28/1/11 – Fun in Britsville – aka Verbier – part II

I’m back in Verbier – again, with people who know the place. This time I’m visiting Chaz, a friend who has picked up a last-minute space in a chalet for a week. Fresh snow is absent and there’s no prospect of any, but we’re enjoying superb skiing. The avalanche risk is low – two at altitude, one lower down – and the sun is shining.

Chaz spent six weeks here last year and knows the place by heart. By chance we’ve teamed up with three great-value British guys, two skiers and a snowboarder, with whom we have tenuous links: they happen to be staying in my friend Camilla’s family apartment, and Chaz once crewed with one of them.

A good day for headgear - I think this was Mont Gelee

Between them they seem to be seeking out the steepest slopes. I feel tentative in some of the couloirs, but I ought to be grateful because all this gradient is good practice for my forthcoming trip to Fernie, Canada, which, according to guidebooks and hearsay, is vertiginous.

It’s exhilarating exploring these slightly scary places, but with so many rocks about I wish I was wearing a helmet, like some of our group. I’m also marginally struggling on my GS skis (waist size 66cm) on the choppy bits, and after nearly catching an outside lower edge on a couple of 45-degree pitches I’ve rented some sensible Dynastars, which are a little wider.

All in all I’m now officially a Verbier fan – as long as nobody makes me stay on those busy pistes…

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