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.

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