So when is the trail running season in Chamonix and the Alps? Now!!! Yesterday I posted a video I’d shot whilst running to Gorge d’Arveyron and Le Chapeau above Lavancher (link). I received a whole load of contacts via social media, asking how the conditions were, and some relief from trail runners planning a trip in the near future. I scrolled back through my photos, and found one of the snowiest days running was just three weeks ago (link), so it’s been a very rapid change of seasons this year! Here’s a Chamonix trail conditions report for those wanting some more details…
South facing slopes are virtually snow free up to 2000m, apart from some remnant old avalanche debris in the usual gullies, such as that to the NE of Parc Merlet. The snowline on the north facing slopes is generally around 1400m, so there is much more restricted running on this side of the valley. Classic routes such as the marathon track up to Argentiere, and the river track are almost snow free, apart from some small icy patches in shady hollows. For those looking to gain a bit more altitude, the route from Le Couteray to Refuge de Loriaz is runnable, though it’s on well consolidated snow up high. There’s more snow on the Italian side, and the winter path from Planpincieux to Lavachey is currently a good running surface in the early morning, when the snow is firmer. Lower down the Chamonix valley, there’s plenty of dry trails from Servoz to Lac Vert and Plaine Joux.
Spring has sure sprung in the Alps, and whilst we’ve only just passed the astronomical Vernal equinox by a couple of days, this year it is definitely the start of the trail running season in the Mont Blanc massif. You still need to choose your routes carefully, but day after day, more terrain is emerging from its snowy mantle. This year I’m more than ever aware that my Chamonix trail running book (link) may play a small part in luring runners to this crucible of trails, so it’s important to share this information, to help keep people safe. For those using the book to plan runs, these images and video are from Route 08 to Argentiere, and Route 02 back to Chamonix. You can currently also run route numbers; 03, 07, 18, 19, 22, & 34.
The summary is that south facing slopes are generally runnable up to 2000m, and north facing slopes to 1400m. Be careful, and never think twice about turning back if a trail is exposed and still icy. Happy running!