Zermatt; the perfect playground for anyone who has an interest in the outdoors, food, photography, wildlife and so much more! Located at the southern end of Switzerland Zermatt is in the Visp Valley which forms part of the Valais Canton. The village itself is at an altitude of 1620 metres (5,314ft) and is surrounded by awe inspiring mountains.
At Tracks and Trails we run a variety of hiking holidays which take in the wonders of the Matterhorn whilst being able to walk on tracks steeped in history. Read on to find out more about the history, flora and fauna and, of course, the hiking around Zermatt.
Fall Line magazine this month interviewed Julia Tregaskis-Allen and her husband Oliver Allen, an IFMGA mountain guide, to find out their Top 5 Summer Hikes.
Julia’s choices extend from Scotland to North Africa, making every trip different. At number one is the classic walkers Haute Route which traverses from Chamonix in France to Zermatt in Switzerland. A bucket list hike for many mountain walkers.
Next up is the Tour del Gran Paradiso in Italy which includes summiting the Gran Paradiso mountain at the end of the week. Heading down into Morocco, Julia’s choice is the Taghia Gorge it’s a rocky scramble that’s not for the faint-hearted. A narrow traverse built by Berber farmers for moving their goats, it’s a climbers’ route!
In Mallorca, the Serra de Tramuntana makes the top five with a route that runs from the coast through the high mountains and a UNESCO World Heritage Site before returning to the coast.
Last, but by no means least, is The Four Tops in Scotland. This challenge involves climbing all four peaks in the Cairngorm National Park in under 24 hours.
Alpine towns don’t come any more iconic than Chamonix, nestled in the heart of the French Alps. Renowned for its proximity to Western Europe’s highest peak, Mont Blanc, Chamonix has long been considered the centre of Alpine mountaineering.
With easy access to Geneva and bordering both Switzerland and Italy, Chamonix, offers visitors the possibility of a '3 country experience'. The options for exploration and adventure are endless and are open to all fitness levels and experience.
The Chamonix valley offers something for every visitor in summer or winter, what ever the weather. Be it those wishing to relax and simply soak up the mountain environment to those wanting the extremes of outdoor adventure.
Chamonix is a mecca for walkers and trail runners thanks to the outstanding range of trails in the area. Numerous itineraries are available for day trips or multi-day adventures with the luxury of mountain refuges located in stunning locations. Chamonix also hosts the mythical Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc trail race around the peak, placing it at the heart of the international trail running scene.
For those looking for a somewhat less demanding experience but with the same jaw-dropping vistas, you can also use the many mountain railways and cable cars that take the sting out of the ups and down. Such as the world famous 'Aiguilles du Midi' - Europe's highest cable car or visit the 'sea of ice' - Mer de Glace on the Montenvers Railway.
Making Chamonix a great way of introducing children to the mountains, their history, geology, flora & fauna - enjoying a family adventure together.
The Tracks and Trails Way
We offer a wide range of trips designed to make the most of your time in the area through our expert knowledge after over a decade of living and working in and around the Chamonix Valley.
If you’re a walker looking for a challenging and world famous trek, the Classic Tour du Mont Blanc or Highlights Tour should be top of your list. For something even more demanding and just as revered, the Classic Haute Route or Highlights Tour from Chamonix to Zermatt in Switzerland is not to be missed. If you are short on time then choose from a day or half day walk. Lac Blanc, a glacier-formed lake high above the valley, is one of the classics of the area. It has been described by some as one of the 'best day walks' in the world!
In more recent years Chamonix has also become THE trail running destination of the world and there's no wonder why. The Mont Blanc Ultra Trail and Mont Blanc Marathon have become some of the 'must do' race routes for any seasoned trail runners calendar.
For those wishing to reach these dizzy heights (and distances!) we offer three different Chamonix based running holidays. All of which are designed to help prepare runners for their own trail running ambitions or to simply just enjoy running in nature.
Families also have several options to choose from, including our family friendly Mont Blanc Tour, an action-packed week of fun and adventure on our Family Adventure Trip or something more bespoke.
After a day out playing in the mountains there is also plenty to profit from at a slower pace too. The town centre offers excellent shopping and wonderful cafe culture all under the back drop of Mont Blanc, it's glaciers and surrounding peaks.
Lindsay and I have enjoyed a great winter here in the Alps, meeting new faces and catching up with the regular ones too. We've visited some of favorite locations and have been exploring new areas too. And next season will have a few more regions to visit either on snowshoes or skis. The Alps are blossoming as we speak, there's still snow high on the mountains, but the valleys & middle mountains are enjoying the sun and warm temperatures taking shape ready for summer. Everything looks lush & green ready for walking, biking, hiking and relaxing!
Lindsay and I were joined by a Nordic Walking group from Ashbourne, Derbyshire at the weekend. Working in conjunction with their local Instructor, Sam, we arranged for a group of 20 walkers to spend a relaxing weekend based in the Chamonix Valley. Using Argentiere as our base we enjoyed walking in 3 countries in 3 days.
Today was a first for me....I joined my group and tried 'hydro-speed'! What I hear you ask?.....Well it's what they call jumping in a full flowing river wearing a wetsuit, helmet & fins whilst lying on a type of body-board! In this case the river was the Arve, a glacier fed river flowing pretty quickly through the centre of Chamonix.
Just back from a great trip round the Dents du Midi range in the Swiss Valais region. This is the most westerly massif in Switzerland and on the whole not too many people visit the area. This in itself is surprising because it is absolutely stunning, the seven jagged summits of the Dents du Midi provide a great centerpiece for this 'tour'.
Our 2009 Alpine Trail Running camp took place in Chamonix last week. This annual event ties in with the Mont Blanc 10k, half and full marathon events – so if at the end of the week if you’d like a challenge it’s there with all the support you could ever imagine! Our runners all had different running backgrounds and ambitions which meant there was a lot of experience and stories to share.
On Tuesday, I arrived back to very sunny Alps - which was perfect because yesterday I was asked to be interviewed by BBC radio! The feature was about Chamonix's history & guiding culture for a piece on sustainable tourism in a mountain environment. The presenter Mark Stephen and I carried out the interview whilst 'on the move'. We spent the day walking along one of Chamonix's classic high mountain trails, the Grand Balcon Nord. Normally it's Lindsay that's in the limelight! So I wondered if i'd be stuck for words whilst my tales of the valley were being recorded.
Our walk began in Chamonix's town centre where we took the famous Aiguille du Midi cable car up to it's mid-station, the Plan de l'Aiguille at 2310m. Our morning took us along to the Montenvers Hotel for a traditional Savoyard lunch with views of the Mer de Glace glacier and numerous 4000m peaks all around us. Along the way Mark and I looked at and discussed the flora, glacial features and Chamonix making it's mark as the 'mountaineering capitail of the world' and how it's adapted over the centuries. Co-presenter Euan had been seeing Chamonix from a different angle - the air! As he'd taken a tandom flight paragliding from Le Brevent mountain! We finished up with a trip back to the valley floor via the historic Montenvers Railway. Another hard day in the office.
The piece will feature on BBC Scotlands 'Out of Doors' programme this coming weekend - and you can listen again on BBC iPlayer for up to a week later.
Tracks and Trails has been involved in the latest instructional DVD to be produced by the British Mountaineering Council. It's the third time I have been asked to provide the commentary for this excellent series of films and it's great to be involved in producing educational and inspirational material for outdoor enthusiasts.