The steady, rhythmic beat of our skis is a "clip-clop-claaaack" as we lift and slide them up the slope, heading for the ridge and what lies beyond. The terrain is steep in places: "look ahead, don't look at your feet, stand tall, stay balanced and breathe," says our guide, Hans Solmssen, coaching us along.
It isn't "fall-and-die" terrain, but it is quite icy, making it "fall and slide a fair way and have to climb up all over again" terrain. No thanks. We are ski touring the Swiss Alps and having hitched a ride on the lift system of Verbier to gain some easy altitude, we free our heels, fit climbing skins to our skis and leave the resort boundaries for the Hidden Valley.