A Beginner’s Guide to Skiing in the Swiss Alps


Getting to ski the enchanting Verbier slopes in Valais (one of Switzerland’s French speaking Cantons) is not for the faint-hearted, nor for beginners such as me. Or so I thought. As luck would have it, on the day I visited, only the horrifying (red) and the extremely petrifying (black) trails were open. Not the basic (blue) for beginners. I was not feeling confident.

As I watched, very young Swiss children through to the elderly fearlessly took on the unrelenting trails.

From what I could see their only worry was whether they were going to dine on Rosti or Raclette for lunch. You wouldn’t be worried either if you had been skiing every winter since you were able to stand on your own two feet.


Running through my head while standing there in the minus 12 degree chill was: how do I get to the bottom of this perilous mountain without breaking any bones? Thankfully I remembered my impromptu chat to a Swiss relative before we left on our trip; he said “stick to the pizza, pasta method. It is the pizza wedge to go slow and stop and the spaghetti pasta to weave across the slopes”. Right!

I must admit I used the pizza method all the way down, and my pasta style was more like pasta spirals, where I twisted and turned and rolled and skidded down and over every terrifying hump. If it weren’t for my reluctance to give up, my next stop would have been to the cafe for a bottomless mug of chocolat chaud to occupy me for the rest of the day.




I was determined and headed straight back up, and was rewarded with the incredible vistas, clear blue skies and pure white snow-encrusted mountains.

The sights are everything you would imagine the Swiss Alps to be, picture-postcard perfect. I stayed and played all day until my hot breath froze on my scarf I had wrapped across my face, and my weary body ached from head to toe.


My obliging companion helped lug my aching body down the mountain in the easily-accessible cable car, to the small township below. From here we got to capture some memorable glimpses, as the sun melted away behind the shadow-drenched peaks. Joyously we headed off to have a well-deserved beer, and a stack of French frites. Which we ate at a lively, crowded and predominately Brit-filled bar, set deep in the hub of Verbier.



Wearily we caught the last train back to Lausanne, relieved that Verbier is not only for the wild and adventurous at heart but also for those who are still pizza, pasta beginners like me.

For more information about skiing or visiting Verbier, take a look at Verbier.ch and MyVerbier.com



This article and photos have been contributed by Tanya Hodgson:

“I’m a kiwi from New Zealand, who married into a wonderful Swiss Kiwi family. In 2010 our family of 4 moved to Switzerland with the desire to experience Swiss life.

Originally a high school graphics and design teacher, I now dedicate my time to my family, and in my spare time I try to learn French, and immerse myself in all things creative.

I also research, write and do a lot of taste testing for my baking blog: KiwiMaidenBakes.blogspot (you can also find Kiwi Maiden Bakes on Facebook).

Currently we reside in Queensland Australia, with dreams to return to Switzerland one day. A favourite recipe that brings a little bit of Switzerland to our Australian breakfast table is Zopf – Swiss breakfast bread.”





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