Iconic Segments of the UTMB® Mont-Blanc Races
Twelve key segments have shaped the OCC, CCC®, TDS® and the UTMB®. From the Col du Bonhomme to the Passeur de Pralognan, or from the Col de la Seigne to the Tête au Vent – here are the athletes’ stories who have traversed these paths.
La Balme - Croix du Bonhomme (UTMB®)
Almost a quarter of the race has passed when the runners start the climb to the Croix du Bonhomme. But the challenge has only just begun. The night has set in and the headlamps are out. The long climb might seem normal, but that all changes come race day.
Courmayeur - Bertone (UTMB®)
Courmayeur is to Italy what Chamonix is to France. The small Italian town marks the halfway point, a watershed moment for all UTMB® runners. Starting over after base camp isn’t easy, as a steep climb leads to the Bertone refuge. The bodies are marked by the first night and the road is still long.
Grand Col Ferret (UTMB®, CCC®)
This is perhaps the most iconic climb, the one that every runner – elite and amateur alike – dreads. The climb to the Grand Col Ferret, the highest point of the race, is made up of two stages. An easier section in the middle gives a little respite before the final ramp, and the arrival at the pass is nothing short of epic: a panoramic view of the Swiss Valais on one side and the Val Ferret on the other.
Trient-Catogne (UTMB®, CCC®, OCC)
The small village of Trient and its famous pink church welcome the last aid station on Swiss soil. Immediately after leaving the camp stands the horrific climb. While the UTMB® and CCC® runners will advance as best they can on the steep slope, the OCC runners will reach the halfway point at the summit.
Col des Montets - Tête aux Vents (UTMB®, CCC®)
No matter the race, the climb to Tête aux Vents is the last real challenge. The beginning of the climb is notoriously difficult, with its many steps. Tête aux Vents (translated to ‘Head of the Winds’) is aptly named, as weather conditions fluctuate when journeying into Chamonix. During the ascent, the view on the Mont Blanc becomes clearer. The arrival is close.
Courmayeur - Tête de la Tronche (CCC®)
While the CCC® largely follows the UTMB® course, it differs at the start of the race which begins with a long climb to the Tête de la Tronche. The beginning of this climb isn’t technical so runners might find it easy, but the second half is much more difficult. Bad pacing could jeopardize a runner’s chances of seeing Chamonix. This is certainly the hardest start of the four major UTMB® races.
Col Checrouit - Col Chavannes (TDS®)
The TDS® is sometimes considered the hardest of the four major races. And the beginning of the course is no stranger to this. The section between the Col Checrouit and the Col Chavannes is a succession of two long climbs, which leave no respite from the first hours of the race. The arrival at the Col Chavannes, the highest point of the race, provides a first glimpse of its form of the day.
Bourg-Saint-Maurice - Passeur de Pralognan (TDS®)
This is arguably the most difficult climb of the four races combined. Nearly 2000 m of vertical ascent over a little more than 10 km. Exposed to sun, rain and wind, the climb to the Passeur de Pralognan remains the key moment of the TDS®. It’s the gateway to the Beaufortain, the most technical part of the course.
Hauteluce - Col de Véry (TDS®)
Often cited among the most beautiful villages of France, Hauteluce is an important point of the TDS®. The “Beaufortain” section ends and we enter the final section of the race. This climb is steepest in the first half, then the arrival on the ridges allows you to restart the engine with the little energy you have left.
Chalets de Miage - Col de Tricot (TDS®)
A slope of almost 30% after 130 km. The climb to the Col du Tricot is the last of the course, and also one of the most difficult. On paper, it’s tough. But paper doesn’t do it justice. In reality, it’s a beast. Arriving at the pass is a moment of liberation almost equivalent to the finish.