In our latest travel ski Switzerland article Isabelle Ferier went on a sensational trip in Switzerland’s Valais Canton.
This sporty, trendy, authentic and elegant Valais resort has a multitude of assets, enough to appeal to a very varied clientele.
Benefiting from the largest ski area in Switzerland, the 4 Valleys offer 410km of slopes, with 11 marked off-piste routes. It attracts athletes looking for extreme sensations as well as families attracted by the wide range of activities on offer at the resort.
I tested Verbier in ‘splitboard’ mode. The splitboard is a touring snowboard, which turns into a touring ski for the ascent and which, after a few manipulations, becomes a snowboard again for off-piste descents.
Discovering the mountain differently, getting off the slopes, forgetting the ski lifts allows you to tame nature and contemplate breathtaking landscapes. It is also a unique sporting experience.
It is important to find your rhythm of ascent, to focus on your breathing and to move forward in rhythm. Between very steep slopes and gentler climbs, the presence of a guide is a real plus. Indeed, the guide knows the mountain and his expertise is at the service of our safety.
Access to Cabane Brunet from La Barnasse by ski touring is a must. It requires a 5km climb with 800 metres of elevation gain. The ascent begins on a trail climbing through the forest. Halfway through, we discover a small clearing offering an incredible view of the imposing Mont-Pleureur which sits at the bottom of the Bagnes valley.
Once you get your breath back, you continue crossing the Forest to finish the climb on a gentler slope. Seeing the flag of the Cabane was a great reward for me – these last few metres brought us closer to our goal of the day: The Brunet hut. Perched at an altitude of 2,104 metres, this charming cabin welcomed us for the night.
We shared a delicious traditional dish there before heading to our rooms. This recently renovated hideaway has six bedrooms. Accessible on foot, by snowshoes or by ski touring, the recently enlarged refuge welcomes adventurers for a night of salvation with an innate sense of hospitality and quality.
The next day, the team began the ascent of Le Rogneux, while I recovered from my efforts of the day before. First, an off-piste descent to Barnasse and a climb in the cabin to La Cabane Montfort which would be the start of a hike as sporty as it is spectacular.
The Cabane Montfort rises to an altitude of 2,457 metres. This legendary cabin and its high mountain restaurant offer one of the most exceptional views of the mountains around Verbier. This spectacular panorama includes Mont Blanc and the Grand Combin.
At sunset, the mountains are adorned with vivid orange colours. A breathtaking scene. The traditional and warm alpine atmosphere as well as the tasty local dishes make it a must-see destination. This refuge is accessible from Verbier and Nendaz. This is the place for a start or finish of a snowshoe hike, ski touring or splitboard. The 15 rooms are comfortable and accommodate 58 beds, with showers. The next morning, we took the cable car to Gentiane, where we put on our skins for a very steep climb.
Once the vertigo subsided, I enjoyed the landscapes, and, step by step, our ascent continued. It’s physical, it’s sporty, but it’s so rewarding to surpass yourself, to overcome your fears, to warm up your muscles.
The off-piste ‘backside Montfort’ descent to the Grand Désert lake is magical – the feeling of freedom and the satisfaction of the trail in powdered snow are unforgettable.
After crossing the lake, we made a short stop off-piste along the Cleuzon dam, then one last restaurant and a good night’s sleep at Hotel Les Chamois.
I spent three wonderful days that left me with stars in my eyes…
Verbier also has so many other discoveries: