Admittedly, I have a lot of favorite runs that I claim to be the best. I resemble the saying, “Dog has best day of life for the 1458th day in a row.” It’s a fun way to be.
Because of our book and this site, we’re often asked, “What’s your favorite run in the Alps?” The candidates stay fresh in our heads from working on ALPSinsight, continually seeing our own images, promoting the runs, and just being out each and every day.
2023 marks five years since Run the Alps Switzerland hit the book shops. It’s also about the time this site started to grow. Today, the site includes four guides to the Alps’ top trail running regions and well over 100 runs, many of them favorites.
With so many favorites to choose from, Janine, Kim and I decided to each determine our single favorite favorite.
When we sat down to discuss our favorites, it went like this.
Janine, “Via Valais.”
Kim, “Via Valais.”
Dan, “Via Valais.”
Well that was easy. The Via Valais is the clear winner. It’s nine stages of perfection all adding up to one big run. You can’t go wrong but you have to go big. As a result, we opted to take the Via Valais out of the running and name our favorite non Via Valais run.
Here we go:
Lac de Moiry to Pigne de la Lé
Janine Patitucci : ALPSinsight’s Run Designer
“Lac de Moiry to Pigne de la Lé is a perfect mix of everything I love in a mountain run. The long sections of perfect single track, a glacier crossing that gets you to the Cabane de Moiry, an easy but exposed rock scramble to the summit with views of the Valais’ giants, the Matterhorn, Weisshorn, Dent Blanche, Obergabelhorn, and more, all while surrounded in glacier. The down is technical trail to the hut, then fast singletrack gets you back to the start. And that hut is situated in the perfect spot for a quick torte.”
Check out the full run: Lac de Moiry to Pigne de la Lé
Dan Patitucci : Photographer, Athlete
Running the Mettelhorn from Zermatt must be my all time favorite. It has everything I love about running in the mountains. A steep climb, a long section of on-and-off running through the beginning of the alpine landscape, a rocky ridge with dramatic views of the Zermatt 4000ers including the Matterhorn, a steep final summit trail, and finally a long, fast descent right into town. There’s even the Trift Hotel with homemade ice tea on the route.
There might be better running trails out there but overall, for me, this is my kind of day.
Check out the full run: Zermatt Mettelhorn
Kim Strom : Athlete, Website Designer, Does too much Work
My favorite run needs to have everything and the highest quality of each of those things. Steep forest trails, scrambling, big views, and a playful descent. And a peak, don’t forget a peak. As long as you don’t go for the alpine start, you’re likely to be alone as many people climb the peak from the Almagellerhütte for sunrise and don’t come back down the same way. Starting from the valley, then passing through forest, then alpine, then snowy ridge, and finally reversing it all – I love the relief of returning to tree line after effort and concentration knowing that there’s fast curvy trail to plummet back into the valley. My favorite run doesn’t have an over-emphasis on running.
Check out the full run: Weissmies
More Favorite Favorites
We all chose peak runs over long trail runs – what we call Way Ups. And, all three of these peaks are reached by running perfect single track up and down. What’s important to us is the combination of good running and quality scrambling in the higher mountains. We basically all chose different versions of the same run. Based on our backgrounds, this makes perfect sense. We’re all climbers as well as runners so getting into alpine terrain to a high summit makes for the most rewarding experience.
I imagine if we were strictly runners our favorite favorites could be different. True trail running tours might be our picks, runs like Courmayeur’s Pointe de Charmonts, Täschalp – Oberrothorn, or Val Müstair. And yes, I suppose if we all had to choose true trail running favorites, these may be our choice runs.
Finally, we all agreed that our three favorites were all of our favorites. Each of us could have gone with any of the three. They are that good. It’s also worth noting that all three are in the Valais, our favorite region to run. Consistency!
To see more runs and peak climbs in the Valais, visit our Valais Trail Running Guide
What’s your favorite run from our site or book? Let us know in the Comments below.
By Dan Patitucci