Tom Avery: The place I go for the best Alpine skiing

World record-breaking polar explorer turned Verbier expert Tom Avery is one of only 9 people in history to complete the polar trilogy: reaching the North and South Poles and traversing Greenland. He holds the record for the fastest man to reach the North Pole and the record for the fastest crossing of Greenland. Now, while occasionally still satisfying his exploration itch, he runs Ski Verbier Exclusive, organising trips to luxury chalets and activities in the famous Swiss Alpine ski resort.

I’ve been going to Verbier for 23 years now. After failing my accountancy exams, I went over for a winter season to work as a driver and ski guide and fell in love with the place. When I decided to embark on my expeditions, I trained there and I wrote my books there. Then in 2009, I set up Ski Verbier Exclusive to bring people to some of the most amazing chalets in the area and show them what Verbier has to offer.

The reason it’s such a great place for skiers, and why I chose it as a place to prepare for my expeditions, is that there is such variable terrain. What makes it so special is what lies beyond the resort. You have some of the biggest mountains in the Alps on your doorstep. You can spend hours without seeing any human existence once you go under the rope at the far end of the pistes.

There’s high terrain here, as Verbier is situated between the Matterhorn and Mont Blanc, on the spine of the highest ridge line of the Alps. That’s what gives it its spectacular views, majestic skiing and high snow accumulations. 

Another reason I like Verbier so much is that its lift system is 100 per cent powered by green technologies, primarily by hydro-electric – there’s a huge dam and reservoir at the head of the valley. There’s also a little bit of solar. To be 100 per cent green is quite rare for a ski resort and they take their environmental credentials very seriously here.

So, my secret tip is Bruson in Verbier. It’s the locals’ go-to place to get the best snow, avoid the crowds, have beautiful tree-lined skiing and get away from it all. Next year it’s going to be even more accessible thanks to a brand-new chairlift that’s going in.

It’s great for ski touring. The pistes currently only make up 10 per cent of the Bruson mountain. And the new chair lift marks just the start of the Bruson mountain opening up – another new lift goes in the following year, coupled with a challenging new piste.

Bruson is a relatively small area. It’s on the opposite side of the valley to Verbier; if you’re in Verbier you look across to it all the time. The brand-new lift will be accompanied by a new traditional Swiss restaurant where a local chef will be using local produce – a signature dish will be nettle soup, which is very typical of the region. This should elevate the place; but I confess, I hope it doesn’t make it too busy, as up to now it has been a complete hideaway, a seasonaire’s secret – like a mini Lapland with the pines, and all north-facing so it’s usually blanketed in a nice covering of light, fluffy snow.

Up until now, it’s been quite hard to get to Bruson. The ski area has always been there, but you’ve had to go to the Val de Bagnes, down to the lift to the bottom. This has been a very rickety, slow three-person chair lift, which you’ve had to take to get to Bruson. The new lift will cut the journey time in half.

Once at Bruson, you have a combination of lovely blue and red runs, tree-lined pistes and incredible off-piste skiing. This really is the best place to go for off-piste tree skiing in the whole area.

For information on Tom Avery’s chalets, visit skiverbierexclusive.com; Tom is also the author of Pole Dance and To the End of the Earth

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