The Discovery Trail
The trail for trailers who like to take their time!
This Trail des Dents du Midi is divided into two segments for a ‘leisurely’ 2-day tour:
- 1st day: 33 km & 1,900 metres of elevation gain.
Departure: 10:00am from Champéry (Friday)
- 2nd day: 24 km & 1,800 metres of elevation gain.
Departure: 7:00am from Mex (Saturday)
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DAY ONE – FRIDAY
CHAMPÉRY – MEX
The surge of start-line adrenaline will take you through Champéry in the blink of an eye. Before you know it, you’ll find yourself on the Chemin des Poussettes, otherwise known as the ‘baby buggy trail’. This is a pleasant, rolling path through the forest to Grand Paradis and it’s nice to eat up a few kilometres on flat terrain.
Beware the temptation to start too fast, however! The next segment on the Roc Coupé trail is a steep path that charges upward through the forest and along carved-out cliff walls. It packs in 550 metres of climbing and only levels out at the Rossetan alpine pasture. Here, a gently rising trail will take you to Antème and your first checkpoint.
So far, so good – you’ve accomplished nearly 1,000 metres of altitude gain and about 9 km. Don’t miss the view of the Haute Cime, the Dents du Midi’s highest peak, to your right as you speed on through.
From here, the Soi refreshment station is within your grasp – just a little descent, followed by a bit of scrambling (it’s still a mountain trail even if you have to use all fours), and you’re there! Raphy’s team of cheery volunteers and the encouragements of the President of Val d’Illiez will carry you through to the next refreshment station in Vérossaz!
Refuelled, you’ll hardly notice the slight uphill climb for the next few hundred metres with takes you to Soi. From here, it’s a long descent (about 2 km) to the Chalin alpine pasture.
Once over a stream, you will traverse the flank of the Dent de Valère. Follow the path as it curves once, then again, then a third time, then, finally, at the 4th bend in the trail, you can breathe a sigh of relief as this interminable stretch finally comes to an end. On a rolling path, you’ll descend towards the Valère alpine pasture and hit the forest path that leads past the Chindonne Hut to Mex.
Save some steam for this next bit – you’ve got another 200-metre climb before the trail slopes down towards Chindonne! At this point, you’ve come 20 km and have 1,400 metres of elevation gain under your belt.
At this point, you’ll descend towards Vérossaz, safe in the knowledge that the next refreshment station awaits and that Mex is not far beyond that.
After a welcome break, the Pétolet trail will take you past a football field. After just a few minutes on asphalt, you’ll re-join the forest path (check out the cute lamas on your right!) and set your sights for Mex.
Be careful not to miss downhill path on your left which will brings you back to the original Tour des Dents du Midi trail. After about 7 km and 450m of descent, the village rises like a beacon in front of you. Tuck into a good meal and enjoy a good night’s rest in Mex!
DAY TWO – SATURDAY
CHINDONNE – CHAMPÉRY
An initial kilometre along a flat stretch is a welcome way to get back in the saddle after the night’s rest and a hearty breakfast…
The climb that awaits, 1,000 metres for some 5 km, comes all too soon. Fortunately, a strategically placed fountain halfway up provides a welcome respite. Don’t miss the chance to quench your thirst – there is still some way to go until Salanfe. The switchbacks feel endless, but the best way to beat the fatigue is by enjoying the breathtaking view as much as possible. And, as with all good things, the climb eventually comes to an end when the trail tips down towards the sparkling waters of Lake Salanfe. Drink it all in, then tuck into Raphy and Gilles’ refreshment station. And guess what? You’re only 15 km from the finish line now!
The last climb of the day begins on the shores of Lake Salanfe. After an easy 1 km flat to work out the kinks, the path on your right steepens, a little, before arriving at the foot of the Susanfe Pass.
From here, things get serious. You are now approaching the most mountainous part of the course, as evidenced by the rocky scree landscape. This 600-metre climb over 3 km is the icing on a trailer’s cake – breathtaking views, a technically challenging trail without significant danger (thanks to our guides who have secured the trickier passages), and an otherworldly landscape.
Finally, you reach the legendary Col de Susanfe with the imposing bulk of the Haute Cime staring down at you. It’s almost enough to make you forget the 12 km and staggering 1,400 metre descent ahead of you.
At first easy and pleasant, the descent quickly becomes more technical and irregular once you enter the valley of Susanfe. It will take you another 2 km to reach the Susanfe hut where cheerful Fabienne awaits like an Angel of Mercy.
Leaving Fabienne and her team at the Susanfe Hut might well be the hardest part of this whole challenge… Heading downhill through the bucolic Susanfe Valley, the infamous rocky passage secured with chains called the Pas d’Encel awaits. Feared by some, simply endured by others, it will certainly leave its mark on you too. Guides will be present along this passage to help out in case your tired legs need some support. A few more minutes later, you’ll be thrilled to see the last refreshment station at Bonavau.
Finally, you’ll set off for the last 6 km and 500-metre descent before your arrival in Champéry. Down, down, down, through the forest you go to Grand Paradis and the ‘baby buggy trail’ you travelled the day before, or a hundred years ago… As you arrive in the Champéry’s quaint main street, all your aches and pains dissipate, the spring comes back into your step, and you float the last few metres to the finish line on a cloud of euphoria like a conquering hero to the applause of admiring spectators, friends, and family.