Walker's Haute Route East
7 stages . 8 nights . Swiss Valais
Walker's Haute Route East
Haute Route East
7 stages . 8 nights

Walker's Haute Route East
Self-guided walking holiday


Key information

Start: Arolla in Switzerland
End: Zermatt in Switzerland
Season dates: 15 July to 15 Sept 2024
Length: 7 days' walking
Typical walk: 14km, 1,010m ascent
Total distance: 112km or 70 miles
Highest altitude: 2,916m
Grade: Black 4 (Walking grades)
Group size: 2 or more trekkers

From GBP 1,470 per person

The Walker’s Haute Route East covers the Eastern part of the route from Arolla to Zermatt in 7 days. Hiking among some of the highest mountains of the Alps, this is a tough yet exhilarating week-long trip in the Swiss Alps and has something for everyone; high mountains, pretty Alpine villages and tasty food. We consider this part of the trail to be slightly easier than its Western counterpart.

After a relaxed first valley stage from Arolla to La Sage, the route then takes to the high passes with 4 main stages, each with a new mountain pass to cross, before finishing with the 2-day Europaweg traverse high above Zermatt’s main valley. En route, you will stay at the high huts of Cabane du Moiry and the Europahutte which offer a unique Alpine experience with outstanding views of glaciers and snowy peaks. The passes on this part of the route are high, typically 2,800m or 2,900m, making for a lot of climbing. But the views more than compensate for this, as does your stay in magical Zermatt at the very end!

Our routecards follow the Eastern part of the Walker’s Haute Route, with some optional variants. Being a self-guided holiday, you're free to complete the walk as you choose: we book accommodation and provide you with our detailed routecards and maps for the route, and then it's up to you to do the walking!


Map

Alternative trip options
Prefer a different style or length of trip? Why not try one of these:
Guided Haute Route - walk with one of our guides
Haute Route West - 7 stages, 8 nights
Full Haute Route - 14 stages, 15 nights
Options
This Eastern half has many variations possible - more so than the Western half. We provide some of the options below and welcome you to ask if you would like more details or a bespoke itinerary!

Make the trip shorter
For faster hikers, it is possible to walk the Eastern section of the trail in just 5 or 6 stages. For example, stronger hikers can walk from La Sage to Zinal in a single day (missing Cabane de Moiry). Even shorter schedules are also doable but will often miss parts of the route. Another possibility is to walk the final 2 stages of the trip in one day by following the valley route from St Niklaus to Zermatt. Please do ask us for further details for our shorter hiking options.

Make the trip longer
A longer 8-stage trip is possible, by adding an extra night at the historic Hotel Weisshorn or Cabane Bella Tolla between Zinal and Gruben. Alternatively, you can add more stages, perhaps starting your trip in Champex or Le Chable instead. There are lots of options on the route so please let us know your preferences and we can advise.

Add a Rest Day
Most people walk the 7 stages in one go, but if you would like to add in a rest day, we would suggest taking one in Zinal. Of more interest to many is an additional day or two in Zermatt at the end of your trek, to experience the magical feeling of this mountain town. Please do ask us for recommendations.

Hike with a guide
Hike with confidence in the company of our fully qualified International Mountain Leaders (IMLs), with the navigation, accommodation and arrangements taken care of. If your group would like a guide for your trip, please get in touch for more details or view our scheduled guided trips.
Prices
Walker's Haute Route East
15 July to 15 Sept 2024
Hutty Classic Comfy
Self-guided
6 stages
(7 nights)

GBP 1,165
Singles 140
GBP 1,405
Singles 260
GBP 1,545
Singles 360
7 stages
(8 nights)

GBP 1,230
Singles 140
GBP 1,470
Singles 260
Main Trip
GBP 1,610
Singles 360
7 stages
1 rest day
(9 nights)
GBP 1,315
Singles 175
GBP 1,555
Singles 295
GBP 1,720
Singles 415
Guided
Scheduled guided trips Please see our Walker's Haute Route Guided page for full details.
Options
Baggage transfer
Please ask us

Accommodation
Where we stay
Our Classic mix of accommodation aims to give a great flavour of Alpine life. We mix our characterful family-run hotels in towns and villages with auberges and mountain huts. As standard, our Walker’s Haute Route East trip has 2 nights in huts, 1 night in an auberge (similar to a guesthouse or simple hotel, with shared facilities and a mix of private and dormitory accommodation) and then the remainder of nights in 2 and 3* hotels.

Hut accommodation options
As standard, we book 2 mountain huts on this trip; Cabane de Moiry and the Europahutte. At Cabane de Moiry, we have the chance to book small 4-person rooms, and at the Europahutte the smallest rooms available are for 6 people. The huts are an important part of the route and are the natural stopping points at the end of these stages. Although it is tough to avoid shared accommodation entirely, it is possible to swap Cabane du Moiry for a hotel off-route by catching a bus into Grimentz instead of ascending to the hut. Just let us know if you’d prefer this option.

Comfy
As standard our itinerary is quite comfy, using great family-run hotels except where auberges and huts are essential or preferable for an even split of stages. An easy way to add a bit of luxury is to swap your hotel in St Niklaus for a comfier option in Grachen, a pretty village located on a pastoral balcony above St Niklaus. Our 'comfy' trips also upgrade your hotel in Zermatt from 3* to 4*. Our 'comfy' trip would still stay in 2 mountain huts - please do ask us for options if you would prefer to avoid staying in huts altogether.

Hutty
We also offer a 'hutty' mix of accommodation, with more basic hotels and another night in an auberge in La Sage instad of our usual hotel. We book dormitory accommodation here, and at the auberge in Gruben, as standard on our 'hutty' trips. We have come to know some buzzing, friendly options at all levels. Please just ask.

Single Room Supplement
If you would like to stay in single rooms rather than sharing a double, twin or triple room we add our single room supplement. This covers the additional cost of booking single occupancy rooms. The single supplement is only applied to nights where single rooms are available, and is not applied to hut nights which do not offer single rooms. In the auberges, we may be able to book single rooms or if not, we will book the smallest room available.

Solo Travel
We do not take bookings for solo walkers on self-guided trips. If you are still interested in this trip, we do have availability on our guided trips.
Hotel de la Sage
The salon at Hotel de La Sage
Route
Europaweg suspension bridge
The Charles Kuonen suspension bridge on the final stage into Zermatt
Our approach to the Walker's Haute Route East
Our trip follows the recognised route for the Walker’s Haute Route all the way from Arolla to Zermatt, walking every step of the way. There are no 'Haute Route' waymarks to follow, as the route links existing paths together to form an exciting linear journey (with some optional variants) through the Swiss Alps. Where the trail splits, we recommend routes via Col du Tsate, the Forcletta and the Europaweg, but our routecards describe alternative routes as well.

People at Alpine Exploratory
Latest research on the Walker's Haute Route by Alpine Exploratory's Lou.

The Europaweg
In 2019, a rockfall on the first day of the famous Europaweg trail into Zermatt forced a major diversion. The trail has been re-routed since 2021, and this new route leads from St Niklaus steeply uphill to Gasenried, before returning to the valley at Herbriggen and then climbing back up to the Europahutte, perched on the hillside. From the hut the route can be followed as normal, taking the suspension bridge (the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in the Alps) before a striking traverse along the hillside with views of the Matterhorn.

Between Gasenried and Herbriggen, the new Europaweg is often largely below the treeline and crosses a number of steep and loose rocky gullies, making progress challenging and slow at times. While our routecards still describe the full Europaweg as an option (for purists!), we feel that the extra added effort of hiking this section (around 6km, and 700m of ascent and descent) is not worth the rewards in terms of scenery. As such, our recommended route follows the valley between St Niklaus and Herbriggen before joining the Europaweg here for the ascent to the Europahutte.

As every year, our June and July recces give us the latest information and we advise clients in our Season Update what we think is the best option overall. Please contact us if you would like more specific recommendations about your trip.

The Terrain
The Walker's Haute Route's terrain comprises wide tracks through forests, the odd country lane, zig-zagging hillside paths and steep, rocky mountain paths. The trail passes over high mountain passes (up to almost 3000m) on most days, descending to the valley at the end of the day. In some places the paths are particularly steep and loose, for example on the Europaweg on the final 2 days into Zermatt and on the final ascents to the cols. This is complemented by some lovely sections walking through alpine meadows and magical forests with plenty of places to stop for a drink and a bite to eat, whilst you rest your legs and enjoy the view.

Is it for me?
If you’re looking for a tough multi-day hike in the high mountains with a great mix of pastoral valleys, rocky mountain passes and outstanding views, the Walker’s Haute Route East would be a fine choice. The Haute Route East is suitable for fit mountain walkers who are happy to walk between 6h and 9h or more per day along rocky mountain paths. This hike would best suit those with existing long-distance hiking experience in mountainous terrain. Unusually for an Alpine trek, some of the mountain passes are quite steep, loose and rocky, in particular the last 2 stages of the trip along the Europaweg, an exposed path which tracks high above the Mattertal valley requiring a head for heights and confident foot placement.

The Haute Route East does have a few sections that are difficult to navigate if visibility is poor. Map and compass skills are essential for safe navigation in poor weather, especially over the more remote mountain passes where the route is hard to follow and waymarking is particularly poor. Although there is no glacier walking, snow patches can be expected throughout the walking season on the higher and north facing slopes.

Difficulty
The Walker's Haute Route East is first and foremost a walk, but it is essential to note that it is at the very top end of difficulty in terms of Alpine trekking, graded at Black4. The difficulty of the terrain is often underestimated and is much steeper and rockier than most people would expect. There are no sections of climbing or via ferrata, however it is worth being aware that the final 2 stages of the trip follow the Europaweg on exposed and rocky terrain high above the valley with a long suspension bridge on the final day into Zermatt. These last 2 stages are graded Black4 and, if you’d prefer not to walk these sections, it is possible to walk from St Niklaus to Zermatt along the valley in a single day (shortening the trip to 6 stages and 7 nights).

Walking Guide to Walker's Haute Route - our detailed read
How to get there
A train leaving Zermatt for Visp
A train leaving Zermatt for Visp


Your holiday starts in the small Swiss village of Arolla at the head of the Val d'Herens and ends in the Swiss resort of Zermatt in the Mattertal. Most Swiss airports work well but Zurich is the easiest for both, with Geneva a close second. Take trains to Sion for the bus up to Arolla, then from Zermatt go by train all the way.

Travel to and from the trip is not included in the holiday price. We take care to give the most useful notes possible about all the travel options. We supply these both on booking and in your info pack, and we offer personalised tips at any point. The aim is that our trekkers arrange their travel by the simplest and most scenic means as suits their plan.
Included
  • Bespoke accommodation itinerary - tailored to suit your particular requirements
  • Breakfast every morning
  • Dinner on 4 nights
  • Detailed Routecards HRT8-14 of the Exploratory system, printed on waterproof paper
  • 1 topographical map covering the route at 1:50,000
  • Downloadable GPX Tracks covering the route
  • Expert advice and local information
  • A comprehensive 'Season Update' following our pre-season recce
  • Full support during your trip from the Alpine Exploratory team (9am until 9pm in the Alps)
Not included
  • Travel to and from your trip
  • Local transport whilst on the trip unless specified
  • Travel insurance
  • Lunches, snacks, drinks and evening meals in the towns (this would be 4 nights on our main trip)
  • Baggage transfers (available as an extra)

Baggage transfer

We can arrange baggage transfer as an optional extra, to all stops except the huts, but due to the high cost of transferring luggage by road in Switzerland and the environmental impact of the long journeys necessary to carry out baggage transfer in this remote area, we generally recommend that you carry everything you need for the trip on your back if you can. Alternatively there is the possibility to send luggage ahead to Zermatt, or to have a single luggage drop in Arolla in the middle of the trip - please let us know if you'd like more information about these options.
Got questions about the Walker's Haute Route East?
Feel free to ask us any questions you have about any aspects of your planning and preparations! Lucy, Steph, Nicky, Rob, Evie, Ben and Amy will reply with expert advice. We spend a lot of time walking our routes and more broadly exploring ski and hiking trails around the world so do feel free to ask anything at all.


Enquiry Form
Walker's Haute Route East Self-guided

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The Alpine Exploratory Team
The Alpine Exploratory team in Edinburgh

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The Matterhorn from the Europaweg
  The Matterhorn on arrival into Zermatt along the Europaweg    Photos from the Walker's Haute Route


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