Haute Route Chamonix to Zermatt

The Haute Route is the name given to the multi-day high-altitude traverse from Chamonix to Zermatt. This classic journey was first completed in the summer of 1861 by members of the newly founded British Alpine Club and they named it the High Level Route. However, it took until 1903, in total seven days of hard effort, to complete its first winter traverse. Today, it is one of the ultimate high alpine tours where skiers can travel in the heart of majestic mountains, over high cols, hidden valleys and immense glaciers along famous four thousanders like Mont Blanc, Gran Combin, Dent Blanch and of course Matterhorn.

The nights we spend in a complex system of spectacular huts, offering hearty and simple meals that satisfy most visitors and permits us to enjoy the skiing as only traveling light can. It is a ski journey with a small pack containing only clothing and personal effects and for most people it is truly the ski adventure of a lifetime.

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We will use an alpine ski touring setup, skins and binding that allow you to hike with a free-heel upwards. A normal day on the tour is intense, you start quite early and continue by hiking up and skiing down for 6-10 hours, so you need to have a high level of fitness and have previous experience of multi-day ski touring and backcountry skiing. However, there will be plenty of time every afternoon to enjoy the mountain scenery, dry the wet clothes and to take care of yourself by having a rest.

Prerequisite skills
You need to have a good level of cardiovascular fitness since it is an intense week with many meters up and down to cover every day. It is suitable for skiers who have previous experience of backcountry and multi-day ski touring skiing, in order to be able to cope with variable off-piste snow conditions. Of course if you feel you lack some of those experiences or uncertain of your own level, please feel free to contact us. We will do our best to give you the best experience possible.

This ski tour is suitable for the later part of the season. The mountain huts open mid March and the best season is during April. This is a wonderful time in the Alps with lots of snow in the high mountains, cold temperatures at 3000 m, while at the same time warm and pleasant down in the valleys. It is not uncommon that we often enjoy powder skiing or spring firn up in the mountains before we descend to the valley or huts and sit outside in the Sun with a beer in our hand.

Program for the week
The classical Haute Route via Verbier is by far the most popular version to do the Haute Route and offers some excellent opportunities for downhill skiing and even distributed stages with the fewest technical difficulties. It remains, however, a serious challenge, and all the potential difficulties of high alpine touring can be found. The following program is a typical week. There might be changes due to weather or snow conditions with alternative routes and huts to be used.

Day 1 Saturday : Arrival day in Chamonix – Meeting
Arrival day in Chamonix. The hotel will be available for check in the afternoon and in the evening we have a gathering to discuss the plan for the week. If you want to spend additional days before or after the tour please let us know.

Day 2 Sunday : Chamonix – Refuge d’Argentiere – Preparation day
We set off to the Grands Montets Ski station and take the cable car to the top where the skiing starts with a wonderful descent of the Glacier des Rognos. The goal for the day is Refuge d’Argentiere (2771 m), superbly situated just above the Glacier d’Argentiere and directly opposite to the impressive north faces of the Aiguille Verte, the Droites and the Courtes, where we will spend the first night. It gives us the opportunity to repeat the usage of the climbing skins, “kick-turns”, avalanche transceiver and we try to do some practical exercises in the afternoon.

Day 3 Monday : Refuge d’Argentiere – Cabane du Trient
Today we have a long day ahead where we do a beautiful glacier traverse over two high passes, climbing and skiing for 6-8 h. We start early in the morning together with morning glow of the Sun heading towards Col du Chardonnet (3321 m). We reach the Glacier de Saleina and by a short traverse without the skins we arrive at Fenetre de Saleina (3261 m). In front of us we now have the Platetau du Trient, soaking up the beauty of the surrounding summits, and finally we can see the hut for the night. The extended and newly renovated Cabane du Trient at 3170 m where we will share the days adventure among us.

Day 4 Tuesday : Cabane du Trient – Cabane de Prafleuri
This day offers one of the longest ski descent of the week, a 1300 m vertical descent to the village of Champex, followed by a bus or taxi transfer to the famous resort of Verbier. After taking several lifts we do two relatively short climbs, to the Col de la Chaux (2940 m) and the Col de Momin (3015 m) below Rosablanche, another lovely ski descent leads us to the Cabane de Prafleuri at 2662 m, the final destination of the day.

Day 5 Wednesday : Cabane de Prafleuri – Cabane des Dix
The goal for the day is the hut Cabane des Dix (2928 m), which provides great views of the next day’s stage, and requires an early start to cross the slopes above the Lac des Dix. A short climb to Col des Roux (2804 m) and descent to La Barma (2458 m), we continue above the lake and one can start to truly feel why this is called the Haute Route. After about five hours of hard work we can finally relax in the impressive and welcoming hut. If the is time and good weather there is a possibility to do a nearby peak called La Luette (3548 m) in the afternoon.

Day 6 Thursday : Cabane des Dix – Cabane des Vignettes
A fabulous stage in the heart of the mountain range, that includes the highest point of the Haute Route: the Pigne d’Arolla (3790 m) and the famous Passage de la Serpentine. In good weather and snow conditions it can for sure be one of the weeks highlight. After having enjoyed the stunning views we head down again and a nice ski run takes us down to Cabane des Vignettes (3160 m) with some surprising views.

Day 7 Friday : Cabane des Vignettes – Cabane de Bertol
An early starts puts us on the Glacier du Mont Collon and with the Suns first morning rays we arrive at Col de l’Eveque (3382 m). We shortly pass through Italy and the wonderful descent from the Col often has excellent snow. The final climb of the day up the Vallon de Bertol can feel quite long, but the efforts will be rewarded by a night in the spectacular eagle’s nest of the Alps, a Sunset from the Cabane de Bertol (3311 m) can be an unforgettable sight.

Day 8 Saturday : Cabane de Bertol – Zermatt
With our last reserves we start the last day of the week heading towards Tete Blanche (3710 m) and it is difficult to imagine a greater finale to a ski tour. We are in the middle of the Alp’s most spectacular summits such as Dent d’Herens, Matterhorn, Dent Blanche and other 4000ers. The feeling to arrive at Zermatt in the shadow of the Matterhorn, down the Stockji, Tiefmatten and Zmutt glaciers is the climax of the Haute Route. After a week of hard physical work with stunning views, new experiences and excellent skiing we return to Chamonix in the afternoon.

Day 9 Sunday : Departure day
Day of departure back home.

Small groups
We recommend to be at most 4 skiers/guide during these weeks (depending on the experience of the memebers we might even agree to go with 6 skiers/guide in rare cases). Some weeks there are two guides with independent groups working together. However, we travel independently so that the groups can ski different lines.

Personal equipment
The following is an equipment list. If you have any questions please feel free to contact us. Equipment marked with * can be provided by your guide when needed.

• Skis with AT bindings (Dynafit or Diamir type) that should be light but stable for the downhill skiing.
• Climbing skins adapted to your skis.
• Poles, adjustable with big baskets that can be mounted on a backpack.
• Ski crampons
• Ski touring boots
• Backpack, 35-45 liters, with straps for skis and poles.
• Ice axe, straight classic model 40-50 cm.*
• Crampons, light but durable. We do not recommend aluminum crampons.*
• Avalanche transceiver*
• Shovel*
• Probe*
• Harness, light with adjustable leg loops.*
• Ski goggles, “orange/yellow” lenses to be used at bad weather.
• Sunglasses, category 3-4.
• Gortex jacket or similar.
• Gortex pants or similar with ventilation possibilities.
• Down jacket lightweight.
• 2 pairs of base layer, synthetic or wool.
• 2 pairs of ski socks.
• Mid layer
• Thin gloves
• Insulated gloves
• Hat and balaclava to protect your face in bad weather.
• Sun hat to protect you against the Sun.
• Head torch with spare batteries.
• Sun block
• Water bottle (1-2 liters), since we do not recommend Camelback systems.
• Travel sheets to sleep in at the huts.
• Small repair kit.
• Small medical kit.

• Professional Mountain Guide authorized by UIAGM/IFMGA.
• All transport during the week including return to Chamonix or Verbier.
• Ski passes
• Hotel accommodation in twin double rooms including breakfast before and after the week (a single room can, where possible be arranged at additional cost).
• Nights at mountain huts including breakfast and dinner.
• Fantastic views and excellent skiing.

Not included
• Lunch and drinks up in the mountain huts.
• Personal ski touring equipment (see list above).
• Travel to/from Chamonix or Verbier.
• Mandatory insurance to cover mountain rescue costs.

Number of days: 7 days ski tour, 8 nights accommodation.
Price: Please contact us.

Please use the form if you have any questions or want us to contact you.

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