Θ Out & Back
This run is a bit unusual for us. Normally, we'd always go to a summit and not use a hut as the objective. But, being Mont Blanc, with all the many complications of going to the summit for runners, and the nastiness of the Grand Couloir in 2022, and then realizing that just the up and down to the hut makes for a great day - we decided to add it to the guide for big vert and some sightseeing.
Starting in Les Houches, you'll have the obligatory 1000-meters of Chamonix forest to endure to get to the goods. One thing you'll quickly recognize is that the forest trail is smooth, not so important for the up, but clearly something you'll enjoy on the descent.
At the Col du Mont Lachat, you'll meet the tracks for the Mont Blanc Tramway. Stay on the left side of the tracks for a few minutes as you walk uphill, then turn left on to the Chemin des Rognes trail. Here, the imposing ridge blocking your view of Mont Blanc seems impassable and unfriendly. After countless switchbacks and increasingly rocky terrain, a final steep section of cables and ladders allow you to gain the ridgeline at 2800 meters.
Once over the pass, you're in a different world. A flat plateau awaits where the climbers' trail funnels in to the final ridge up to the Tête Rousse Hut. Traffic is thick along the ridge trail leading to the tow of the Glacier de Tête Rousse. Climbers heading down all appear exhausted while those going up all look intimidated. They'll hate you for your running vest.
After the ridge, a few minute snow cruise takes you to the deck of the hut where you can take a break and enjoy not having to ascend the Grand Couloir, which towers right above.
Descending the same way, once past the steep ladder and cable section of the Chemin des Rognes, the downhill is almost 100% joyful running.
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Start: 45.888964, 6.798059
Town: LES HOUCHES
Avoid being beneath parties on the final steep section of the Chemin des Rognes and be very careful to not create rockfall.
There is no water on the route, pack accordingly.
- For the steep section, familiarity with alpine movement is necessary.
I did this on day 2 of my 4-day running trip. The fact that it’s not a summit is completely irrelevant. A great chance to get up close and personal with Mont Blanc. I climbed it a few years ago via Cosmiques but this run really gave me a greater appreciation of its scale. They closed Tête Rousse and Goûter to climbers going for the summit the day before my run: bad news for them but great for me, I was pretty much on my own the whole time.
Well timed with that hut closure! Only sickos like us will go to the Tête Rousse for fun.