STAGE 2

Trail running the Via Valais, Switzerland

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CABANE D’ESSERTZE TO CABANE AIGUILLE ROUGE

30km    1783m+/1178m-
Bonus Peak:  Mont de l’Etoile (3370m)  5km, 600m+/-

Stage two continues from hut to hut without passing low into the valleys. A high traverse above the Val d’Hérémence leads to the Grande Dixence, the world’s highest gravity dam. From there, it's a flat run on the gravel road alongside the Lac de des Dix before climbing over the Col de Riedmatten and heading into the Val d'Arolla and the Cabane Aiguille Rouge.

Stage 2 brings in views of Mont Blanc de Cheilon,  Mont Collon, and carries you into the Val d'Hérens.

*The original route passed over the Pas de Chèvre, but it has recently become safer to use Col de Riedmatten.




Herding Dogs
It's possible to encounter Herd Guard Dogs near the Dixence Dam. Here are are few guidelines if you meet dogs at work with their herd in the Alps.
 

When you enter a pasture: The information boards indicate access to the protected pasture. Behave calmly, do not scare the animals and do not frighten them. If you are on the bike, get off and push the bike, as pedestrians slow down your pace.

When a herding dog barks, runs in your direction, and blocks your way:
Stay calm and give the dog time to check that you are not a threat to his herd - this is his job. Keep your distance from the animals and avoid quick movements. Don’t use your hiking pole as provocation. If the herd guard dog has calmed down, continue on your way. If possible, avoid the flock. Do not pet or feed the dogs.
 
If you have your own dog with you:
Dogs cause an increased defence behaviour from the herding dog. Keep your companion dog on a leash and keep it under control. Do not try to go through a protected herd with your dog, but avoid them and go around. If in doubt, return. If shepherd dogs attack your leashed dog, release your dog - they quickly establish their own ranking.
 
If you perceive the herd guard as a threat:
Avoid eye contact with the dog, but do not turn your back on it! If a herd guard dog does not calm down for a long time, even though you are quietly waiting in the distance to the herd, then retire.

Eat:
  • There are no refueling points along this wild stage.
  • The huts provide dinner and breakfast. You can also purchase a sack lunch and snacks from the hut.
Bonus peak:

Mont de l’Etoile (3370m)  5km, 600m+/-

Follow cairns along the rocky ridge. An out and back for some extra meters. Grade: T3

Sleep:

Cabane Aiguille Rouge  The Cab. Aiguille Rouge is situated above Arolla at 2810m. Check the website for seasonal opening dates.

It's possible to descend to Arolla from Col de Riedmatten if needed. From the Cab. d’Essertze to Arolla, an adjusted stage becomes 26km with 1291+/1418-, but makes for a bigger Stage 3.


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Via Valais GPX Tracks

Download the GPX Files and import the route into your phone's mapping app and/or your watch for the full turn-by turn.

Includes overall GPX file for the full 9-stage Via Valais, individual GPX files for each stage, and additional files for bonus peaks.


GPX Tracks

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Running in a colorful fall landscape on perfect singletrack during the Via Valais, a multi-day trail running tour connecting Verbier with Zermatt, Switzerland.

Starting the day through low scrub above the Val d’Hérémence. 

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

The long traverse on the way to Lac des Dix.

Trail running on the Via Valais, a multi-day trail running tour connecting Verbier with Zermatt, Switzerland. In the background is the Lac des Dix.

After running the length of Lac des Dix, you'll enter rockier terrain on the way to the Col de Riedmatten

Crossing the Pas de Chèvre cables and ladders while on the Via Valais, a multi-day trail running tour connecting Verbier with Zermatt, Switzerland.

Over the Pas de Chèvre was the best way between the Hérémence and Hérens valleys. Since 2014, the pass has been easy to cross thanks to new ladders and catwalks, but it has recently become safer to use Col de Riedmatten.

Descending to Arolla while trail running on the Via Valais, a multi-day trail running tour connecting Verbier with Zermatt, Switzerland.

Descending Col de Riedmatten above the Val d'Arolla.

Trail running in a wide open rocky landscape above Arolla, Switzerland

Smooth, winding trail for the last climb of the stage to the Cab. Aiguille Rouge.

A couple sits outside the Cabane des Aiguilles Rouges, above Arolla, Switzerland

Ending on a high, you spend the second night at Cab. Aiguille Rouge, at over 2800 meters.

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