Telegraph Travel Ski Section

Roddy Willis Mentioned In The Weekend Telegraph Travel

Roddy Willis in The Telegraph

A wee mention in the press this weekend. It’s always tricky for an independent ski instructor to compete with the big Verbier ski school machines! However I got my name in the papers!

Verbier Snow prediction 19 - 20

Verbier Snow Prediction Winter 19 -20

Verbier Snow prediction 19 - 20

Verbier Snow Prediction Winter 19 -20

If you are a regular visitor to my Verbier Ski Blog, you’ll know that each summer – autumn I predict the coming winter season’s snowfall in Verbier. I use a variety of ‘special’ techniques and indicators to help with my prediction. There is no science used, just a bunch of my random randomness, which-to-date have been remarkably accurate. Being a lover of skiing and all things snow, my predictions are slightly myopic and yes every winter is going to be bigger than last winter! Listed below are this year’s indicators of the coming Snowpocalypse!

European Heat Wave June 2019

June 2019 has seen new record highs across Europe with temperatures in parts of France reaching over 46 degrees centigrade. This heat wave was caused by a hot air mass moving up from North Africa. The effects of global climate change made this air mass hotter and more intense than any previous European heat wave.

Alaskan Heat Dome

And, if the European heat wave isn’t enough… then check out the Alaskan heat dome. Temperatures, this summer in Alaska, are set to be some of the highest on record.


Stromboli in Italy has recently blown it’s top and sent a massive plume of volcanic dust into the high atmosphere. The effects of ‘global dimming’ from volcanic ash in the atmosphere is well-documented.

Summer Snow in Spain

The rain in Spain stays mostly on the plain – We’ll actually the freak summer snow and hail in Spain stayed mostly on the plain. In early July in the city of Utiel, Valencia rivers of ice flowed through the streets.

Massive Insects

In the past I have used the appearances of larger than usual insects to predict the biggest snow ever. This year I’ve seen some seriously big spiders and insects and as my regular readers know… this is surely another sign of the impending Snowpocalypse.

Atlantic Hurricanes

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is giving advice about preparing for hurricane season. The past two autumn’s have seen some of the biggest Atlantic storms. There is an expectation that this autumn will see another series of massive storms sweep through Atlantic seaboard of America and the Caribbean.

Snowmageddon – Snowpocalypse

Global climate change has increased the chances of extreme weather events. Thus, applying some excellent randomness and snow-logic: This summer’s high temperatures will have an extreme and opposite winter reaction. Combine this extreme opposite reaction with a spot of volcanic ash in the high atmosphere and we are going to see some massive snowfalls this winter. You’d be disappointed if I had predicted anything else!

All I can say is the snow is going to be epic. If you’ve got this far down the page then you really need to book your Verbier ski lessons now!

Verbier Snow Prediction 19 - 20

Photo from The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Savoleyres Ski Lift Accessed Powder

Savoleyres Bubble Lift Verbier – What is the Gossip?

Savoleyres Ski Lift Accessed Powder

Savoleyres Bubble Lift – What is the deal?

This week’s blog is about the Savoleyres bubble lift. It is not long since the end of the winter season and the skiing stopped in Verbier. Winter 18 – 19 has produced many tales of the deepest and steepest skiing ever. However, what has happened to the chat about replacing the oldest, slowest and wobbliest ski lift in Verbier? So, to help you liven up your bar chat this weekend!

Here are 6 question and answers about the Savoleyres ski lift

  1. How old is the Savoleyres bubble lift? The Savoleyres bubble lift first opened in 1970, like all things Swiss was built to last.
  2. Is the Savoleyres bubble lift safe? It maybe a little old and shaky – however TeleVerbier has managed to get a new licence to operate the Savoleyres lift. The previous licence expired in 2018. So, being Switzerland I can only imagine that there has been some sort of safety test!
  3. How long has the Savoleyres bubble lift got left? The current operating licence for the lift is due to expired in 2022. So, we have a few more winters before TeleVerbier will need to get a new licence to operate the Savoleyres lift. Or to build a replacement ski lift!
  4. Is there a plan to replace the Savoleyres bubble lift? Since 1996, TeleVerbier has made multiply attempts at getting planning permission to build a new lift. TeleVerbier’s current plan is shown in the diagram below. However, TeleVebier is struggling to get permission for their replacement plan.
  5. What is stopping the lift from being replaced? TeleVerbier’s planned replacement for the Savoleyres lift has been opposed, since 2012, by a group of chalet owners. The opposition’s views and ideas can be found on their website
  6. What will happen if there is no lift-up to Savoleyres? This is an interesting question… The only downhill skiing access from Verbier to la Tzoumaz will be the Vallon d’Arbi itinerary. Otherwise, it is possible to skin up on touring skis or take public transport to la Tzoumaz.

Bar Chat Conclusion

If, there is no new ski lift or no licence to operate the old lift Savoleyres lift, Verbier will lose access to the la Toumaz ski area. It is difficult to imagine not being able to ski epic powder on Savoleyres. Hopefully, there will be a sensible compromise and a new lift will be built before the current lift is to old to operate.

Seriously if you’ve got this far down the page! Then you really do need some help with your bar chat or your off piste powder skiing!


Plan for the new Savoleyres lift

Mont Fort in back ground

Mont Fort


Mont Fort Verbier

Mont Fort is the highest point of the Verbier ski area. It is popular for skiing in winter and in the summer for sight-seeing and mountaineering. From the top on a clear day it is possible to see the Matterhorn, Dent d’Hérens, Grand Combin and Mont Blanc:

Mont Fort Skiing

Many glaciers throughout Europe are retreating due to climate change. The Tortin Glacier on Mont Fort in Verbier has not escaped the effects of a warming planet.

Over the last 30 years the size and shape of the ski pistes on Mont Fort have changed considerably. The changing geography of the glacier has affected skiing in many ways.

Mont Fort Picture – Showing the old Gentianes drag lift and piste

Mont Fort Ski Pistes

The ski pistes on Mont Fort have reduced in size and number plus changed directions. There were in the past several pistes in the winter. One piste headed in the direction of the itinerary to Gentianes Tortin. The other piste headed back to Col de Gentianes.

It was previously possible to ski from the summit of Mont Fort back to the Mont Fort cable car. So, this is no longer possible and access to the cable is via the recently built replacement Gentianes drag lift.

Has skiing Mont Fort become harder?

The top section of the Mont Fort piste has become steeper as the glacier has retreated and the entrance to the marked piste has become more technical and in busy Verbier holiday periods can be tricky to navigate.

Mont Fort Summer Skiing

Until 1999 there was summer skiing in Verbier on the Mont Fort Tortin glacier. So, in 2014 TeleVerbier removed the last remnants of the old Gentianes drag lifts used for summer skiing. And a new shorter drag lift was installed to take skiers back up the cable car.

However, in July 2013, the freakish weather enabled TeleVerbier to open for a weekend of summer skiing.

Flying Kilometer Verbier

Mont Fort Speed Skiing

The last XSpeedSki event held in Verbier was in 2013. An additional ramp was built at the top to enhance chances of setting a new speed record. However, the succession of recent hot summers has melted large areas of the Mont Fort glaciers. It is now no longer possible to build the Verbier speed skiing course. The additional ramp for the event has been removed.

Mont Fort Statistics

Summit Altitude: 3330 meters
Destination: Gentianes  2900 meters
Length of ski run: 1750m
Altitude difference: 350 Meter
Maximum gradient: 40% (steep)
Level of difficulty: very difficult (mogul slope)

Let me know if you want some help conquering Mont Fort!






Summer skiing in Verbier

Summer Skiing Verbier 2019

Summer skiing in Verbier

Will Verbier Open for Summer skiing?

The winter ski season has ended. However, the snow just keeps on coming. This morning May 12th the snow has again fallen right down to 1200 meters and the forecast is for more cold weather and more snow! The last time it felt this cold in May was 2013. TeleVerbier opened for a weekend of  summer skiing in July 2013.  Just saying…. will Verbier open for skiing this summer?

Skiers beware - this is the sign at the top of Tortin

Tortin – Verbier Ski Itinerary

Half Way Down Tortin

Good Skiers Only!

Tortin is probably the best known of the Verbier and 4 Valllees itineraries. It is a rite of passage for many visitors to Verbier. So, to get your Après-Ski bar chat sorted and ready for some great ‘Fisherman’s tales’. Here is a little information to help make your ski tales into classic Verbier bar chat.

  1. Tortin starts at the Col de Chassoure just next to the top of the Chassoure gondola lift.
  2. Itineraries are not groomed or pisted they are wild mountain terrain.
  3. It is a north-facing bowl and is shaded from the sun.
  4. You can expect good skiing on firm and grippy snow. You can also expect deep powder.
  5. So, the snow conditions are whatever mother-nature has left on the side of the mountain!
  6. The first part is a little steep and at times very busy (particularly in February half term week).
  7. The traverse at the start can be tricky and sometimes be busier than the M25.
  8. After the traverse, giant moguls are likely to be the biggest obstacles.
  9. Tortin is actually-the area at the bottom of the run and the itinerary is correctly called ‘Chassoure-Tortin’.
  10. Normally there is a sign at the top say ‘Good Skiers Only’!

Please note the following point from the Verbier Tourist Office

‘Itineraries are officially designated off-piste routes, marked on the piste map as yellow lines, a single line of yellow poles in the snow marks the direction of an itinerary route. Itineraries are bounded 20m on each side of the yellow poles.’

Skiers beware - this is the sign at the top of Tortin

If you want to master Tortin? Then book some ski lessons with me – I’ll help you master the moguls whilst finding the best routes and snow conditions on Tortin,

Looking back at Tortin Verbier

Savoleyres looking down to Verbier

Off Piste Regulations – Verbier

 Savoleyres looking down to Verbier

Swiss Federal Ordinance for Activities of Risk

What are the laws for mountain professionals working in Switzerland? The answers can be found in the Swiss Federal Ordinance for Activities of Risk (Orisque). From 2014 all mountain guides, ski instructors, climbing instructors, mountain leaders have had to comply with Orisque. However, the Federal Council has revised the ordinance and the new regulations come into force from the 7th of May 2019. Here are some of the main changes for all mountain professionals working in Switzerland.

Snow Sports Instructors – 39 to 44 Degrees 

Previously the Orisque limited off-piste terrain for ski and snowboard instructors to AD (Assez Difficile), with a maximum slope angle of up to 39 degrees. Now the maximum slope angle for a Brevet Federal Snow Sports Instructor is 44 degrees. However, the routes taken must avoid ‘no fall zones’.

“There is clearly clientele who want to improve their ski technique on steeper off piste routes, for the past five years ski instructors have been limited in their services. The new ordinance will allow ski instructors again to prepare good skiers for Heli-skis excursions led by mountain guides”. Verbier Ski School Director

Climbing Instructors and Mountain Leaders

Because of the change to the Orisque climbing instructors will now be able to take their clients on via-ferrata routes. And mountain leaders will be able to follow routes of up to T4 level of difficult.

Authorisation to Exercise

Due to the change in the Orisque all mountain professional must have authorisation to practice their profession in Switzerland. All visiting mountain guides and snow sports instructor now need to obtain a licence prior to starting  work. It was possible in the past to work for up to 10 days without making a declaration.

If you want to find out more about authorisations to work in Switzerland visit the MontagnePro website.

Please contact me if you are interested in learning more about Verbier off piste skiing.


Content Ski Clients

Finding the Cheapest Ski Lessons in Verbier

Content Ski Clients

Best-value-for-money ski lessons in Verbier

Verbier is one of the top ski resorts in the world and is a fantastic ski holiday destination. Verbier also just happens to be in Switzerland and as you’ll probably know Switzerland has a reputation for being a little pricey! Bearing in mind these two points, ski lessons in Verbier can appear to be expensive, especially if you are paying with £s. And to be honest the word cheap should really be replaced with the words ‘value-for-money’ ski lessons. So, what do you need to look for in a ski lessons to get the best-value-for-money ski lessons in Verbier?

Below are a few points to help you know you are getting the best-value-for-money ski lessons in Verbier.

  1. QualificationsCheck the qualification of the instructor you are booking – Are they fully certified to the highest Swiss standards? Larger ski schools make their margin hiring lower level instructors (possibly with no qualification and only five days of in house training at the start of the season) and charge the same price as the highest-level experienced ski instructor (Brevet Federal).
  2. Safety – Be sure you have chosen a ski instructor who is teaching legally, the person selling you a cash deal low price ski lessons in Après-Ski is unlikely to be insured, have a qualification or hang around to help if there is an accident on the mountain!
  3. Local Knowledge – How well does the instructor know the resort? You’ll want an instructor who can help you find the best ski conditions for your level. However, the instructor should also be a font of local knowledge who can help on every aspect of your ski trip, help book great restaurants, advise on the best Après-Ski and even know the telephone number of the local doctor or dentist!
  4. Ski Area – There are 400km of groomed ski runs in the 4 valleys, however there is more off piste than groomed runs! Only a Brevet Federal ski instructor can teach off piste – So, if you are getting the lower level instructor you are only getting a fraction of the ski area to ski on in your ski lessons – reducing your chances of finding the best ski conditions!
  5. Name – Know the name and qualification of the instructor you are booking. If the ski school can’t tell you the name of the instructor, then you’ll be put in the ski school tombola. Ski schools can run a ratio of 1- 4 (1 Brevet Federal to 4 lower level instructors) so you have a 1 in 5 chance of getting the best-value-for-money ski instructors in the ski school.

You can search for ski lessons by price, however a lowest price lessons does not necessarily equal value-for-money and most ski schools in Verbier charge similar prices – So, when booking ski lessons ask questions about the exact instructor you are booking. If you’ve got this far down the page then you are probably looking for a deal!? Contact me directly and I am sure we can work something out!

Otherwise just book me for your ski lessons!

Helen Parker La Chaux - Epic

Verbier Beginner Ski Lessons


Mastering La Chaux Verbier after 4 hours skiing

The power of a positive mental approach and some good base-level-fitness makes skiing easy. There is no mystique, just simple logical steps and skiing can be easy.

The video above is Helen skiing la Chaux in Verbier after only 4 hours skiing – She was super happy and pleased that she will now be able to have fun and ski with her children and husband.

If you think you’d like to master La Chaux? Then maybe contact me and book some ski lessons in Verbier.

Another great powder day in Verbier

Verbier Powder

Another amazing week in Verbier – Empty slopes and great snow.