SKI-BUZZ

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The top 5 Swiss ski runs

Lauberhorn races

Switzerland has some of the world’s best skiing, with beautiful resorts and some of the most famous ski runs, some of which feature on the downhill ski racing circuit.

Here’s a guide to my top 5 along with difficulty ratings and where you can find them.

Verbier; Tortin

The Swiss ski resort of Verbier plays hosts to a myriad of classic ski runs, but none more famous than Tortin. This epic north facing slope is technically classed as an ‘itinerary’ run. This means it is marked out like a normal ski run but is never groomed. After a heavy snowfall the powder skiing enthusiasts head straight there for fresh tracks, but soon enough large moguls form and the long steep slope becomes one of the toughest in the Alps. Tortin is like a black run plus, but on a good day with good snow most confident ‘parallel turning’ skiers will be able to tackle the run. It is not advisable to ski Tortin unless it is open and an instructor or mountain guide is highly recommended.

Advanced and expert skiers only

Zermatt; Klein Matterhorn to Zermatt

Zermatt is a true mountaineering town and the scenery is dominated by soaring peaks with the iconic Matterhorn taking centre stage. The Klein Matterhorn is the highest lift serviced mountain in the Alps and the start of one of the greatest descents in the world. This is not really one ski run but more of a series of pistes that take you from 3820 meters above sea level down to the town of Zermatt. Starting on a glacier and finishing in the forested glades down below, stopping off in a gourmet restaurant on the way, this experience will exhilarate and tire you all at the same time.

Good intermediate skiers upwards

lauberhorn races

Wengen; The Lauberhorn

Every year in February, the car free resort of Wengen hosts one of the biggest challenges on the world cup downhill ski racing circuit. The famous Lauberhorn run is the longest downhill race in the calendar and a true test of stamina and technical ability for even the world’s best skiers. But don’t let this put you off giving it a go for yourself, as the run is relatively straightforward and often in excellent condition. Take in the views of the dramatic north face of the Eiger before you start your descent and enjoy the miles of wide open piste that weaves and flows like a white rollercoaster ride.

Good intermediate skiers upwards

Avoriaz; (resort in France with direct access to the Swiss resorts of Champery and Morgins) Grand Paradis

If you are staying in the French resort of Avoriaz, it is worth the short excursion across the border into Switzerland to try out some fantastic ski runs on the same ‘Portes du Soleil’ lift pass. The most famous ski run on this side of the border is ‘The Swiss Wall’, a steep mogul field that puts fear into the most experienced skiers. But for a more gentle and possibly inspiring experience the Grand Paradis, on the very far side of the ski area, is a wonderful alternative. Winding through a valley on the side of the Dents Blanches mountain range and with the spectacular peaks of the Dents du Midi in front of you, the Grand Paradis is possibly one of the prettiest descents in Switzerland. It takes you from one of the highest points in the ski area all the way down to the outskirts of Chambery. You might even see some mountain goats on the way.

Good intermediate skiers upwards

Veysonnaz; Piste de L’ours

Veysonnaz is a friendly and growing resort linked into the four valleys ski area that includes Verbier and Nendaz. This red graded ski run is actually used as a downhill course on the women’s world cup ski circuit. It is possible for most recreational skiers to both easily negotiate and enjoy at the same time. The smooth and flowing corners contour perfectly down the mountain and the naturally rolling terrain adds to the sensation of floating through an enchanted forest that sparkles in the snow. This relatively unknown ski run is a true gem in the portfolio of Swiss classics and equals any piste that its sister resort of Verbier can offer.

Intermediate skiers upwards

This post was written by Robert Stewart of The Skiing Department. Robert is a qualified ISIA ski instructor and professional Alpine skier and his blog has the latest information on many different aspects of the sport, from beginners’ skiing tips to ski clothing reviews.

The Skiing Department

For information on any of the resorts/ski runs mentioned above visit: Verbier, Veysonnaz, Zermatt, Wengen and Avoriaz.

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