Here at Alpinehikers, we’ve been running through the Alps on our own for years, and we’re excited to team with Doug Mayer from Run the Alps to offer these incredible inn-to-inn trail running adventures, including this new Haute Route itinerary.
It might just be that there is no more famous route through big-mountain terrain than the Haute Route. While it is the world’s best-known multi-day backcountry ski route, the Haute Route also makes for a great trail running adventure. It’s wild, challenging, and remote, and is a great choice for trail runners looking for something a bit off the beaten-path. Please note due to limited availability, the single room supplement is for a private room in Chamonix, Champex, Arolla and Zermatt only – 5 of the 10 nights – and the other nights will be in shared dormitories.
This is a special trip for Run the Alps, featuring two special co-hosts: Brendan Leonard and Brody Leven. Based in Denver, Brendan is perhaps best known for his online blog, “Semi-Rad.” He’s a filmmaker and author, who writes for Outside, Adventure Journal and many other periodicals. Brendan has authored a number of books, most recently the poignant and funny 60 Meters to Anywhere.
Brody is a professional athlete and story teller who skis, climbs and trail runs. When not wandering the world, he lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. In the past year, Brody has skied the Ruwenzori mountains in Uganda, battled brutally cold temperatures on side-peaks of Alaska’s Mount Denali, and solo-mountain biked through Montana.
Our eleven-day tour starts in Chamonix, France and finishes in Zermatt, Switzerland. We’ve linked the most spectacular sections of the Haute Route with some of our favorite huts and inns, so that they maximize trail running. Our trail running version of the Haute Route includes a spectacular series of daily trail runs, marked by high, steep passes, quiet trails, and stunning scenery. There are a number of high passes and some days will be challenging, but it will be more than repaid by plenty of remote, rugged scenery.
We’ll have five nights in hotels with private rooms, and five nights in mountain huts and a rustic village inn with shared accommodations.
One bag weighing 15 kg will be transferred from Chamonix to our hotels in Champex, Arolla, Zinal and Zermatt. Our hut nights will be without bags, so you’ll need a larger-sized trail running pack or fast-pack for those nights. A detailed packing list will be provided upon registration.
Our typical day starts with a continental buffet breakfast at your inn – delicious fresh baked bread, local cheeses, cereal, fruit, coffee and juice – which gives you the energy needed for a full day of inn-to-inn trail running. Hut breakfasts are often simpler, and usually consist of bread, jams, butter, cereal, coffee, and juice. We’ll provide trail snacks each day.
We’ll be finishing our trail running around 4-5 pm, giving you time to wash up and relax before dinner. Dinners are usually multi-course affairs, often featuring local French and Swiss specialties, and will be well-earned, hearty and delicious. Hut dinners tend to be simpler fare, but are usually substantial and filling.
Chamonix – Today, we’ll gather in the world’s epicenter of trail running; the Alps mountain resort of Chamonix, France. We’ll meet in the late afternoon to get to know each other and review our plans for the upcoming adventure! Afterwards, we’ll kick-off the trip with dinner together in Chamonix.
Champex – We’ll begin the day with transportation up the valley to Le Tour. Two chairlifts will take us high to Col du Balme, on the Swiss border, where we’ll start trail running. Our run today will take us down to the base of the Trient glacier, then up through the wild Col d’Arpette. Afterwards, we’ll descend to the Swiss mountain village of Champex-Lac for the evening. Our bags will be available this evening.
Cabane de Louvie – To maximize our alpine trail running, we’ll avail ourselves of a short transfer to start, then run up and into the Val Bagnes region. We’ll trail run high above the valley, through meadows filled with mountain goats, on a gorgeous panoramic route above Verbier. Throughout the run, we’ll take in up-close views of the famed 4,000-meter high Grand Combin. Our evening will be spent at Louvie hut, a small traditional Alpine Club hut high in the mountains. (Bags not available tonight.)
Cabane des Dix – Today’s one of our most adventurous days – a full day high in the Alps! We’ll try our hand at some technical trail running as we pass over three high cols. Then, it’s downhill to the dramatic Lac des Dix. We’ll run along the side of the lake, then fast hike high to one of our favorite huts in the Swiss Alpine Club system, Cabane des Dix, situated on a hilltop with dramatic views of the high peaks. In this alpine mountain accommodation, we’ll share dorm rooms with climbers and other Haute Route trekkers. Those wanting a shower will have to dare to try the outdoor, glacial-fed “douche panoramique”! (Bags not available tonight.)
Arolla – Today, we’ll run across the bottom of the Dix glacier, then climb up the Pas des Chèvres, or “Goat Pass” via an impressive ladder system! Then, it’s time to coast down to the mountain village of Arolla. Here, we’ll enjoy lunch on the relaxing patio at our hotel, enjoying the mountain air and a cold beer. Today is one of our shorter days, so you’ll have the option of a run after lunch, exploring nearby Lac Bleu or the glaciers at the back of the valley.
Cabane de Moiry – Today, it’s on to Moiry Hut – another favorite! A long, steep climb leads to the beautiful Val d’Anniviers and more stunning mountain scenery. We then descend to Lac Moiry and up to the newly renovated hut, a comfortable base surrounded by a sea of ice with views of the Glacier de Moiry through the huge picture windows. We’ll stay in comfortable 4-person dorms and, as long as the water supply is good, showers are available. (Bags not available tonight.)
Zinal – It’s time for a relatively easy day of trail running to the end-of-the-valley village of Zinal, home to the famed Sierre-Zinal trail race. For those wanting a longer run, we’ll include the option of running to Sorebois, high above the beautiful Val Anniviers valley, with the opportunity to use a cable car or stand-up “Trotti” bike to ride down! There’s also the chance to run through high pastures over to Cabane Petit Mountet, for a slice of fresh tart and a café au lait, then along the valley to Zinal.
Turtmannhutte – Today, we’ll take a quieter, wilder route with better trail running than the normal Haute Route which stays lower in the valley. By doing so, we get wonderful views of the stunning glaciers pouring off the Weisshorn and its satellite peaks, the Bishorn and Brunegghorn. Our traverse through the back of the Turtmanntal valley will finish with a climb to the Turtmannhütte, a classic Swiss Alpine Club hut literally surrounded by glaciers and mountains. We’ll dine with climbers, sharing dorm space for the evening. (Bags not available tonight.)
Zermatt – Today is our final day of trail running cross-country through the Alps! We’ll head up and over the Augsbord pass to the valley village of St Niklaus. An optional cable car from the high mountain hamlet of Jungen saves thousands of feet of trail running downhill, if desired. Finally, we’ll ride up the valley on the local train, to car-free Zermatt.
Zermatt – We’ll take the day to run around the Zermatt valley, perhaps up to the high Hörnlihütte used by Matterhorn climbers. Another option would have us running from the village of Randa, up and then over the dramatic Europaweg bridge, the longest pedestrian hanging bridge in the world, then finishing with a scenic run on quiet trails back to Zermatt. We’ll conclude the trip with a big celebratory dinner at our 4-star hotel!
depart – Today, we’ll enjoy a final breakfast together, then take our leave of Zermatt, heading home, elsewhere for more trail running – or wherever your travels take you next!