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Ready to go for a Run?

Ready to go for a Run?

Sep 8, 2013

Ready to go for a run?

Ready to go for a kinda-exposed, three-minute run with an 800-foot drop on your right-hand side? Welcome to trail running in Switzerland.

Okay… mind you, it’s not always like this. Most of the time, a mountain run here means pastures, snowfields, herds of cows and flocks of sheep. Café au lait and a sandwich fromage. But, every now and then, if you pick the right trail, you get to cruise along some pretty cool arêtes, hang on to chains alongside of sheer cliffs, and climb rebar ladders up alpine gullies.

Champéry’s Galerie Defago is the tourist version of those challenges, but the exposure is still pretty cool!

A few historical details, courtesy of

In 1862, Emmanuel Défago made accessible the rock wall at the Rives by cutting a ledge along most of the rock wall.

This gallery is more than 600m long and in certain places had to be cut into the rock. It follows a natural cornice almost horizontal where tufts of denostyles with leaves of petasite (Adenostyles albifrons) flourish. The magnificent view widens as one heads on. At its extremity (1127m), one finds oneself directly opposite Champéry. Without doubt from this point one enjoys the nicest view of the village extending itself graciously over the lower mountain slopes into the valley, which opens up towards the plain. One can distinguish well the church tower of Illiez and the village of Troistorrents.

“Looking with interest at the big rock wall that raises high facing Champéry on the other side of the river Vièze, one is struck by the word “Galerie” written in big letters on the stone, like a shop sign. This sign, that one does not expect to find on a bare wall, points out one of the most interesting and enjoyable walks in the surroundings of Champéry”. (Arthur de Claparède, “Champéry, le Val d’Illiez et Morgins”). 

Doug Mayer
Doug Mayer is the founder of Run the Alps and lives in Chamonix, France with his labradoodle, Izzy. He is the author of The Race that Changed Running: The Inside Story of UTMB and writes for Outside Online and Ultrasignup News. His upcoming book is a graphic novel about Italy’s 330km long Tor des Géants trail race.