Tracks and Trails / Trail Running / Scheduled Departures / Mont Blanc Ultra Trail

Mont Blanc Ultra Trail

Trail Run the TMB

Trail Run the Tour of Mont Blanc in a Week

The Mont Blanc tour is one of the most iconic trails in the world. Join us on this multi-day trail running trip of a lifetime around the crown of the Western Alps.

The Mont Blanc mountain range is one of the most spectacular areas of the European Alps. Lofty granite spires tower over dramatic glaciers, powerful rivers and thick pine forests. Combined with an extensive footpath network, it’s both a nature and a trail runner’s paradise.

The most famous long distant trail (or Grand Randonée) is the Mont Blanc tour. A circuit of Western Europe’s highest peak, it passes through France, Italy and Switzerland. For trail runners, it’s also home to the mythical Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc® (UTMB®) ultramarathon. Covering 106 miles (171kms) with over 10,000m (32,800ft) of elevation it offers a formidable challenge to experienced trail runners.

The Route

  • Choose from 2 guided trail runs
  • 93kms or 169kms in length
  • 3 or 6 days of guided trail running & fast uphill hiking
  • +5369m/-5529m OR +9889m/-9889m
  • Ideal preparation for the Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc® & CCC® courses
  • Half board Hotel / Auberge style accommodation
  • Travel through 3 countries
  • Luggage transfers provided

Each year around 2300 hopefuls set off from the picturesque Alpine town of Chamonix, France, hoping to return in under 46 hours. Just finishing this race is a major achievement. Our itinerary aims to challenge you while allowing time to enjoy the Alpine scenery and get a taste (literally!) of the culture. With your qualified guide, you spend six days trail running and fast hiking around Mont Blanc on varied mountain trails. This route is suitable for regular trail runners used to rugged terrain.

We also offer this route as a 7 or 10-day guided trek.

UTMB Race Preperation 

This week offers runners invaluable endurance training and race route knowledge. Our local running guides have in-depth knowledge about the course, the terrain, and how to prepare. It’s also a perfect chance to test out clothing/equipment and nutrition plans.

Departures

Trip Departure date End date Price Status

This magnificent journey to complete as a trail runner is also a perfect way to prepare for the UTMB®, CCC® (Courmayeur Champex Chamonix) or any other ultramarathon race. Prepare like elite runners and previous winners Killian Jornet and Lizzy Hawker.

Enjoy this classic trail run (with fast uphill hikes) carrying only a day pack. Taxis transfer your luggage between hotels, where you can relax in comfort each night. We take lunch, water and money for the plentiful mountain refuges

Each day we run/hike about 30 kilometres (18 miles), with at least one high mountain pass. We’re likely to be on our feet for 6-8 hours per day! There is lots of ascent and descent on a variety of mountain trails, so it’s only suitable for experienced trail runners.

Are you ready for one of the world's finest multi-day ultra trail runs?

Trail running Mont Blanc

The Mont Blanc tour links together ancient pathways used by hunters, herdsmen and traders. It’s a route steeped in history, culture and folklore, with abundant wildlife. You run through remote farmlands, along ancient Roman roads and among beautiful lakeside mountain villages.

Smooth, runnable trails are interspersed with technical, rocky passages over the high mountain passes. Breathtaking Alpine landscapes await, flanked by colourful Alpine meadows tumbling down into picturesque hamlets and villages.

Mid-summer, the trails are at their most active, with an abundance of Alpine flowers and wildlife. Chamois, ibex, marmot and golden eagle are at their most visible.

Itinerary

While we always aim to complete the proposed itinerary, conditions on the day can impact the safety and enjoyment of the route. Your guide will decide on any necessary route changes based on the prevailing conditions.

Runners joining us for the full tour of Mont Blanc we meet in the famous Alpine town of Chamonix, France. For runners joining us for the Courmayeur-Champex-Chamonix (CCC) course we will meet you on Day 4 in Courmayeur, Italy.

Day 1. Arrival in to Chamonix Valley

Your running guide will meet you the day before we start our journey, at 6pm, to answer any last minute questions and brief you on the days ahead. Our accommodation is centrally located in Chamonix, at 1035m, and has many outdoor shops for purchasing any last minute items.

Day 2. Chamonix to Les Contamines

Today we begin our epic journey round the Mont Blanc Massif. We leave Chamonix and set off gently downhill by the river Arve to the village of Les Houches. We take the Chemin du Delevret climb up through the forest heading for the low point on the ridge line where we gain views of Mont Blanc and the glistening peak of the Aiguille de Bionnassay. We then drop down through the woods passing quaint chalets and rustic farms as we head towards the famous spa town of St Gervais les Bains before picking up the valley trail to our overnight destination in the village of Les Contamines.

Ascent: 1554m. Descent: 1368m. Total Distance: 30km. Approximate run/walk time: 7-8 hrs. High point: Le Delevret 1764m. Sleeping Altitude: 1170m.

Day 3. Les Contamines to Les Chapieux/Les Mottets

We start on easy wide, flat riverside forest trails up to the beautiful baroque Notre Dame de la Gorge church. Leaving the river our route then climbs steeply, following the ‘paved’ Roman road. Our next stop is at the refuge of Le Balme, a good place to contemplate the climb to the Col de Bonhomme. This is a long, steady climb and the pass itself often has snow patches early in the season. At 2439 metres, this is considerably higher than Day 1, we then traverse around just a little higher to reach our second col of the day the Croix de Bonhomme where coffee & cake awaits. A fun and sweeping trail drops us down to Les Chapieux where our final steady riverside trail leads us gradually back up to the Ville des Glaciers and onto Refuge Les Mottets at 1864m for our overnight.

Ascent: 1725m. Descent: 1070m. Total Distance: 24km. Approximate run/walk time: 7.5-8.5 hrs. Highest point: Refuge de la Croix du Bonhomme 2439m. Sleeping Altitude: 1864m.

Day 4. Les Mottets to Courmayeur

The Ville des Glaciers are where the chestnut coloured Tarine cows (a Tarentaise breed), famous for providing the milk for the fabulous Beaufort cheese, graze in the meadows. We leave our accommodation to regain the trail which climbs steadily to the Col de la Seigne which is the frontier with Italy. Stunning views into Italy from the Col before we begin our descent down into Val Veny with sparking glaciers descending off Mont Blanc. We then climb steeply up to the ridge on Mont Favre, and then on to the Col Checrouit which has a fantastic refuge offering excellent Italian hospitality. Then it’s downhill all the way to the ancient town of Courmayeur.

Courmayeur is also the departure point for those wishing to run half of the route from Chamonix over 3 days to Courmayeur and the meeting point for the second half known as the CCC - from Courmayeur via Champex to Chamonix. We will advise you on where/how to meet us. Your welcome briefing will be at 6pm.

Ascent: 1120m. Descent: 1680m. Total Distance: 23km. Highest point: Col de la Seigne 2502m. Sleeping Altitude: 1200m. Approximate run/walk time: 6.5-7.5 hrs.

Day 5. Courmayeur to La Fouly - CCC Start Point

This morning we set off through the streets, but quickly leave the paved road behind to climb steeply through the larch forest to the idyllically situated Rifugio Bertone. Leaving the refuge we traverse the mountain below the Mont de la Saxe ridge heading for the Rifugio Bonatti. A lovely line is taken along the mountainside through the alpine flowers before a descent to Arnuva and then a long but steady climb to the Grand Col Ferret and into Switzerland. A beautiful descent on a wide trail which then swoops along the hillside high above the valley and then down to the lovely Swiss village of La Fouly.

Ascent: 2050m. Descent: 1670m. Total Distance: 31.6km. Highest point: Grand Col Ferret 2525m. Sleeping Altitude: 1600m. Approximate run/walk time: 8-8.5 hrs.

Day 6. La Fouly to Trient

A gentle start to the day as we cruise down the valley towards the ancient village of Praz de Fort, this morning we pass some wonderful examples of local rural architecture and enjoy the contrast to our previous days in the mountains. Then it’s back to work and uphill to the lakeside Swiss village of Champex with its jade green waters. Leaving the village behind we head up through the forests and cross several gorges to arrive at the bovine pastures where the famous Swiss fighting cows spend the summer months. We traverse around the mountain to reach the Col de la Forclaz for our overnight stop.

Ascent: 1310m. Descent: 1385m. Total Distance: 30.9km. Highest point: Bovine 1970m. Sleeping Altitude: 1527m. Approximate run/walk time: 6.5-7.5 hrs.

Day 7. Trient to Chamonix

Our last day and time to savour the prospect of completing our epic circuit, but first we climb out of the Trient valley and over to Catogne and back to France and head to the village of Vallorcine, the name deriving from Valais Ursina, Valley of the Bears. Then it’s a steady climb along forest tracks to the Col des Montets, before the steep zig-zags which take us into the Aiguilles Rouges mountains. Once we reach the ridgeline the views are utterly amazing with Mont Blanc once more before us. We stay high as we make our way across the mountain to our highpoint of the tour 'la Tete aux Vents' before making our final descent towards the cable car station at Flegere, before dropping down steeply to where we began our journey six days ago, the alpine town of Chamonix to cold drinks and a celebration! Rest the body and mind and recover with an optional massage.

Ascent: 1750m. Descent: 2215m. Total Distance: 30.5km. Highest point: La Tete aux Vents 2127m. Sleeping Altitude: 1035m. Approximate run/walk time: 7.5-8.5 hrs.

Totals: TMB +9889m / -9889m = 169.4km CCC: +5369m / -5529m = 93km

Day 8. Departure Day

Today is departure day and your package finishes after breakfast.

Guided Trail Running & Training 

Our coaches are experienced in racing many sporting distances and disciplines. As well as our Trail Running Camps and guided runs along the Mont Jura and through Provence & the Verdon Gorge we offer bespoke training and coaching for ultra marathons, triathlon and ski racing. So if you have a specific goal in mind and would like personal training or private guiding on the routes then we can help you. Please contact us with any questions.

Price

Included: The guiding services of a fully qualified International Mountain Leader who's also an experienced trail runner. Half board hotel accommodation for 7 nights for the full trip and 4 nights on the CCC and Chamonix - Courmayeur routes. Based on doubles & twin rooms (possibly with a shared bathroom), and in some cases where accommodation is limited, dormitory style sleeping is necessary. Daily luggage transfers to your next accommodation.

Meals: Breakfast and evening meals will be provided. As runners have different tried and tested run food lunches will not be provided. Lunches can be bought from the hotels, supermarkets, bakeries or on some days it is possible to buy refreshments from Alpage style farms. Please budget 10-15 euros per day for daytime snacks and drinks. As some of the route is in Switzerland you can choose to either use Swiss Francs or Euros at the local exchange rate for this part of the trip.

Not Included: Flights, travel Insurance, airport transfers, massages, lunches, personal expenses, snacks & drinks. We are happy to advise on the best options for airport transfers and flights. Any transfers taken by runners (for example by cable car, bus, train or taxi) will be charged as an extra expense.

Accommodation

You will spend your first and last nights in the same chalet or hotel in Chamonix. We regularly use the luxurious and well situated Runners Refuge for these nights. On the trail you will spend five nights in comfortable 2/3 hotels such as the 3 star Hotel Chemenaz in Les Contamines or the Hotel Walser in Courmayeur. Upon early booking we will be pleased to reserve the Chambres du Soleil. One or two nights could be in more basic accommodation where depending on availability dormitory style accommodation might be booked - in this instance it's necessary to bring a sheet sleeping bag. A single room upgrade or full board option maybe possible upon request and in advance.

Weather

In mountainous terrain the weather can vary considerably. Temperatures can reach over 30°c in the height of the summer (July/August), but can be as low as 5°c on the passes. It is often sunny with good clear days, but it can rain and snow (even in July or August) so you should be prepared for any eventuality. The average temperatures range from 15-25°c in the valleys and 5-15°c on the passes. Please note that your guide will try to fulfil the stated itinerary but this is dependent on conditions & the trail conditions at the time. In the event of unforeseen poor weather / circumstances an alternative route will be suggested.

Luggage

On each run day, there will be vehicle support to carry your luggage to the next overnight stop. To make things efficient during the luggage transfer process, and to prevent any losses, please keep luggage to a minimum i.e. a day sac whilst walking and one bag labelled clearly to transfer. Some hotels do not have lifts so please be able to lift your own bag with ease! If runners feel that they'd like to travel on for a day with the bags (if tired, injured or want a rest day) as long as the vehicle that comes is a licensed taxi then it could be possible to arrange at an additional cost.

Minimum numbers

This week will run once a minimum number of 4 clients have booked, we will take a maximum of 8 per guide.

Further Information

It is important to understand that a trip of this length in such mountainous terrain means that the long ascents will mainly be taken at a fast uphill 'power walking' pace and that the 'running' will be on the rolling terrain and descents. We therefore highly recommend the use of light weight running poles to aid with the ascents. If you unsure of which poles are suitable for trail running then you can read our article here on the Top 4 Running Poles of 2014 published in the UK's Trail Running magazine.

Upon booking we will send you a list of suggested equipment and clothing for your trail running week. If you are considering taking part in the official Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc race it could be useful to see their UTMB Obligatory Equipment List here.

If you are unsure of your suitability for this trip then please to contact us for more details.

Chamonix and Courmayeur are easily reached from other European and worldwide destinations by road, rail, coach or plane. For suggested travel links please refer to our Booking & Information pages for further details. Geneva is the closest international airport, only 75 minutes away by road, making shared transfers, buses or trains easy to arrange. Please contact us if you need further advise on your specific travel requirements. To reach Courmayeur we recommend taking the bus directly from Geneva Airport to Courmayeur. Full details on travel to meet the start will be provided upon booking.

Which Running Poles? 

Find all the answers on which running poles to buy here in Julia's 2014 pole review.

Insurance

Please note that you must have the appropriate insurance for your chosen activity. As we will be running in the mountains you must be covered for helicopter rescue, repatriation and medical costs. With regard to this please be sure you have read the Insurance section in our Terms and Conditions.

Our Partners

As our niche trips such as the Trail Running Mont Blanc are of a specialised nature we work with our partner companies to attract sufficient clients to reach the minimum number of participants to allow these trips to go ahead, meaning you are more likely to have your chosen holiday 'guaranteed'. If you have any queries with regard to this please contact us.

RUNNERS REVIEWS 

Our holidays have been joined by many keen sporty journalists including; Ben Arongundade writing for The Telegraph, Susan Greenwood for the Guardian, Claire Maxted for Trail Running Magazine and Katy Dartford for Zest Magazine and Sport Sister. To read these & more reviews go to our News and Press pages.


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