- Trail Running Phone Cases - 25% OFF code: TRAILANDKALE25 -Rokform phone cases

Running in the Heart of the Alps: Italy’s Aosta Valley

The Heart of the Alps: Trail running in Italy’s Aosta Valley

We looked up at the steep mountains surrounding Gressoney Valley. “So, how high are we climbing tomorrow?” I asked our guide, Davide:

“Maybe 700 or 800 metres for the first section, straight up the side of the valley”, he replied. “But it’s worth the effort, because at the top, you will find Paradise!”.

Trail and Kale - Aosta Valley

As trail runners, we are always going to be enticed by the prospect of a tough climb. Whether it’s for the physical challenge, fitness benefits, technical training or the thought of a rewarding view or drink at the top; the reason doesn’t matter as long as the desire to do so exists. So I found myself, the next morning, wielding my hiking poles and making slow but steady progress up the side of the valley.

Trail and Kale - Aosta Valley

I wasn’t disappointed. Just like our experiences during the rest of the week’s trail running tour around the Aosta Valley, the paradise that awaited us at the top of the climb was worth the effort. It reminded me of Yosemite, full of lush greenery, steep-sided rock faces with plunging waterfalls, streams and evidence of wildlife. If you are passionate about running (or hiking) in the mountains, you have to have this place high on your list – it was stunning.

Trail and Kale - Aosta Valley
‘Paradise’ – He was right!

The reason doesn’t matter as long as the desire to do so exists

My husband, photographer and fellow Trail & Kale co-founder Alastair and I spent several days with Italy’s Soul Running and fellow bloggers and journalists exploring the Aosta Valley in mid-June.

Trail and Kale - Aosta Valley
What a fantastic group of people, we were so lucky to meet you all!


LIMITED TIME OFFERS FROM OUR PARTNERS:


Where we ran

We spent most of our time in two valleys:

  • Ayas Valley around the town of Champoluc, and
  • Gressoney Valley.

They both sit in the Aosta Valley, which, if you’re not familiar with the geography (as I wasn’t, before visiting), sits south of Zermatt, on the south-side of the mountain range that includes the Matterhorn and Breithorn mountains, and the Monte Rosa Glacier.

Trail and Kale - Aosta Valley

A tale of two valleys

Each valley has a different character. The main town in Ayas Valley (Valle d’Ayas) is Champoluc, at 1,568 metres above sea level. Champoluc is surrounded by well-marked hiking trails and many ski pistes, making it part of the Monte Rosa ski area in winter.

Trail and Kale - Aosta Valley

The mountains immediately around the town are not as steep as those around Gressoney, meaning it was easier for us to get out running without a long steep hike to kick things off. 

Trail and Kale - Aosta Valley

Gressoney, on the other hand, reminded me of a smaller version of the Chamonix Valley. While also part of the same ski area as Champoluc in winter, in summer you can bag a vertical kilometre for breakfast, if you have the desire and strength.

Trail and Kale - Aosta Valley

The running around here was more technical (and – for me – more hiking than running, both up and down!) and the place offers a great alternative to Chamonix if you are looking for world-class technical trail running without the crowds of hikers and climbers. This is one of the many reasons world-class ultra runner Lizzy Hawker did much of her UTMB training in this area, and has chosen to created a tough race of her own that passes through here: The Ultra-Tour Monte Rosa (UTMR), which is taking place in September.

Trail and Kale - Aosta Valley
Alastair perched on a rock for the camera

Lizzy Hawker - Trail Running Aosta Valley Italy - Trail & Kale
And we even got to meet Lizzy!

In summer you can bag a vertical kilometre for breakfast

Trail and Kale - Aosta Valley

In both areas you can find stunning mountain and glacier views, attractive old buildings and castles, not to mention many welcoming mountain huts (‘Rifugios’) offering beer, excellent food, and, of course, the option of Genepy or Grappa to spice up your day.

Trail and Kale - Aosta Valley

Enjoying some downtime

One of the other big attractions to the region, apart from the trail running itself, was to have the opportunity to explore and learn about the culture and history of the area. Many of the surrounding villages are so remote and it was humbling to consider what life may have been like for the Germanic merchants and farmers who originally came over the mountains from (modern-day) Switzerland and settled in these valleys more than 700 years ago, building and living in small, wooden houses perched on the mountainside.

Trail Running Aosta Valley Italy - Trail & Kale

When not out in the mountains there is plenty to do in the towns. Three of our favourite experiences were the thermal spa in Champoluc (Monte Rosa Therme), practicing our swing in the shadow of the mountains, at Gressoney’s golf driving range, and a combination of local wine-tasting and a tour of the Walser Museum in Gressoney centre. These filled our afternoon downtime before we headed out for one of many filling and tasty meals at a local restaurant.

Trail Running Aosta Valley Italy - Trail & Kale

For more inspiration, read these

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Alastair
Alastairhttps://www.trailandkale.com
Hey, I'm Alastair. 5 years ago I started Trail & Kale as a way to share the mental & physical benefits that trail running and nature had given me. Since then Trail & Kale has grown to become a thriving blog and community that inspires people to trail run, hike, adventure more, and live a healthy plant-based lifestyle.

Trending Now

The Ultimate Trail Running Gear Guide: What To Wear Trail Running

The Ultimate Trail Running Gear Guide to make your trail adventures as fun, comfortable and high performance as possible! We've got you!

5 Best Headlamps for Trail Running & Ultrarunning in 2019 (So Far)

This concise list of the 5 best headlamps for trail running will help you decide which one to buy, based on your individual requirements.

LARQ Bottle Review 2019 – Does it live up to the hype?

The LARQ Bottle is the world's first self-cleaning water bottle that'll purify water and neutralize that stink! Does it live up to the hype? Let's find out!

REI’s Gear Up Get Out Sale 2019: Top 20 Deals For Trail Runners & Hikers

We've handpicked the best of REI's Gear Up Get Out sale 2019: Trail running, hiking, and camping gear deals with discounts of up to 30%!

Best GPS Watches for Ultrarunning & Trail Running in 2019

Ultrarunners have a very specific set of requirements when it comes to buying a GPS running watch. Our shortlist of top GPS running watches will help you decide which one is best for you.

Nike Pegasus 36 Trail GTX Review 2019 – The Best Winter Trail Shoes?

Nike Pegasus 36 Trail GTX in-depth review! Find out why these awesome waterproof winter trail running shoes win an Editor's Choice Award.

On Running Shoes Ranked in 2019: Which Are Best For You?

The ULTIMATE 'Best of' list for On running shoes (Trail & Road), ranked & reviewed. Find out which On running shoes are best for YOU in 2019!
- Trail & Kale's Recommended Headlamp Alternative -

latest gear reviews/guides

REI’s Gear Up Get Out Sale 2019: Top 20 Deals For Trail Runners & Hikers

We've handpicked the best of REI's Gear Up Get Out sale 2019: Trail running, hiking, and camping gear deals with discounts of up to 30%!

On Cloudrock Waterproof Review 2019: The Most Innovative Hiking Boots?

The Cloudrock Waterproof is On's first-ever hiking boot and as you'd expect it's super innovative. This review reveals the good and the bad!

Compex Fixx 1.0 Review 2019: The High-Powered, Portable Massage Gun

This is my review of the Compex Fixx 1.0: The high-powered, yet portable massage gun with 3 percussion speeds and a multi-directional head.

Nike Pegasus 36 Trail GTX Review 2019 – The Best Winter Trail Shoes?

Nike Pegasus 36 Trail GTX in-depth review! Find out why these awesome waterproof winter trail running shoes win an Editor's Choice Award.

5 Best Waterproof Hiking Boots for Fall/Winter 2019/20

This concise list of the 5 best waterproof hiking boots will help you decide which ones to buy, based on your individual requirements.

REI End Of Season Sale is Here! The Deals That Have Our Attention Are…

Here are the most discounted trail running, hiking and camping deals for this year's end of season sale. Enjoy up to 50% Off!!

5 Top Running Gloves 2019/2020 – For Winter Running

To save you time, I've asked all the common questions while researching the best running gloves on the market. See the 5 Top gloves for cold weather runs!
Receive our Newsletter

Receive our Newsletter

Enjoy first class Trail Running, Hiking & Adventure Inspiration, delivered straight to your inbox.

Welcome to the Trail & Kale Community! Please check your email to confirm your subscription.