Verbier, Switzerland: February 12-16, 2019

ChrisC

Well-known member
I've never experienced that but believe it. It's fascinating how Saturdays there don't have the same peak-time traffic situations as in big U.S.ski cities like Denver and SLC. Over the past 20 years, virtually all of my nonstop arrivals to Zurich, Geneva, and (last season) Milan have been on Saturdays -- I land on an early morning flight, am usually out of the airport by 9:30 am, never hit traffic, and am booting up by late morning.


Hah, that's the last year I bought the full version of that book. An excellent primer for Euro skiing; however, as I've noted before, you learn as much or more about British culture and preferences as you do about skiing in the Alps. :icon-lol:

I have seen some returns to Zurich on a Sunday from Chur (Davos, Arosa, Flims, etc)....20 km of backup? Also, leaving Geneva on a Friday out toward PoS, Verbier, Zermatt, Villars, etc .... a very similar backup along lake Geneva. Much worse than anything I ever witnessed on I-93 coming in/out of Boston on a mid-winter weekend.

I have bought the newer versions of WtoSS by country: France, Italy, and Austria. I think they are pretty good. They give a decent overview and will talk about off-piste. Also, their lodging hints and restaurant recs are useful too. But they definitely just cover the mid-to-large resorts.
 

ChrisC

Well-known member
February 15, 2019 - Last Call / Final Day

I still had not skied the Savoleyres sector and decided to head in that direction in the morning.

Also, Savoleyres is rather disconnected from the main resort, so you need to take a bus up to a remote hilly area to access its retro gondola station. The lift company has not been able to replace this 50+ year old lift due to one reason or another. A new gondola is expected for 2024.

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Views of the Verbier chalets from the old school gondola
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The terrain in Savoleyres is mostly intermediate and undulates down a north-facing backside for quite a while - served by 2 HS lifts and a modern gondola.
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After a couple of runs, it was time to head back to the main sector of Verbier to ski a few areas I had missed: a couple of chutes of Mont Gele, some off-piste near the Jumbo cable car and a south-facing Col de Mines itinerary. (Not sure why I was not motivated to go over to Bruson for a run or two, but it's a slow lift serving a semi-bowl that did not like super interesting to me on a sunny day.)
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Back on top Mont Gele. Decided I could ski one of the south-facing chutes before noon.
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Steeper entrance into Barry's Bowl (area above Cabane de Mont Fort / off Jumbo) Still good snow preservation due to altitude and orientation.
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Off-piste Berry's Bowl from below
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Last Run: The mid-afternoon corn fest on Col de Mines into Verbier
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Sbooker

Active member
Wow. A great detailed report. Nice photos too.
I’m looking at the Verbier piste map. Has anyone confirmed if the itineraries marked in yellow are controlled?
 

ChrisC

Well-known member
Wow. A great detailed report. Nice photos too.
I’m looking at the Verbier piste map. Has anyone confirmed if the itineraries marked in yellow are controlled?

That's a very good question, and answers from respectable sources are all over the map:
1658499960519.png


But then you have all of the following
  • Simon Burgeess. Verbier’s terrain is expansive and varied and is European big mountain skiing at its best. If you are an experienced skier or snowboarder you should aim to explore the itineraries. Itineraries are a cross between piste and off-piste skiing. The ski patrol will control these areas for avalanche hazards and mark them with piste poles, but that is the extent of their role.
  • Altidue Future - Verbier Instructor Training. Verbier is lucky to boast a huge range of itinerary routes,all of varying lengths and difficulties. These are patrolled off-piste slopes and are either bumpy or after fresh snow, a haven of powder and soft snow! You don’t need all the avalanche safety kit for these runs but you do need to be aware of rocks, trees and cliffs and how the conditions are and might have changed.
  • Freeride Verbier. Very confusing response. Itinerary routes are marked on the official piste maps, however, they are not maintained, not controlled and intended for experienced users only. Although marked itinerary routes are avalanched controlled they should not be confused with marked pistes.
  • VerbierLife
    What are Itinerary ski runs?
    Itineraries are controlled off-piste routes, marked out by a single line of yellow poles and bonded 20m either side, they are not pisted but are controlled for avalanches and other hazards. Marked on the piste map in yellow, they are a great introduction to skiing in off-piste snow conditions.
  • Snowheads
  • 1658500516466.png


I think the patrol does examine the conditions on the itineraries, because I did notice they closed both Col de Mines and Valon d'Arbi on the snowy Tuesday day despite adequate lift access from top and bottom. There are also warning signs if you deviate from the marked Valon d'Arbi yellow-marked route for avalanches etc.

It's all a little unclear how 'controlled' these itineraries are - but they get pretty compacted by skier traffic, and are open/closed at ski patrol discretion.
 
Last edited:

Sbooker

Active member
That's a very good question, and answers from respectable sources are all over the map:
  • Perhaps the best source is the Piste Map. View attachment 32535
  • But then you have all of the following
  • Simon Burgeess. Verbier’s terrain is expansive and varied and is European big mountain skiing at its best. If you are an experienced skier or snowboarder you should aim to explore the itineraries. Itineraries are a cross between piste and off-piste skiing. The ski patrol will control these areas for avalanche hazards and mark them with piste poles, but that is the extent of their role.
  • Altidue Future - Verbier Instructor Training. Verbier is lucky to boast a huge range of itinerary routes,all of varying lengths and difficulties. These are patrolled off-piste slopes and are either bumpy or after fresh snow, a haven of powder and soft snow! You don’t need all the avalanche safety kit for these runs but you do need to be aware of rocks, trees and cliffs and how the conditions are and might have changed.
  • Freeride Verbier. Very confusing response. Itinerary routes are marked on the official piste maps, however, they are not maintained, not controlled and intended for experienced users only. Although marked itinerary routes are avalanched controlled they should not be confused with marked pistes.
  • VerbierLife
    What are Itinerary ski runs?
    Itineraries are controlled off-piste routes, marked out by a single line of yellow poles and bonded 20m either side, they are not pisted but are controlled for avalanches and other hazards. Marked on the piste map in yellow, they are a great introduction to skiing in off-piste snow conditions.
  • Snowheads
  • View attachment 32536


I think the patrol does examine the conditions on the itineraries, because I did notice they closed both Col de Mines and Valon d'Arbi on the snowy Tuesday day despite adequate lift access from top and bottom. There are also warning signs if you deviate from the marked Valon d'Arbi yellow-marked route for avalanches etc.

It's all a little unclear how 'controlled' these itineraries are - but they get pretty compacted by skier traffic, and are open/closed at ski patrol discretion.
As clear as mud.
 
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