Summer has been steaming hot making it less appealing to be too active….. for me anyway. Fortunately there are many other excuses to head up the mountain.
Music fans should check out the Tournee des Refuges, where a group of 9 wondering musicians tour refuges across the alps in 37 days playing 37 concerts in locations such as inns, hotels and mountain churches, which can be reached by foot. This is the 3rd edition of the event which covers 650km and a 30,000m vertical drop through the Alps and runs from the 23rd July until the end of August.
Even if you don’t like Jazz you are sure to enjoy listening to live music in some of Chamonix’s most iconic locations, such as at Montenvers, Brevent, the Aiguille du Midi, Lac Blanc, the Grand Montets or the Emmosson Dam. The much loved Cosmo Jazz Festival offers just that and for free - although you will have to buy a lift pass - or hike. Apérojazz takes place from early evening (6pm) there are a series of smaller concerts in bars around Chamonix and Argentiere, including a free concert in the market square. Then around 9pm there are various jam sessions around bars in town. More than 25,000 people are expected in nine days and runs from the 25th July to the 2nd August.
On the 15th of August the annual fund-raiser, the Fete des Guides, takes place at Gaillands. Over 150 mountain guides and leaders take part in the festival that was originally created as a fund raising event for the Emergency Fund, which helps injured members of the Compagnie des Guides & their families. Take a picnic and enjoy the singing and dancing marmots and a crazy show played out upon the walls of the Gaillands climbing crag.
If the heat doesn’t put you off then the running season is in full swing- starting with one of the most beautiful trail runs in the area the Tour des Fiz. This consists of 3 trail runs: Tour des Fiz – Huit Refuges (61 km / 5000m D+), the Tour des Cinq Refuges (30km / 2300 m D+) and the Balcon des Fiz (22km / 1500 m D+). The setting for the race is the Fiz Massif, a natural reserve between Chamonix and Samoens. Having done it myself previously, I found the 30km harder than the 40km Mont Blanc Marathon - those hills just keep coming at you. I was definitely motivated by the prospect of a dip in lake Passy afterwards!
The Fiz is a great warm up for the big one - The Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc from the from the 24-30th August. Over the course of three days, those taking part in the Ultra Trail cover a total of 166kms, in 3 countries, experiencing an altitude difference of 9400 metres. The trail begins and ends in Chamonix but you can catch sight of the runners as they pass through Les Houches, Les Contamines, Les Chapieux, Courmayeur, La Fouly, Champex, Trient, Vallorcine, and Flegere. Also that week are the ‘shorter’ CCC which takes off from Italy and flies over Switzerland, the TDS which runs towards the Beaufortain region and the OCC which is now in its second year and is a very pleasant ‘beginner’s’ ultra, which honours the Swiss Valais region. Starting from Orsières in the southwest of the canton in the Val d’Entremont it takes in peaks on the eastern flanks of the Mont Blanc on the franco-swiss frontier, before reaching Champex and then Chamonix.