Trail running in Chamonix: Mont Buet

Trail running in Chamonix: Mont Buet

Looking for a beautiful valley to run through, crossing a snowfield, crossing some loose scree, and a fantastic view from the top? Perhaps Mont Buet is the ideal out-and-back trail run for you in the Chamonix valley.


Previously called the ‘lady’s Mont Blanc’ (showing a different era for humanity where ‘the men’ went up Mont Blanc and the women went to a lower summit), this run is a great and ideal activity. Be warned however, there’s not much ‘flat running’ if that’s your thing.

This was one of the runs Naomi, friend Pete and myself completed in the 2018 season alongside doing the CCC (Courmayeur to Chamonix) run we completed over three days. As usual, basic notes below and if you’re looking for a list of great trails in Chamonix, check out the Cicerone book ‘Trail Running - Chamonix and the Mont Blanc Region: 40 Routes in the Chamonix Valley, Italy and Switzerland’.

Distance



Start: Google Maps, Apple Maps. There’s parking on the right, slightly up the trail, and also further down the road.

Run type: it’s an out-and-back: the same start and end point.

Overview:

The lower valley

The lower valley

Leaving the car park, there’s a gradual climb up through an old forest as you join the ??? river that runs through the valley. It’s a choppy trail and uphill so you may not get a consistent rhythm, however as you enter the main valley (still alongside the river), the forest clears to a beautiful view as the angle of climbing lets off for a while. Up on your right, you’ll see lots of big buttresses of rock: there’s some great rock climbs up there if that’s your thing also before the final short climb to the ??? hut where you’ll find running water. From here, the trail steepens up a steep slope (as you approach the hut, the trail heads up and off to your right) crossing various rocky surfaces. It’s grippy rock so you should be able to just push on up until you arrive at the beginnings of the snowfield. From here, there’s two options ahead and you’re looking to keep right. Going left will bring you up to the col du ?????, however that’s not the goal (as we learned to our error!), you want to push on rightwards, skirting across the face for several hundred metres across the snow. When we crossed it in July 2018, it was a well trodden snow path.

After this, you’ll pop out on a rocky upper of Mont Buet. There’s still another ways to go so push on, before the final steep section, before passing a weather station, and then the final gradual crawl to true summit and the great view from south-west of Mont Blanc.

snowfield crossing - a friendly angle

the final approach to the summit

steep descent after the snowfield

steep descent after the snowfield

Return: The return is following the same route so it’s relatively straightforward. The initial steep rocky section is fine is to skip down if you’re confident on that type of terrain, and the snow is the same: if you’re competent on snow, you can skate across it at a relatively quick clip (at the time we weren’t, so it was a walk across the snow). The drop below you is never truly dangerous - my opinion was if you did manage to take a slide that somehow took off (unlikely), with the exception of one short area that dropped into a gully, the rest you’d be sliding out in a flat snow basin. After this is it’s back down the rocky scree, before joining the hut and the main path into the valley. As ever, you’re near the river once you pass the hut, so there’s ample opportunities to stick your feet (or more) in the river if that’s your thing.

As always, hopefully just provides some inspiration. If you’re really interested in this run, and looking to pick up a wider range of trails in the valley, make sure to pick up a copy of the Cicerone ‘Trail Running - Chamonix and the Mont Blanc Region: 40 Routes in the Chamonix Valley, Italy and Switzerland’ (Amazon link).

Chulilla 2019: the beginnings of a return to fitness

Chulilla 2019: the beginnings of a return to fitness

The Raw Ultra (Wickow Way 80-km/50-mile) run report

The Raw Ultra (Wickow Way 80-km/50-mile) run report