L’INITIATIC (The Initiation)- The hidden side of the Dents-du-Midi
The trail for trailers who want to get their feet wet but aren’t ready to take the plunge! This race allows runners to get a taste of the DDM Trail with a shorter route along the backside of the Dents du Midi massif.
This initiation route leaves from Vérossaz and finishes in Champéry, covering 32km and 2,100 meters of elevation gain along the way.
Start: 8:30 am from Vérossaz
ROUTE – DOWNLOAD THE ROADBOOK
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VÉROSSAZ – SALANFE
For trailers on the Grand Tour, the departure from Vérossaz is never easy. You, however, will have plenty of pep as you set off on the Pétolet trail. This route will take you past a football field and, 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 the downhill path on your left which will brings you back to the original Tour des Dents du Midi trail. After about 5 km and 450 metres descent, you’ll be able to see the village. Traverse the old part of town, then meet up with the road for the St Barthélémy dam. This is your last chance to steel your nerves before the formidable Jorat Pass.
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. Trails have been won and lost on this climb, but best not to think about that right now. Instead, enjoy the breathtaking views and think about the refreshment station that awaits by the sparkling waters of Lake Salanfe. Drink it all in, and enjoy the encouragements of Aline, Délphine and their team. And guess what? You’re only 15 km from the finish line now!
Offering spectacular views over the Rhône Plain, Mex is a great spot to motivate the runners before their climb to the Col du Jorat, the most difficult part of the entire course.
Better yet, to get just a taste of the Trail, you might try the legendary Col du Jorat hike yourself, earning a bird’s-eye view of Lake Salanfe and your very own Tour des Dents du Midi memory.
Whether you come from the Col du Jorat or from Van d’en Haut, the Auberge de Salanfe and lake is a must-see destination. Fabienne and Nicolas provide a warm welcome, delicious food and snacks, and panoramic views from the terrace of their historic alpine inn.
SALANFE – CABANE DE SUSANFE
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.
From Salanfe, the terrain is markedly more rugged and lunar, with endless swaths of alpine scree. It’s not technically difficult, however, so there’s no reason you might not continue on to the Col de Susanfe, another exciting race-watching spot.
The most adventurous spectators might even take this opportunity to climb the Haute Cime, the region’s highest summit.
CABANE DE SUSANFE – CHAMPÉRY
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 minutes later, you’ll be thrilled to see the Fabrice and his team at the last refreshment station at Bonavau.
From here, 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 Chemin des Poussettes, or ‘baby buggy trail’. As you arrive in 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.