Verbier has made a name for itself as a hedonistic retreat for millionaires, even featuring on reality cringe-fest Made in Chelsea. But while you won’t have any difficulty emptying your and everyone else’s wallet, this place has some serious substance as a shred destination as well. In fact, Verbier is the Swiss version of Chamonix, with some of the most hardcore descents in the country. But in true Swiss style (and unlike Chamonix) it’s a fully polished resort with a massive, modern interlinked lift system and perfectly groomed pistes.
- Highest Point: 3,300m
- Descent: 1,800m
- No. lifts: 84
All the Swiss politeness goes right out of the window when there is a powder day, however. If you want to get fresh tracks you had best sharpen your elbows for the queues and not wait too long surveying your line, as one moment’s hesitation will mean some nutter leaping over your head from a rock above, and stealing it. There is plenty of fine off-piste only a short traverse from the lifts however, and once the obvious stuff is tracked out, hire a guide or a heli and head off into the awesome backcountry.
Verbier is in fact just one part of the massive 4 Vallées area, which joins Nendaz, Veysonnaz, La Tzoumaz and Val de Bagnas. It has 94 lifts and over 400km of piste. It’s a fantastic playground and a must for all serious snowboarder’s bucket lists. It’s not cheap, but if you’re on a budget you can save some money by staying in Nendaz or one of the other villages. There’s also the MAP Hostel, just 15 minutes’ walk from the Verbier lifts.
The Parks – 3/5
Terrain parks have never really been Verbier’s focus, and it shows in the terrain park at La Chaux. It has a few jib and kicker features, but for a resort of this size it is definitely an afterthought. If it was at school it would get a C and a “could do better”. The park does improve as the season goes on, and if you head there in March you can usually find around 20 features along with the obligatory airbag.
“It goes without saying that you must have the kit and know how to freeride in Verbier“
Nendaz goes to the top of the class though, with its WoodPark and the beginner Burton Progression Park, which are both accessible from the Tracouet area. The WoodPark opened in 2010 and is a similar idea to the Burton Stash, with lots of obvious and hidden wooden jibs to hunt out.
Really though, natural is the way to go for freestyle in Verbier – the mountain is littered with rock drops ranging from a few feet to insane cliffs, so you should head out and test your moves against Mother Nature.