Verbier has always been on the destination wish list after seeing riding segments in various downhill films and hearing good things about it from mates over the years. After driving up to Verbier late the night before I was excited to see what darkness had been hiding from us. We woke up to a sunny day with the most picturesque view of the snow-capped mountains. At the tourist office we were given a map of the mountain with all the tracks on it as well as a relatively thick booklet filled with all mountain and cross country trails in Verbier and the “4 valleys” that it is a part of. Unfortunately we only had our DH bikes with us and with only a day to spend here we jumped into our kit and headed up to the gondola.
We made sure to ride all 5 signposted tracks to see what the mountain had to offer. Starting with the blue “Tsopu” we cruised down this smooth track that had an excess of berms and jumps and had us excited to ride the other tracks after this demonstration of track building expertise. Turning up the pace we headed to the red tracks which mostly wound itself down the mountain through the trees. High-lines and cornering skills were key here as the corners are steep, tight and littered with greasy roots. We had an awesome time getting into things with lots of drifting, dabbing and a couple of offs but nothing too serious. A couple of runs on the reds and we headed over to the yellow track called “Tire’s Fire”.
“Tire’s Fire has been used as a race track on the European and Swiss IXS race series. The reason behind this became obvious after our first run down. Fast and gnarly is the best way to describe it. The track had sections where it went straight down the mountain meant that off the brakes for a second and you would be flying down the track very much out of your comfort zone. With rock gardens that would seem reasonable on a track walk, the speed that you hit them at meant that everything became much more interesting. I struggled to imagine how doing a full race run of this track was possible at top speed as it was so long and rocky, we were having to peel our hands off the grips half way down to give our arms a rest.
The tracks here in Verbier were very well built and maintained with hardly any breaking bumps and lots of big jumps and drops in the advanced tracks that were not “stand-alone” obstacles but flowed very well. Many of the tracks joined and split off at various places on the way down meaning there were many options for top to bottom runs. For those who like to practise their whip and get some hang time, there was a great jump track at the top of the mountain that led into “Tire’s fire”.
After a great day in Verbier we headed south in search of some late summer heat. With a stop off at Pila for a couple of days we then continued down to what would turn out to be one of the highlights of our trip: Molini de Triora.
Also, check out the Northbound and Down Blog