Switzerland has almost 300 ski resorts. What is it about Verbier and 4 Vallées that makes it such a popular destination for freeriders from all over the world?
Here are according to me 5 main reasons why Verbier is so loved by freeriders around the globe.
The first reason for Verbier’s popularity among the freeriders is based in the history of competitive freeride. Since 1996, Verbier has hosted one of the worlds most famous freeride contest – the Verbier Xtreme, and which is now the final stop and grand finale of the Freeride World Tour. Down the mythical Bec des Rosses at 3,223m, some of the world’s best freeriders, both skiers and snowboarders, men and women – are fighting for the world champion title.
Not only does Verbier host freeride competitions for the world tour athletes, but has also been hosting the Verbier Freeride Week for almost 10 years. A full week in January for both juniors and seniors with four competitions in total. A perfect way to meet other skiers, challenge yourself, have fun and collect experience and seeding points to maybe one day qualify for the Freeride World Tour.
Some might say quality is better than quantity, but in this case Verbier has both. Téléverbier has 36 lifts and 203 km of slopes and ski itineraries, and the whole of 4 Vallées has 410 km of slopes and 82 lifts. Which makes the mountain really easy to access either if it is the slopes, itineraries or off-piste. With such a good coverage of lifts Verbier gives you about 1 800 meters of vertical drop from the top of Mont Fort at 3 330 m and down to Verbier at 1 500 m (once in a while when the snow is good, you can get a 2500 vertical drop by skiing all the way down to Le Châble at 830m).
With weather and how early or late in the season you are skiing, Verbier has slopes, itineraries and off-piste runs facing all the different aspects. Especially as freerider you appreciate the possibility to ski all the different aspects of the mountain. For safety reasons, the avalanche risk can often depend on which direction the wind has hit or how much sun it gets, which makes it easier to choose your runs throughout the day or the season depending on which aspects is the safest to ski that current day.
The snow often stays nice and cold in the more north-facing aspects, which can give you nice snow for freeriding days after snowfall. Later in the day and often closer to spring you can also enjoy some really nice slushy spring snow in the more south-facing aspects. Over all you can always find good snow (relatively to the snow conditions) in Verbier, which makes freeriding way more fun and safe.
Verbier has the slogan “infinite playground”, and that is for a good reason! And in this context it is all about the super playful terrain Verbier has to offer for freeriders. Almost everywhere you look there are lines and natural jumps that are easy to get to and so much fun to ski. There are lines for the more extreme freeriders, which often require more knowledge of the snowpack, the mountain and good ski technique – which is often why many skiers return to Verbier to challenge the lines after they get to know the resort. I have spent my winters in Verbier since 2016, and every season I explore new parts of the mountain and ski new lines. If you are new to freeride or don’t want to go too extreme there are lots of more mellow runs which will still boost your confidence on the skis! And if you want to work on your steeze, the Verbier Snowpark got you covered.
What also makes the terrain of Verbier an infinite playground is that the sectors of Verbier, La Tzoumaz and Bruson all offer great forest skiing for days with low visibility and snowy weather, which can make lead “down days” to transform into some of the best days for freeriding.
And last, but not least – after ski. There is no better way to end a good day of freeriding than down in the town of Verbier. First of all, just enjoy the last rays of sun as the sun settles in the afternoon, open up the buckles on the ski boots and just feel the vibe of a ski town. Whether you want to enjoy a beer at some of the pubs or go for a dance at a real après-ski - Verbier has many places to go to catch up with friends, meet other freeriders and make new friends. Town is always buzzing during the winter season with riders from all over the world – which makes it a perfect arena to hang out with some likeminded skiers who just loves to slay pow, jump cliffs and have fun!