To Verbier, one more time

skier in deep powder, nothing around

FL’s slayer-in-chief Rich Evans invades Verbier yet again, in the hope of finally getting the goods that can transform the Four Valleys spot into a world-class pow stash

Are you allowed to have a top of the bucket list destination with the caveat that you’re only going if it’s snowing like crazy? I hope so. Because having done a season in Verbier during the snow-drought of 2010/11, I really did not want second (lack of) helpings. Surely, the Swiss heavy hitter can’t let me down again, I thought, as I dusted off my faithful Völkl Mantras (a solid, all-mountain 100mm underfoot, so as not to tempt fate) and contemplated a January 2023 trip.

But coming out of Christmas 2022, things looked grim. With the mountains green/brown, and emails bouncing between our group discussing contingency plans, what would happen if there remained so little cover (as was the case in plenty of European resorts), and how we might even be forced to… cancel.

But hail Zeus (or rather Warren Smith, who would be tasked with adding thunderbolts to my turns), and Helly Hansen (kindly organising the trip and supplying heavenly swag including the Elevation Infinity Shell 2.0 jacket and pants), who somehow arranged for the snow gods to deliver in the nick of time.

And as is always the way in the best fairytales – sorry, ski stories – the skies started to fill with the sort of giant flakes I’d rarely seen in Verbier as soon I arrived in my Audi Q3 and began hauling a lot of bags (with this trip being followed by the Ski Test in La Clusaz, then a week in Les Carroz) towards the plush Hotel Montpelier.

man in orange hat and pack looks out over a snowy Verbier ski area

As to the Monday to Thursday action, cue sufficient whoops to re-programme my view of the place in just 96 hours, and make me finally understand what all the fuss is about regarding legendary locations like Tortin. And with Warren’s finely-tuned radar able to pilot us through the fresh snow and low cloud, we’d gather in the Lumi, at the foot of the slopes, most afternoons to share beers and stories about who’d had the deepest powder or best wipeout.

It really, finally, was the Verbier-in-full-glory experience I’d been waiting over a decade for, with the mountain’s kitted-out-in-Helly-Hansen Ski Patrol closing the trip in style with a tour of their underground bunker below the Medran lift, followed by a sharing-their-favourite-off-piste-routes mega-session.

Verbier, let’s just say you’re definitely forgiven. And rather amazing in the powder…

Ski free with Helly Hansen

Fresh snow calls for new inspiration as global ski brand Helly Hansen continues its successful ski free program for winter ’23/24. Skierd who buy the latest AW23 Helly Hansen ski collection will receive a free one-day or two-for-one lift ticket to use at over 50 resorts across Europe and North America, from Verbier to Sun Valley. All you need to do to receive a free ski pass is upload a picture of your receipt to the website – easy!

man in orange pack skis in soft pillowy snow

IN DEEP – Three (more) of the best powder experiences


Bundle it all up in one mega Ikon-fuelled road trip, flying to Salt Lake City and ticking off Alta, Snowbird, Brighton, Solitude and Deer Valley, before trucking it up the 250-miles/just under five-hours north for the famous red tram, Corbet’s, and some of the best side and backcountry in the business. FL did it all (bar two nights in Jackson) based out of Park City – not on the Ikon but well worth considering due to its excellent beer stops, atmosphere, accommodation and road links (plus you can alway stack on a day pass here at $122). Ikon Pass


The best kind of touring, using VT and Les 3 Vallées’ stellar lift system to boost you up beyond 3,000m, before cruising down miles of off-piste. Sure, there was sweat, bootpacks and 90-minute tour slogs, but last January– even in a period with little fresh snow – it was glorious and surprisingly deep. Refuges like off-grid-but-ideally-equipped (slippers ahoy, beer on tap) Trait D’Union, and much-bigger-but-somehow-still-as-welcoming Lac du Lou (hello Billie the cat, and Alaska the collie) made our five-strong group, led by Scott-sponsored ESF guide Steph, scratch our heads and think: why have we not done this before? Val Thorens


Ski Safari run this as an into Bergen, out from Oslo trip. Taking in Myrkdalen (Norway’s powder resort, with an annual snowfall average over 5m), before a boat transfer across the Naerøyfjord and historic Flam railway journey for UIAGM-certified touring/guiding/fresh lines at Vatnahalsen mountain lodge. Last winter we tweaked the recipe to include Vossand Norefjell resorts and it was easy to do, with good skiing, and this will sound a bit ridiculous, but more than a little bit Japow. Yes, we hit it lucky, and it was mid-week, but this place can be glorious. And so simple. For example, Bergen (fly Norwegian from MAN or LGW) to Voss station (with cable car outside of course!) is just an 80-minute direct train (£23 oneway), while the ski bus from here to Myrkdaklen each day (out 8.30am, back 4pm) takes just 25 minutes and is… free! Norway Home of Skiing