Verbier and the greater Four Valleys ski area has great skiing for experts and advanced skiers and snowboarders, who will either want to head straight over to the Col de Chassoure to test their skills on the Chassoure-Tortin “wall”, or up to the peak of the imposing Mont Gelé, where, from its 3,023m summit, a multitude of ski itineraries will give even the most hardened experts a run for their money. Although they are technically marked as ski itineraries, the Chassoure-Tortin and Mont-Gelé routes see so much skier traffic that they might as well be marked as black runs.
Chassoure-Tortin and Mont Gelé
No advanced piste guide worth its salt would fail to mention these two legendary itineraries.
The 'Chassoure-Tortin' itinerary starts at the Col de Chassoure, where the Lac des Vaux triple chair and the Chassoure eight-person gondola meet. From there, you can either drop straight in and tackle the moguls down the “wall”, or traverse towards the right along the face and drop in wherever suits you. Traversing is often worthwhile as the slope tends to be less bumpy the further you go, but be careful when doing so as the traverse can get quite rutted out and catching an edge or making a mistake here could result in an uncontrollable fall due to the slope inclination. From the bottom of the face, the run funnels to the right onto a flat cat-track, which eventually winds its way down to the bottom of the Chassoure gondola. Alternatively, you can drop off towards the right and follow the lift line to the bottom through a beautiful (but quite flat) landscape.
Although the skiing possibilities off Mont-Gelé’s summit are endless, two official 'Mont-Gelé' itineraries do exist, one which takes you down the south face to La Chaux, while the other takes you off the back, and eventually ends up at Tortin. For the south face descent, drop in on the right as you exit the cable car at the summit. On this first pitch, make your way diagonally left to avoid the impassable rock bands below. From the choke point, the face opens up in a big open bowl which continues all the way down towards the bottom of La Chaux. You can either continue straight (and eventually meet up with the Col des Gentianes-La Chaux red run), or progressively cut diagonally right to finish up on the La Chaux 2 blue run. For the backside descent, go straight ahead as you exit the cable car at the summit. This will naturally take you left around to the back of the mountain, from where you can pretty much drop in wherever suits you. After a long, moderately graded descent, the slope inclination mellows out and the tracks funnel into a line which eventually gets quite flat, so try and keep your speed up to avoid pushing too much. From this point, you’re essentially on the final portion of the “Stairway to Heaven” off-piste run.
There is one marked black run awaiting expert skiers and snowboarders in the Mont Fort sector. From the top of the Mont Fort 2 tram, after taking in the awesome views of the Matterhorn towards the East, and Mont Blanc to the West, make your way down the stairs to the top of the run. This steep and often mogulled piste pretty much follows the fall line to the skiers' left of the lift, until crossing over to the right of the front face and mellowing out, much lower down near the top of the Glaciers 1 and 2 drag-lifts. Alternatively, although not an official marked run, you can cut across right near the top to the right of the tram line and make your way down an even steeper (but slightly smoother) line down the face.
Time to explore
Advanced pistes in Bruson
There is just one marked black piste awaiting expert skiers and snowboarders, namely La Pasay Noir. This piste has two different starting options, both of which eventually fuse together lower down. From the top of the La Pasay triple chair, exit right. Taking another right straight away will lead you to the start of the piste, which pretty much follows the fall line to the skiers left of the lift. You can also choose to go pretty much straight when getting off the lift and you’ll be on a short (but very scenic) wrap-around portion of the same run, eventually joining back up to the other piste on the front face of the resort. Both options bring you back to the bottom of the La Pasay triple chair.
Best of the rest
The Printze area of the Four Valleys offers four distinct black runs, some of which branch off into multiple legs. In the Plan-Du-Fou sector of Nendaz, you’ll find a run called Les Fontaines. In the Greppon Blanc sector above Veysonnaz, the Greppon Blanc 1, 2 and 3 runs await. Last but not least, the steep, sustained pitch of the Étherolla run in Thyon is well worth the detour.