Top Ten Unheralded Extreme Ski Slopes

Beyond Black: The World's Top Ten Unheralded Steeps
By Peter Oliver & Alistair Wearmouth

Verbier is blessed with terrain that is mouth-wateringly steep for the skier with the money and the inclination to schuss off the trail map with a guide or as part of a group. As with most Continental skiing, Verbier's lower slopes are plagued with certain drawbacks; namely, crowded slopes, long lines, and some disappointing snow. However, high on the steep flanks of Mont Fort, expert skiers won't face these infuriating technicalities.

When you do make it to the top, forget the big bowl on the front side of Mont Fort that invariably turns into a disheartening minefield of moguls. The chutes that plummet down the mountain's back side, over the Grand Desert glacier toward Siviez, are where the real action is; near-vertical drops that shred down steep couloirs after a traverse over cliffs. Don't even think of trying it without a guide; you'll need all the help you can get.

A few extra words of warning: Skiing Verbier can be a navigational nightmare, based on the sprawling expanse of piste, confusing signposting, and somewhat misleading definitions about where and where not to point your skis. To quote one skiing guide, Verbier's booklet of maps is "hopeless." This, and the threat of straying onto slopes unprotected from avalanches, makes the presence of a guide or competent mountaineer an absolute necessity.

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