Tuesday, January 17, 2006

One last Snowboard post.

Then I won't post any more about snowboarding, promise.

Overall impressions of verbier!
Had to make sure I got these in. Nice resort village, very pretty and with PLENTY to keep you occupied for a week or two - good clubs, cool bars, PRICEY drinks(!).

However, the piste arrangements aren't what I'd call totally inspiring: felt like you spend a lot of time on buses (to get to Savoleyres) and too much time on lifts (to get to just about anywhere interesting) - and the piste down into town is hellish for intermediate snowboarders (although all credit to it for getting me to become a speed demon on narrow twisting traverse tracks, something I was crap at in Canada!), with long twisting blue runs coming down into town which deviate WAY out of town.

Here's a piste map of Verier's 4 valley area.

In addition, a lot of the runs in the area covered by your pass are inaccessible unless you can get down from Greppon Blanc - trust me, those buttons will kill a snowboarder! - there's a great deal of nice runs in Thyon but they're hard to get to , even on the organised 4 valley challenge.

I spent a lot of time on the blue run which runs down to the end of the Chaux Express - a great little run with a fast last section up to the lifts, great slopes further up and lots of off-piste availability. Nice n crusty while I was there :)

Savoleyres has great slopes on the dark side(!), but got really icy towards the end of the day down at the bottom side of La Tzoumaz - then again, we were on 10 day old snow, and they've just had a dump (typical!) - but the upper slopes were great fun, again with great off-piste fun.

Speaking of pistes, the piste marking and signposts are AWFUL in Verbier: piste markers regularly end up in the wrong places holding up various bits of netting, totally confusing you as you zip by onto an unpisted track while trying to stay on a blue run(!) and we found red markers on a blue piste for no apparent reason as well!

Signposts are rudimentary, and sparse. Canada was spectacular in comparison, with numbered pistes and piste markers at VERY regular intervals - then again, they regularly have total white-out so you need to see where you are motorway-style. And they're catering for americans, who have to be spoon fed!

All in all, a great week - but I can't wait to get to Val D'isere with some skills under my belt and have a whale of a time on their resort slopes where things seem a bit more "joined up". Less time on lifts, more on the pistes.

OK, that's the last of it!

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