These days Verbier is transformed into a lively winter and summer resort, known for its fantastic sporting opportunities and its vibrant nightlife. During the peak of the winter season over 40,000 skiers and snowboarders are whisked up into the mountains by the network of lifts that now criss-cross the slopes.
From its humble beginnings Verbier has grown from being a tranquil grazing pasture to one of Europe’s premier holiday destinations. However, if you visit in the summer you can still hear those cow bells.
History of the Verbier Lift System
Founded in 1950 under the title of "Télésiège de Médran SA" by a courageous group of promoters, the company in 1960 became the "Société Anonyme des Téléphériques de Verbier" through a fusion with the "Société Anonyme Téléphériques Attelas": the latter had built up the axis of Verbier-les Attelas-Lac des Vaux through the years of the 1950s, under the guidance of Me Rodolphe Tissières. The 1960s saw the conquest of the Mont-Gelé, the construction of the gondola of Tortin-Chassoure, the full equipment of the Savoleyres area and the transformation of the company into "Téléverbier S.A." (28.04.1966).
The 1970s saw the implementation of the gondola and the restaurant of Savoleyres, the link-up with the valley through the gondola Le Châble-Verbier and the fusion with Télétzoumaz (1976). Six chairlifts and one ski-tow were also built in this period. Ski-pass validity was extended to the "4 Valleys" (1975-76 season). Finally in 1978 the company took over the network of Bruson and set out to conquer the Mont Fort.
In 1981 the cable-car of Tortin-Col des Gentianes was put into operation, followed by the cable-car of Gentianes-Mont Fort Summit in 1982.
The workshops in Sembrancher, aimed at satisfying the mechanical requirements of the company, were built in 1983/1984. These were formed into a new company "Services Techniques Alpins SA". In 1995.
The largest cable-car in Switzerland at that time, the Jumbo, connecting La Chaux with the Col des Gentianes, was built in 1987, under the direction of Jean Casanova, President of Téléverbier SA since 1984.
Besides the construction of the Funitel in 1994, a veritable technological jewel, which heralded the entry of ski-lift development into the third millennium, the 1990s saw a big improvement in the preparation of the pistes, notably by the implementation of a network of artificial snow machines between the Attelas and Verbier as well as in the resort itself.
Between 1996 and 1999 much work was undertaken on the Tzoumaz-Savoleyres sector in order to improve its operation. A number of lifts were renovated there: the chairlift of The Taillay in 1996, the chairlift of La Tournelle in 1997 and the chairlift of les Etablons in 1998.
The gondola of Tortin-Chassoure, dating from 1960, was replaced by an eight-seater gondola with a large uplift in 1998.
Finally in 1999, two chairlifts were replaced by one detachable quad on the Lac des Vaux.
During winter 2002/2003, the Funispace uplift will be increased by the addition of 4 new cabins. The hourly passenger uplift will go from 2,000 to 2,500.
On Sector Savoleyres/La Tzoumaz, the old "Poma" with its inconveniences is a thing of the past! From this winter season, it has been replaced by a six-seater detachable chairlift, to make certain you can get on without a problem. This will allow for a better turnover, permitting 2,400 passengers per hour.
Since its formation, Téléverbier SA has invested more than 250 millions of Swiss Francs in its buildings and lift-system, which has led to an important added value to the economy of the region.