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 route, made famous in the running world as a renowned ultra marathon starts and finishes in Chamonix, France, and is a complete circuit around Mont Blanc - the highest mountain in Western Europe.

Passing through three countries: France, Switzerland and Italy, our version of this justifiably popular trek/run has been adapted to fit into a week and is suitable for regular trail runners looking for a serious challenge, and it also makes ideal training and race/route preparation for the races known as the Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc® and CCC® (Courmayeur Champex Chamonix) courses.

At the heart of the European Alps, the massif of Mont Blanc straddles the borders of France, Italy and Switzerland and includes some of the most spectacular mountain scenery imaginable. Runners are spoilt for choice in this part of the world, but one obvious challenge is to complete a circuit of the Mont Blanc massif. Follow in the footsteps of world class runners Killian Jornet and Lizzy Hawker who have won this well-known long distance journey (or Grand Randonnée) known as the Tour du Mont Blanc.

The Route

  • A choice of 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

Enjoy this classic point to point trail run (with fast uphill hikes) carrying only a day pack. Stay in comfortable valley hotels at the end of each night. Your luggage is transferred between hotels for you by taxi. The average distance covered each day is around 30 kilometres (18 miles) and it's likely we will be on our feet for 6-8 hours per day! This trip involves a lot of ascent and descent so is only suitable for regular trail runners who are also used to a variety of mountain trails and conditions. Are you ready for one of the world's finest multi-day ultra trail runs?

UTMB Race Preperation 

This week offers runners invaluable endurance training and race route knowledge. Runners will gain everything they need to know from our local running guide about the course, the terrain, and a chance to practice with their clothing/equipment and work out their ideal race nutrition plan.

Departures

Trip Departure date End date Price Status
UTR1 17 Sat 1 July 17 Sat 8 July 17 £1345 Places available | Make a Booking
CCR1 17 Tue 4 July 17 Sat 8 July 17 £895 Places available | Make a Booking
UTR2 17 Sat 22 July 17 Sat 29 July 17 £1345 Places available | Make a Booking
CCR2 17 Tue 25 July 17 Sat 29 July 17 £895 Places available | Make a Booking
UTR3 17 Sat 26 August 17 Sat 2 September 17 £1345 Places available | Make a Booking
CCR3 17 Tue 29 August 17 Sat 2 September 17 £895 Places available | Make a Booking

For runners joining us for the full week we meet in Chamonix, the mountaineering capital of the world, to begin running journey on the trails around Mont Blanc. Discover the history, culture, folklore and wildlife of the mountains whilst running through remote farmlands along ancient Roman towns and beautiful lakeside mountain villages. We will carry lunch and water each day and take money to stop and refuel at mountain refuges along the way. For runners joining us for the Courmayeur-Champex-Chamonix course we will meet you on Day 4 in Courmayeur, Italy.

Based on a series of ancient pathways used by hunters, herdsmen and traders, this classic long distance walk offers first class trails through some of the most breathtaking Alpine landscapes, crosses several high mountain passes, takes time out in pretty Alpine meadows and visits a succession of picturesque hamlets and villages. At the height of the summer, the trails are coloured by an abundance of wild flowers and alpine wildlife species, including chamois, ibex, marmot and golden eagle, are at their most visible.

Itinerary

We always aim to complete the itinerary as outlined below, however, the following itinerary will be followed only when conditions and weather make it appropriate, both in terms of safety and enjoyment. Your guide will make a decision on your route based on those conditions.

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 Le 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. Single Supplements: UTMB route £150. CCC & CC £100.

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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