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Run the Chamonix and Mont Blanc trails with a Cicerone guidebook

Cover of Trail Running - Chamonix and the Mont Blanc region
13 Apr 2016
17.2 x 11.6 x 1.4cm
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Trail Running - Chamonix and the Mont Blanc region

40 routes in the Chamonix Valley, Italy and Switzerland

by Kingsley Jones
Book published by Cicerone Press

Guidebook to exploring the classic trail running regions around the Mont Blanc massif, visiting France, Switzerland and Italy. 40 runs are graded by terrain, from wide trails to technical skyrunning, with information on ascent/descent and distance. Includes the 168km ultra-trail of Mont Blanc as well as shorter day runs.

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Cover: Paperback - Laminated
Size: 17.2 x 11.6 x 1.4cm
Weight: 270g

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A guidebook describing 40 trail running routes in the Chamonix Valley and around the Mont Blanc massif, visiting France, Switzerland and Italy. The routes, which range from 3.8km (2½ miles) to 168km (104½ miles), are graded from 1 to 5 and categorised as trail running, fell running or skyrunning. Starting from Chamonix, Les Houches, Servoz, Champex, Courmayeur, Orsières and Vallorcine among others, and covering classic ultra trail routes as well as shorter day runs, there is something for every runner.

Step-by-step route descriptions are accompanied by 1:100,000 mapping and route profiles, with notes on safety and useful tips for runners. Also included is a comprehensive equipment checklist plus information on running at altitude, adapting to the Alps, navigation, maps and mountain safety. GPX files for all routes are available for download after you have purchased a book by logging in to your Cicerone account.

Renowned as a mecca for trail runners, the Chamonix Valley and Mont Blanc region is home to some of the greatest trail running races in the world, including the Tor des Géants and Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc. The landscape, with its dramatic mountain scenery and ethereal vistas, offers diverse trail options and true adventure – the perfect playground for this exhilarating sport. 

  • Activities
  • Seasons
    The key season for the majority of routes in this book is the Alpine summer season between early June and late September.
  • Centres
    Chamonix, Courmayeur, Champex, Martigny, Orsieres, St Gervais, Servoz, Les Houches, Le Buet, Vallorcine, Trient, Bourg St Pierre
  • Difficulty
    Each route has been carefully graded to indicate the style of running terrain, from wide trails, to single track, or technical skyrunning. This ensures you select a route that suits your experience and aspirations. In addition to the technical grade, distance, height gain / loss and timings are provided.
  • Must See
    Explore some of the classic trail running regions around the Mont Blanc massif, visiting France, Switzerland and Italy. Run the full ultra-trail circuit of Mont Blanc, or shorter day runs including above the Mer de Glace, the summit of Mont Buet, and above the Col du Grand Saint Bernard.

September 2016

Route 6: La Jonction - Due to path erosion, and some unstable moraines overlying rock, there are several sections of paths on the ascent to Col Corbeau, which are especially delicate after heavy rains. On wet days, runners are advised to use the descent route described both for the ascent and descent of the route, as these trails are in the best maintained condition.

Route 8: Chamonix Marathon - The final two kilometres of this route have been slightly changed, to move the finish slightly up the hillside to the top of the Teleski du Stade. This improvement is much welcomed by runners, as you finish on single track trails, rather than a stony 4x4 track. The route from La Flegere is as before until you reach the 4x4 track beneath the cables of the Telesiege du Col Cornu. Here you run diagonally L across the big track, and turn R onto the Tour du Pays du Mont Blanc path. This climbs in a rising traverse, around the bowl of the Montagne de Parsa, to reach the finish line just above the Teleski du Stade.

Route 37: UTMB - The 2015 and 2016 editions of the UTMB race have added an additional climb to the route that is not mentioned in the guidebook. After the initial c.200m descent from the Col de la Seigne, instead of descending directly to Lac Combal, the route now turns N to cross the higher of the two Col des Pyramides Calcaires at c.2650m. It then descends E to Refugio Elisabetta Soldini before rejoining the standard route to Lac Combal. This section begins with a vague path on grass that shortly turns into extremely rough scree and snowfields (depending on the season). The descent is very technical steep scree, on a path that becomes clearer and broader as the descent continues.


The Chamonix Mont Blanc region
Bases for a trail running holiday
Travelling to the Alps
Travelling around the Chamonix valley and region
Weather and forecasts
Safety and mountain rescue
Mountain running in the Alps
What’s different about running in the Alps?
Trail kit
Adapting to the Alps
Mountain skills
Using this guide
Chamonix start
Route 1 Mer de Glace
Route 2 River track to Argentière
Route 3 Merlet
Route 4 La Flégère
Route 5 Refuge Moëde Anterne
Route 6 La Jonction
Route 7 Chamonix Vertical KM
Route 8 Marathon du Mont Blanc
Route 9 80km du Mont Blanc
Vallorcine valley start
Route 10 Lac d’Emosson
Route 11 Col de la Terrasse
Route 12 Albert Premier
Route 13 Aiguilles Rouges
Route 14 Mont Buet
Les Houches/Servoz start
Route 15 Le Brévent
Route 16 Le Prarion
Route 17 Col de Tricot
Route 18 Lac Vert
Route 19 Charousse
Outside Chamonix valley
Route 20 Nid d’Aigle
Route 21 Refuge de Doran
Route 22 Mont Truc
Route 23 Mont Joly
Route 24 Refuge de Tré-le-Tête
Route 25 Tête Nord des Fours
Route 26 Mont de l’Arpille
Route 27 Croix de Fer
Route 28 Fenêtre d’Arpette
Route 29 Cabane d’Orny
Route 30 Mont Fourchon
Route 31 Cols Fenêtre and Chevaux
Route 32 Mont de la Saxe
Route 33 Tête Entre Deux Sauts
Route 34 Italian Val Ferret
Route 35 Col d’Arp
Route 36 Punta della Croce
International race recces
Route 37 Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB)
Route 38 Orsières, Champex, Chamonix (OCC)
Route 39 Courmayeur, Champex, Chamonix (CCC)
Route 40 Traces des Ducs de Savoie (TDS)
Appendix A Useful contacts
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