The Via Valais is our Grand Tour of the Alps! This high-mountain route has been designed specifically with trail runners in mind. You'll traverse valleys, run over high passes, and through meadows on your journey from Arolla to Zermatt.
September 3-12, 2020
10 days, 9 nights
Inn-to-inn with mountain huts.
$3995 per person.
Single supplement available for $400, which includes single rooms for six nights in Arolla, Zinal, St Niklaus and Zermatt.
Six nights in hotels and three nights in high mountain huts with dorm accommodation. All breakfasts, trail snacks and dinners included, along with all transfers to and from trailheads, Swiss rail pass for Geneva or Zurich to Arolla train and bus transport, and Zermatt to Geneva or Zurich train tickets. Supporting materials, including Run the Alps' Guide to Trail Running in the Alps, are also included. This is a new tour, and Run the Alps is actively involved in securing hotel reservations. Some hotels may change.
The “Haute Route” has long been a famous hiking and skiing track, but now a new version, designed just for trail runners by our friends at Elevation, takes you across the mountainous Swiss Canton of Valais. This multi-day trail running tour avoids the busiest trails while contouring around impressive landscape to cover more runnable ground than the traditional Haute Route.
Our version of the Via Valais starts in the beautiful Swiss village of Arolla, famous as a base for mountaineering. We have a full day to find our trail running feet in this valley, before heading off on our journey towards Zermatt, at the foot of the Matterhorn.
Each day will start with a hearty continental buffet breakfast at your inn – delicious fresh baked bread, local cheeses, cereal, fruit, coffee and juice – which gives you the energy needed for a full day of trail running. Hut breakfasts are often simpler, and usually consist of bread, jams, butter, cereal, coffee, and juice. We’ll provide snacks for you to take on the trail. Every day we pass a café or mountain hut where we can also buy drinks or snacks. In the evenings we’ll enjoy dinner together at our accommodation – a hearty multi-course feast featuring delicious local Swiss specialities.
Several days have options for a longer or shorter route. Your bags will be transferred separately, each night, except for the three nights we stay in mountain huts – on these days we’ll “fastpack,” bringing the essentials for a night at a high mountain hut. At the end of the trip we have a day free in Zermatt for you to relax, run some more trails or explore the town at your own pace.
The Via Valais is the most challenging trip offered by Run the Alps. You should be comfortable in steep, rugged and remote mountain terrain, and able to climb and descend over 1000m daily over the course of the trip. If you are uncertain whether this trip is for you, please contact us.
Arrive in Geneva or Zurich airport and travel to Arolla via train and then Swiss Postbus. This pretty village is high up at the end of the Hérens valley. We’ll stay in the historic Hotel Kurhaus where you can relax and enjoy the views from the lawn or shady terrace.
We’ll enjoy a day to settle into trail running in this region, perhaps running up to the Swiss Alpine Club’s Cabane des Aiguilles Rouges or the Pas de Chèvre. We’ll also have time to enjoy the rugged, traditional Swiss village of Arolla.
Today we’ll take a taxi through the valley, to the village of Les Haudères. We’ll start our running with a couple of miles alongside the river to warm up. On reaching the village of Evolène, we head uphill to the Becs de Bosson mountain hut. This hut is at 3000m with views stretching all the way across to the high point in Europe, France’s Mont Blanc. Bag delivery isn’t possible, so we’ll fastpack, bringing minimal gear for our night at this high hut, where we’ll sleep in dorm rooms.
Today starts with a descent down to the Lac de Lona. A short ascent brings us up to the Basset de Lona pass and then a long descent ends at Lake Moiry. The second ascent is bigger, up to a high point called Corne de Sorebois. From here we descend to our hotel in the small village of Zinal, at the bottom of the valley – we can either take a more direct route down, a tram, or a longer route via the Petit Mountet Cabane.
Today we pass into the German speaking region of Switzerland, and also get to experience a remote corner of the Alps. We head out of Zinal along the final section of the famous Sierre-Zinal race. This includes great running along a high-level traverse, before we head over into the next valley via the Col de la Forcletta. We arrive in the Turtmann valley and descend to Turtmannsee – the Turtmann lake. A final short ascent brings us to the Swiss Alpine Club’s Turtmann Hut, where we have dorm accommodation for the night. There will be no bag delivery tonight.
We reach the Zermatt valley, or Mattertal, today by heading up and over the Augstbord pass then down to the valley village of St Niklaus. An optional cable car from the high mountain hamlet of Jungen saves thousands of feet of trail running downhill at the end of the day, if desired.
Today, we’ll take the valley train up to the village of Randa and have the option to cross the Charles Kuonen suspension bridge, the world’s longest pedestrian suspension bridge at 494 meters in length. From here we continue along the Europaweg, a high-level traverse with flowing running and our first views of the Matterhorn. We spend the night high on the valley side above Zermatt at a mountain hotel with dorm accommodation. There is no bag delivery available tonight.
Today is one of the best single days of trail running to be found anywhere in the Alps. We’ll cruise around the head of the Zermatt valley with incredible views the whole way – and several great options for coffee stops! The gradients are gentle overall, with a final descent right into Zermatt.
Enjoy some time exploring the car-free village of Zermatt, a historic climbing and ski town dotted with centuries-old wooden chalets. Or take a local trail run – you could even use the excellent trams and cog-railway trains to avoid too much up or down. At the end of the day, you can enjoy the spa at our hotel in Zermatt!
We’ll finish the trip with a final dinner, recounting highlights from the past week of trail running along the Via Valais, the newest and one of the best-designed trail running routes in the Swiss Alps.
Today we’ll enjoy a final breakfast together, then take our leave of Zermatt, heading home, elsewhere in the Alps for more trail running – or wherever your travels take you next!
Geneva is the preferred arrival airport for this trip as the onward journey to Arolla is more straightforward than from Zurich. If flying to Zurich, your flight will need to arrive no later than 11am in order to reach Arolla the same day, as the trip is over 4 hours long. It’s also possible to arrive a day early and stay in Zurich, before departing in the morning.
Please note that flights from the US usually depart the day before.
Geneva or Zurich are the preferred departure airports. If your flight is in the morning, plan an extra day to travel to the departure city.
An option exists to arrive earlier or stay longer, to extend your trail running time with our self-guided materials or for a second tour. We are happy to help with these arrangements.
More options for this tour:
Self-guided: Everything but the guide… custom tour design, trail runs, and all the details. Self-guided tours on the Via Valais will be available starting in summer 2020.
Private: Make it private! Your companions, your dates, your tour– we do the rest.
Contact us for details.