Run the Alps Guide

Gary Daines

HometownArles-sur-Tech, France

A bit about me

I was born in Essex in the UK, a long way from any mountains. But, at the age of 18 I started to travel and work across the world. By my late twenties, I decided that sleeping on other peoples’ sofas or floors and not having anywhere to call home meant it was time for a change. However, I did not want to give up the lifestyle I had grown to love so much – and that is how I fell into expedition guiding. I started to get my certifications and then, in 2009, I moved to Chamonix, France, which became my home.

Three years ago I moved to the France’s Eastern Pyrenees, close to the Mediterranean Sea. I moved to be nearer to my little boy, who lives just over the border in Spanish Catalonia. Here, I can run the trails all year round, and have finally discovered the home of my heart. I’m in the mountains most days, sometimes by myself, sometimes with friends and other times with clients. So, it’s the same life, just with different faces.

At work, I’m doing what I love the most, and when I’m not being paid for it, I’m doing it anyway. A win-win lifestyle!

My other life

I don’t really have another life as such – I work as a freelance expedition and trekking guide full-time. For much of the winter I work as an expedition guide for a large group of international schools based in Arusha, Tanzania, at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro. In the summer months, I’m usually found in Chamonix, leading groups on the Tour du Mont-Blanc.

In my free time

I try to see my little boy, Marley, as much as possible. We get out in the hills a lot, bivouacking and trail running together. He hates the uphills, but loves running down the trails. Apart from spending as much time as I can with Marley, I road bike a lot. I fell in love with road cycling about a year ago and I am now addicted! Some of those descents on open roads can get pretty fast!

Fun Fact

I’m an Essex boy – from the county close to East London in the UK.  I still have the strong accent. However, on a regular basis I get mistaken for being Australian while out on the trails. One lady even told me she thought I was Australian, not only due to my accent, but because of my necklaces… Go figure that one out!

Favorite Alp trail run

There are so many from which to choose!

A route I really enjoy is from Courmayeur, Italy to La Fouly, Switzerland across the Col du Grand Ferret. It’s a big day on the Tour du Mont-Blanc, and absolutely wonderful from start to finish. On the first climb through the forest above Courmayeur,  you have to temper your drive, because of what else the day has yet to bring. The climb takes you up to alpine meadows. When you arrive at Rifugio Bertone, the views across to the Mont-Blanc massif are jaw-dropping. Plus, seeing my friends who work there, and having a coffee, always makes the climb worthwhile.

From here, the balcony trail opens up and you can really let your legs do their thing while the views of the south face of the Grandes Jorasses grow more and more impressive. At one point, you can look behind and see the Col de la Seigne – where just a day before you crossed from France into Italy if you came via the Tour du Mont Blanc. Ahead is the Col du Grand Ferret and the border crossing into Switzerland.

This is a day of three Italian Rifugios: Bertone, Bonatti and Elena – three opportunities for great Italian coffee or super thick hot chocolate – all in one day of trail running! From Rifugio Elena, your tired legs must climb up to 2537m high Col du Grand Ferret, before cruising down to the Swiss Ferret valley. The last kilometers follow a beautiful river track all the way into La Fouly, where a cold beer awaits. This day has it all!

Guiding since2004

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