Hey all, I did VV from 16-28 Aug. I added on 3 days of trails before to start from Chamonix (stayed at Albert 1er, Champex and then Verbier), though not as good as VV.
A few rough notes for those who might be going through the same questions as me before I started. First up, a huge shout out to Dan, Janine and Kim for the work they've put into VV. I'd strongly suggest making a donation if you can (and no, I don't know them!). And thanks to this community for the helpful comments to date!
For context, I'm Australian, marathoner with limited trail (no alpine) experience, late 30s, in reasonable shape. ~80-90km/week base but some niggles recently. I went solo, continuous and no interim gear drop-offs. A few random thoughts:
1. Schollijoch downclimb. It took maybe 15min, I felt uncomfortable for all of it. I was expecting about 6/10 difficulty and 8/10 uncomfortableness and that was about right, maybe 9/10 uncomfortable. I'm 180cm and felt as though I needed to stretch to safely make a few movements. There were ~3-5 short sections (can't quite remember) where there was no metal or rope to hold onto, albeit with some rock ledges. I didn't feel comfortable enough to take a picture using my phone at any point. But it was exhilarating and I'm glad I did it. Once.
There was a German family of four with 2 young teen children who went after me and they looked to be struggling a fair bit, didn't see if they made it down as they took a very long time. Some people here will probably love every second of it. Everyone is different.
2. Some days were hotter than I expected, especially in the valley. It peaked around 33-35C at one point. I got a bit burnt even with sunscreen.
3. I bought a Euro double USB charger to charge two items at once (phone + watch for me). Highly recommend. All the suggested cabins had charging facilities (most at a central point)
4. The Black Diamond Distance 15 pack completely failed me, both shoulder straps broke after 6 or 7 days. Apparently the newer version isn't as robust....either way, it didn't work for me. The features would otherwise have been great.
5. I mostly followed the VV packing list and thought I'd overpacked until the weather turned bad, and ended up using everything other than a lightweight singlet
6. MSR Trailshot worked well, but in hindsight would've preferred an in-flask filter like Katadyn BeFree or Salomon XA (probably attach the filter to one 500ml flask and just decant into the other).
7. I'd never used poles before; it would've been almost impossible without them. BD Distance Carbon Z were great for me. Experienced people here are probably laughing that I'm even saying this!
8. If you have specific nutrition needs/desires (e.g. Tailwind, Maurten etc.), either bring it all or prepare to go without. I struggled to find any running nutrition outside of Verbier, Evolene and Zinal (none of which were great anyway). I didn't get much of resupply in Randa, just a teeny tiny store with some basics. But they did have choc milk!
9. I used daily GPX file uploaded to a Garmin, with FatMap offline maps and daily routes as a backup (+ Swisstopo as double backup). I found FatMap to be the perfect backup, and you can import Swisstopo as a layer anyway, although it looks a bit funny with the 3D rendering.
Hey all, just got back from running Via Valais August 31 through September 8, 2023, and wanted to pass along a note.
On Stage 2, numerous people advised us Pas de Chevre was no longer a safe option (including hut guardians at Cabane d'Essertze and Cabane des Dix). Apparently one of the ladders is no longer secure, and a key boulder has shifted, making for a very long reach to one of the ladders. Col de Riedmatten, just North of Pas de Chevre, is the preferred option.
We started off this morning from Verbier to the Cabane D’Essertze and were thrilled to have the clear weather ! Unfortunately, we turned around just before mile 4 en route to the Col du Termine due to snow and unsafe conditions. We called the Cabane and they do not have snow over there. We are rerouting via the train to Sion and then making our way up to the Cabane. Never fun to reroute, but grateful to be safe. Onwards!
Note to anyone looking for an option for Cabane D’ESSERTZE, we found and booked a chalet in the Thyon area on booking dot com. Not quite the character of the hut system but it'll work as an alternative. Looking to be 3mi or 5km off route each direction which is rough on two already big days but we'll make it work!
Hello Dan, thank you for your quick response. Yes we booked the refuge in january and they are closing early even with our reservation.
Same here ! We are 2 canadians starting the Via Valais on sept 5th and just got the message that Cabane d'Essertze is closing on sept 3rd. Any recommendations on another place to stay for the night ? Thank you !
Hey, we are gearing up and ready to head to Switzerland from Alaska next week. We just got word that Cabane de Essertze is closing early so we won't be able to stay there. Any one have any recommendations on route alternatives for night 1? Cheers,
Thanks Dan, Janine and Kim for putting this together. We ran it from August 7th to 15th 2023. We had amazing weather for the entire route. A few points:
1) the trail down into Randa (last ~5km) was closed due to potential glacier and rock fall from above so we rerouted down to Herbriggen than to Randa in the valley bottom.
2) The Schöllijoch was in great shape. No issues at all.
3) most of the huts didn't have public wifi
4) highly recommend katadyn befree waterfilters. So fast and easy to fill up. We even used these at the hut to fill water instead of buying water. There are water sources all along the trail and we never felt concerned about running out of water.
5) train for elevation and altitude...we came from sea level and felt the altitude a bit.
It was an amazing trip. Thanks.
JM and Kim from Vancouver, British Columbia.
We will be starting our VV trip in 3 days and were wondering if anyone knows about the situation at the Schöllijoch? Thank you for your feedback. Alex
This community page was a great resource before heading out on our trip from July 11-20. Thank you to everyone for past posts. As others have mentioned, it was an incredible experience that is a trail running and high alpine dream. Thanks to Dan, Janine, and Kim for the route development!
I won't give a full trip report here, but I did want to mention our trip in case anyone finds themselves in a similar situation. During the second half of training, my wife developed a foot injury and she decided that the full itinerary would be too much to take on. We were both extremely bummed, but also locked into our vacation dates and committed to the trip. We ended up renting a car from the Geneva airport and figured out a plan that would maximize our time together. While we didn't run together, she was able to drive between the valleys and get close enough to most of the huts that she could hike up (2ish hours) and meet me for the night. We felt like we were able to soak in many of the experiences of the trip together at/around the huts and in towns. I hope no one find themselves in a similar situation, but if you do and want more notes feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Short report of my Summer run this summer on stages 1-5: Starting in Les Ruinettes and running along the bisse was perfect to dive into the adventure. The first stage offered a lot of different landscapes, from the moon landscape near Le Plateau du Grand Désert to the turquoise lake in Cleuson. The last push to Mont Rouge was pretty tough. The second stage was really smooth. I loved running alone on the single track to Grande Dixence. The herd protection dog was not a problem, luckily. I did the Pas de Chèvre smoothly without looking down. I then took some time to rest in Arolla. Stage 3 was long but seeing the Dent Blanche from Les Haudères put me in another atmosphere. I loved seeing the old houses in Eison and Saint-Martin as well as running in the pine forest. There was a storm coming when I started the last climb to Pas de Lovegno, which was not a pleasant feeling but I made it before the storm. The hut Becs de Bosson is great and the view there was breathtaking. The fourth stage was more of a transition. The highlight was the hut of Moiry. It was very cosy and had a great view over the glacier. I went hiking to Pigne de la Lé in the afternoon but made it to the half of the ascent. On the fifth stage, I loved running along Lake Moiry, seeing marmots and enjoying the first sunbeams of the day. The track to Petit Mountet on the other side of the mountain was also a great pleasure, with a fantastic view of the 4000 peaks. I also discovered a new side of Zinal (since I usually arrive from Sierre) with the turquoise river flowing through the village. Looking forward to the stages 6-9 in 2024 🙂
To answer Robs question, huts provide shoes almost 100 of time. I didn’t get a SIM card and just used the WiFi at the huts. Only Cabane Aguilles Rouge had issues with their WiFi but the hut master there would look up weather for you.
Tip for Randa accommodation. I found a great little place to stay called Hole In One Hostel and Restaurant. As soon as you get down from the trail stay on the west side of the river and head in direction of Zermatt. There is a nice sandy commuter bike trail that you can take until you arrive at the golf course and then cross the street. They will treat you well. Also a mini store at campground right by but not really a whole lot in the town of Randa if you need it. I think it’s worth staying there vs the hotel option and back tracking. Stage 7 had the most technical of running terrain that was sustained. It was around 6k with the bonus peak. The pro and the downclimbing on the klettersteig makes you think twice. The views on that stage were incredible and I didn’t see one person after Users Barrhorn trail. There were some aggressive domestic sheep on the cliff sections and I was nervous what I’d do if there was a guard dog. I mixed the stages up a little because of weather and how I was feeling. I went over col d torrent after spending a night in Evolene. sadly I had to skip Becs Bosson. I stayed three nights in Zinal and did a side trip up Col d Tracuit - which is a worthy trail run loop. I ran stage 6 and 7 together because of the solid weather window but makes for a long day. I brought micro spikes and never used them. I brought minigaiters and used them because my feet were soaked coming down from Aguilles Rouge after a thunderstorm. I also did not bring rain pants as it wasn’t cold rain. I was always really warm. I brought a Katydyn 1L be free and filtered as I went. I did not have issues finding water but I could see it being a problem in September this year. Sending luggage is easy but make sure that you send it before you leave Martigny to Le Chable if you’re planning for that. Tourist office also closes at noon in Zinal. This was just such an amazing experience. I think if anyone is hesitating, they shouldn’t and should just do it!
More questions as we leave for SUI in 5 days. Time for some specific questions.
1) Are the huts accepting VISA for payments now? I am hearing that most are.
2) Footwear after the run each day. Are people bringing extra hut shoes/slippers/socks or is it the norm to wear your Trail Runners. On the packing list, it shows only one pair of shoes.
3) Cell Phone Coverage - is it best to get a SUI sim card in Geneva or is it best to do roaming (with large roaming charges)? Any suggestions on the best provider?
Answering the previous question from Dan about the UA Program. Today we finished our last long run in the Rockies and now we begin the taper. The program has been great. Heavy focus on endurance, elevation and power.
Thanks for the comment. It doesn't seem too difficult to book huts last minute. The Turtmann hut mentions that I need to bring a sleeping bag. Have you encountered this?
Also, do you have any recommendations for places to stay in Geneva, Zinal or Randa?
Thanks so much for creating the Via Valais trail system! Very excited and expressing much gratitude to be able to travel to this area of the world.
I just was granted time from work and would love to do Via Valais July 10-20 but I don't have hut reservations yet. It's such a dream trip and I'd be going by myself. What is the chance I could still get reservations with the hut system and hotels?
Also, will the Topali hut appears to have reservations on the dates I need but I was wondering about conditions at that time. I couldn't find if the bridges to Randa will be available.
My wife and I are planning to do the Via Valais July 25 to Aug 3, spending two nights in Zinal. Question regarding food. For the food on the run, are people just taking the picnic lunches provided by the Huts each day? Are there gels, etc for sale at the hut? Also, is there sufficient water sources along the route to use the filter?
We are presently doing the Uphill Athlete's Via Valais training program.
Any suggestions or tips are appreciated.
Follow-up on my last message from a couple of months ago: Thank you for the recommendations! After coordinating our itinerary and all the moving parts of multiple one-nighters, we are pretty much booked for the trip - staying 2 nights in Evolene and 2 nights in Zinal to perfectly split up the trip and let us take a more leisurely 11-day pace. La Bergère looks amazing, but alas we will have to save that for our next trip 🙂 We're currently taking advantage of Uphill Athlete's Via Valais training program and very much looking forward to our trip. Thank you again for laying out the route and making it easy for those not familiar with the Swiss Alps!
We are so excited to find the Via Valais, for runners! Thank you AlpsInsight for putting in the effort to link up these trails. We are starting to look at flights and accomodations for late August/early September 2023. We are looking to do it in 11 days so we can include two rest days to recuperate and explore. We are willing to go a little off the route for good rest day options. Any suggestions by the community would be most appreciated! Thank you! Super excited! 🙂
Hi Dan and the alpsinsight-team! I was just looking at the photos (for about the 100th time...) from our Via Valais trip this august and I wanted to thank you for sharing this route. It was such a great experience, each day brought something new and each day was beautiful. We enjoyed each of the 9 days and it is safe to say that this was the most amazing trip we've ever been doing.
THANK YOU, dear alpsinsight-team!
Just to say thank you for all the content shared here, as per the FB post, we are some SP trail runners willing to do a 400/500K from Oberwald to Le Bouveret with a more alpine route than the current SP360 and there are a lot of interesting ideas out here, so thanks for that, should you have some recommendations on some best trails even closer to Oberwald , happy to hear it, especially running ridge or trails such as the Aletsch glacier or the 9 lakes loop
All the best
My partner and I will be setting out on stages 1-5 on September 4th. We will be driving from Nurnberg and are looking to leave our car somewhere between Verbier and Zinal while we run the route.
Does anyone have any recommendations where we might be able to park it for 5-6 days?
Hey folks! I am set to start this adventure on September 2nd. Wondering if anyone has recently completed the route (Barbara: I'm hoping you check back once you are done!) and can give an update on conditions? My email is email@example.com. Thanks in advance and happy trails!!
Hi, could anyone please provide the advertised length of each day in hours for hikers (according to the signs)?
My wife and I ran the 9 stage Via Valais from July 9-18. It was an absolutely incredible experience , and we think that it fully lives up to the "best trail run in the world" hype. Here are a few thoughts about our experience that might be useful for others: 1) Heading into thee Via Valais, we both had a lot of trail running and mountain adventure experience, which we felt helped us a lot. We also (roughly) followed the Uphill Athlete training plan. We built up a lot of fitness during our preparation, and we put all of it to use! More fitness = more enjoyment, and more opportunities to climb bonus peaks. 2) We took a rest day in Zinal after stage 5. We're very glad that we chose Zinal over other options. 3) The bonus peaks were very worthwhile. I did the ones for stages 3-7. The Barrhorn and Pigne de la Lé were the best, and felt like key parts of the experience. The latter required a good bit of route finding and some exposed scrambling. Becs de Bosson was also a highlight. All in all, the Via Valais was an adventure of a lifetime, and we're incredibly grateful to have experienced it! Big thanks to the route developers!
We are planning to do the Via Valais starting on august 21st and are really looking forward to it.
Has anybody done it lately and can tell something about the condition on Schölljoch? Is it recommended to take micro crampons (on Schölljoch or general)?
And a question to you Dan, do you need to have special mountaineering knowledge to reach Pigne de la Lé?
Thanks a lot, Barbara
hi, i have few question as i am planning to do the via valais. but still trying to figure things out.
1) is it recommended to shorten the total stages? say combine stage 4 and 5 together for 41km 1932m+?
2) what time do you normally start each morning and what time do each stages take? what time do you normally finish the stage and get to the hut/town?
Like Dan mentioned below, we did the trip from 4 to 11 july and had lots of snow especially in the Col de Forcletta and the Scholijoch but to be fair every Col from day one was covered with alot of snow, the upper 2 we needed the crampons the rest was doable, then after Col de Louvie the gpx takes you on the left of that lake, DONT use the footsteps (if there is still snow) which goes allthe way around ond the right hand side of that little lake, it will save you alot of time and kneedeep fighting with snow and water! You cab see our routes by checking my Strava account, due to bad weather we shortened track 4 and 5 (which we planned on doing in 1day) and were glad we did, it rained from 2pm till 6am the next day non-stop, meaning 15cm of fresh snow above 2400m, wonderfull views but hard work :o)
This 9day Route spread out over 6 days was one of the most beautiful things I've "ran" or hiked because as I already told Dan and his crew, for some low-landers like us with a pack varying between 6 and 9kg (food water sleeping gear due to Covid biggersleepingbag and al teh safetystuff ) the runnable miles are rare, If you can go light-packed GO !
So once again thank you guys at Alpsinsight for this wonderfull trip, it was truly amazing and worth a repeat cause no one has claimed an FKT on the original route I saw :o)
If one is interested in our pics, to see the snowconditions 2 weeks ago here you go :
Warm Greeting from Belgium
Bart,Erik and Andy
My husband and I have our Via Valais trip booked for next week and can't wait! However does anyone know how the snow conditions are up high? We'll have poles and are very comfortable on snow, but we're wondering if microspikes are needed. Any knowledge would be appreciated! Thank you for all the wonderful information on this website!
Hi Guys! Travel report from our Via Valais 28/8-6/9
It is truly a fantastic epic trail you have found! Unfortunately we were hit by snow&wind day 2-4 so instead of going to AIGUILLE ROUGE day 2 we were forced down to lower altitudes to the village of Evolene. Day 3 the Bec the Bosson closed due to weather conditions so we went to Vercorin instead. Day 4 we went to Zinal . Day 5 the snow was melting and the sun started to shine, so we passed a snowy forcletta pass but we didn´t dare go the Schöllisch the day after, (because of the snow) so we went to Gruben instead of Turtmanhytte. Day 6 we took the Augustboardpass to St Nicolaus for lunch and then up to Topaliihytte were we spend the night. After that the sun shined from a blue sky the rest of the days and we follow your trails. Our adventure will be one for the books, truly epic. Suz, Challis and myself sends you all in the team a great hug for creating this andventure, we really enjoyed every bit of it, even if some days were cold with wind and rain. But that is a part of a great adventure, isn´t it 🙂 / Jacob
I'd like to do the Via Valais the other way... from Zermatt to Verbier. What do you think about it ?
Has anyone done this?
Thanks a lot,
We are three people going Via Valais 28/8-5/9 and are absolutely thrilled for this adventure!! We have however a problem: We are trying to send bags to Zinal and Zermatt, but they need a Swiss telephone number... anybody who has the same problem?
To follow up on your question, the Schöllijoch went fine for us. For background, my wife and I are both active rock and alpine climbers and big mountain skiers. So, we might not be the typical trail-running demographic. There were definitely a couple short exposed-feeling sections, but having nice grippy gloves and stiff running shoes (Sportiva Raptors) made it feel super manageable. After each 3-5 meter ladder or rope section, there always felt like there was a comfortable ledge on which to rest. I know some friends that come from only hiking and running backgrounds that I don’t think would enjoy it. That said, I don’t think it would be a problem for anybody comfortable moving through T5-T6 terrain or scrambling 4th class in exposed locations. The crux is definitely the exposure and not any technical difficulties. Don’t automatically trust all the metal rungs as many of the larger ones spin now. I hope that helps.
Thanks for drawing up this route for everybody! It's a great trip! My wife and I just did the 6-stage version from Aug 3 - 8. The first couple days it was snowing but, everything was melted out by the time we got to the Schollijoch. You've gotta bring some more stuff for COVID at the moment, but we were able to get a private room at all of the alpine lodging. For anybody interested in this in the near future, Zermatt is getting back to its normal busy self, and the Turtmann Hut was quite busy as well. On all the other sections, we saw almost no one.
Hi, thanks for the inspiring page! We want to do the tour on the third week of August. Does anyone know if the bridge to Randa is set up? And is there any need for a running crampon? (I understand not).
If traveling is possible by mid/late June I’m hoping to attempt the 9 stages in one push.
Anyone with local knowledge about snowpack this early on the season? Also will ladders, chains etc be in place to make the big descent on stage 7 possible?
Many thanks for the route descriptions.
Hi there. Any news on how Covid is affecting the Via Valais? I am supposed to be out there early September and have some huts booked already.
We're going July 6 to 12, a bit early but we already did Haute Route 4 years ago on this week and it was fabulous. We're doing the 6 stages in 5 days, adapting a bit stage 1 and 2 to reduce the overall distance. We know these trails from previous Haute Route trip. We're going to book the huts, and planning the whole trip. Since we'll use the train to Sierre we're considering sending some stuff directly to Zermatt to be there when we arrive. Hope the Charles Kuonen bridge is open this year...
We're eager to go, although this is the obivous part.
Hi, I am planning to do the Via Valais at the end of August 2020 together with my husband. Already booked some huts (even paid the advance) so it is fixed I hope. I have two questions:
1) I combined the stage 4 and 5 into one day which will be from CAB. BECS DE BOSSON to Zinal and cut out a few kilometer section leading to Cab. de Moiry as we will not need it. Do you it is OK? Seemed like the the two easiest days to me
2) I intend to do the bonus peaks but I don't think that access to them is marked on the gpx files which I downloaded from your website. Where can I find routes to the peaks and back? Are they marked somehow?
So thrilled about our trip already!!!!!!!!!
Hello. I am planning a Via Valais trip in early September 2020 with a few friends. Will the huts need to be booked in advance for this? If so, when would be the time to book them? I am worried about them filling up. but not ready to lock in dates yet. Thanks!