FREERIDE WORLD TOUR: AN ATHLETE'S GUIDE TO VERBIER

The ratio of fur coats to faded Gore-tex in Verbier, Switzerland leans fiercely towards the former. This exclusive resort can be prohibitively expensive, but the big mountains that host the Freeride World Tour final have also sheltered impoverished ski-bums chasing their dreams for decades. For this reason, we offer you Verbier’s finest, and the Ski Bum Hack alternatives to do it all on a budget.

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WHERE TO STAY:

Be fancy, stay at Chalet Adrien. This beautiful hotel looks out over Verbier and the restaurant: Table d’Adrien is one of the finest dining experiences in town. A night here might cost you a pretty penny, but the view from Adrien’s table is unrivalled.

Take a leaf out of Ed Leigh’s book, skip out on Verbier prices and build an igloo. This comes with its own challenges (blood, sweat and tears), but throw on some merino and make an experience that you’ll talk about until you’re old and grey.

 

"Fondue is a sacred ritual of the Swiss. Here, you can even get tax breaks if you build a room in your house specifically for cheese."

 

WHERE TO SKI:

Beyond the posh veneer of Verbier are some seriously big mountains. If you’re lacking backcountry experience and knowledge of the terrain in Verbier, you need to seek an expert opinion. If you don’t have an informed friend to call on, check out the guys at Element Ski School - they’ll take you places you’ve only dreamed of, and tighten up your off-piste steeze at the same time.

If you do have a local legend to escort you about the 4 Vallees, get them to show you Rock Garden and the crazy Freeride options littering every aspect of Mont Gele.

 

 

WHERE TO FONDUE:

Fondue is a sacred ritual of the Swiss. Here, you can even get tax breaks if you build a room in your house specifically for cheese. Fondue ingredients, accompaniments and ceremony will vary between the traditionalists and the modern enthusiasts, but everyone will agree that MORE wine is better. (This aids digestion). And most will assert the importance of taking off your trousers if you accidently drop your bread in the fondue pot. (This adds to the entertainment).

For an authentic Swiss fondue in the heart of the village, make a reservation at Le Caveau, just off Place Centrale.

If you feel like a fondue adventure, take it al fresco! We’ve tried and tested a few on-mountain fondue locations for your benefit.

  • Col des Gentianes : An excellent spot to fondue and watch the FWT final live
  • Inside the Mont Fort Jumbo lift: Excellent wind protection, not great at rush hour
  • La Chaux: Perfect for a sunny afternoon enjoying views of the Grand Combin massif
  • Mayenzet area: The best spot for an end of day fondue that lets you and your cheese baby descend straight to Après Ski even after the lifts have closed

 

WHERE TO CAFÉ GOURMAND:

Café Gourmand, for the uninitiated, is a long black coffee served with four mini dessert surprises of unspecified variety.

Buckle up kids, this could be a lemon tart, a crème brûlée or any manner of unknown dessert madness – embrace uncertainty and order your Café Gourmand on mountain at Le Dahu.

For those who are sweet enough without desserts, swing into La Cucina for the best coffee in town at a fraction of the price.

 

HOW TO DOWNDAY IN VERBIER:

We’re a no-judgement merino company - sometimes we need down days too. Whether you’re a fair-weather skier, or your legs are too sore to make your lefts and rights - fear not – in Verbier you will be entertained.

Check out the brand-spanking new sports centre that boasts sports courts (tennis / basketball / badminton / volleyball) and a climbing wall with a decent range of routes, auto-belay and free liquid chalk (magic!).

If paying to do sports on a rest day sounds like a bad joke to you, get a head start on the après ski crowd and get the party going. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t actually have to have gone skiing to dance on tables, sing loudly (read: badly) and pour beer on your friends. For a more vigorous après ski, head to the Farinet and for a slightly less beer-smeared but arguably better experience, check out Relais des Neiges.

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