From atop Mont Fort, the highest summit in the entire Verbier region, a landscape that could have been sculpted for skiing unfurls all around. Hundreds of Alpine peaks stretch out into the distance, plunging down to slopes alive with cable cars and gondolas. But we’re not here to ski, not when there is a world of adrenaline-pumping adventure to enjoy without a snowflake in sight the rest of the year.

Not only have I ditched the skis, but I’ve brought my teenage daughter, Tara, along to test out the theory that Verbier is more than just Switzerland’s famous multi-award winning winter sports resort, the self-styled “Infinite Playground”. Verbier today is packaged together with the surrounding area, creating 300 square kilometres of adventure playground – we’re talking 21 trail-running routes, 500km of hiking routes, 800km of mountain bike trails and 19km of downhill mountain biking.

Our first day is typical for Verbier – a destination where “spectacular” comes as standard. Our guide, Remi from Elevation Bike, kits us out with top-of-the-range mountain bikes at Medran Sport Shop in the resort village of Verbier itself. It’s wise to take a guide when you’re sweeping off into a mountain range with peaks soaring almost three times higher than Ben Nevis. Remi briefs us on the day ahead, then it’s off on the gondola with our bikes in search of Alpine biking. “Welcome to my world,” beams Remi, as we enter a world devoid of beeping mobile phones, traffic lights or any semblance of urban buzz.

HeraldScotland: Cycling in Verbier Cycling in Verbier (Image: Robin MCKelvie)

Soon we are sweeping around wide gravel tracks where Remi tests our skills as we swoop along, a heave of improbably high mountain to our left; a steep to our right stretching all the way back to Verbier. The La Chaux-Express ski lift hefts us up to 2,456m and the Verbier Bike Park. The myriad routes here are a real test with reds and blacks up there with anything at Scotland’s Innerleithen or Nevis Range. We opt for the brand new green trail, the “caterpillar”, a sweeping 2km “flowtrail” of sloping berms and modest bumps that develops Tara’s skills, but has enough interest to engage adults too.

The new green trail is included with the VIP Pass, an initiative Verbier runs with the neighbouring Valley de Bagnes area. It slashes down the cost of your holiday as it’s included for free when you stay here. Plus you get a lot of the gondolas and public transport thrown in, as well as a dip at the local municipal swimming pool. Your pass is valid for every day you stay at a local hotel.

The VIP Pass packages up swathes of things for non-skiers to see and do, with 50 free and discounted activities. If you don’t fancy a testing via ferrata challenge or a climbing session with Xavier de la Rue on the Pierre Avoi mountain, then how about canyoning or a gentler culinary-themed walk?

And who needs skiing when you’ve got music festivals, the new E-Bike Festival, or the Yoga Festival?

HeraldScotland: Hiking in VerbierHiking in Verbier (Image: Robin McKelvie)

“Verbier seems to resonate with Scots,” says Simon Wiget, director of Verbier Tourism. “They love the fabulous mountain landscapes, and flights in from Edinburgh to Geneva are really handy. And Scots are always ensured a warm welcome here. We’ve got quite a few Scottish people living in Verbier, including acclaimed Aberdeen-born photographer and film-maker Melody Sky.”

Wiget is right – Verbier does resonate with us and we do love it. As we do our base, Hotel la Cordee des Alpes ( It’s got that cosy chalet vibe, but also a swimming pool and our room peers out at the vaulting peaks, making the chairs on the terrace the place to hang out après non-ski. It’s a fitting bolthole for the chicest and most cosmopolitan of the Valais resorts – Verbier’s bars, cafes, milk bars and nightclubs ripple with accents from myriad countries.

Our hotel restaurant is no slouch either. Romain Maillot is at the helm of a venue serving up superb French-Reunion fusion cuisine – the tasting menu is an absolute delight. Indeed we don’t eat badly in Verbier. At Le Vieux Verbier – a family-run restaurant that has been run by the same family for 35 years – we tuck into the dangling hulks of “Potence”, their grilled meat speciality, then at Les Moulins it’s a spot on entrecote with perfectly creamy potato dauphinoise. Finally, La Grange offers a dish laden with local meats and cheese from the mountain Herens cows, followed by venison loin with wild mushrooms.

We also indulge in local cheese speciality raclette, which threatens to take the edge off the health benefits of being active. So on day two, we’re off on a gondola again, to hitch up with walking guide Cherries. A small bus and then an even smaller minibus (both included with the VIP Pass) later, and we’re at the Cabane Brunet snacking and planning our route with coffee. They could do with these welcoming mountain oases in the Scottish mountains.

It’s scorching, but Cherries assures us it will get fresher as we climb to the Passerelle de Corbassière col. “We’re going together high into the mountains to a world that will stay with you long after your hike,” she smiles. I discover later just how right she is, recalling wire bridges across plunging canyons, a rugged mountain pass and a vast natural amphitheatre of grey and black mountains, ravaged with mighty glaciers. Highlights include the Corbassière glacier as well as the Combins massif.

The Tour du Bec de Sery she takes us on is a proper hike, not just a tame family outing, ascending the equivalent of the height of Goatfell and all the way back down. That really gets Tara’s lungs working and gives my back a work out as I’m carrying all the water. This is proper mountain country and we don’t pass a hut or even fountain for the entire 10km length up to the pass and down the other side.

We do spy soaring birds of prey, and Cherries proves an authority on both the flora – she sorts out the delicious berries from the poisonous ones and shows us the national flower, the edelweiss – and fauna, including the famous bell-clanging Herens cows behind the wondrous local cheese. “It’s important to stop, look and appreciate what you find hiking in the mountains from Verbier. Every walk is richer if you do,” says Cherries as we watch the cows locking horns – every summer there is a battle to be the head of the cow clan, she explains ofa scene that could scarcely be more Swiss.

We retreat afterwards to the pool, sauna and steam room at Hotel la Cordee des Alps, but Verbier isn’t done with us yet; indeed you could spend months checking out all the options on two feet, two wheels, paragliding, paddleboarding, horse-riding and even the world’s highest zip line. We spend our last day catching a collage of gondolas and cable cars ever higher into a world of wandering chamois, marmot and ibex. We start at 1,500m in Verbier then vault to above 2,000km, then again up to Mont Fort.

Skiing is the last thing on my mind as we scramble up to Mont Fort’s 3,330m-high summit ridge. The final stretch has ropes either side, but it’s still breath-taking in every way, with sheer drops all around. I fight the slight dizziness of high altitude and Tara coasts her way with me to perch here on top of our Alpine world.

The natural cinema of mountains that makes Verbier such an inspirational blockbuster sweep all around. We can make out the back of the Matterhorn too – the “Toblerone mountain” as Tara correctly dubs it. Visibility is good; then gets better. The clouds shift to reveal Mont Blanc. I appreciate the view – I’d neither rather be over there nor skiing here, not when Verbier offers so much when the snow recedes to allow the real fun to start. Who needs skiing anyway?


Travel facts:

For information on Verbier and the surrounding region visit easyJet ( fly to Geneva direct from Edinburgh out to Geneva Airport. Frequent train connections zoom off to Martigny, where a change of trains brings you in sight of Verbier and a gondola up to this resort village.