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1,630 summer skiing in Verbier
Saturday July 13, 2013 - Email this article to a friend

Under a deep blue sky Verbier re-opened last weekend. No-one quite knew how popular it would be. In the end so many people turned out that the queues were huge and the bar ran out of beer. PlanetSKI readers were there.

News emerged last week that the resort had decided to re-open its slopes on Mont Fort at 3,300m. 

This weekend hundreds and hundreds were out enjoying the slopes, a BBQ and a few beers at the bar. Cool

The slope was open from 10.00 until 13.00 on Saturday and from 11.00 to 15.00 on Sunday.

There were 830 people out on Saturday and 800 on Sunday.

We have heard one of them was the ex-Swiss racer, Didier Cuche, who is often in the resort.

"This year, members of the national ski team, including Didier Cuche, were able to slide down the slope of Mont Fort," said local media.

No-one that we know out on the slopes spotted him though.

The area used to be open regularly during the summer months in the 19080s but the shrinking glacier and a lack of summer snowfall at high altitude put paid to it. It last opened on a one-off basis in 1999.

However this year some of the huge amounts of snow from last winter have remained and there has also been some fresh falls in the Spring so the resort decided to see if anyone would be interested in skiing in Verbier in July. 

We reported on the news last week in this story last Thursday night on PlanetSKI and an earlier attempt to re-open in June that was not to be as the weather was too poor.

The two pictures below show the area that was available to the skiers and snowboarders who showed up.

Slopes awaitMont Fort, Verbier, July 13th













The slopes awaitThe slopes await













In its wildest dreams the resort couldn't have guessed how many people would take advantage of the opportunity.

There was a mixture of locals, holidaymakers, people from down in the valley and those just curious to see what it was like and to say they had been skiing in Verbier in the middle of July.

Many were in shorts and T-shirts.

It was a summer, party atmosphere.

Going up in the jumbo cable car from La Chaux to Gentianes it was strange to see the mountain bikers mixing with the skiers. 

On the way upOn the way up

















Then at the bottom of the Mont Fort cable car the queue was backing up out of the lift station. 

It took 45 minutes - there was that much demand.

A few people were impatient but most just chatted away in the sun until it was their turn to ride the small cable car to the top.

45 minute wait45 minute wait













Once there at 3,300m it looked more like the middle of winter with the traverse covered and the slope falling away to the right. 

In the distance down in the valley it was a dark green and looked like the middle of summer should do.

July across the AlpsJuly across the Alps













In front of those out on the slopes it was winter again.

Top of Mont Fort, July 13thTop of Mont Fort, July 13th
































The Mont Fort glacier is normally a steep, black, bump run with huge moguls; it is one of the more challenging runs in the resort.

This time it has been groomed - for those on the first lift at 10.00 it was icy and lethal.

A fall here would not be welcome as it is steep.

Winter in summerWinter in summer













But as the morning wore on it became softer and then slushy.

One of the lucky onesOne of the lucky ones













For a 360 degree web camera on the top of Mont Fort to see what the current conditions are like then follow this link.

July turnsJuly turns












"Skiing was great and hats off to Televerbier for making it happen. Bloody loads of people but worth it, even if it was only one run. BBQ and all up here," said one of the people out, Nessa from V-ski. 

"The snow was corn and grippy at the start and then slushy & sticky at the bottom. Sadly the mini drag lift broke," she added.

The lift in question was the short connecting T-bar that takes people from the bottom of the run back up to the cable car. 

The resort apologised for the brakedown.

The T-barThe offending T-bar














It was tiresome but did not detract from most people's enjoyment of the day.  Especially as nearby was the BBQ and the beer.  The latter though ran out at 1.00pm.

The numbers of people and their thirst had not been anticipated.

The resort apologised for that too, but described it as "a festive atmosphere."

Summer funSummer fun












View up to Mont FortView up to Mont Fort













Saturday, 13th JulySaturday, 13th July













"Many people did only one run because of the queues. It was  really busy and unexpectedly so. Those of us that skied slightly later had great conditions and those that skied even later than that said they were spring-like," said a PlanetSKI reader from Verbier.

The reaction overall was very positive.

Many people hope the resort re-opens again this summer. And even at other times of the year if conditions allow. 

With 600 people turning out on Saturday alone it shows there is certainly demand.

"It's a brilliant idea and great that Televerbier has put in so much effort. I think the response shows how popular these exceptional openings could be," said a local ski instructor, Guy Ordway. He works for the Performance ski school.

"Let's hope it means we'll see more one-off events like this in the future; late openings for late-season spring snow and early autumn skiing maybe?"

Not everyone was interested though and perhaps many people turned out because it was new and unexpected. 

The novelty factor certainly played a part. 

Verbier in JulyVerbier in July











But lets not forget it is summer.

Others prefer to keep their skiing for the winter - they are more concerned with summer activities.

There may be snow at the top of the resort but elsewhere the wet and cold spring is now a distant memory.

One of our reporters, Freddie, lives in Verbier year round and had no intention of getting her skis out this weekend.

She prefers her bike.

"Summer in Verbier is a haven for cyclists, be it road biking, downhill mountain biking or even cross country riding.  There are plenty of trails all over the mountains and if you're more inclined towards skinny tyres then you can find great routes away from the traffic," said Freddie. 

She has sent us the pictures below of summer in Verbier.

VerbierPicnic time

















VerbierHiking time

















VerbierRelaxing time

















Summer in townSummer in town

















For the spirit of the mountains

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