Far apart from the beautiful chalets, the infectious Après scene, the shopping, the nightlife and the buzzing restaurants, the resort of Verbier has a much steelier side: the challenging off-piste terrain. Indeed, Verbier has earned a reputation as the freeride capital of Europe offering some of the most exhilarating skiing in the Alps. Guest blogger, Zac Greenfield, Bramble Ski’s head concierge, has spent many hours trying and testing the ski terrain around Verbier and here he gives us his take on the five toughest off-piste runs in the Four Valleys.
1: Rock ‘n Roll
Accessed from Attelas, Rock ‘n Roll is the first major couloir along the Attelas ridge. There is a large rock in the middle of the couloir, towards the end. The run is quite steep throughout but not very long, once through the corridor, it opens into a flatter, large powder field. This exhilarating little run’s biggest challenge is getting around that rock in the middle.
2: The trees at Siviez
There is a set of narrow couloirs through the trees on skier’s left of the Combatseline red run that lead you back to the Siviez area. These runs require good snow cover as they are at a lower elevation but, in the right conditions, they are fantastic. You might even spot an animal or two. After the couloirs, take the track left until you get to the boulder field which adds an extra element of fun for those who like to jump. The stand out feature for me are the last couple of couloirs which are quite narrow and steep.
3: Backside of Mont-Fort
Probably one of Verbier’s most talked about off-piste runs and certainly one worth doing. Perhaps not the best for snowboarding unless the knuckledragger doesn’t mind walking a lot. This super fun run is accessed at the top of Mont-Fort with various options for routes in the first section, all of them pretty steep and generally offering good snow. After that, various secondary routes can be chosen with bootpacks up other ridges. This run brings you to Siviez.
4: Front-side of Mont Gelé
Offering spectacular views over the Four Valleys, this “no pisted-runs down” peak is accessed by cable car from Attelas. The entry from the back side of Mont Gelé can be quite tricky going around the peak. Once done, traverse back left into the main couloir of the front-side. It’s pretty steep at the beginning but then opens up nicely into a flatter powder field and eventually brings you out on Ruinette red run. Unbeatable on the right day!
5: Turtle Back
This run requires a short skin up from the end of skiers right of the Mont-Fort cable car off-piste run or you can traverse across the flats from the base of the Mont-Fort cable car. The skin up is all traversing right and only takes about 20 minutes and, because the start of the skin up is at a significantly higher elevation than where the run finishes, you get a lot of bang for your buck. The run down has various pitches of differing steepness and you end near the same reservoir as the back side of Mont- Fort. The biggest highlight for me: lots of room to find fresh pow’.
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