Tight technical sections? Check. Open powder faces? Of course. An abundance of cliff drops? Absolutely. On-piste jibbing? Plenty. Perfectly placed tree runs? Definitely.
These are the obvious criteria for selecting the greatest freeride run in Europe. Total run length, accessibility, popularity and possibility for variation also rank highly. Ending the run at a legendary après bar should go without saying.
My nomination for this title was a relatively easy decision. There were other contenders, but this run in Verbier – the freeride capital of Switzerland (if not the entire of Europe!) – has everything for the best snowboard holiday.
After exiting the gondola from the Verbier village head straight for the Funi Space. Take up a position at the front right of the cabin and you’ll begin to see what this epic mountain has to offer. The couloirs below are favourites of the locals, tricky to get into but worth the scramble.
Beat the urge to head straight for these chutes and instead take the Gele cabin to your final destination.
Arriving at the top this is not the time to admire the breathtaking views all around, as you need to battle to get into the best lines first.
Navigating to the entry point of one of the many powder-ridden gullies is all part of the fun, though not somewhere you’d likely want to take your mother.
On the right day this is as good as it gets. Take your pick from slashing along the spines or making huge carving turns down the main face. Descending right underneath the cabin you took up a few moments earlier, this is an exhibitionist’s paradise – just don’t bottle it or you’ll find yourself tomahawking indefinitely, in full sight of everyone.
After this short, but definitely sweet descent, join the main “M1” piste. Sticking to either of the sides you’ll discover endless places to launch off cat tracks and hit little jibs. When the snow turns bad use the ‘James Blunt’ six-seater chairlift (locals fondly refer to this lift with subtle rhyming slang…), to lap this fun section.
Alternatively, choose to open up the throttle and use the steep, wide run to your advantage.
Time to leave the piste behind again! Duck underneath the Funi Space cabin station from earlier and head straight for the trees. Keeping as far left here as you dare (too far and you’ll be walking back to the pub) explore the “Medran” trees. Here knowledge is power, so to find the best routes through bribe a local or simply lap this section of the run using the gondola.
Some areas can get tight, but discover the best lines and you’ll be rewarded with perfectly spaced trees, undisturbed snow and plenty of features to get creative with.
Now, if I told you the shortcut back to the famous ‘Mont Fort’ après pub I’d have to kill you. Or maybe just get you to buy me a beer. Due to geographical differences this is pretty unlikely, so for now I’ll just leave this bit a secret.
So, is this the best freeride run in Europe, or do you think you have a better one?