Conquering Mont Blanc
Running up, down and around one of Europe’s tallest mountains
GETTING TO CHAMONIX is a sporting act in itself. Short of skydiving from an aeroplane while flying pass Mont Blanc, the second highest peak in Europe, you’ll have to fly to Geneva, endure an hour-long journey on a road that’s built more for agile mountain goats than a lumbering van, and hope that your driver stays alert enough on the hairpin bends and to to avoid the precipice beyond the asphalt.
But all is forgotten once you arrive at the breathtakingly beautiful Chamonix, a picturesque commune made for postcard photography and National Geographic shoots. Located approximately 1,000 metres above sea level and just beside the imposing Aiguilles Rouges mountain range, Chamonix is known as the “gateway to the European Cascades” and is popular with extreme sports enthusiasts. Winter sees skiers flood into town to tackle its powdery slopes while summer brings with it trekkers, base jumpers and trail runners.
I reached Chamonix on a cold summer morning at the invitation of sportswear giant Asics to take part in its annual Beat the Sun challenge, one of the world’s hardest races.