Weekend pre-season skiing in Verbier 2015

Weekend pre-season skiing in Verbier 1

Weekend pre-season skiing in Verbier 2015

After the huge snowfalls that swept across the Alps from the 21st November 2015, we were hungry for some on-piste carving and a spot of mogul-hopping so we spent the weekends pre-season skiing in Verbier.

Weekends from the end of November

During the season, La Tzoumaz is connected to Verbier by high-speed telecabin (see here to read about how the connections were improved for 2014/15).  Anyone impatient for the season to start will be pleased to know that the Savoleyres Telecabin in La Tzoumaz is open for weekends all through December and daily from mid-December.  Even when there is not enough snow to ski back down, it is only an 8 minute ride up to the Savoleyres ridge, then an 11 minute ride down into Verbier.  From here the free ski-bus takes you directly to the heart of Verbier’s ski access, the Medran lift station.  At the half-way station stepping out of one cabin and into the next stage is easy, and then you are off again, up to Les Ruinettes.  From here there is one more lift, in one of the large Funispace cabins, and you are able to click into your bindings.  Keep an eye on the time while you are skiing as it can be an expensive taxi-ride home if you miss the last lift – starting for home at 15h45 from the top of the Medran lift can mean you barely make it over and have jump into the last telecabin home to LaTzoumaz at 16h30 as they close it behind you…

See below for opening dates for individual lifts and pistes

Weekday skiing from early December

During the pre-season weekends, La Tzoumaz is connected to Verbier by high-speed telecabin (see here to read about how the connections were improved for 2014/15) but for any weekday skiers who are super-impatient for the season to fully start it is only a 50 minute drive down the valley and back up the other side.  There is plenty of free parking at the telecabin lift in La Châble, and a quick browse reveals the cars of plenty of local tradesmen (plumbers, electricians, gardening companies…) and mountain companies (such as 4vallees4saisons.com), as well as Swiss cars registered all over the Valais, Vaud, Geneva and even Fribourg cantons.  In comparison to mid-week pre-season skiing in Zermatt, where the slopes are dominated by ski instructors and local business owners trying to network, the weekend clientele in Verbier is much more family-focused.  It seems that any hard-core skiing family with a child between 3 and 7 years old who lives within two hours drive gets out on the hill.  The one thing they all have in common?  The kids are incredibly good skiers for their age, compared to the groups you normally see in ski-school throughout the season.  This seems to make sense, as it’s a great way to spend a Sunday out in the fresh air, enjoying sport in the sunshine and they probably spend half of their weekends on the snow each year!

Convenient access

In the centre  of the free car park in Le Châble is the telecabin station that was upgraded for 2013/14 to also include a telecabin heading up the Bruson side that will open during the season.  The Le Châble-Verbier gondola is open from 8.40 to 16.45.  You can buy a Verbier lift pass at the bottom for 53 CHF for the day, which is a 20% reduction on the normal skipass rate.  You get a good view of some pretty chalets and some luxury chalets and then some forested areas as you are carried up to the heart of Verbier’s ski access, the Medran lift station.  Stepping out of one cabin at the Medran mid-station and into the next stage is easy, and then you are off again, up to Les Ruinettes.  From here there is one more lift, in one of the large Funispace cabins, and you are able to click into your bindings.

Progressive opening of the pistes

Weekend pre-season skiing in Verbier

Weekend pre-season skiing in Verbier

Opening of the pistes is progressive and varies every year depending on the snow fall and the conditions for snowmaking.  (See here for live information on lift and piste status)  Here’s the data from this year and the previous year:

2015/2016 2014/2015
      November 7th/8th 2015

  • Warm, sunny autumn weather with snowline above 2500m

November 8th/9th 2014

  • Lac des Vaux 1 chairlift open
  • Lac des Vaux 2 chairlift open
November 14th/15th 2015

  • Warm, sunny autumn weather with snowline above 2500m
November 15th/16th 2014

  • Funispace: lift open but ski runs closed with many people skiing down, despite some rocks and grass patches
  • Lac des Vaux 1 chairlift open
  • Lac des Vaux 2 chairlift open
November 21st/22nd 2015

  • Heavy snowfall down to 1000m with temperatures dropping below -10 degrees.  No time to prepare the pistes for the weekend skiers.
November 22nd/23rd 2014

  • Funispace lift & runs open
  • Lac des Vaux 1 chairlift open
  • Lac des Vaux 2 chairlift open
  • Attelas chairlift open
  • Combimix « la Chaux Express » open

November 28th/29th 2015

  • La Tzoumaz and Savoleyres Telecabins open for weekends, allowing skiers to travel by ski-lift and ski-bus to Verbier’s Medran lift  – La Tzoumaz & Savoleyres ski runs closed from top of lift
  • Lac des Vaux, Attelas-Ruinettes, La Chaux (red) piste open daily from Friday November 27th 2015
From November 29th/30th 2014

  • La Tzoumaz and Savoleyres Telecabins open for weekends, allowing skiers to travel by ski-lift and ski-bus to Verbier’s Medran lift  – La Tzoumaz & Savoleyres ski runs closed from top of lift
  • Verbier ski area open daily (as above) from Saturday November 29th 2014

December 5th/6th 2015

  • Early snow made it a good start to the season.
  • La Tzoumaz and Savoleyres Telecabins open for weekends, allowing skiers to travel by ski-lift and ski-bus to Verbier’s Medran lift  – La Tzoumaz & Savoleyres ski runs closed from top of lift
  • FREE SKIPASS for anyone dressed as St Nicholas on the day of the Opening Session!
December 6th/7th 2014

  • La Tzoumaz and Savoleyres Telecabins open for weekends, allowing skiers to travel by ski-lift and ski-bus to Verbier’s Medran lift  – La Tzoumaz & Savoleyres ski runs closed from top of lift
  • The Verbier ski area open daily as above, with a FREE SKIPASS for anyone dressed as St Nicholas on the day of the Opening Session!

December 12th/13th 2015

  • Some La Tzoumaz & Savoleyres ski runs and lifts open at the top (Nord, Coeur, Tournelle, beginner slope).
  • Lower runs back to the resort closed, so travel down the telecabin from the top, or take the free ski bus back to the resort from halfway down, near the beginner area.
  • La Tzoumaz and Savoleyres Telecabins open daily, allowing skiers to travel by ski-lift and ski-bus to Verbier’s Medran lift
December 13th/14th 2014

  • The La Tzoumaz and Savoleyres Telecabins open daily from December 13th 2014, allowing skiers to travel by ski-lift and ski-bus to Verbier’s Medran lift  – La Tzoumaz & Savoleyres ski runs closed from top of lift
  • The Verbier ski area open daily as above, plus the piste from Gentianes and La Chaux is open, plus the following lifts:
    • Mont-Fort cable car
    • Jumbo cable car
    • Gentianes T-bar
    • Chaux 2 chairlift
    • Col des Gentianes cable car (for liaison only)
Christmas Week

December 19-26 2014

  • For the second year running, further opening of the La Tzoumaz sector and large parts of the 4-Vallees ski area was still delayed due to the lack of snow across the Alps.  The base layer was thinning, and the glorious sunshine enticed many people to go hiking instead of skiing!
  • The Nord, Coeur and Tournelle remain open on the La Tzoumaz side.
  • From Christmas day, the Saxon piste was also opened thanks to artificial snowmaking.
Christmas Week

December 20-27 2014

  • Opening of the La Tzoumaz sector and large parts of the 4-Vallees ski area was unable to open as scheduled due to the severe lack of snow across the Alps.
New Year’s Week

December 26th 2015

  • for the first time in many decades, it didn’t snow between Christmas and New Year.  The whole of the Alps were in a state of shock.  But when the snow finally came on January 2nd, it came in large abundance!  Full opening of the 4-Vallees ski area followed in the subsequent days as TeleVerbier got the huge snow quantities under control, with the exception of some areas prone to avalanches.
New Year’s Week

December 27th 2014

  • The huge snowstorm that struck on Saturday 27th December was torture for the poor people heading home after a snow-free Christmas, and somewhat chaotic for the arriving crowds, but it signalled the opening of the entire 4-Vallees ski area, with the exception of some un-pisted itinerary runs.
See here for live information on lift and piste status throughout the season. See here for live information on lift and piste status throughout the season.

 

 What to do for lunch and refreshments

If munching a picnic on the piste or in the free access picnic room is not your style, there are some mountain restaurants open for the pre-season.  We tried the Restaurant Olympique at the top of the Funispace lift (2,730m)  and its self-service section with lunch for two (soup and an omelette or sausage & chips with a drink) for around 40 Swiss Francs.  There is a full-service restaurant upstairs with even more stunning views across the Mont-Blanc Massif.  From November 22nd, there is also refreshment available at the traditional Mayentzet restaurant and the famous Chalet Carlsberg, halfway down the piste from Attelas to Ruinettes with its new enclosed apres-ski terrace.  From December 13th, the Restaurant des Gentianes opened under new management.

 

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