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Swiss Alps Trail Running Summary

Kim above Lac de Moiry with a view of the Obergabelhorn.

Our Run the Alps Switzerland Summary

“It’ll be far more work than you imagine.” Many friends who had previously done books warned us, but we didn’t take this so seriously. How could running and documenting 30 of the best runs we could find in the Swiss Alps end up being too much work? After all, we had the summer and fall to get this thing done.

Well…. It was a lot of work. But it ended up being just the right amount of too much work.

30 runs became more-like 38 runs when some that looked good on maps didn’t pass quality control, or it took multiple visits to the same run to make the best tour. And we didn’t just run these routes, we also ran in between- to stay fit, explore other places, do other projects (the Glacier Haute Route), and to satisfy our need to sometimes just go running without a camera or notebook.

With a trip to Greece already booked, our deadline to finish shooting was October 31. In the end, we did it. Just under the wire. We did the last run on October 26, with both the leaves and snow already piling up.

Four of us are producing this book, but three of us were together for the whole time period. Myself, Janine, and Kim lived and traveled together for the entire project while Doug Mayer played route checker and admin. Doug and Kim are now authoring the book’s text and finalizing the run descriptions. Disclaimer: In addition to making many of the photos, Janine created the routes. And so, any hate mail resulting from sore knees, exhaustion, or feelings of “what were you guys thinking?” should be directed to her.

Going into the project, I knew it could be one of the most memorable things I’ve done, both as a mountain sport athlete and photographer. It was. But not for the reasons I expected. I expected that running trails in the Alps and making photos, like I’ve loved doing for the last 20 years would be special. But, the project itself, and especially the people I was fortunate enough to do it with reminded me that time in the mountains is good, but time in the mountains with the closest of friends is, well… for me, there’s nothing better.

The Swiss Trail Running Resource

Run the Alps Switzerland is scheduled to release in late spring or early summer of 2018 and will be an elegant addition to your bookshelf or coffee table. The book will include much more than trail running routes – it’s full of our photos, stories from some of the sport’s characters, general Swiss Alps travel beta, and tips for out on the trail. To learn more about the book itself, visit Helvetiq’s Run the Alps Switzerland.

In addition, here at ALPSinsight we’ll host our own Swiss Trail Running site that we aim to grow into a top resource for discovering the best trail runs in the Swiss Alps. This site will include more photos, general route info, and downloadable GPS tracks. Better yet, we’re on target to offer more than running trails, but you’ll have to hang tight for what we have in mind.

A huge thank you to the Swiss Tourism Offices who provided accommodation, meals, and hot showers after long days. And to the friends who joined us to share the trail and the journey.

And now for some stats:

  • How many pair of shoes did we destroy: 10
  • Kilometers and vertical gain run in 2017 by Janine, Dan and Kim: Approximately 6500km and 350,000m+ (yep, welcome to the Swiss Alps)
  • Rolled ankles: 5
  • Gas station dinners on the drive home: Lost track.
  • Sunsets: Not nearly enough, but more than enough cloudy nights.
  • Routes tried but not worthy: 8
  • Trail Butter packages: Four shipments from the US
  • Favorite Route:
    • Janine: No question, Lac de Moiry
    • Kim: Saas Almagell, Simplon Pass, trying not to repeat Lac de Moiry, but it’s the most technical scramble to the summit, so for sure a favorite.
    • Dan: Zermatt, Hardergrat or Monte Zucchero
    • Doug: Stechelberg to Kandersteg
  • Number of routes Janine created that kicked her own ass: 5. No comment as to which ones.
  • New nicknames: 2. Janine became both “Add On” for her ceaseless desire to keep doing just that on so many tours. As well as, “Diesel” for continuing to grind along when everyone else was cursing her damned add ons.
  • Photos made vs kept: Made = approx 50,000 / Kept = 3500
  • Blisters: None
  • Longest day on the trail: 13 hours 18 minutes
  • Biggest surprise: How few people we actually saw on our routes.

By Dan Patitucci

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Comments 2

  1. Interesting stats, especially making 50,000 photos and keeping less than 10% of them. Makes me feel less bad about the huge quantity of footage I still discard. Congrats on an awesome summer, looking forward to seeing your book!

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