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Looking for an advanced / steeps clinic in Verbier

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
I'm off to Verbier on a group holiday for the week of 22 Jan. One of my goals this season is to get more coaching / guiding that will really start to push me out of my comfort zone and onto a better level. I'm looking to build some free-ride skills, get more confident on the back-country steeps, in deeper snow, and taking air (which scares the bejeezus out of at the moment!). In the last couple of seasons I've been feeling a bit stuck in a comfortable rut, too much "social" skiing and my usual holiday groups are becoming less and less adventurous about new challenges (mostly due to a rash of marriages and babies....).

So I'm on my own for this and looking to join a small class of 3-5 others, rather than getting private lessons.

I've found out too late about the week-long Warren Smith camps, unfortunately they're not running that week at Verbier (rats). So that may be one for next winter, or the Saas Fee camp over the summer.

Searching around I've come across Powder Extreme who seem to be British run. Anyone got any experience of them?

I've also heard mention of Doug Coombs (but not in Verbier this year?) and La Fantastique - anyone been with them?

My other trip's to Whistler in late Feb and I'll be booking a 2 day Extremely Canadian clinic there, which I hope should be just what I'm after. But some more ski school options in Verbier in Jan would be good...

thanks, john
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
johnnyrotten, you mentioned in a different thread that you lived in Munich for a few years. This may not fit exactly for Verbier, but maybe for your next trip. If you speak German (and are a good skier) then I can really recommend the DAV Summit Club for guided off-piste skiing. The do all sorts of off piste training and guiding. I have spent a couple of weeks with them. Once in St.Anton at the Ulmer Huette and once in Flims/Laax. Brilliant tutition. They do a thing called Ski-Plus which means making use of the lift system to get as high as possible and then climbing up between 15min to 2 hours to get to the places other people don't get to... But if you want to do that then you really have to be confident in all kinds of snow and terrain, and I guess you would have to speak German. Alternatively they still do the powder courses in the Arlberg and Oetztal. See http://www.dav-summit-club.de
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Mike, thanks for that, sounds just what I'm looking for. I'll not make it to Austria this season as I'm already booked up elsewhere, but I'll keep the link as one to consider next year, particularly at StAnton which is a resort I love. My skiing should be up to it...and my bad Deutsch would probably get me by but it's very rusty after 6 years away!

meanwhile....anyone used any of the Verbier schools/guiding other than Warren Smith?
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johnnyrotten,

I'm in Verbier the week before you. I'll make sure we leave some untracked!

I've used the swiss ski school there twice and been impressed with their lessons for the top group. Always worth enquiring with them (Maison Du Sport) we've done plenty of off piste, but it does depend on who else is in your group if they're up for it you could have a great week for £100 or so.

Powder Extreme are I think, new this year. They are an offshoot of European Snowsports which is a new brit based ski school established last year. I heard some negative feedback on the mainstream outfit last year, but it could be that this venture is much better quality. It'd package looks very good and I thought the price wasn't bad if they deliver what they say.

La Fantastique is a Swiss based school in Verbier. They wear Prada outfits - specialise in VIP treatment for private clients, not very gnarly, although I'm mates with a one of their teachers and they're good, but not really what your looking for.

Another one to try is Adrenaline, I've had mates put their kids in group lessons with them and been pleased.

If it's your fist time in Verbier you've chosen well for the freeride experience. If you get a chance and the snow's right get across to Bruson, some of the best tree skiing in the alps.

Would love to hear your feedback on whoever you choose. Also happy to answer any other Verbier questions you may have.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Steve Sparks, thanks for that and enjoy your week - let's hope a big dump is on it's way

Between Powder Extreme, Swiss ski school, Adrenaline and Warren Smith it looks like I'm not short of options. The Powder Extreme clinic does look ideal although I thought it was little pricy (compare with Extremely Canadian at Whistler for example who are £175 for same deal). I'm going to leave it until I get to Verbier and talk to them before booking.

slightly off topic, I read your report on your trip to La Grave in an old thread when I was searching for info on skiing there. That place is now high on my list of 'must do', maybe next year!
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johnnyrotten, Just booked the flights this morning for my long weekend in La Grave at the end of February. I've always got to have one in the barrel to look forward to!
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 Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
Then you can post your own questions or snow reports...
johnnyrotten, Steve Sparks, sorry to bang on about this....but the best way for a England based skier to impove is to get to you local slope - (repeated) practise makes perfect. - Bowles near Tunbridge Wells has a coaching session on a Monday night...which has to do for me 'til I get to La Grave in Feb.....
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
ski,

Moving even more off topic, is the Bowles Monday session based towards advanced skiers then? I always thought the sort of technique that you use at the top of the Col de L'Ours or in the Vallons would be beyond what could be practised on plastic?

I've been to Bowles twice, but am never sure that the time spent getting there and riding the button gives enough skiing time to make it worth while. I'm lucky enough to be leaving this evening for two weeks, and next week will spend in Swiss Ski School in Crans Montana.

Who are you using for guiding in La Grave?
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You'll get to see more forums and be part of the best ski club on the net.
Steve Sparks, 'Who are you using for guiding in La Grave?' - Skierslodge. Some knowledge of Swedish helps !

and - what technique is really good for steeps ? That would be short swings. What's the one technique you can really practise on plastic (even when dry) - short swings !

Seriously. You're correct, you can't practise some of the more extreme parts of our sport on plastic. But you can (very much) get the boring basic stuff correct. You can also encourage your muscles to remember what skiing is about, and if you live in the UK (Brighton still is I thinnk), it's all you can do when not on snow.

If you've not gone yet - enjoy your trip ! If you are reafing this when you get back, I hope you enjoyed your trip.
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johnnyrotten, When I said I'd leave you some untracked, I didn't relise that I meant that much......

You must have had a fantastic time. I have now left Verbier in a blizzard four times in one year. I think I will post my ski schedule on here so everyone can fix up to arrive as I leave!

Did you take a clinic, and how did you get on?
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snowHeads are a friendly bunch.
Steve Sparks, you should have made any excuse you could to stay on last Saturday - the conditions last week were indeed fantastic snowHead Very Happy In fact if your flight out had been last Sunday you may not have made it back at all, Geneva airport had to close and the resort roads were very bad.

There was so much new snow that nothing much above Ruinettes could open until Wednesday / Thursday because of the avalanche danger. This wasn't a problem - we hit Bruson and Savolyeres instead and had the best days of the holiday, the powder was a dream. We expected a big rush over Bruson to escape the bad weather, but the slopes were empty and there was thigh deep, untracked powder through the trees Very Happy . The off-piste bowls below Ruinettes and the LDV/Col De Mines ridge were awesome too.

Verbier was very quiet - maybe most of the Swiss stayed away because of the weather conditions but we didn't see a lift queue longer than 6 people all week. Even the normal M25 rush-hours down from the Medran at the end of the day were fairly quiet and you could get tables easily at Chez Dany...

Lac De Vaux and Mont Fort finally opened on Wednesday afternoon after a great deal of dynamiting. We debated hiring a guide take us off the back-side of Mont Fort but it still looked too dangerous. And our legs were already shot to bits from 4 days of powder so we weren't too bothered. The Mont Fort top run and the Tortin intinerary on Thursday were hardly worth the effort - big frozen chunks of avalanche debris and exposed rocks. It's been brutally cold too, very unpleasantly so in the higher exposed places.

I didn't book a clinic in the end - I'd already busted my budget having just bought a new transceiver and then I treated myself to some new ski boots, custom-fitted by Nick Hammond at Mountain Air (very good service and highly recommended). If I get back to Verbier next year then I'll be booking a clinic with Warren Smith Academy.

Fantastic week all round. For once I was lucky to arrive on exactly the right day! snowHead
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