Posts Tagged ‘trail running Arolla’

Les Hauderes to Col Des Ignes

As the weather forecast was looking reasonable for yesterday, I planned a longish run up high as I suspected the weather today ( Sunday ) would be rubbish ! ( I am currently sat inside in the camp site in rain and low cloud so an ideal time to write up yesterdays trip out.

As there was likely to be snow high up I was equipped with the Kahtoola Micro Spikes and also my Adidas XT4 Trail Shoes, although they are beginning to get worn down with all the mileage I am putting into them….

Despite the high mileage week, I still felt pretty fresh – no aches and pains , just a feeling of fatigued legs…

The day was beautiful as I headed off at 0845 hrs from the campsite in Les Hauderes (Camping Molignon – a great spot with views of mountains all around and great facilities).

Inspiring weather early in the day

Dente Blanche from Les Hauderes - just outside the campsite

The view up the valley towards the Ferpecle glacier and the Dente Blanche in the distance was fantastic, but my goal lay u the valley towards Arolla, and along the valley track instead of the tarmac, to reach La Gouille. Its quite a pull first thing in the morning and I was glad to actually begin the steep ascent towards Lac Bleu and the Aguille Rouge Hut, as I had a good excuse to power march… The valley up to here is such an angle that it feels entirely runnable, but on a long day I try to manage the feeling that I ought to run it all, and just run the flatter sections….

Steep climb up from La Gouille and a snlw slope to cross to get to the Cabane at 2810m

The climb upto the Aguile Rouge hut at 2810 metres is great, I love this and around 2hrs after leaving the van I am 1300m vertical higher up than I started and surrounded by great peaks of around 3200m plus. Pic a’Letoile is upto the right, with the Aguille Rouge behind then various peaks in the direction of the Col Des Ignes and The Pigne D’arolla. Behind the hut across the valley there is the Aguille de La Tsa, the Dente Blanche and hidden in cloud today the Matterhorn is lurking somewhere.

Great views down to the Arolla Valley

Past the Aiguille Rouges Hut and heading for the start of the Col Des Ignes path

Stopping for a coffee at the hut, after crossing yet more steep snowy patches on the way to the hut – some soft and some pretty hard – I get an update on the weather – the Guardian reckons it will be fine all day, which suite my plans for crossing the Col Des Ignes, then running round to the back of the Pas De Chevres / Col De Reidmatten to cross them and descend back via Arolla….

I set off at a cruise from the hut, legs feeling great and traverse the hillside on great singletrack mixed with some rocky sections until a blue and white marker indicates the mountain track uptowards the Col Des Ignes..

Around 2900m weather is a bit dodgy and I dont fancy getting caught on the far side of the col in bad weather

Beginning to rain and I continue only upto the snow slope on the final approach before I turn round. Sense gets the better of my urge to explore the other side...

There’s plenty of snow about and I alternatley seek rocky bits and wade through softish snow to make progress, in a great surrounding. Unfortunately the cloud is building on the far side of the col and as I climb higher I get to the last 100m vertical height to gain the col, and it begins to rain…. The complete snow slope ahead and the thought of getting caught on the far side of the mountains in a thunderstorm ( forecast) is enough to get me to reconsider my goals, and I turn tail and head down…

Fast going through the moraine and snow leads me to the Aiguile Rouge Arolla path which is great running ( although one section is covered in the debris of an old snow/rock avalanche …) I ping down on snappy legs to the dirt road that leads down from the Mayens de Arolla ( a lovely group of old mtn cottages high above the valley floor) feeling spritely, as it sprinkles lightly with rain.

The long descent to Arolla is finished on a great steep singletrack path into the village, where an easier angled Randonne path ( a great MTB descent) leads into the fields below the village then fantastic alpine meadow running alongside the river, just Idyllic!

idyllic running on a mowed singletrack through great flowers

Heading down towards La Gouille along the river banks through alpine meadows, what more could one want...

I am beginning to tire as I get to La Gouile and begin the steep valley descent back to Les Hauderes, realising why in fact it is so hard to run up it ( it looks and feels well steep on the return journey)…

I have some very odd stomach cramps on the descent that I suspect is either hunger and long descent related or glacier water drinking… but once back at the campsite and after a bit of stretching the symptoms are gone and I suspect its just a reaction to the long week of running….

A fantastic day out, despite not getting to cross the col’s planned. Probably around 28km running with around 1600m ascent involved.

This brings the total since last friday to 160 plus KM with around 10000m ascent, including the mid week runs in the Sanetsch Pass area. 2 days rock climbing and a great mountain bike spin out with Graham – a British Mountain Guide – Frost Guiding have made for a great high mileage week / training week, and I am hoping that this is going to go in the bank for a) the Sierre Zinal Race and b) the Tor Des Geants……


Pictures of the days Trail running up Mont L’Etoile

I was lucky to have seized the opportunity yesterday to get up high as today the snow is down to under 2000m again and its super rainy….

By the way the shoes of choice today were my North Face Ultra Guides, very comfortable and great grip althou a couplle of times I felt as tho I would have preferred a tiny bit more feeling of my foot locked into place that I get with the Adizero shoes. (V12 have these in stock as well as the TNF  Hayasa, and the Adidas Adizero XT4)

The Ultra guides tho are a great long day out trail shoe and are wearing well…

Here is a selection of pics from the day out – exciting and awe inspiring and just great to move so easily in the mountains..

This is where I have run up - the glacial moraine on the left of the valley, an amazing backdrop. now at 3100metres, light winds

Above the Aiguilles Rouge Hut Arolla valley nestles far below

Beautiful views across to some big mountains - Dent Blanche, Matterhorn, Aiguille de la Tsa This is from the Col De Darbonneire, panoramic, to the left iss the ridge towards my destination

La Gouille at 1834 metres is a fine start followed by steep steep climbing upto 2700metres, where the angle backs off a little as you head up glacial moraine towards 3143 metres and Col de Darbonniere, where you would turn left and put on crampons to go across towards La Vuasson.

The ridge ahead was snowed on one side and clear the other and was alternately rounded and rough requiring some careful footing due to snowy patches and the everpresent glacier de la Vuasson to the left and scree cliffs down to the right

Glacier De La Vuasson to the left, a nice open ridge leads with a couple of sneaky sections to a steep finish

The peak in the distance is Mont L'Etoile, a steep shale peak, very pointy, and once on the summit ridge there is a very exposed traverse to get to the highest point. Care needed with rotten rock, snow and vertigo.. I am not used to this stuff after my 5km stretch of Ugandan dirt road for the last few months..

A lofty spot - 3370m Mont L'Etoile

Aiguilles Rouge D'Arolla to the right above the approach ridge

I made it to the top 2hrs 15 minutes after leaving the valley bottom and was well pleased, as I took it pretty carefully on the last 300m climb due to steepness.

A good view back to where I am returning. The ridge is pretty shaley and broken and amazing views down either side onto glaciers or scree

Steep Shely descent made for a great plummet, fast and loose underfoot just like scree in the lakes but better. A 150m quick before back to traversing

Heading bacck down via the Cabane des Aiguilles Rouges for a fine piece of chocolate cake then contouring round to descend to Arolla, the track back is great singletrack for thousands of feet descent. Once down, its into the woods, where a wrong turn took me back up another 300metres to Lac Bleu . Great tracks but a little unnecessary..

Having just run and extra 300m ascent, I took the opportunity of icing legs in the lake, to the stares of myriad children and people, then headed to a small Buvetter for a fine Tarte aux Myrtilles ( no one had any soup today):-

Picked on the hill side and eaten in a great setting with a fine coffee before the 10 minute descent to the car from Lac Bleu


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