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Trail Running | 21.08.2019 | Simone Eydallin | Photos by damianobenedettophoto

5 SUMMITS - 1 RECORD

A challenge in the peaks of Val di Susa, the mountains of Simone Eydallin's home. A route with five uphills for a total of 26 kilometers and 7,000 vertical meters with the ambitious goal of keeping the chronometer beneath 5 hours.

SKY RUNNING HAS A NEW RECORD

FIRST STAGE: OULX (1100 m) - SAFETY MOUNT (2926 m): 6 KM - 1826 D +

 

All the difficulties of the challenge, which I feared so much, did not take long to arrive. After I left the village of Oulx I started to run. On the path I certainly did not have one of my strongest points. This stage was one of the hardest regarding mileage and difference in altitude. I didn´t feel the best and I was tired.

 

Along the first couloir leading to the top of Mount Seguret, when the slope is between 50% and 60%, the effort became insistent and I began to realize that I have to fight for another four days. My mind couldn't think of anything else but the exertion. Those were very hard moments. I tried to convince myself not to think about it anymore. I promised myself to focus only on the present and face up day by day, step by step. Then I saw the peak, I reached it and found the man, who inspired and taught me so much. My father, who despite his age has challenged the 1,800 meters of altitude to encourage and support me. What a great father!

 

Thinking of him and my wife Emily, I managed to reach the goal of the first stage within 1 hour and 21 minutes. I needed 2 minutes longer than my personal best time is, but that was not important in this moment because there was still a long distance waiting for me.

Optional peak bagging – a bonus for the highly motivated

I felt good. I knew that I could perform well and was sure that I would have a good day.

Via Valais: Overview of the stages

THIRD STAGE: SAUZE D’OULX (1509 M) - MONTE GENEVRIS (2536 M): 3.2 KM - 1027 D +

 

I didn´t have an easy night. The fatigue and the efforts of the first two days kept me from resting properly. On the next morning I tried not to think about the bad night and started to warm up. I realized that my engine is there and that I will have another great day. And it couldn't have gotten any worse, because along my way many people cheered me on. There were the guys from the Sauze Ski Club and all the kids my sister Elisabetta takes care of in her baby parking. They shouted, incited me, chased me and charged me. Their enthusiasm spurred me and I believed to fly. I reached the historic lighthouse on the top: I pushed myself and when I arrived, I read 37 minutes and 34 seconds! I looked up at the sky: it was an intense blue as I have rarely seen it. I did the same time a month and a half ago. I thought that our potential can surprise us sometimes.

Via Valais: Stages in detail

When you will have a good day, you will understand it immediately. Even before your day starts!

FOURTH STAGE: GRANGE DELLA VALLE (1850 M) - MONTE NIBLE (3365 M): 6 KM - 1515 D +

 

When I arrived near the glacier I stopped to put on the crampon. For changing the crampon I needed only a few seconds, which is enough time to take a little breath and to take a quick look at the watch. This was another day of a good shape. Who would have ever said this after 4 days? I would never have thought of it, or at least not at this day, considering the feeling of weakness that pervaded me as soon as I started running. Who knows where all these energies come from; it is as if I hadn't done anything in the previous days. I stopped thinking and started running. I was fast, even on the technical track. I reached the top, stopped the time and smiled: 1 hour, 4 minutes and 20 seconds. Personal record lowered. One is missing. Only one is missing.

STAGE 2: Cabane Essertze - Cabane Aiguille Rouge

I´ve always had a certain attraction to records, especially towards those who contemplate mountains. I was born in the mountains of the Val di Susa. I grew up watching them, listening to them and studying them until I decided to challenge them (... even if it´s better to say: caress them). I wanted to do something important; therefore I needed a motivation that pushed me beyond my limits. And I wanted to do something good. Not only for me, also for others.

 

So the 5 Summits - 1 Record challenge was born, which started on the 29th of July and ended on the 2nd of August. A race that brings me along five different climbs for a total of 26 kilometers uphill and 7,000 meters in altitude. I did this in record time (total time), but like any record it has a relative value, as long as someone else cannot beat it. What remains of this challenge is our support for the crowdfunding campaign Helping Children to Smile on the "Gofundme.com" platform to support the care of children suffering from rare diseases. Business, mountain, charity: I did not need anything else!

I knew my father was waiting for me at the summit. I certainly couldn't give up. Certainly not at this moment.

 

SECOND STAGE: CLAVIERE (1760 M) - MONTE CHABERTON (3131 M). 6KM, 1371 D +

 

The alarm was set to 6 o´clock, fast breakfast, a greeting to Emily, a few minutes of warming up and departure at 08.30 am. The same routine that has been taking place for more than a week now but only this time with more worries, due to the heavy exertion of the day before. I knew that my Dad, Nicolas, Alberto and many others are already on the way, ready to support me. I felt good despite some sore muscles from the day before. On this day my thoughts were positive; I didn´t feel the fatigue anymore. I arrived at the summit in 57 minutes and 49 seconds, below what I was expecting. Personal record and mountain record lowered by more than two minutes compared to the one established 30 years ago. I returned to the valley where cryotherapy was waiting for me. The 85 minus degrees exhausted me, but I knew that it was very important for the next morning. In the evening when I was in bed, I relived the day in my mind: my heart was full of joy. I was more determined and focused than ever.

The higher I went, the stronger I became. It was exhausting but beautiful!

STAGE 3: Cabane Aiguille Rouge - Cabane Becs de Bosson

FIFTH STAGE: SESTRIERE (2035 m) - MT. ROGNOSA (3280 m): 3.5 Km - 1245 D +

 

I knew that I should eat something so my energy wouldn´t run out, but every attempt was useless. I was so tired that I barely could get out of the car and the air was so cold on this morning. I didn´t even warm up and then I was leaving with a thousand thoughts and the fear of failing, but I kept telling myself that I can’t give up now. Not at this point. Not after all the effort made. We all need a last effort, and inside of me, I knew I can do it: I could feel it. After the first flat kilometer the effort turned into that "beautiful effort", the one that makes you fly. I arrived at the summit in 57 minutes and 9 seconds. They told me that I did it with a time of 4: 58'43. I carried out my challenge, this dream. They told me. They repeated it. However, I still didn’t believe it.

 

When I sit down and think about what I did and see that "my little madness" was dreamed, faced and realized, then I can't help thinking of all those who supported me in this adventure and who have been with me step by step, meter by meter, peak after peak. It is to all of them, who have been by my side in every single moment of these 4 hours, 58 minutes and 43 seconds, to whom I am infinitely grateful.

(17k, 868m+ / 1025m-) A quick descent leads you from the pastel-colored countryside of the Becs de Bosson to the Lac de Lona. After a short climb, the colors in the landscape change completely. Warm earth tones make way for the Alpine gray in the mountains and the glacier landscape of the Val de Moiry. The blue of the small lake looks totally surreal. Our stage today ends with the climb across the moraine at the Cabane de Moiry refuge at 2,825 meters. The stage is somewhat shorter and has less vert as the other stages. So you have a little more time to relax, and from the terrace we could enjoy the view to the surrounding mountains and 4000ers.

STAGE 4: Cabane Becs de Bosson - Cabane de Moiry

I would do it again immediately...if I hadn't been through all this trouble.

STAGE 5: Cabane de Moiry - Zinal

(24k, 1064m+ / 2215m-) Stage 5 offers one of the most diverse days of the Via Valais – especially if you take a little side excursion to Pigne de la Lá. If you want to climb the peak, then you’ll rack up another 600 meters, but there you’ll be doing more scrambling than running. If you feel comfortable with easy scrambling along a ridge or on exposed terrain the this little side route is totally worth it. On the way back, you again come past the hut and can stop in for a mid-morning snack. On the descent from Canabe de Moiry to Zinal, one runs along the lake above it before you climb up 500 meters to the Col de Sorbois. After a traverse it heads down to Zinal.

STAGE 6: Zinal - Turtmann Hut

(19k, 1687m+ / 841m-) After Zinal, you  first go past a small village. From Zinal, we follow the famous downhill of the Sierre-Zinal race course for a few kilometers before we climb up to the Forcletta Pass. We cross the Röstigraben and run along a trail lined with wild beeries down to Turtmannsee lake. Then we head up to Turtmann Huy where we set up our next night’s lodging.

STAGE 7: Turtmann Hut - Randa

(18km 1376m+ / 2453m-) The crowning glory of Via Valais! It is a long, tough day that takes us up to 3,610 meters. From the hut, we quickly find ourselves again in a barren, alpine landscape. The detour to Barrhorn is absolutely worth the extra 90 minutes.  From the peak, we take the same way back til we reach Schölljoch. Now we are at the crux of the Via Valais. The descent from the pass down to the glacier is exposed and secured with ropes and a ladder. As soon as you have Schölljoch behind you, you are facing a 2,000-meter descent to Randa where it surprisingly here and then also goes uphill again.

STAGE 8: Randa - Mountain Lodge Ze Seewjinu

(25k, 2025m+ / 1171m-) On this stage a lot of vert awaits us. After you have the climb to Europaweg behind you the terrain is a little less steep. Simple running is beautiful and a relaxing counter to the adventure of the previous stage. You fly along the trail, ticking off kilometer after kilometer. The first view in close proximity of the majestic Matterhorn really does something to you. Before you know it, you can stick your feet in the refreshing water of the Grünsee and, after that, you come to a stop at the Mountain Lodge Ze Seewjinu above Zermatt.

STAGE 9: Mountain Lodge Ze Seewjinu - Zermatt

(27k, 1254m+ / 1942m-) We have a very good reason not to run directly to Zermatt: The final stage high above Zermatt is one of our favorite runs from the book Trail Running Schweiz: 30 Unglaubliche Läufe (Trail Running Switzerland: 30 Unbelievable Runs). After an enjoyable run to Zmutt, a small well-preserved hamlet with stupendous coffee and snacks, we start a 800-meter climb to the upper Matterhorn Panorama Trail. The path to the Trift Hotel is one of the most beautiful trails in all of Valais. In the Trift Hotel, one definitely has to take a short break and enjoy a homemade iced tea. From the hotel, one can run directly down to Zermatt. If you haven’t had enough yet and don’t want the Via Valais to come to an end can take on a bonus peak with the Mettelhorn.

Comments about Via Valais

The start: Stage 1, Verbier to Cabane d'Essertze: “We leave Verbier along the Bisse de Levron and have a smooth start. We actually started our planning months earlier, with our first idea, studying maps, and of course considering fully all of the possible obstacles or problems. But now we are finally running. Our plan is dependent on some many things. Will we have good weather? Will our legs play along and, in particular, will the trails actually go where we think? After an easy warmup along the water, it gets a little more wild. The first days offer up a sampling of what we can expect on the tour: Singletrack, steep climbs and huge snow-covered peaks.” – Kim Strom

The crowning glory: Stage 9, Mountain Lodge Ze Seewjinu to Zermatt: “At the end of our tour, we enjoy one last iced tea in the Trift Hotel before we run down to Zermatt. Inside of 20 minutes we are back in civilization. From the trail, you drop down directly onto the main street with all of its teeming restaurants, and numerous shops and people with freshly coiffed hair and clean clothes. I look down at my grimy feet and would prefer to immediately go back and start all over again. But first there is a huge burger to be had!” – Kirra Balmanno (Australian trail runner and Via Valais team member)

Further information: Elevation.alpsinsight.com/via-valais/

About Alpsinsight
The ALPSinsight Team consists of professional mountain sport content providers Dan and Janine Patitucci plus Kim Strom. Since 1997, PatitucciPhoto has been producing professional mountain sport content for global commercial & editorial clients: The trio launched ALPSinsight to share their enthusiasm about their home mountains, the Swiss Alps. In 2017, the team produced the Run the Alps Switzerland guidebook and the portal Elevation: The Alps Trail & Peak Running Resource. As the leading trail running specialists in Switzerland they created the Via Valais.

Why did I do that? To support a fundraiser, to finance the care of children with rare diseases

THE 5 PEAKS CHALLENGE OF SIMONE EYDALLIN TO SUPPORT HELPING CHILDREN TO SMILE

I've always been fascinated by records!