Singletrack Switzerland: Steep Descents in Verbier
The second episode of the video series Singletrack Switzerland finds Carston Oliver and Brice Shirbach exploring Verbier’s growing bike park and high alpine trails, a playground of flowing jump lines that launch riders into the alpine air as the Mont Blanc Massif and its glaciers groan amongst the spiraling peaks in the background.
In the second episode of Singletrack Switzerland, a Teton Gravity Research mountain bike project produced in partnership with BMC Switzerland, Swiss International Air Lines, and Switzerland Tourism, two American mountain bikers – pro rider Brice Shirbach, and pro skier Carston Oliver – venture to Verbier, Switzerland, where they ride open alpine singletracks, full-blown bike parks, and thousands upon thousands of vertical feet with the help of Epic Europe.
After spending several days exploring Zermatt in the shadow of the iconic MatterhornNo matter where you are there’s probably going to be a view that will blow your mind. It’s hard to put into words just how affecting it can be riding in a place like Verbier, Carston and Brice make the trip to the resort town of Verbier. Though only two hours apart by car or train, Zermatt and Verbier are separated by a vast expanse of snow capped mountains and cater to two unique riding styles. Located in south-western Switzerland, Verbier sits halfway up a mountain at the crest of a winding, switchbacked road. During their stay, Carston and Brice are constantly reminded of the scale of the area. “No matter where you are there’s probably going to be a view that will blow your mind. Every corner we turned, we had some other amazing mountain. It’s hard to put into words just how affecting it can be riding in a place like Verbier”, offers Brice on the landscape that greets the riders.
Verbier is infamous as one of the rowdiest ski and snowboard resorts in the Alps. Prominently ascending toward the sky from most viewpoints in Verbier, the imposing 50 degree face of the Bec de Rosses serves as the stomping ground for the Verbier Xtreme, the most renowned There’s super high alpine stuff, there’s a bike park with jumps, there’s steep pine forest. There’s everything you could ask forbig-mountain ski and snowboard contest. As such, it’s regarded as one of the toughest mountains to ski in the Alps and sets a tone with visitors that matches the wild terrain. The draw of such an iconic landscape has recently found a growing appeal amongst mountain bikers as well. Verbier's bike park is looking to match the winter freeride experience with flowing jump lines in the open alpine and technical downhill tracks that fall through the forest. Carston, a pro skier by trade, is impressed with the versatility of the landscape below the snow. “There’s a ton of variety as far as the trails go. There’s super high alpine stuff, there’s a bike park with jumps, there’s steep pine forest. There’s everything you could ask for.”
While Carston’s Speedfox 02 Trailcrew leads the charge through the berms and tables of Verbier’s bike park, Brice’s Trailfox 02 is right at home in the fast, testy, and endless singletrack that winds in all directions from the main lifts. Ever present, these lifts allow the duo access to serene Where we are right now is pretty much like life in a postcardrides along 1,000-foot cliffs, gnarly switchbacking descents that send them grinning all the way into the village of Lourtier at the valley floor. Trails fall off the back of the mountain all the way into the Rhone Valley and climb up the “small” ski area across the valley from Verbier called Bruson, from which, after admiring the view one ridge back from the Mont Blanc Massif, Carston and Brice are treated to the most outrageous free falling, grin-inducing, and brake-melting descent through the thick forest on a trail fittingly called “Tobaggan”.
After spending several days exploring the air above Verbier’s bike park and ripping through countless kilometers of alpine singletrack, the team stops to take in Verbier’s atmosphere one last time while Carston sums up the epic view, “Where we are right now is pretty much like life in a postcard.”
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