(Walker's Haute Route East) A cow above Zinal on the Haute Route
WALKER'S HAUTE ROUTE EAST (SELF-GUIDED)   7 stages . 8 nights . Swiss Valais   Booking

Walker's Haute Route East
Self-guided trekking holiday

+ Walk the Eastern Haute Route stages from Arolla to Zermatt
+ Cross a succession of passes into new mountain worlds
+ Excellent, charming hotels booked for you

Latest news November 2019
Our 2020 dates and prices are up! Availability is great at this early point. Please ask us about a trip - thank you.

Trek the second half of the Walker's Haute Route, from Arolla to Zermatt. It's a week of Alpine walking with spectacular high-mountain scenery.

The Walker's Haute Route is a trekking route, as opposed to the original, Classic Haute Route that takes to the glaciers and is often made as a ski tour. This Eastern section comprises a main stretch of 4 stages each with a new pass to cross, plus an easier valley stage at the start, and finishing with the 2-day Europaweg traverse high above Zermatt's valley. The passes are high, typically 2,800m or 2,900m, making for a lot of climbing. The views compensate for this!

This being a self-guided holiday, you're free to complete the walks as you choose; we book your huts and hotels and give you our detailed routecards for the walking, and then it's up to you to carry out the walks yourself.

We book your accommodation in a mix of friendly hotels, auberges and huts, to give a range of experiences from the simple to the luxurious.


Map showing the route of Alpine Exploratory's Walker's Haute Route East self-guided walking holiday


Alpine Exploratory
HREsg Walker's Haute Route East (Self-guided)
19 July to 18 September 2020
Prices in GBP
per person
Hutty Classic Comfy
Popular schedules
6 stages
(7 nights)

Singles 90
Singles 150
Singles 170
7 stages
(8 nights)

Singles 110
Singles 180
Main HRE
Singles 200
7 stages
1 rest day
(9 nights)
Singles 130
Singles 210
Singles 240
Specialised schedules
5 stages
(6 nights)

Singles 80
Singles 130
Singles 150
Baggage transfer
All stops except huts
Please ask
Baggage transfer


Here is our normal schedule of 7 stages:

Arrival day: Arrive in Arolla
Your trip starts on arriving at your hotel in Arolla. This small village is at the end of the road in Val d'Herens, among high peaks like the Pigne d'Arolla. The hotels offer dinner.
Hotel in Arolla

Stage 1: Arolla to La Sage
Red2 grade, 10.5km with 260m ascent, 590m descent
This is a relatively easy valley walk to start the week. Take in the lush countryside between Arolla and Les Hauderes, typical Valaisian villages. There is an option to see Lac Bleu as a detour. Still in Val d'Herens, finish with a short uphill walk to the hamlet of La Sage.
Hotel in La Sage

Stage 2: La Sage to Cabane de Moiry
Red4 grade, 12km with 1680m ascent, 520m descent
This is a stage of three sections: up, down and up again to Cabane de Moiry. The pass is the Col du Tsate, followed by a long drop to the foot of Glacier de Moiry. At that point we are in the basin near the Lac du Moiry, often a turquise blue in the sun. Our final climb is beside the glacier to Cabane de Moiry, perhaps the best-sited of all our Haute Route huts. Its modern extension offers tall windows over the glacier.
Mountain hut

Stage 3: Cabane de Moiry to Zinal
Red3 grade, 12.5km with 530m ascent, 1680m descent
A traverse and a relatively short climb lead to Col de Sorebois. This is a grassy col overlooking the two upper sections of the Val d'Anniviers. Then we descend, steeply at the end but with a cable car option, to Zinal. Zinal is a village at the head of the valley and has good options for dinner.
Hotel in Zinal

Stage 4: Zinal to Gruben
Red3 grade, 15km with 1250m ascent, 1110m descent
A traversing path gains height from Zinal with long views back to the head of the valley. Higher up, reach the Forcletta pass. We now enter the German-speaking part of the Valais. Gruben is a small village in the quiet Turtmanntal valley. (An alternative is to walk via the Hotel Weisshorn - and a night is possible here too - and cross at the Meidpass, similar in character to the Forcletta.)
Auberge in Gruben

Stage 5: Gruben to St Niklaus
Red3 grade, 13km with 1080m ascent, 1790m descent
The Augstbordpass at 2,893m is the last pass before the valley of Zermatt is reached: the Mattertal. The ascent should feel very manageable, being well-angled and full of interest. Drop to Jungen above the Mattertal valley and with views into its upper reaches but not yet to Zermatt or the Matterhorn themselves. A last descent in woods and you arrive in the valley at St Niklaus. (We offer Grachen as an alternative, a sweet resort on a shelf above the valley.)
Hotel in St Niklaus

Stage 6: St Niklaus to Europahutte
Black4 grade, 12.5km with 1820m ascent, 690m descent
After an initial climb to Gasenried we join the Europaweg, the 2-day trail into Zermatt. The route is a traverse at a high level, crossing rocky combes sometimes on loose ground where rockfalls have occurred. Views to the Matterhorn open up later in the day. Arrive at a fine hut high above the valley.
Mountain hut

Stage 7: Europahutte to Zermatt
Black4 grade, 18.5km with 620m ascent, 1270m descent
Complete the route to Zermatt, again crossing rocky ground but now with the aid of tunnels and shelters in places. An easy high traverse in full view of the Matterhorn takes you to Sunnegga above Zermatt from where you drop steeply via the hamlet Findeln. This last section is a fitting finale to the week. Arrive with time to see Zermatt.
Hotel in Zermatt

Departure day: Depart from Zermatt
Breakfast in Zermatt is a treat. Afterwards, take the train out of the valley and connect to the Swiss network for Zurich or Geneva airports. Please ask us to advise on onward Swiss travel.

Our usual schedule of accommodation might not be available, especially if there is not much time between booking and your trip. We book accommodation as closely as possible to this itinerary and present a schedule for you to check before we proceed.

Baggage transfer

There is not too much to carry on the Walker's Haute Route. As per normal our trips do not include baggage transfer; we carry our own kit throughout. Please ask us about our baggage transfer option. We also advise on sending kit ahead to Zermatt.

The Europaweg in 2019

We were thrilled in 2017 that the Europaweg's suspension bridge re-opened. This allowed the 2-day high-level finish into Zermatt without diversions. However, since our first Haute Route season in 2009 the solidity of the Europaweg trail has been reduced steadily and the risk from rocks overhead has increased.

For 2019, a rockfall on the first day of the Europaweg has forced a big diversion on this stage that is likely to affect trekkers all Summer.

For accommodation on our self-guided trips we recommend to stick to your current plan whether it is two days (the Europaweg) or one day via a choice of routes. As every year, our June and July recces give us the latest and we advise clients in our Season Update.

Alternative routings

This Eastern half has many variations possible - more so than the Western half - which we're pleased to book as follows.

Visit Grimentz
Instead of the Cabane de Moiry, drop to Grimentz which is a pretty Valaisian village. From Grimentz you still reach Zinal the next day, or can walk across Val d'Anniviers to Hotel Weisshorn or Cabane Bella Tola...

Stay high at Hotel Weisshorn or Cabane Bella Tola
Instead of Zinal, clients who prefer to sleep high sometimes opt for the venerable old Hotel Weisshorn in its high position, or Cabane Bella Tola in the same area. Alternatively, instead of substituting these for Zinal, keep Zinal and make them an extra night.

Detour to Grachen
Grachen is a superb village on a sunny shelf above St Niklaus. It's a treat. We can advise on replacing St Niklaus with Grachen, either as an extra night (for a relaxing day) or as a straight swap thanks to our cunning logistics in this area. Please ask us about the ins and outs.

Finish through the Mattertal
Instead of the tough two-day Europaweg finale, walk the Mattertal valley in one day. This is an interesting and modest (compared with what's come before) walk through the valley to Zermatt.

Other variations fit within the day and can be chosen whatever your itinerary, according to how you feel on the day; all variants are described in our routecards.

Alternative starts and pacings

Rest days
The Haute Route East is worth adding a rest day to, and Grimentz, Zinal and Grachen make excellent places for this. Days at the end in Zermatt are always valuable; Zermatt is one of our very favourite Alpine towns with so much going on.

A quicker trek
If 7 stages is too many, we can make it 5 or 6 while still walking the whole route from Arolla to Zermatt. For example, for clients wanting faster treks we have planned a stage direct from La Sage to Zinal bypassing Cabane de Moiry and Grimentz... and the Mattertal valley finish saves a day too. Please ask us to adapt things to your time available.

Alternative accommodation

More comfy?
As standard our itinerary is fairly comfy, using charming hotels except where auberges and huts are essential or preferable. There is only limited scope for upping the comfort levels, but these options start with moving to Grachen. Private rooms at the huts aren't really possible on this stretch, but the huts can be swapped for hotels by using different routes.

More basic?
We can swap hotels for auberges in order to keep things simple - an approach favoured by some of our families and groups of friends. At the extra auberges you can still have private rooms, but to economise further we can book plenty of dorms. We have come to know some buzzing, friendly options at all levels. Please just ask.

The route

Our approach to the Haute Route East
Our trip gives a complete journey on foot from Arolla to Zermatt. No transport is needed along the route. The Haute Route is a loosely defined trail where map and compass skills are needed to supplement any waymarks on the ground. There are no 'Haute Route' waymarks to follow. Where the trail splits we follow routes via Col de Tsate, the Forcletta and the Europaweg, but our routecards describe alternative routes too. This trip of course picks up the Haute Route in Arolla and complements the Western half of the route.

Haute Route terrain comprises wide tracks through forests, the odd country lane, zig-zagging hillside paths and steep, rocky mountain paths. In some places the paths are particularly steep and loose, for example on the final approaches to cols.

The Haute Route has no via ferrata or climbing sections and is a trek throughout, albeit a tough one.

How to get there

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 perhaps Zurich is the easiest for both, with Geneva a close second. Take trains to Sion for the bus up to Arolla, then from Zermatt take trains 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.

Happy clients

"Very good hike notes and instructions."

"Wonderful views of sunrise on the Matterhorn from our bed!"

"The entire itinerary worked perfectly and was just what we wanted. Many thanks."

Sarah de Crespigny, Australia
(Walker's Haute Route East)

Key information Summer 2020

Trip name: Walker's Haute Route East
Guided or self-guided? Self-guided
Trip code: HREsg
Route: The Walker's Haute Route
(Walking guide)
(Prefer Guided or West?)
Group size: Any, from solo trekkers to groups
Length: 7 days' trekking
Start: Arolla in Switzerland
End: Zermatt in Switzerland
Typical walk: 14km, 1010m ascent
Total distance: 95km or 60 miles
Highest altitude: 2,916m
Grade: Black4 (Walking grades)

Prices Summer 2020

7 stages, per person:

HREsg Classic
GBP 1,220 (singles 180)
Walkers Haute Route (self-guided)

Research Summer 2020

Ollie Boyd at Alpine Exploratory Keith Miller at Alpine ExploratoryAlpine Exploratory's 2019 research on the Walker's Haute Route was led by:
Keith Miller in July
Ollie Boyd in July

Recces 2020

Lac de Moiry from the climb to Col de Sorebois
Lac de Moiry (Photo gallery)

Alpine Exploratory's service

8 nights, staying in:
4-star hotel (1)
3-star hotels (2)
Auberges (3)
Mountain huts (2)

Accommodation and itinerary
Breakfasts and 4 evening meals
Expert and unlimited advice
Routecards HRT8-14 of the Exploratory system
Maps and local information

Season for self-guided treks
19 July to 18 September 2020
Trek on your ideal dates

Jungen, a hamlet on a hillside high above St Niklaus
Jungen, a hamlet (Photo gallery)

The Haute Route East in the Alps

Map of the Walker's Haute Route East within the Alps

Our city information included in your info pack:
Geneva, Bern, Lucerne, Basel, Zurich

City breaks after trekking

Find out more

About our walking holidays Our FAQs page covering equipment, weather, insurance and more about how our trips work

Walking guides Our background page on the
    Walker's Haute Route

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Alpine Exploratory
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