Verbier Trail Map
With 410 kilometres of runs and 89 lifts covered by a single lift pass, Les 4 Vallées ski area is big. Its wealth of activities, reliable snow cover and sunny slopes make it an exceptional place to ski. From the top of the Mont-Fort glacier (3,330 m) to the kindest blue run the ski area is a paradise for all whether expert or beginner. Open from early November until the end of April, it links the resorts of Verbier, La Tzoumaz and Bruson, as well as Nendaz, Veysonnaz and Thyon. Verbier is now officially the Verbier-St Bernard ski region.
Although the possibilities for skiing and snowboarding are endless it is not quite the seamless web of ski areas that you find in Les 3 Vallées in France. A guide is a good investment to avoid queues and tracked out off piste runs.
Take the opportunity whilst you are in the resort, if you don't get vertigo, to clamber up the last few metres to the top of the Mont Fort from the cable car and enjoy the amazing views. Not for nothing has Verbier attracted film makers and photographers over the years. You can get up there by cable car without skis if necessary.
Verbier is famous for off-piste skiing. The better your skiing, the more the resort comes into its own. Easier blue and red skiing can be found in the central valley area but on the whole this is an intermediate/expert rather than beginner resort.
Of the many steep runs, you'll remember skiing from the top of Mont Fort forever. It starts as a precipitous mogul field, the challenge is how early you get into your tuck as it begins to flatten into a very smooth glacier motorway run where even the worst skiers can look stylish. It is one of the steepest runs in the Alps and you need to know what you are doing. The other signature ski run for the hardy is Tortin, a cold north-facing mogul field which eventually turns into an easy undulating ride down to another sector of the 4 Vallées. Over on the Mount Gelé at 3030m is another vertiginous run that rewards the skilful and is apt to paralyse the inexperienced.
Heli-skiing is a great option in this resort famous for its freeriding. Just because you get there by helicopter does not mean that the skiing available is only for experts. Trips can be arranged to provide ‘a gentle powder smoothie' for all the family.
Groomers and Families
There is a dedicated children's area in Verbier at Les Esserts with a magic carpet. There's also a separate area for children at Les Moulins with gentle nursery slopes. There are good runs for beginners - Savoleyres and La Tzoumaz through the trees. To be sure of better snow it pays to pluck up courage and go up to La Chaux where you'll find plenty of blue runs.
Once you have made a bit of progress it all becomes a lot more enjoyable as the occasional red sections that link the blue runs seem less daunting. The long run from Attelas to Verbier (1224m) is particularly enjoyable for groomers but it can get a bit hectic at the end of the day with experienced skiers zooming home. Bruson, a short (free) bus ride form Verbier is a quiet area away from the crowds and good for families.
There are no less than eight ski schools and no shortage of instruction in English. Warren Smith, the founder of the famous annual Verbier Ride free ski event, runs his innovative Warren Smith Ski Academy here and has a reputation for bringing on hesitant intermediate skiers. He also runs special off piste lessons for those that really want to progress.
There is now only one snowpark in the La Chaux area of the Four Valleys. It is here that the annual Verbier Ride event is held every year. A number of competitions are held throughout the season. There is an express ski lift to give maximum time in the park.
Four different points of access, each one taking a different line give access to a total of 20 modules. The first entrance with nine modules is for experts only. The second is black and has thirteen modules . The third entrance is blue. The fourth entrance gives access to the whole lower blue area of the park. There is a giant Big Air Bag available to everyone over the age of 12. This enables beginners to experience the really big sensations without serious injury and the more experienced to try out different moves in complete safety. Each jump is filmed and can be accessed immediately on Swatch shoot my ride.