With only two days left until the lifts close for good and winter grinds to a halt this weekend is the time to start cramming like I did for my A-Levels back in the day. Hopefully your ski cramming will be more successful than my poor attempt to cram 2 year of scribble into my distracted mind. Verbier has great cover from mid station upwards and the snow cover and quality higher up the mountain is really good as it has snowed on and off for the last couple of weeks.
The weather has got much better recently after the cold winter weather broke and allowed a good amount of sun to come out. The temperatures have also jumped back up and today at Medran it had climbed to +16 by the afternoon. This has kept the risk of avalanche high at 3 out of 5 and sadly an avalanche claimed the life of a local skier, caught in an avalanche between Gentianes and Tortin. Strong winds high up the mountain have stripped cols bare and deposited large amounts of snow on many slopes so extreme caution should be exercised if off piste skiing or ski touring through the mountains. NW-N-NE facing slopes above 2500m are especially dangerous as the recent strong wind, that has come from the south, has deposited slab on many slopes. Lower down, a sudden rise in temperatures, a high freezing level and some rain showers as high as Ruinettes may cause wet avalanches too over the weekend. With great powder and dangerous conditions side by side in the mountains anybody venturing off piste should be properly equipped and have experience with those types of conditions. Consider taking a guide as there is some great snow within easy reach of the lifts and a guide can sniff out the safest spot. Otherwise relax and cruise the pistes as there is good cover all the way to where 1936 bar used to be. The lower slopes below Ruinettes are obviously a little slushier than higher up but hopefully the Medran path back to resort will stay open but sticky until the end of the weekend.
On Saturday the last competitors from the PDG race will be arriving in town after their epic ski trek/race from either Zermatt or Arolla. Lifts are meant to be open from 4am in the morning to allow spectators up the mountain to support the skiers as they arrive and finish the final leg of their race which involves running from Medran at the top end of town to the sports centre at the bottom end.
Currently the Savoleyres and Bruson sectors are closed and the lower slopes and lifts below Ruinettes are also shut. The rest of the area is a bit more complicated. The links to the 4 Vallees were meant to close last weekend but then remained open for the PDG race. They have kept closing and opening through the week due to maintenance issues (Lac 3) and bad weather/ avalanche risk (Mont Fort and the off piste free ride runs such as Mont Gele, Gentianes and Chassoure). On Friday the strong winds had shut the Mont Fort sector but on the website the Gentianes red run, back to La Chaux, was open (as the PDG competitors arrive over the Col de la Chaux and come down the Gentianes piste to La Chaux. If the glacier area is going to open at 4am on Saturday, which they are still advertising, but the weather forecast is remaining the same as previous days then I have no idea until I get up there to see myself and I suggest you do the same.
On Sunday from 10:30am the Ultime Festival will be held in La Chaux. This end of season celebration sees a giant water slide created for people to ski across, live music, food and drink. The park is still in great condition for trying those last ditch tricks due to its’ slushy nature.
Whatever you do this weekend you will find reasonable snow, pretty good weather and quiet pistes. I know that is not a very good sales pitch but here at Verbinet we tell you it how it is, not how we want it to be. I’ll be posting my last written report and video report this weekend and then after that I promise to leave you alone to ponder the tranquillity of Spring alone.
Avalanche Risk: Level 3