Perfect spring skiing in Verbier
There is a short window of opportunity in between the end of the February holidays and the start of the Easter holidays when the pistes are quiet, the sun is high in the sky and the snow is still reasonably good.
This is when the locals come out to play after a manic few months of cleaning, driving, pulling pints, servicing skis, etc… This week has been full of those perfect days.
Starting at Le Chable we headed straight up the Medran and across to La Chaux for some mid-morning sunshine; the pistes over on this side get the sun from quite early in the day, so they’re at their best before lunch when they’ve not had chance to soften up too much. Beautiful wide empty pistes welcomed us as we zipped down past the snow park and back towards Les Ruinettes.
Figuring that in these warm temperatures, the best snow is to be found higher up, we took the Jumbo cable car up to the plateau at Col des Gentianes. They’re already setting up the stage, ready for the upcoming Freeride World Tour. Typically, the weather looks set to change over the weekend but if the sun can hang on in there until Saturday it’ll be a great day to chill out and watch some awesome freeriders in action.
Conditions coming down from Col des Gentianes were excellent - super smooth pistes covered in a soft layer of dry chalky snow. Some might describe them as bulletproof but they were so perfectly groomed that you could just fly down without a care in the world. Zipping across to Attelas and dropping down into Lac des Vaux opened up more great options. The lovely rolling pistes in this sector are immaculate at the moment, still plenty of snow cover and maintaining their condition even until quite late in the afternoon.
Beer o’clock just happened to coincide with passing the Chalet Carlsberg, so it seemed silly not to pop in for one (or two) and soak up the sun on their terrace whilst deciding where to go next.
Wanting to explore further afield, we tackled the Chassoure-Tortin off-piste itinerary to get over to Greppon Blanc. Although not as bad as it can sometimes be, the moguls were plentiful and our thighs were burning by the time we reached Siviez.
Cruising through the narrow valley past little stone huts and gnarled old trees was stunningly beautiful. The snow over this side is definitely feeling the effects of the sun a bit more though and there was a fair bit of rock dodging going on as we approached the drag lift up to the top of Greppon Blanc. The piste that runs alongside the drag was looking very soggy, interspersed with large brown slushy bits.
It's worth the schlep up there though, the views from the top of Greppon Blanc are fantastic and the snow coming down towards Les Chottes was the best of the day. So good in fact that we braved the t-bar to give it another whirl; and of course to entertain the elderly French men who were tickled to see our attempts to balance on that ridiculous contraption - "courage les filles!".
Heading back across to the Ruinettes piste turned into a bit of a race against the clock, as we suddenly realised that we were running out of time to catch the last gondola back down to Le Chable. Whipping along the cat track past Combatzeline, we hopped on the lift back up to Chassoure and dropped back down to Lac des Vaux - even at this late hour the snow here was still dry and chalky! The pistes in the Attelas sector were a little softer but still really good fun, soft and velvety, kind of like skiing down a big white snooker table.
We could have took the Medran lift all the way down to the car park but we were having so much fun that we decided to take a chance on Les Ruinettes. Considering that we were expecting to be scraping over rocks and squelching through mud, it actually wasn’t too shabby and didn’t get truly mushy until after we’d passed the Mouton Noir. After that it was, admittedly, a bit of a squelch-fest but we only had to cruise the last few turns through the trees until we reached the Le Chable cable car station to take us the last stretch. One of the best things about Verbier is that the ski area is so diverse and faces all directions - time it right and you can be skiing untouched corduroy in the morning, soaking up the sun over lunchtime and still be skimming over decent snow until late in the afternoon.
Although there may not be much powder to get excited about, there are plenty of people out enjoying the off-piste in the form of ski touring. Spring is the ideal time to get the skins out and start exploring the many itineraries that take you off the beaten track and into the Swiss backcountry. Or you could just skin up to the Cabane du Mont Fort for a long, lazy lunch on the terrace, as many people seemed to be doing today.
Location: Verbier Valley