[ SWITZERLAND ] Verbier
and apartment blocks are (in the main) charmingly clad in wood and stone. It’s not the cheapest place to stay, but there are some good-value hostels, huts, 3* hotels and Airbnb’s dotted around if you look hard enough. Because it’s such an iconic destination, Verbier gets busy, especially at the peak times of Christmas and New Year, but with a ski area spread over 412km (for which you need a 4 Vallées ski pass, not just Verbier) there is masses of skiing for all levels, all day long.
PROS • Switzerland is
CONS • Pricey to eat, drink, ski, stay and party • Elbows out
immaculate, and everything runs like clockwork (yes, really)
after a dump — everything gets tracked out quickly
[ USA ] Jackson Hole
• The terrain is steep, with
itineraries offering avalanche- patrolled off-piste
• Glitzy side to the resort is
• Attractive town, slick transport and an efficient lift network direct from the village. • Verbier knows how to party
somewhat off- putting
• Ski area gets
Start the day by riding the iconic Jackson Hole Tram and stopping for a coffee and Top Of The World Waffle at Corbet’s Cabin, a tradition in itself, and the best way to savour the 360-degree views of the Tetons and Jackson Hole Valley. Without going out of the gates, there’s more than enough steep, double-black diamond chutes and tree runs to keep a good skier busy, accessing some of the most challenging skiing on the planet without the expense of hiring a guide. Jackson Hole is on the Ikon Pass which makes the lift pass cheaper, but also means that weekends can be busy with American skiers flocking by car to the Big Hills, so ski mid-week. The main town filled with cowboy saloons, pool halls and wooden walkways is a half- hour drive from the base of the ski area — which is a fun spot as well — but the two, like many US resorts, are a bus ride away from each other. Make the most of your time there and visit the Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks and make sure to come home with a Stetson.
PROS • A Wild West
CONS • Pricey to stay and ski in Jackson Hole • Ski area is a bus ride from the old town • Queues build for lifts and traffic on the roads • Limited skiing for beginners
busy especially at peak periods
culture you won’t find anywhere else • Big vertical and home to the famous Corbet’s Couloir • Excellent snow record and in-bound challenging skiing • Great aprés compared to some US resorts
VERBIER HAS IT ALL: gnarly skiing, serious freeride terrain and epic nightlife, but also reasonable amounts of piste skiing and runs that the Swiss call “itineraries” that are essentially avalanche-patrolled “off-piste” — such as the famous Tortin or Vallon d’Arbi. The skyline is epic, with views from the summit of Mont Fort, the highest peak in the 4 Vallées, taking in the Matterhorn and Mont Blanc, as well as the Rhone Valley. You need stamina for this Swiss gem. It is a serious skier’s town — the final stop and birthplace of the Freeride World Tour — but Verbier is also a serious party town attracting celebs and royals in equal measure, many of whom you might be rubbing shoulders with at the end of the night in its infamous nightclub, The Farm. Verbier’s town is purpose-built, but not in the big purpose-built block way once favoured by the French; the chalets, hotels
WHERE ELSE MIGHT YOU COME ACROSS A 700KG MOOSE while skiing, drop into the most famous couloir in the world and then sit in a western ranching saddle, sipping a beer? Only in Jackson Hole. This Wyoming resort is so next level for just about everything: scenery, steepness, snow record, party atmosphere and serious skiing that it’s not hard to nail down exactly why this deserves its place at the top of skiers’ To Do lists.
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