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The course begins in Chamonix and heads down the valley to Les Houches before making its way up over to Les Contamines, where you will spend the first evening
Well rested, you will carry on to the steep climb over the Croix du Bonhomme. The views from the Croix back down the valley and towards Geneva are simply incredible. From there we head down to spend our second night at Les Chapieux, a remote hamlet and our last stop before crossing the boarder into Italy.
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. The route sweeps down into Italy, bringing with it staggering views of couloirs and rock buttresses. The path undulates on nice smooth trails before a last climb, and then a steep descent into Courmayeur.
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 you will 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 you 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.
You 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. It’s an amazing achievement, 104 miles / 168km and 9,000m ascent crossing over 3 countries.
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Partly cloudy throughout the day.
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