The Tor des Géants® began as a showcase of the beautiful landscapes and villages of Valle d'Aosta, and of the ability to welcome anyone who visits its mountains with a smile and a few encouraging words. Some minor changes have been made to the track of the 2016 edition of the traditional Aosta Valley endurance-trail starting on September 11th, to highlight new natural environments never before crossed by participants in the Tor des Géants®, to give value, in full accordance with the Municipalities concerned, to new structures recently launched and therefore, definitely worth exploring and, lastly, to avoid short stretches in the event of bad weather that could create some difficulty to already fatigued competing participants.
A track that can already be downloaded from the website, together with the mileage chart, gradients and time deadlines.
1) The initial start at the base of Valgrisenche has moved just above the village, to the hamlet of Bonne. From the base, the track will run along the road that leads down to the ancient lake basin, and then reach the Epée along the trail through a forest of majestic larches that have enriched the area for centuries. A truly spectacular change, a feast for the eyes (for those who cross it during the day) and a pleasure for the spirit (for those who cross it at night). For logistical reasons, the road leading to Bonne will be closed to companion's vehicles, which must be parked in Valgrisenche. To assist their athletes, authorized companions may, however, still use the shuttles free of charge that will be made available by the Tor organization.
2) The Rifugio Sogno will no longer be a refreshment area of the track and has been changed to the Goilles in order to gain more energy to deal with the next ascent to the refuge Dondena.
3) The stop at the Lake Vargno refreshment area has also been moved. Now, it will be a bit higher up (at a further distance of approximately 2 kilometers and 300 meters of higher elevation), to bring to life the new Balma refuge. Vargno remains, however, the point at which the time deadline is active (moved forward one hour) and where 4x4 vehicles should meet to provide any organizational necessity.
4) New high-impact reception area in Champoluc too, directly accessible by coming down from Crest Hut. The descent leads directly to new Wellness Center, a multipurpose facility run by Monte Rosa Terme. It has amazing accommodations for trailers that provide large comfortable spaces that are particularly suitable in the event of bad weather. The time deadline has also obviously moved to Champoluc (Thursday, at 1:00 pm).
5) Moving on with new places to see, like the Magià refuge, newly refurbished, which is located in the Municipality of Nus. Once past the Finestre di Tsan we will no longer go up towards the Reboulaz bivouac shelter, on the contrary, we will go down to the new Magià refuge, following the original route of the Alta Via 1. Then, we will once again take the trail that climbs to Cuney and continue on the traditional route. This change, which does not change the length and gradient, not only allows for appreciating a new refuge but also for avoiding a stretch that, particularly in case of rain, could be subject to small landslides. What makes this even better, is that this stretch can be avoided just by making a small change and with the added benefit of seeing a beautiful and scenic place area.
6) Finally, we will no longer pass through the Bonatti Refuge, because of traffic. Due to its location and ease of being reached from the valley floor, the refuge, is in fact, visited by many tourists and trekkers, even in September. This creates some crowding issues when the TOR goes through.
Therefore, once going over the legendary Col del Malatrà crevice, we will not continue into the valley below where the Bonatti is located but instead we will proceed, keeping the altitude as much as possible, up to Pas Entre Deux Sauts, at 2,524 meters. From this wide grassy saddle, which is like having front row seats for the spectacular Mont Blanc, we will descend into the large valley of Arminaz until reconnecting to the traditional trail overlooking the Val Ferret and reaching the Bertone Refuge, the last comfortable refreshment point before the final descent towards the longed-for goal of Courmayeur.
Not a change but a clarification on Cogne:
After a fruitful meeting with the Mayor, Franco Allera, for Cogne, everything will remain exactly as in previous editions: the same structure for the base start and the same efficient organization. VDA Trailers stresses the continuity of its meetings with the Municipality of Cogne, and notes that the Mayor at the helm of the largest municipality in the Aosta Valley has shown his willingness to once again support the TOR, as he has always done in the past. The matter, therefore, has been completely resolved within a very short time with the Municipality of Cogne in the best possible manner, with the usual spirit of collaboration and participation.
Another two new changes for 2016, not regarding the track but relative to the support and participation by two other new international sponsors. The first is Hoka One One, a very well-known international "specialty" shoe brand specifically for trail running. Hoka, which in the Maori language means, "it's time to fly", certainly an auspicious meaning, was joined by the second sponsor, Ricola, another well-known company, which exports its products to over 50 countries. At the TOR, it will help lessen the efforts of the 850 trail runners at the start.