Classic Haute Route
Classic Haute Route
Classic Haute Route
Cassic Haute Route: Chamonix to Zermatt
Classic Haute Route - The group catch their breath at the top of the Col Torrent Col de Torrent (2912m - Day 8)
Classic Haute Route - Tibetan prayer flags blowing with the wind on the col de Torrent

Classic Haute Route: Chamonix to Zermatt


Trip Overview

This is one of the world’s great multi-day treks, linking the famous mountaineering capitals of Chamonix, France and Zermatt, Switzerland. We start this fabulous adventure from the 300 year old hamlet of Argentiere in the Chamonix valley. Although demanding at times the route provides a non-technical trek and is suitable for those who would like to experience the very best walking in the Alps.

Highlights

  • World class alpine scenery
  • View many of the highest peaks in the Alps
  • Two mountain hut nights
  • Europaweg 'High Level Route' to Zermatt
  • Luggage transfers
  • 10 days of top quality trekking
  • Single rooms possible for solo travellers
  • Highly experienced and expert local guide

Throughout this 210 kilometre trek we follow good paths and tracks over several mountain passes close to 3,000 metres. Our walk ends in the famous and historic town of Zermatt, Switzerland, beneath the iconic Matterhorn. Join us in the land of the giants!


I can't thank you enough for the Haute Route trip. Our leader was sensational! At all times very positive and enthusiastic. I don't know how they managed to kept smiling and encouraging all the time! I appreciated their knowledge of the mountains, and their incredible people-skills which resulted in a very cohesive, happy and supportive group. I've been spreading the word about Tracks and Trails and the Haute Route.

I can see why you love doing what you do so much, it beats the hell out of sitting in front of computers all day! There is no doubt that the Haute Route was the highlight of our trip to Europe, the scenery, company and the guide were all sensational.

Ignorance is bliss! It wasn’t until day 4 when someone asked at dinner where you rated this walk in degree of difficulty (Your response: one of the harder walks, you should be an experienced walker) that Kelly and I looked at each other and rolled our eyes. It was an experience that we will never forget. At the end of each day it was a matter of reflection, “How did I manage to do that?” We saw some fantastic views/flora and fauna, and thoroughly enjoyed your company and guidance.

Itinerary

  • house
  • airport
  • The group will rendezvous at the group hotel in Chamonix. Lying beneath the stunning north face of Mont Blanc, the views are beautiful from the start! The guide will give a briefing about the days ahead, and will answer any questions about clothing and gear.

  • We ease into our trip with a short journey on the historic Mont Blanc Express train, which for over a century has carried mountaineers along the valley to the start of their routes. We alight at the hamlet of Montroc and begin our climb through the larch woodlands before gaining the flank of the Aiguillette des Posettes. The balcony trail that leads to our first Col offers spectacular views of the Le Tour glacier, keeping your camera fingers busy! Many trips then head for the Col de Balme, but we choose to go our own special way round to Les Tseppes. In our opinion this offers the best possible views of Switzerland and the Trient glacier. Depending on your itinerary we stay in either Trient itself or walk a little further to the Col de la Forclaz.

    6-7 hours. 12km. Approx 1100m ascent and descent.

  • Today we have the option of the Fenêtre d'Arpette, a jagged notch on the ridge above Champex, or the spectacular Bovine route. Either one is to be savoured, and each offers something unique. The trail to the Arpette has been subject to a landslide in 2015 and we will choose this if the weather is good and the group going well. Otherwise, we will take the Bovine trail from the Col de la Forclaz. This has the added benefit of a brilliant lunch stop at the Alpage de Bovine and a wonderful chance to enjoy the home cooking of Nathalie and her family. They spend the summer months on the mountain tending to the walkers and to their herd of 'fighting cows' - the Val d'Herens. It's by no means a 'second best' option! We spend the night by the lakeside high mountain village of Champex, which is really lovely.

    6-8 hours. 18km. Ascent 1410m. Descent 1200m. Less if the Bovine route is taken.

  • We have an easy start this morning as we leave the picturesque village of Champex to meander down through summer meadows into the Val des Bagnes. We walk along the valley through the village of Sembrancher, and then to le Chable where we then take the Ruinettes cable car via the famous Swiss ski village of Verbier, to reach a spectacular view point at 2200m. After soaking up the view, which on a warm day includes the delights of paragliders using this as their take-off point, we continue on our hike. The trail trends around the hillside following an old Swiss 'bise' or irrigation channel. Never losing or gaining much height, our route offers breath taking views across to the Mont Blanc Massif and to the Grand Combin, bringing us to the Cabane du Mont Fort at 2457m, our first of two nights in the mountains.

    5-6 hours. 15km. Ascent 600 metres. Descent 1200 metres. Note: no access to luggage.

  • This is one of the most spectacular days of the trek, traversing three high cols with dramatic views throughout. At the start, the path wanders in spectacular fashion beneath the cliffs, with views of the Grand Combin and Mont Fort. We soon reach the first of our 3 passes, the Col Termin (2648m). A dramatic path then takes us to the Col de Louvie (2921m) which offers a fabulous place for lunch and where there is often a chance to see ibex grazing in the early morning sunlight. A steep descent then follows down to the edge of the Grand Desert Glacier. The glacier has long since gone but the terrain feels wild and remote. We climb once more to reach the last of our 3 passes at the Col de Prafleuri (2987m). The final part to our day is to descend down to the Cabane de Prafleuri (2624m) for our second night in the mountains.

    7-9 hours. 18km. Ascent 820 metres. Descent 550 metres. Note: no access to luggage.

  • After breakfast a short climb starts the day as we quickly gain the Col de Roux, overlooking the blue green waters of the Lac de Dix. Early morning on this col with the views to the glacier and the chance to see ibex is a joy. A gentle descent then takes us to the lake shore which we follow to its end, with views of Mont Blanc de Cheilon and the Pigne D'Arolla. Marmots are to be found lying in the sun along the whole length of the lake, so watch your step! We make a steep ascent to the Col de Riedmatten or the Pas de Chevre and its brand new ladders, where there are more spectacular views of the Glacier de Dix. The Pas de Chevre ladders were replaced in 2015 and now offer a much more secure and easy ascent to the Col. It is then all descent to the gorgeous alpine village of Arolla and our bed for the night.

    7-9 hours. 20km. Ascent 790 metres. Descent 1360 metres.

  • We are now approaching the half-way point of the trek and today is something of an easier day, involving a leisurely walk through woodland to Lac Bleu, a favourite local beauty spot. From here, there is an easy descent through a beautiful gorge to Les Haudères where we take lunch. A final short climb completes this stage to the small farming hamlet of La Sage.

    4-5 hours. 11km. Ascent 215m. Descent - 550m.

  • We have an early start as today’s walk involves crossing two high cols. The first ascent to the higher of the two, the Col de Torrent (2912m), is long but is easy walking and quickly gained. We descend to the Lac de Moiry, and its green waters, and often take lunch near the cafe at the dam, which makes an ideal stop and a chance for a cold drink. Ahead we can see some of the giant peaks of the Pennine Alps, including the Dent Blanche. Then it's onwards and upwards to the imposing Col de Sorebois, a climb which is shorter but steeper than the ascent to the Torrent, but again presents no real difficulty. From here, we have spectacular views of the Weisshorn, Dent Blanche and Zinal Rothorn.

    8- 9 hours. 24.5km. Ascent 2000m. Descent 1850m.

  • Only one Col to cross today, and we begin with a pleasant ascent through the larch woods where the nutcracker birds are usually busy in the trees. We reach a summer meadow, where we begin our traverse of the mountainside. This traversing trail is really enjoyable as it meanders up and down along the mountainside until we reach the junction of the path for the two Cols; the Col de la Forcletta (2874m) and the slighty further Meidpass (2790m). Normally, we prefer to take the Forcletta as we believe it offers by far the best views of the glaciers and peaks of the Turtmann valley. We usually arrive at the Col around lunchtime and it makes a brilliant place to enjoy the mountains. Eventually, we descend through alpine meadows where the famous, and elusive, edelweiss are to be found growing beside the path. A rare chance to see this iconic flower. Julie Andrews has a lot to answer for!

    19kms. 7-8 hrs. Ascent 1315m. Descent 1165m. If the Meidpass is taken the ascent, descent and distance is slightly more.

  • A superb trek today as we start out through open woodland, then high pastures and rocky upland wilderness. Early morning we pass several farmers huts and the 'guys' are often to be found enjoying a local apertif even at this time of day. We soon find the cattle which they are herding, and usually wander through several herds enjoying the lush grazing in this high valley. Our final pass is the Augstbordpass (2894m), beyond which we descend steeply into a bowl and take a rocky trail across the mountainside. This is alpine walking at its best with a trail which at times seems to cling to the mountain, don't worry it's a good path! Eventually we descend to the pretty hamlet of Jungu and on again into the Mattertal and the town of St. Niklaus. We will not hold it against you if you opt to take the 'characterful' cable car down from Jungu and save your knees by eliminating around 1000 metres of descent.

    7-8 hours. 16km. Ascent 1070m. Descent 1765m.

  • We have two options for our final day to reach Zermatt and views of the mighty Matterhorn. Of all the mountains in the world, the Matterhorn is for many THE iconic mountain. If good weather allows we will first take a short transfer up to the village of Randa to begin our trek. We gain the high level balcony trail known as the 'Europaweg' which leads us to the first of many highlights today, the almighty 'Charles Kuonen Suspension-Bridge'. At almost 500m long this remarkable feet of engineering was opened to the public in 2017 and is the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in the world! This route had been closed in previous years due to rock fall and now the bridge has given walkers the opportunity once again to reach Zermatt on the Europaweg where your first views of the Matterhorn are unforgettable. For those without a head for heights or in poor weather, the alternative is to walk the 'original' route to Zermatt along the valley floor which is all on an easy trail.

    18km Ascent 1400m Descent 1000m 8-9 hours on the Europaweg. 13km Ascent 450m Descent 0m 4-5 hours along the valley floor.

  • The trip package ends after breakfast.

We always aim to complete the proposed itinerary, however it may be necessary for our guides to adjust the daily itinerary based on the weather conditions, group safety and enjoyment.

Accommodation

We always aim to accommodate our guests in well-situated, clean, characterful, family run accommodation. In many cases we have known the management for years, and it’s like visiting friends. Our suggested accommodation, listed below, is subject to availability at the time of booking. We have given details of our favoured venues and those we intend to use. If unavailable we will book alternative accommodation of a similar standard.

Our trip fees are based on two people sharing a room. If you are travelling on your own your booking will be based on a twin bedroom sharing with someone of the same gender. 

However, on many of our trips single rooms are available on request for a supplementary fee. We recommend booking as early as possible to secure a single room as these are always limited in number. Please contact us for details.

Cabane de Louvie

Cabin

Imagine a life in a cabin, without ropes or ice-axes, without the waking at four o'clock in the morning, without blankets that itch. Imagine this hut perched above a small lake, at an altitude of 2250 meters, in the heart of a nature reserve full of stories and tradition, populated by ibex, marmots and chamois, 4 hours walk from Verbier or 2 hours from Fionnay. Don’t dream anymore, come to Louvie!

Hotel Pointe Isabelle, Chamonix

Hotel

Ideally located in the heart of Chamonix, France, the Hotel Pointe Isabelle offers deluxe rooms with mountain views, along with a bar and restaurant.

Pension de la Poste, Zinal

Auberge

Located in central Zinal at the foot of the Couronne Impérial peaks, the Pension de la Poste has well appointed double rooms, tastefully designed in a mountain style giving them a cosy Alpine chalet feel.

Cabane de Pra Fleuri

Cabin

Perched at 2662m on the stage between Verbier and Arolla, the Cabane de Prafleuri offers modern and comfortable accommodation in a spectacular setting.


  • Chamonix is easily reached from other European and worldwide destinations by road, rail, coach or plane. For suggested travel links please refer to our Booking & Information pages for further details. Geneva is the closest international airport, only 75 minutes away by road, making shared transfers, buses or trains easy to arrange. Please contact us if you need further advise on your specific travel requirements.

    Once you have booked we will send you a list of suggested equipment and clothing for the trek.

    Onward travel from Zermatt

    Services end after breakfast on Day 12 of the trip. The most convenient way of returning from Zermatt to Geneva is by train. To make a booking with Swiss Federal Railways click here, or telephone +41 900 300 300. There is a station in Geneva Airport and there are several connections throughout the day. Please note that 1/2 price fares are only available to those with the appropriate 1/2 price reduction card.

  • Please note that you must have the appropriate insurance for your chosen activity. As we will be travelling in the mountains, you must be covered for helicopter rescue, repatriation and medical costs. For further details, please ensure you have carefully read the Insurance section of our website.

  • This trip will run once a minimum number of 4 clients have booked. We will take a maximum of 10 clients. We advise you not to make your travel arrangements until the trip is guaranteed to run.

  • This trip is fully supported and clients are not required to carry sleeping bags or significant amounts of personal gear apart from what is required on a day's hike. On most of the trekking days, there will be vehicle support to transfer your main bag to the next overnight stop. You just carry your day pack. There will be a total of two overnights where there will be no access to your luggage and you will have to carry a few extra items. To make things efficient during the luggage transfer process, and to prevent any losses, please keep luggage to a minimum i.e. a day sac whilst walking and one bag labelled clearly to transfer. Please make sure you can carry your overnight bag as many hotels do have have 'lifts'.

  • Summer mountain weather can vary considerably. It is generally good in the Alps with lovely days, but it can deliver everything from glorious sunshine, to rain, fog, high winds and even snow. Temperatures can reach over 30°Celsius (86°F) in July and August, but can drop to 5°Celsius (41°F) on the high passes, or 'Cols' as they are known in the Alps. Essentially you should be prepared for any eventuality. The average temperatures range from 15-25°Celsius (59-77°F) in the valleys and 5-15°Celsius (41-59°F) on the passes.

  • We feel strongly about protecting the environment and do not encourage the use of single-use plastic items. We would ask that you arrive with a ‘water bottle’ or ‘hydration system’ that can be used repeatedly. We would point out that we operate a ‘zero tolerance’ for rubbish, and would ask you to remove all your rubbish items from the mountain even those you consider to be bio-degradable. You can read our full policy here.

  • Due to the specialised nature of our trips, we work with a select number of partners to help ensure your trip reaches its minimum group size to be guaranteed to run. The companies we work with reflect our own ethos and standards in terms of the service we offer to our guests. 


Prices may vary depending on date.

2019

Wed 10 Jul - Sun 21 Jul
Code: CHR1 19
Price: £2295 Book
Wed 31 Jul - Sun 11 Aug
Code: CHR2 19
Price: £2295 Book
Sat 17 Aug - Wed 28 Aug
Code: CHR3 19
Price: £2295 Book
Wed 28 Aug - Sun 08 Sep
Code: CHR4 19
Price: £2295 Book
Wed 11 Sep - Sat 21 Sep
Code: CHR5 19
Price: £2295 Book

What's Included

  • Fees of a professional International Mountain Leader
  • Hotel or gite accommodation for 9 nights (based on twin rooms sometimes with a shared bathroom)
  • Mountain refuge accommodation for 2 nights
  • All breakfasts and dinners
  • Transfer of luggage between overnight accommodation (except for 2 nights spent in mountain huts)
  • The le Chable cable car

What's Not Included

  • Travel insurance
  • Airport transfers*
  • Lunches
  • Snacks
  • Miscellaneous personal expenses – drinks, souvenirs etc.

*We are happy to advise on the best options for airport transfers and flights

I can't thank you enough for the Haute Route trip. Our leader was sensational! At all times very positive and enthusiastic. I don't know how they managed to kept smiling and encouraging all the time! I appreciated their knowledge of the mountains, and their incredible people-skills which resulted in a very cohesive, happy and supportive group. I've been spreading the word about Tracks and Trails and the Haute Route.

I can see why you love doing what you do so much, it beats the hell out of sitting in front of computers all day! There is no doubt that the Haute Route was the highlight of our trip to Europe, the scenery, company and the guide were all sensational.

Ignorance is bliss! It wasn’t until day 4 when someone asked at dinner where you rated this walk in degree of difficulty (Your response: one of the harder walks, you should be an experienced walker) that Kelly and I looked at each other and rolled our eyes. It was an experience that we will never forget. At the end of each day it was a matter of reflection, “How did I manage to do that?” We saw some fantastic views/flora and fauna, and thoroughly enjoyed your company and guidance.

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Grade: Challenging

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At a Glance

From Price £2295
Holiday Type Walking
Duration 12 Days
Group Size 10
Minimum Age 17
Maximum Altitude 2921m
Countries Visited France, Switzerland
Meet In Chamonix, France
View all Walking Holidays

Classic Haute Route: Chamonix to Zermatt