This is one of the Event Director’s favourite routes. It follows one of the world’s toughest 100 milers, the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc, circumnavigating the highest mountain in the Alps, Mont Blanc at 4,810m and passing by its 71 glaciers and 400 summits. This is a great running adventure to sign up for if you want to explore the Alps more or to recce the route for the UTMB. As always you will have a Lead Runner with you, refreshment points, logistic support as well as food and accommodation provided. The scenery is absolutely stunning and you’ll experience some of the most breath taking views of Mt Blanc the area has to offer. It's broken down into 6 stages (but if you prefer to do it in 5 or 7 days please get in touch for a bespoke tour) with a day to relax in Chamonix at the end of the trip.
We start in Chamonix and head down the valley to Les Houches before making our way up over to Les Contamines. Our first night is spent here before we carry on to the steep climb over the Croix du Bonhomme. The views from the Croix back down the valley and towards Geneva are incredible. From there we head down to spend our second night at Les Chapieux, a remote hamlet and our last stop before heading over into Italy. The next morning as the sun rises from behind the Aiguilles des Glaciers you will climb up to the Col de La Seigne. From here the route stretches into the horizon along the valley leading to the mountain pass 25 miles away which marks the border with Switzerland, a point where you will be standing the next day. We sweep down into Italy, staggering views of couloirs and rock buttresses towering on the left, leading up to Monte Bianco. The path undulates on nice smooth trails before a last climb, and then a steep descent into Courmayeur. At around halfway of the total route we will be staying here for pizza and a warm bed!
Leaving Courmayeur early the next day following a steep ascent out of the valley you may see the sun rise over clouds carpeting the valleys far below. After a couple of hours running there will be time to stop for a refreshment at the Rifugio Bonatti hut, dedicated to the legendary Italian climber. Indeed, you will be passing some of his ground breaking first ascents as you run the route. From there we approach the fearsome Grand Col Ferret marking the Swiss border at 2537m. The trails down from the col are perfect. You will hear the cowbells from the lush green valley below, as you descend through the stunning scented mountain meadows into the little village of Le Fouly, our next stop, the first of two in Switzerland.
The trail passes through forests running alongside the river and through tiny Swiss villages and fields of hay and wild flowers before heading up to Champex-Lac. Champex is a paradise in the mountains and sits at the juncture to another famous hiking route and potential running adventure - the Walker’s Haute Route. Three more high points stand between us and Chamonix, and around another 25 miles. The view from the next climb is hard to take in, since you can see all the way down to Martigny, 1500m below. Its broad flat valley leads to Zermatt and beyond. The path descends from here through some rocky and tree root covered trails to the Col de la Forclaz and then steeply down to Trient and its beautiful pink church and backdrop of dramatic glaciers, where we spend our last night on the trail.
Our last day, today we will complete our journey and return to Chamonix. The climb up to Catogne is followed by a steep descent to Vallorcine and back into France! One more big climb, this time to the Tête aux vents and the Mt Blanc Massif dominates the horizon, its glacier pouring over into the Chamonix valley below and the end of our adventure. We trot down through the mountain trails from La Flegere and into Chamonix to celebrate. It’s an amazing achievement, 104 miles / 168km and 9,000m ascent crossing over 3 countries.