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Chamonix Trail Running Review

Trail running in the Chamonix Valley

Featured in: | Katy Dartford, Chamonix Reporter | Published
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This time last year it wasn’t possible to get out on many of the trails. Even in May there was still deep snow and it had been dumping down to the valley floor. What a different story this year where the snow is melting so fast that each day the situation is changing.

It’s definitely going to be a longer running season. And with local running groups such as Chamonix Alpine Endurance, Chamonix Ladies running club and the Clinique du Sport starting their regular training sessions or social runs, there really is no excuse not to get out there if you’re into running.

I’ve already started a few tentative “longer runs” having (stupidly?) entered the following races: Mont Blanc Marathon, 10km, 28th June, Trail Verbier (50km version) 12th July, Passy; Petit Tour du Fiz (30km)  27th July, Passy Sprint Triathlon, 24th August, and I’m pleased to say I was lucky enough to get a place on the new North Face Ultra trail race, the OCC- 28th August (50km). I’m hoping to collect points for the CCC next year or after but reading my list I’m thinking I have been a little over ambitious!!! Realistically if I can just complete the OCC I’ll be very happy- and I’m really not too bothered about time as long as I make the cut off.

Last year I competed the Mont Blanc marathon and the Petite tour du Fiz- which although shorter, I found harder. I was worried at the time that I hadn't done enough training – but I seemed to have got away with it with just a few long runs on high trails and some lower level shorter ones. The real key to these races (and my weak point) seems to be the ability to hike uphill fast. So I’ve kitted myself up with some lightweight running poles and a little trail running back pack from Quechua and some lightweight trail running shoes and have been mostly on fairly low level runs on the Balcon Sud for a handful of run/hikes ranging from 1 to 3 hours.

When the sun starts to come out more regularly, I’ll try and do some of these suggestions from the Chamonix Ladies running group:

1)    Chamonix - Balcon Nord - Argentiere - Tre le Champ - towards la Trappe - Sentier de Garde to Floria – Chamonix. Or if you want to go higher/longer can carry on to Flegere and/or Brevent

2)    Start at Montroc train station - Col des Montets - le Buet - Col des Posettes - le Tour - Montroc, with option to go via the Aiguilette des Posettes. 15km, approx 3 hours. If you want to go further, you can run back to Cham. If you want to go shorter, you can turn back at le Buet.

3) Argentiere-Le Tour-Aiguilette des Posettes-Vallorcine-Col des Montets-Argentiere (4-5hrs/22km+) Short version: Argentiere-Le Tour-Tre le Champ-Argentiere (1.5hr/8-10km) PDF

4) Chamonix-Chalet Floria-La Trappe-Tre le Champ-Petit Balcon Nord-Caillet-Chamonix (3-4 hrs) Short version: Chamonix-Petit Balcon Sud-Les Tines-Les Bois-Chamonix (1 hr)

5) Gaillands, Merlet, Aiguilette des Houches, Bel Achat, return (approx. 4-5 hrs) Short version - Gaillands, Merlet, return (approx. 1.5-2 hrs)

6) Route is through town to the hospital up to the Plan d'Aiguille refuge, across to Montenvers and down to Planards. Usually takes 4 hours, but if you are fast you can cut back to les Bois rather than Planards and do a circuit up to Lavancher.

7) Chalet Floria, Flegere, Lac Blanc, Col des Montets, Tre le Champ, back to Cham via La Trappe, Short version - Chalet Floria, Balcon Sud, Les Tines, Lavancher, Le Bois, back to Cham

I’ve also discovered a good website which shows which trails are open or if there is still too much snow on them, and has a map you can download.

Read more about trail running in the Chamonix Valley here


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