Mountainair Verbier
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3-1-18

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Emma Skiing

The 5 Best Pistes in Verbier’s 4 Vallées

Verbier is known as an off-piste mecca, but we are also the largest ski area in Switzerland with 412km of beautifully groomed pistes. We also have thirteen itinerary runs that are just the right amount of wilderness and nature (being ungroomed) but without needing a map or a guide! Skiing starts at 821m of elevation and climbs all the way to the lofty Mont Fort at a breath-taking 3330m – with a 360 degree view from the Matterhorn right round to Mont Blanc and countless famous peaks in between. It can take you a day just to navigate from Bruson’s tree lined runs over to the world cup run down in Mayens-de-l’ours and that’s without deviating from the most direct route or stopping in one of the areas famous mountain restaurants.

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Let me help you find the best runs so that you can check out the highlights of the 4 valleys, safe in the knowledge that you haven’t missed a trick.

1. Gentianes – La Chaux. This run has is all; starts out steep at the top with some challenging turns that must be made to negotiate the first section (there is a track that cuts these out for the faint hearted) then it opens up to a wide cruisy run where you can really let loose those GS skis you rented at Mountain Air, followed by a fast schuss past Cabane Mt Fort (great place for a vin chaud and a rest to take in the view of the Grand Combin). After which you have a series of fun small descents that eventually bring you back to the La Chaux bowl. Long turns, short turns and a schuss past a delightful mountain cabane what more could you want?

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2. Attelas – Carrefour. If your legs can handle this in one go top to bottom then you are up there with the greats like Hermann Maier or Lindsey Vonn. Starting at 2727m and dropping a huge 971m before reaching the splendid Carrefour restaurant. It feels like your legs are on fire and might burst into flames at any moment. But this run offers such variety with really wide pistes that test every element of your skiing ability. Not least your endurance! This run is colloquially called the M25 as it’s a link run that cuts the whole area in two. But catch it at the right time of day and it is simply one of the best! 

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3. Piste de l’ours. Over in Thyon is up there as one of the greats, not just in this area, but in Switzerland. It will require your legs to be made of steel for you to not want to pull over and “take a look at the view” Descending 900m this time, down through the trees it’s a test of nerves when you come over the big rollers that will make even the best skiers think twice about going full gas! It is also home to the boarder cross competition which really is quite the spectacle. 

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4. Thyon – Veysonnaz. The next-door neighbour to the Piste de l’Ours is longer but a little less steep, meaning you can cruise a little more and take in the unbelievable views of the Rhone Valley. It’s still a red run but it lacks the really steep bits of its more famous neighbour so slightly more accessible to a broader ability of skiers or boarders. 

5. Mt Gele – Tortin. Now I know what you are going to say, “that’s not a piste” and you are quite correct. It’s not groomed like normal pistes but it is a real rarity in the alps where a lift accesses only itinerary runs and no groomed runs at all. This and the fact that is passes through some truly stunning scenery and can offer the feel of off piste to those who are not accustomed to it, means that it’s a great choice for connecting with the rest of the 4 valleys. Not for beginners or nervous skiers, it really offers a challenging route that must be tried while here in the 4 valleys. 

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Top secret 6th run that we must ask you to keep to yourself. Is the run from the top of the Grand Tsai over in Bruson down to the bottom of the Passay lift. It’s almost never got anybody on it and as it is north facing holds the snow well. Plus, you get a view of Verbier that you may not have seen before. Just don’t tell anybody you have been over there…. 😊

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