When you are standing at
the top of Mont Fort, 3,300m above Verbier, you will be standing on top of
one of the finest skiing domains in the world. Verbier and its 4 Valleys
offer over 410km of trails, ranging from blissful beginner to intermediate
challenges, to advanced runs reputed to make world cup class skiers
hesitate. Verbier has it all. However, for this segment we will concentrate
strictly on the skiing for the fit, furious group who demand to be tested.
The last 30 meters to
the top of Mont Fort is a rock and ice trail along a knife-edge protected by
a fixed rope. However, those with the skill and the courage to venture
across (and there are many) will be rewarded by one of the most sensational
panoramic views of the Alps. But again, we hasten to add, Verbier is a
resort for all skiers, and in spite of its daunting reputation, it is a
paradise for total beginners and those with a little more skill and
Verbier's reputation has
largely been forged around its off piste skiing. This in fact almost doubles
the size of its groomed terrain. Over the years, its reputation for the
steep and the deep has attracted countless photographers and film crews to
film the fantastic, fresh powder and brilliant sunshine. This is often
combined with the element of danger that most recreational skiers would not
Just 30 meters below the
lookout point we described earlier is the top of the 3300m. Mont Fort lift.
From this platform
perched on the ridge, the elite skiers emerge. And make no mistake; this is
an area that caters to the elite. Many will have mountain guides to lead
them; they ski off the back of the Mont Fort via the Glacier de Le Grand
Desert to Siviez.
This run is like
helicopter skiing without the helicopter. It plunges almost vertically down
steep couloirs after a traverse over cliffs. It is only for the most
skillful of skiers, those that are capable of skiing all conditions from
unbelievable powder to breakable crust and crud. This you will undoubtedly
experience on this one devil of a ski run.
There are two reasons we
highly recommend skiing with a guide. One, they will lead you to the best
snow, and two, they will guide you through the safest routes. A route by the
way that will take you more than 10 km. and 2,000 vertical meters.
Fort, The Face
Some skiers prefer to
ski the face of Mt. Fort. This Challenging bump run is one of the steepest
in the Alps; and, as such, it attracts some of the best skiers in Europe.
Unfortunately, on the same runs, you will also frequently see skiers that
are totally out of their depth; either tumbling down the slopes or standing
still, paralyzed by fear. Very often well meaning friends can be blamed for
this predicament. Overconfidence is also another reason. Far, far better to
join those in the cable car who know their limits and have wisely left their
skis at the base. Come on up and enjoy the ride and the staggering view that
takes in every mountain from The Matterhorn to Mont Blanc.
Here we should mention
Tortin, one of the most challenging bump runs this side of Mont Fort. A bit
of a mixture between heaven and hell, or the devil and the deep blue sea if
you like. For those that are in over their heads, only Hades could be worse.
However, for those adrenaline junkies with good skills and good knees this
is sheer heaven. Good news waits here as well; a new 8-seater gondola is
available that was authorized in the late 1990’s by Televerbier.
About 3km as the crow
flies is the summit of Mt. Gele 3,030m. For this writer this is the heart of
old Verbier, and, just as it did 25 years ago, provides some of the best and
wildest skiing on the mountain. Once again, this is an area for very strong
skiers as each possibility drops away to such an extent that it gives many
skiers vertigo. But-for those with the necessary skills - it is the stuff of