Fresh snow arrives in Verbier

25th February 2010, by Chris Gill

Before the storm: sunny Nendaz nursery area, on Thursday morning

Before the storm: sunny Nendaz nursery area, on Thursday morning

Every once in a while, we members of Her Majesty’s Skiing Press are called upon to divert from our usual path of ceaseless evaluation of slopes and snow, and to spend a day focused on other things. The last day of our Swiss tour, based in Nendaz near Verbier, turned out to be such a day, revolving around lunch.

We were planning to ski to Verbier and back to meet a couple of guys from the recently enlarged Verbier-plus-nearby-minor-resorts tourist office, plus a bunch of British skiing hacks – Arnie Wilson from the Ski Club magazine, Neil English from the Mail on Sunday and freelance Belinda Archer.

Nendaz is linked to Verbier by lifts and pistes, but the link takes time, especially on a sunny morning in high season when the first part of the link, the Fontaines draglift, builds serious queues. A slicker way to start the trip is to drive or bus 8km to Siviez, which is three fast lifts away from the top of Verbier.

But first, after a 15-minute wait to get on the gondola out of Nendaz, we spent an illuminating hour on the local Tracouet slopes. There are two main runs, both genuine reds, and at 10am they offered an extreme contrast: the sunny, relatively short run to Prarion was miserably hard, and busy with people prepared to queue at the bottom for the aforementioned inadequate draglift. The shady, long run from the top drag back to Nendaz – about 900m vertical – was superb.

So then it was into the car for the short drive to Siviez for the lifts to Verbier. The long, mainly red descent to Verbier was in good shape – excellent packed powder at the top, becoming appreciably harder towards the bottom, but still very enjoyable; 1200m vertical.

We arrived at le Vieux Verbier more or less on time, to learn that it was Mr English’s [cough] birthday. The momentous nature of the occasion meant that we enjoyed a splendid lunch involving indefensible amounts of steak, pinot noir and abricotine.

The plan for the afternoon was to ride up to Col des Gentianes and then Mont Fort, and then to ski down to Siviez, about 1600m vertical below. Sadly, the weather intervened: a serious snowstorm forced us to ride the cable car down to Tortin (with big new panoramic cabins), leaving only the final easy piste to Siviez for us to conquer.

Our fellow hacks were also staying in Nendaz, in one of the lovely chalets run by Ted Bentley, and boss David Merrifield kindly invited us to dine in the chalet. An excellent dinner rounded off a somewhat indulgent day.

Update – Friday morning

The snow eased off on Thursday evening, but resumed overnight, and there is 15cm of fresh on the car this morning.

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