WHAT'S ON?See allTuesday27December 2016USEFUL INFO.Getting hereGetting aroundLATEST PHOTOSee all BLOGS.RETURN TO TOP TEN LISTINGTop Ten...Off Piste Runs & Ski Tours02/04/2013. By Sophie Burnett There are very few other resorts in the world which can rival Verbier for lift accessable and variety of off-piste. Almost overy peak visable from the Verbier bowl is directly accessable from the lift system, with plenty of other hidden gems just a short hike away. If you are looking for some powder turns its worth taking a look at or Mountain Guide listings and/or get intouch with a Ski Schools to make sure you find the best snow and terrain most suitable for your level.On those proper deep days, your life will be made infinitely easier with a pair of fat powder skis, if you haven't got a pair already its definitely worth renting some! 1) Backside Mont Fort It’s the Verbier classic, most definitely up there on the powder hunters’ to-do list. This is a run that on some days seems like a well established piste, but on others can appear completely desolate and daunting. A run that in no conditions should be underestimated. Backside Mt Fort 2 Instead of following the hordes at the bottom of the panoramic Mont Fort staircase, generally headed for the moguls off the front-face, you duck straight under the rope to the left of the staircase and shoot off a delicate traverse onto the backside of the mountain. This first traverse takes you across what the terminology ‘no fall zone’ pretty much stands for - a steep face with lingering rocks and unsettling cliff drops below. The next stage of the run takes you into a steep couloir which, if you’re lucky enough to catch in good condition, can provide a spectacular line of powder but be sure to reign in the excitment and stick to the one-at-a-time rule here. After the couloir, there are several ways you can take down to the bottom of the run which is landmarked by the monumental Cleuson dam. Taking the main route at the end of the couloir, the slope eases off and there is a fair distance of flat terrain to cover. Lac Cleuson skidaddle! Bursts of powder fields and options to traverse or climb extra slopes gives way to some diverse and exciting terrain which often remains in good condition long after a fresh snowfall. The final stint takes you along a path on the right edge of Lac Cleuson, a stunning but slightly awkward side-step skidaddle which can take between 5-15 minutes depending on remaining energy levels and inbuilt fitness. Make sure to leave early on warm days as the road along the lake can become dangerous later in the afternoon. Equipment: Standard Avalanche safety kit. Mountain Guide Difficulty: 4/5Effort: 2/5 2) Rock Garden This popular off-piste run starts underneath the rickety chairlift which comes up from Lac des Vaux to Chassoure / Tortin. From the top of this lift, you head back down the piste towards the lake but very quickly leave on a traverse high to your right underneath the obvious outcrop of rocks. On days when a lot of skiers are heading this way, after a short bit of side-stepping along the track, you will find it easier to remove your skis and boot pack up the rest of the way. If very few people have been there, putting skins on is usually the easiest approach. Rock Garden The last part of the climb to your right up a narrow col gets quite steep so chucking your skis over your shoulder or strapping them to your backpack is probably your best option. Rock Garden SkiOnce you get to the top of the col, a cracking line all the way down to the bottom of Tortin awaits you. The run down is east-facing which means the snow often stays light much longer than in other places. There's a wide area ready to tear up, so even on a busy day you can usually seek out some untracked powder/spring snow. Equipment: Standard Avalanche safety kit , skins on some days, water. Experienced skier that knows the area or a guide. Difficulty: 2/5Effort: 3/5 3) Mont Fort - Parrain - Fionnay This one consists of a lengthy ski tour rewarded by staggering views over Les Combins and a wild, picturesque descent down into the secluded yet charming village of Fionnay. Parrain On a first-rate day you can start from the top of Mont Fort and head down on the south or southwest face which avoids a short skin up to Col de La Chaux. From there you continue further south arriving upon two skinning sections split up by a short ski in-between. On average the first skin takes around 45 minutes and the second, just under an hour bringing you to the east-side of the Parrain. There ends the hard-work and you begin on a stunningly beautiful descent all the way down to the valley floor. This run is unbelievable in fresh powder, but also fantastic with spring snow as the route down is mainly southwest facing, and with an early start you can normally hit it just at the right time of day. The last turns down the narrow couloir into Fionnay are often an interesting battle through avalanche debris or alternative routes take you through the trees which can prove a bit tricky especially on tired legs. Fionnay However, there are two particularly delightful restaurants awaiting your arrival for a strong panaché and a late lunch once you have made the short stroll into Fionnay. Equipment: Standard Avalanche safety kit, skins, water, nibbles. Mountain Guide Difficulty: 3/5 (4/5 if starting from the top of Mt. Fort)Effort: 5/5 4) La Chaux - Le Châble A fun run if there is plenty of snow knocking about, in fact only if there is a decent covering all the way down to the valley floor. High density of tree dodging available. Access starts between the bottom of La Chaux Express and the Jumbo, you can even head into the run from Barry’s bowl if you’re going for an immense all-in-one powder fix. La Chaux-Le ChâbleHead straight down towards Sarreyer, a charming cluster of old wooden chalets. You will quickly shoot down below the tree line which greatly improves your visibility, making this run particularly good for downdays when everything higher up is closed or lacks much visibility at all. After the first face, be sure not to miss the crucial rat-track heading to the right which delivers you into some vast, fun open powder fields. There are several ways down, but there are also several ways NOT to go down so make sure you are in the company of someone with good local knowledge. Also watch out for the sporadic half-hidden fences which are infamous for sending you head-over-heels in style. Towards the end of the run, the snow can often be thin or heavy so be prepared to slog across some grass, mud and even a couple of tree trunks. However, the first half of the run consistently makes up for this final gauntlet. Grass SkiingThis run may better be described as a snow-fueled obstacle course but provides one heck of an adventure, just make sure you are in the company of someone experienced, as you do not want to get stuck with a 2-hour hike back to civilization. Equipment: Standard Avalanche safety kit. Local knowledge or a very good map (ability to read it!) Difficulty: 2/5Effort: 2/5 5) Hidden Valley / Champs Ferret As indicated, this run takes you down through a valley that is well disguised from the routine ski slopes. In order to access it you need to set off from the same starting point as you would for the Rock Garden (2). However, once you reach the top where you would normally ski down into the Tortin side, you continue the traverse to your left through a scattering of rocks until you come across the next ridge where upon the wide ‘hidden valley’ appears. The valley narrows considerably in the middle as you descend before opening up again to offer some spectacular powder turns. Due to its north-facing exposure, again, the snow conditions usually remain in peak condition for a long time after heavy snowfalls. Hidden Valley A view back up the Hidden Valley from the Restaurant, Prarion There is a path heading out to the right that should not be missed when there is even a slight lack of snow (this leads you after a short skin to a lovely restaurant in Prarion from where you can make your way back to Verbier on a series of lifts), otherwise you can head all the way down to Auddes, from where you can taxi back to La Tzoumaz at the back of Savoleyres for around 15 CHF/person. Equipment: Standard Avalanche safety kit, skins, (can be done without, but much more convenient with), water. Mountain Guide Difficulty: 3/5Effort: 3/5 6) Bruson / Tour du Tête de la Payenne One of the best tours for a first-timer on skins, or even for a leisurely cruise to catch some untracked snow. To get there, you take each of the lifts up from the bottom of Bruson (accessible by car or bus from Le Châble) and head up the top T-bar. From here, after a very short right-hand traverse over the back, the skins come into action for a fairly short walk up to the obvious col on the right of the Tête de La Payanne. From here, keep up the effort around the backside of the Tête where you will find yourself deposited quite perfectly into numerous cheeky chutes that head off down the mountain to the east. The skin up is never very steep, offers great views and should not take more than an hour. Your reward is a whole host of open terrain heading back down towards the valley floor, mainly grass-based which makes it ideal even during periods of low snow cover. Bruson You can either head left quite early on in order to get back to the lifts (for another loop), or continue down until you find the road that will lead you back to the car park at the bottom of Bruson. In mid winter it’s even possible to shoot all the way down to the main road near Le Châble but be prepared for some adventurous fence-hopping and a little back garden trespassing. Equipment: Standard Avalanche safety kit, skins, water. Good idea to take a guide for first-timers Difficulty: 2/5Effort: 2/5 7) Catwalk / Le Ferret A shortish walk up rewarded by a long powder run down - faultless combo. This tour starts at the top of the Gentianes lift station, from where you pretty much ski the wrong way back up towards the Mont Fort mogul field for a short distance. Crossing the flat glacier where you’ll pass the sad remains of the old T-bar, and having smacked your skins on, you will begin a casual 20 minute traverse up to col Ferret. On occasion, snowboarders have very kindly made foot-hole tracks that make it near impossible to skin up - got to love them...However, after a deep snowfall, skins are a no-brainer. CatwalkFrom col Ferret you can take any of the easterly faces down towards Lac Cleuson, usually munching on mega-watt powder. You exit around the lake to the dam (the otherside to that which you get to from the backside of Mont Fort), then meander all the way down to Siviez and back up to Verbier on the lifts.Catwalk lake walk Equipment: Standard Avalanche safety kit, skins, water. Mountain Guide Difficulty: 3/5Effort: 3/5 8) North Face Mt. Fort This one takes the biscuit for gnarly expeditions (bar the Bec) and gets even the toughest of the tough shaking in their boots. If you’re happy to hit the Bec des Rosses, you’ll be 'comfortable' doing this run, but it’s recommended for the most experienced skiers and only in good conditions. North Face 1 You start off on a perilous climb up some inbuilt (often ice) steps where you'll be holding on for dear life to the anchored rope which heads up beyond the top Mont Fort lift station at 3,330m. Following this, you move along the ridge line with vertigo-inducing drops in both direction. The last bit of the ridge can be bypassed by a traverse to your left, which brings you to the face you're looking for, the northeast. This infamous face starts off steep, then becomes even steeper, with a critical traverse to the left above the final band of rock.
The rest is rather easy compared and provides some feverish skiing, often done with a short traverse or climb over the shoulder of the Bec des Etagnes, or straight down and around Lac Cleuson, back through to Siviez. In the lower parts its crusing and more up it can be quite rocky.