STAGE 1

Trail running the Via Valais, Switzerland

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VERBIER TO CABANE D’ESSERTZE

29km    1119m+ / 1113m-
Bonus Peak:  Le Crepon Blanc (2713m)   2km, 250m+/-

Linking two iconic Swiss mountain towns, Verbier and Zermatt, the Via Valais begins its journey in Verbier, a chalet resort town best known for its steep skiing. (See our Logistics page for traveling to Verbier). From town, a gondola takes you up to Les Ruinettes, the trailhead. The first kilometers follow the Bisse de Levron. “Bisse” trails are old irrigation ditches that tend to be silky smooth for running, and this one is a classic that serves as a great warm-up for the day.

As you move away from Verbrier’s ski infrastructure, things start to turn wild. The first day is a teaser for all that lies ahead; single track, steep climbs, and massive snow-capped summits...


Eat:
  • There are plenty of restaurants and markets in Verbier. Plan ahead for day food. The next grocery store is in Evolène, midway through stage 3.
  • Carry lunch and snacks enough to last all day out until dinner at Cabane d'Essertze. Alternatively, there is a restaurant at the Combatzeline ski station before the climb to Mont Rouge if you are in need of a refuel.
  • The huts provide dinner and breakfast. You can also purchase a sack lunch and snacks from the hut.
Bonus peak:

Le Crepon Blanc  (2713m)  2km, 350m+/-

From Mont Rouge, this out and back follows the ridge line over Mont Loéré to reach the summit of Le Crepon Blanc for a view over where you've come from and where you are headed. Grade: T2 

Sleep:

Cabane d’Essertze  The Cabane d'Essertze (2191m) is managed by the Ski Club of Hérémence. Check the website for the opening dates and for reservations.


Useful links:
  • Verbier to Les Ruinettes Check here for hours and costs for lift access from the town of Verbier to the start of the run.
  • Cabane de Louvie Below the route, the Cabane de Louvie is an option to stop for food. Although it comes early along the route, it's  tempting to drop down to the lake before continuing on.
  • Nendaz Trail An annual race that passes through some of the same trails.

Image
Trail running in Verbier, with a view of the Grand Combin, on day one of the Via Valais, a multi-day running tour connecting Verbier and Zermatt, Switzerland.

The first kilometers start things off with a bang. After following the smooth bisse trail, the first climb goes up to Col Termin with views out to the massive Grand Combin.

Trail running near Lac de Louvie, from Verbier, with a view of the Grand Combin, on day one of the Via Valais, a multi-day running tour connecting Verbier and Zermatt, Switzerland.

Connecting the passes, Col Termin to Col de Louvie. Col de Louvie is the day's highpoint at 2921m. The trail between the cols overlooks Lac de Louvie, the Val de Bagnes, and across to the Combins and their glaciers.

Crossing a bridge while running near the Lac du Grand Désert during the Via Valais, a multi-day trail running tour connecting Verbier with Zermatt, Switzerland.

Coming over Col de Louvie, the landscape becomes wild and rocky for the run down to Lac de Desert.

Running above Lac de Cleuson during the Via Valais, a multi-day trail running tour connecting Verbier with Zermatt, Switzerland, with fresh snow on the mountains.

Running the smooth Bisse de Chervé above Lac de Cleuson.

The Via Valais, a multi-day trail running tour connecting Verbier with Zermatt, Switzerland.

More bisse trail, and more anticipation for what's ahead.

Running on the Via Valais, a multi-day trail running tour connecting Verbier with Zermatt, Switzerland. A woman runs towards the distant big mountains, where she is headed as part of the tour.

On the first day of the Via Valais, coming over Mont Rouge, you see the mountains you'll be in soon.

Cabane d'Essertze, the first overnight of the Via Valais, a multi-day trail running tour connecting Verbier with Zermatt, Switzerland.

Cabane d'Essertze, time to rest.

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