Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc | Chamonix’s Biggest Trail Running Event

Chamonix is about to be invaded by a peculiar type of species… the ultra runner. Yes, it’s that time of year again – UTMB week. The Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc attracts more than 7000 people to take part in the biggest trail running event of the year.

7500 runners from over 80 different countries will push themselves to the limits of their endurance as they take part in 6 races, covering a distance of 758 kilometres (470 miles) and a positive height gain of 53650 metres (176000 feet) – phew!

The races that make up the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc are:


PTL, Petite Trot a Leon

The Petite Trotte à Léon is misleadingly named, being anything but “petite” at a distance of 300km with a massive 26000m of positive altitude change! This event is a team challenge in which runners must stay with their team mates for the entirety of the course to be classed as finishers and the extreme nature of the course makes this one of the toughest trail events around. The PTL is the first event of the week, starting at 17:30 on Monday 22nd August in the centre of Chamonix and can take up to 6 days to complete.

PTL Petite Trot a Leon
© Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc® – FlashSport

TDS, Sur Les Traces des Ducs de Savoie

Runners in the TDS will find themselves treading historical paths in provinces on the French/Italian border that once made up the Savoie State. We’re guessing though that with 120km of distance and over 7250m of ascent to contend with, the runners will have more to focus on than political history! The race starts in Courmayeur at 6am on 24th August and climbs many mountain passes to finish between 14 and 33 hours later in Chamonix.

TDS Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc
Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc® – Franck Oddoux

OCC, Orsieres Champex Chamonix

The shortest of the races, the Orsières – Champex – Chamonix may only be 55km long but it manages to squeeze in 3500m of positive height gain, making it a pretty steep and technical course. Starting in Switzerland at 08:15 on 25th August the route has three challenging climbs and takes in hanging glaciers, roaring torrents and alpine forests along the way. The first runners are expected back in Chamonix around 5-6 hours later with the maximum time barrier being set at 14 hours.

OCC Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc
© Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc® – Franck Oddoux

CCC, Courmayeur Champex Chamonix

Often seen as the “little sister” of the UTMB, the Courmayeur-Champex-Chamonix follows a similar route through France, Italy and Switzerland but over a shorter course of 100km with around 6000m of positive altitude change – still a massive distance by most people’s standards! The race starts in Courmayeur, Italy at 9am on 26th August and finishes in Chamonix centre with an average finishing time of around 20 hours.

CCC Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc
© Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc® – Michel Cottin

UTMB, Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc

The legendary Ultra Trail du Mont is the highlight of the week. Crowds of people will be lining the streets at 6pm on Friday 26th August in the centre of Chamonix to cheer for the 2300 runners as they set off on the run of their lives. Now in it’s 14th year, the UTMB is an iconic trail race that draws people from all over the world to circumnavigate Mont Blanc; running 170km through three countries, much of it during the night, and climbing 10000m to return to Chamonix as heroes. The winner often finishes in about 20 hours with the cut-off being 46 hours, meaning that finishers are coming in all weekend. The atmosphere is incredible; runners and spectators alike get swept up in the strong emotions as exhausted legs stumble over the finish line!

UTMB Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc
© Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc® – Alexandre Girbal

YCC, Youth Chamonix Courmayeur

The newest race of the lot, the YCC is a 15km challenge with 1100m of ascent for young trail runners aged from 16 to 19 years old. All participants will also have the chance to take part in a video competition, with all entries to be shared on social networks. The YCC takes place on Wednesday 24th August at 10am in Courmayeur, Italy.

YCC youth race at UTMB in Chamonix
© Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc® – Foto Lanzeni

The Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc is a fantastic spectator event and there are lots of things going on throughout the week;  you can access some of the race routes using the Chamonix lift system but don’t rely on buying your lift pass on the day as the desks are bound to be busy.

Order your lift pass in advance through Mountain Lifestyle and we’ll have it ready and waiting for you on your arrival, at no extra charge for the service. Order it more than 3 days in advance and you’ll also benefit from a special offer of 6 days for the price of 5.

The Mont Blanc Multipass gives you access to a multitude of exciting activities in the valley, visit our website to discover all summer activities in Chamonix.

You can find further details of all the races on the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc website.


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Chamonix Events | Fete des Guides

This weekend marks a special tradition in Chamonix – La Fête des Guides. This annual event honours the men and women who have made the mountains their life and their livelihood; the mountain guides who keep thousands of people safe every year, whether they’re climbing Mont Blanc in summer or skiing the Vallee Blanche in winter.

Rock climbing in Chamonix


Friday 12th August, Le Lavancher

The festivities begin today in the little village of Le Lavancher with a traditional bread baking session in the old wood oven. You can buy a freshly baked loaf from midday to 4:30pm, while the children take part in climbing demos and various entertainments. A special dinner will be held at 7pm, followed by music and dancing; tickets cost 15€ not including drinks.

Fetes des Guides in Chamonix


Saturday 13th August, Les Houches

Fun and games at Les Chavants near to the Prarion lift station in Les Houches from 2pm to 7pm. The lake and climbing wall will be the venue for various activities hosted by the Compagnie des Guides de Chamonix such as hiking, climbing, orientation, rope work, etc. At 6:30pm there will be a short speech by the mayor of Les Houches, followed by a sing-song with the mountain guide choir accompanied by alpine horns.

fete-guides-04


Sunday 14th August, Argentiere

Argentiere hosts its own Fête des Guides today with entertainments and activities in the town from 9am to 12:30pm for children and adults. There will be a display of the beautiful crystals that have been found in the mountains and make sure you don’t miss the traditional ceremony at 5:30pm when all the guides turn out in their official uniforms. From 8pm there will be a party with live music, bar and snack stalls.

Fete des Guides in Chamonix


Sunday 14th August, Chamonix

The main celebrations take place on Sunday at Les Gaillands in Chamonix, starting at 5pm with activities such as climbing and slacklining to try your hand at. The PGHM will be doing a helicopter rescue demo at 5:30pm and you can learn all about the stars in the planetarium. Tombolas, live music, beer tents, snack stalls and plenty of entertainment make this a great afternoon for everyone of all ages. The grande finale is the sound and light show; a fascinating and usually quite surreal spectacle enacted by the guides themselves on the sheer stage of the climbing crag, followed by a firework display over the lake.

Fete des Guides in Chamonix


Monday 15th August, Chamonix

The official ceremony takes place this morning in the centre of Chamonix from 10am to 2pm. All the members of the Compagnie des Guides will gather in the Place du Triangle de l’amitié, dressed in their traditional uniforms for the blessing of their ropes and axes. New guides will be welcomed to the company and everyone will pay their respects to former guides, with a homage to those who have lost their lives in the mountains and a medal presentation for long-serving guides. The square will be lined with stalls, displays and refreshments.

Fete des Guides Chamonix


All profits from the Fete des Guides are donated to the Caisse de Secours, which supports guides who have been injured in the mountains and the families of deceased guides. Many of the events are free to enter, with the option to buy food and drinks. Entry to the festival at Les Gaillands on Sunday evening is 15€ per adult, and 5€ per child under the age of 12, entry is free for children under 5 years old. Please note that the programme may change according to the weather forecast.

Chamonix Bureau des Guides Mural


Chamonix Mountain Guides

The mountain guides of Chamonix enable us to explore the massive playground that is on our doorstep. Chamonix and the Mont Blanc massif is an amazing place to hike, climb, ski, run, ride and fly but the risks should never be underestimated. The beautiful wilderness of the mountains and particularly the glaciers are best discovered with a qualified mountain guide who will not only keep you safe but will also share their wealth of knowledge and experience with you. Contact us directly or visit our website if you would like to find out more about mountain guides in Chamonix.

Classic Chamonix Hikes | Our 5 Favourite Walking Trails

Summer in Chamonix is all about being outside – whether that’s hiking in the mountains, enjoying an al fresco lunch in town, climbing Mont Blanc, or splashing in the river. Here are a few of our favourite hiking trails that take in the best parts of the Chamonix valley.

hiking-chamonix-fiz-cows-01


Lac Blanc, Flegere

Lac Blanc is one of the iconic Chamonix hiking destinations. From the top of the Flegere cable car you follow the signposts high above the Chamonix valley, along rocky paths and through high altitude meadows to a crystal clear lake surrounded by towering mountains. There are two routes, either directly from the cable car or from the top of the Index chairlift. Both are only moderately strenuous and take around an hour and a half to reach the lake. The name “Lac Blanc” comes from the white snowy peaks that are reflected in its mirror-like waters. From the banks of the lake you have a panoramic view of the Mont Blanc massif on the opposite side of the valley. Those who are brave enough can dabble their toes in the icy water, extremely refreshing on a hot day! Lac Blanc is within the Aiguille Rouges nature reserve and is a common place to spot alpine wildlife such as bouquetin and marmots in their natural habitat. If you have the energy then you can hike across to Brevent-Planpraz along the Grand Balcon Sud and take the gondola back down to Chamonix.
The Flegere cable car, Index chairlift and Planpraz gondola are all included in the Mont Blanc Multipass – buy it online here

Lac Blanc at Flegere Chamonix


Grand Balcon Nord

This stunning hike not only takes in sweeping views of the entire length of the Chamonix valley but also includes two of our favourite sightseeing attractions, Aiguille du Midi and Mer de Glace. The hike itself only takes around 2-3 hours but we highly recommend setting aside a full day, so that you can fully explore everything that the two sites have to offer. Starting from the Aiguille du Midi cable car, you should ride all the way to the summit at 3842m and take a walk round the various viewing platforms before taking a deep breath and stepping into the void – a glass cube suspended thousands of feet above the glaciers and crevasses of the world famous Vallee Blanche. Once you’ve taken in the jaw-dropping 360° views you can come back down to the mid-station at Plan de l’Aiguille and follow the hiking signs along the Grand Balcon Nord towards Montenvers Mer de Glace. The trail undulates gently along the mountainside, just above the treeline so that you have uninterrupted views of the whole of the Chamonix valley. The towering rocks above you and the pine forests below you make a beautiful contrast to the high altitude meadows that the paths winds its way through. Once at the Mer de Glace you can take a gondola lift down to the ice caves of the glacier, or visit the glaciorium to learn more about the fascinating geology of the area. The historic Grand Hotel Montenvers will welcome you for lunch or a refreshing drink on their terrace before you ride the little rack and pinion train back down to Chamonix centre.
The Aiguille du Midi cable cars and Montenvers train are both included in the Mont Blanc Multipass – buy it online here

Hiking in Chamonix along the Grand Balcon Nord


Aiguillettes des Houches

This vertiginous ridge walk looks out beyond Chamonix into the gorges and mountain ranges of the surrounding valleys. You get a strong sense of the incredible landscape and the massive scale of the Alps from this breathtaking vantage point. Starting from the centre of Chamonix you take the gondola up to Planpraz, followed by the cable car to the summit of Brevent at 2525m. From here you can pick up signposts for Aiguillette des Houches, but be sure to make the small diversion to the serenely beautiful Lac du Brevent. You can either take a picnic to enjoy at the lake, or stop off at the Bellachat mountain refuge for a traditional Savoyard lunch of cheese omelette and homemade myrtille tart. The trail takes you along a stunning high altitude ridge with carpets of wildflowers and berries stretching out on either side, past the ancient stone shepherds’ huts at Chalets de Chailloux. Once you’ve reached the pinnacle of the ridge the path drops down through the forest, past Parc de Merlet and back down to Les Gaillands, from where you can take the train or bus back to Chamonix centre. Public transport in Chamonix is free of charge with your carte d’hote, issued to you by Mountain Lifestyle.
The Planpraz gondola and Brevent cable car are both included in the Mont Blanc Multipass – buy it online here

Hiking in Chamonix


Alpage de la Charme, Les Houches

A short walk from the Prarion gondola brings you to the aptly named alpine pastures of La Charme in Les Houches. This short ramble is perfect for families and those who prefer a gentle stroll to a strenuous hike. Picturesque views and a multitude of picnic spots make this a lovely day out, especially if you call in at the goat farm for a taste of locally produced cheese. To turn it into a full day out you can take the train from Chamonix to Saint-Gervais and ride the Tramway du Mont Blanc up to Nid d’Aigle at the foot of the Bionnassay glacier in Les Houches. Once you’ve admired the majestic view you can ride the tram back down to Col de Voza and follow the hiking signs from here to La Charme, taking the Prarion gondola back down at the end of the afternoon and hopping on the bus back to Chamonix.
The Prarion gondola and Tramway du Mont Blanc are both included in the Mont Blanc Multipass – buy it online here

Les Houches in Summer in Chamonix


Aiguillette des Posettes, Vallorcine & Le Tour

Make the most of the free public transport in Chamonix and hop on the train to Vallorcine, the train station is right beside the gondola lift that will whisk you up into the pastures of the Domaine de la Balme, right on the edge of the Franco-Swiss border. From here you can hike up to the pinnacle of the Aiguillette des Posettes at 2201m, a stunning viewpoint surrounded by high peaks in all directions. The steep descent will bring you back down to the gentle rolling meadows of Charamillon, where the clinking of cow bells fills the air. You can either hike down to Le Tour car park on a narrow twisting trail or save your knees and take the gondola. From the car park you can pick up the bus back to Chamonix, or walk ten minutes down the road to Montroc train station.
The Vallorcine and Charamillon gondolas are both included in the Mont Blanc Multipass – buy it online here

Hiking in Chamonix


All of the above hikes can be done simply by following the hiking signs. If you’d like to go farther afield or venture out onto the glaciers then we recommend booking a guided hike to fully appreciate the experience.

Please contact us directly or find out more about hiking in Chamonix on our website.