The Tor des Géants is one of the toughest and most epic trail running races in the world: 330 kilometres (205 mi) and more than 20,000 metres (65,600 ft) of elevation gain. But this arduous adventure need not be a race.
In this Collection, I have divided the route into eight stages to offer the best of both worlds: an endurance and mountain running challenge that still maintains the feel of a hiking experience. You’ll need a good level of physical fitness to tackle this trail, as the stages are long and challenging, through alpine terrain and dozens of technical passes.
The route is a counterclockwise loop around the Aosta Valley, in the northwest of Italy, beginning and ending in Courmayeur in the west and extending to Gressoney Saint-Jean in the east. The route is divided into two unequal halves. The first half traverses the southern part of the region, from Courmayeur to Gressoney Saint Jean, roughly along Alta Via 2 for about 200 kilometres (120 mi). The second half returns north from Gressoney to Courmayeur along Alta Via 1 for approximately 130 kilometres (81 mi).
The Tor takes you to the most famous places in the Aosta Valley, such as the Col du Loson, which, at 3,300 metres (10,800 ft) above sea level, is the highest point of the route, and the Col de Malatrà, as well as the Fortress of Bard and Lake Djouan. But the highlights of the route are the views of the most important 4,000 in the Alps – the "Géants" of the race – the four highest 4,000-metre (13,000 ft) mountains surrounding the valley: Mont Blanc, Gran Paradiso, Monte Rosa and Monte Cervino.
You can travel light, as there’s accommodation available at the end of each stage. In addition to hot meals and simple but energising breakfasts, you’ll find a shower and a bed for your tired muscles each night. A good pair of trail shoes is essential as you’ll encounter some technical sections. I highly recommend warm and waterproof layers to cope with the frequent changes in mountain weather.
The best time to undertake this trail is from late June to mid-September when refuges are open and days are longer. Choosing another season could result in encountering snow, making the run difficult and dangerous.
Because each stage begins and ends at a hut or small resort, it’s very important to book all overnight stays well in advance. During each stage, you’ll pass several huts, where you can take a break for a light snack or lunch. Also, you’ll have no problem finding drinking water along the way.
The route starts and ends at the main traffic circle in Courmayeur, where buses arrive. If you’re coming from Italy, you can take a train to Pré-Saint-Didier and then a bus to Courmayeur. If you’re coming from France, you’ll need to go to Chamonix, from where you can take a bus to Courmayeur. If, on the other hand, you’re travelling by car, be aware that the historic centre of Courmayeur is a ZTL, controlled by automatic cameras, but several car parks are available nearby.
An important tip is to take cash with you, as many huts along the route don't accept credit cards.
Enjoy your walk!
Ready to get going? Create and customize your own version of this adventure using the full Tour below as a template.
Last updated: September 1, 2023
Your adventure begins! The first day of the Tor des Géants presents a considerable difference in altitude, both uphill and downhill. I recommend starting the day early to make the most of the sunlight.
Starting from Courmayeur, follow the path that takes you through the hamlet of Dolonne. After a kilometre…
The second stage of the Tor des Géants is slightly less demanding than the previous one, both in terms of length and elevation gain.
From Planaval, a few mainly flat kilometers lead you to Valgrisenche, after which the climb begins towards the Chalet de l'Epée Refuge, where you can taste the excellent…
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The third stage of the Tor des Géants is comparable to the previous one in terms of difficulty, but once again the extraordinary landscapes will repay the effort.
The day begins with almost 2,000m of uninterrupted ascent to the highest point of the entire route, the Col du Loson, at an altitude of 3,300m…
Day four is the longest of the entire Tor, but much of this stage is a steady, gradual descent to an altitude of 330m, the lowest point of the route.
Leaving the refuge, the path zigzags up for a few kilometers until it reaches the Champorcher window. This section features rough terrain with large boulders…
Stage 5 is a little different. Instead of one or two big climbs, this section features mostly ups and downs, with more elevation gain than ups and downs.
The trail begins with a steady descent followed by a hilly section that takes you past some incredible lakes, skirting Lago Lungo Superiore and then…
The sixth stage is the shortest of the Tor des Géants and is made up of two cols that will take you above 2,700 meters in altitude.
The day begins with a climb to the first pass, that of Pinter, and from here you descend towards Champoluc, first passing through Cunéaz, an extremely charming village. Continue…
The penultimate stage of the Tor des Géants is one of the most demanding, with the greatest difference in height both uphill and downhill.
Leaving the refuge behind, the day begins with an ascent towards the Fenêtre d'Ersaz. This section is a bit different from the previous stages because it is made up…
The last leg of your adventure is one of the easiest. The miles add up, but overall the terrain is, for the most part, easy to run. There are only two big climbs left between here and the end of your epic challenge.
The day begins with the completion of the climb up to the Col de Champillon. After the…
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