with friends from England, Denmark and Sweden. The skiing was outstanding. With a blue sky most of the days we skinned in the morning from Le Rouge to the top of Savoleyres/Croix de Coeur for a few hours, then skied down on the back side towards Nendaz, where we had 20cm of powder for quite a few days (not easy to find in Verbier). Aside from being a beautiful tour through the forest, it is fantastic exercise and just what you need to start out the day.
As for the young and uninitiated, there are a lot of good and challenging ski schools where they learn avalanche rescue, speed skiing, touring, etc., etc. and that you don’t find in a lot of places in Switzerland. I begin to appreciate Verbier as an all round ski resort where friends and families converge for holidays and there is something for everyone.
I was hit by another (nasty) surprise when my skis were stolen outside Les Ruinettes (2200m above Verbier), where I had left them to head for lunch. I thought Verbier was beyond that but apparently, according to a local, this is organised with people going up the lift taking a pair or two of skis and taking them down the lift, into a van and then all over again!
I now have replaced them with not one, but 2 pairs from my friends at Black Crows (Orb 179 for big mountain and Orb 168 for touring if you must know) so I will not be left with no skis again. Either that, or I will never take off my skis…
Courmayeur: Rediscover the Gems
Back from Verbier, On to Turkey
2010 Christmas: Celebrate the Danish Way