+ Trek the full route from Chamonix to Zermatt
+ Be led by an expert leader, an IML
+ Join our scheduled treks or come as a private group
Latest news October 2019
Our 2020 dates and prices are up! Availability is great at this early point. Please ask us about a trip - thank you.
This holiday completes the Walker's Haute Route, a major Alpine trek from Chamonix to Zermatt... Mont Blanc to the Matterhorn. The group is guided throughout by one of our fabulous International Mountain Leaders (IMLs).
The Walker's Haute Route is purely a trekking route, needing no rock climbing or technical skills. However, it is at the most challenging end of the spectrum as far as Alpine treks go. We cross a series of passes at nearly 3,000m, meaning much climbing and much rugged wild terrain. The ground is often steep and loose.
The Walker's version of the Haute Route is distinct from the Classic Haute Route, which travels over glaciers and is often made as a ski tour in Spring.
Over the trek you'll sample a variety of accommodation, generally at quite a comfortable level. Our mix includes great hotels, auberges and mountain huts (often called cabanes in these mountains).
HRTg Walker's Haute Route (Guided)
19 July to 18 September 2020
Prices in GBP
|Scheduled guided trips|
|Private trips only||
|Private trips only|
|Private guided trips|
All stops except huts
Here is our normal schedule of 13 stages:
Arrival day: Arrive in Chamonix
Your trip starts on arriving at your hotel in Chamonix. This is a bustling Alpine centre as trekkers, mountaineers and tourists pass through. The group dines out in the town centre.
Hotel in Chamonix
Stage 1: Chamonix to Argentiere
Red3 grade, 15.5km with 1340m ascent, 1120m descent
Our aim is Argentiere higher up the Chamonix valley, and to reach it we take in one of the area's most impressive spots: the high mountain lake of Lac Blanc. It's a shame to rush out of Chamonix! (A gentler valley alternative goes via Les Bois.)
Hotel in Argentiere
Stage 2: Argentiere to Trient
Red3 grade, 15km with 1180m ascent, 1130m descent
Climb the first pass of the route, Col de Balme, via the ridge of the Aiguillette des Possettes. The col is one of the easier ones on the Haute Route and is the border with Switzerland. We are in Switzerland for the rest of the trek.
Auberge in Trient
Stage 3: Trient to Champex
Black3 grade, 14km with 1380m ascent, 1190m descent
One of the most challenging passes, the Fenetre d'Arpette (2,665m), is on today's stage. There are higher passes to come, but few as rocky and steep. Descend for a night in the quiet resort of Champex with its lake. (A less challenging yet still unusually scenic alternative goes via the Bovine alp.)
Hotel in Champex
Stage 4: Champex to Le Chable
Blue3 grade, 13km with 260m ascent, 930m descent
There follows a relaxing day's walk through quiet Swiss countryside to Le Chable. Drop to Sembrancher in the valley, a taste of small-town Switzerland, then walk steadily up to Le Chable. This is a gentle day as an interlude before the three tough days to come.
Hotel in Le Chable
Stage 5: Le Chable to Cabane de Louvie
Red3 grade, 15km with 1470m ascent, 150m descent
After a valley walk to Fionnay we settle into a steady rhythm for this solidly uphill stage, our goal being the charming Louvie hut by its mountain lake. Views widen throughout the day as we gain height. A hearty meal awaits and a first night in the mountains.
Stage 6: Cabane de Louvie to Cabane de Prafleuri
Black3 grade, 8km with 1040m ascent, 640m descent
This remote, rocky stage will be among the trickiest and a challenge for everyone. Boulder-hopping and close navigation are consistent almost from start to finish. It's also quite spectacular. Cross Col de Louvie and Col de Prafleuri, at 2,987m the highest point on the Haute Route, to arrive at the Cabane de Prafleuri.
Stage 7: Cabane de Prafleuri to Arolla
Black3 grade, 15km with 780m ascent and 1400m descent
Perhaps the most consistently awe-inspiring and exhilarating stage of the whole journey to Zermatt, today sees you walk along Lac des Dix, climb up the lateral moraine, cross underneath Glacier de Cheilon and then cross a choice of Pas de Chevres (with ladders) or the very steep Col de Riedmatten. There is a sense of being among high mountains. Dropping to Arolla seems simple after this, on solid paths, albeit at the end of a long day.
Hotel in Arolla
Stage 8: Arolla to La Sage
Red2 grade, 10.5km with 260m ascent, 590m descent
This is an easier valley walk. 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 9: 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.
Stage 10: 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 11: 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.
Auberge in Gruben
Stage 12: Gruben to Grachen
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 brings us to St Niklaus, where we catch the local bus up the hill to Gr�chen, a resort on a sunny shelf.
Hotel in Grachen
Stage 13: Grachen to Zermatt
Black4 grade, 21km with 1440m ascent, 1270m descent
We set off for the last stage by taking a picturesque wooded mid-height route to Mattsand, and thereafter following the valley to Randa and Zermatt. Depending on the current state of the Europaweg and the group's wishes, we might be able to offer some sections of this high-level trail, for example from Randa up to the Europahutte and along, and the stats above assume this hardest option. Arriving in Zermatt is a special experience with the Matterhorn high above. (Time is available to complete the link from St Niklaus to Grachen if you wish.)
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. Congratulations on the Haute Route!
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.
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. Whether joining a scheduled trip or a private trip, 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 our guided trips, which cover the St Niklaus to Zermatt stages in one day instead of two, to choose from the whole range of paths in this area. However, since our first Haute Route season in 2009, the solidity of the Europaweg trail has reduced 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. We will have full details, as every year, after our June and July recces. This does not affect our accommodation plan, and in practice does not affect our choice of routes on this day.
Swiss path gradings in 2020
Paths in Switzerland are undergoing classification as part of a country-wide scheme. Each part of the Haute Route within Switzerland is subject to such changes in nominal grade. Instances have occured of walking paths being given a grade that is beyond the remit of a walk leader (as per our IMLs); if it happens again then we will re-route the trek to cause as little disruption as possible such that your IML can legally lead your group.
Mont Fort area
Beyond Le Chable the Haute Route splits into three paths towards Cabane de Prafleuri, of which a trek led by an IML must take the route via Cabane de Louvie. This is due to the legal classification of the other two paths. Thus for 2020 our guided groups will use the Cabane de Louvie and enter the area from this different angle, in fact a fine approach.
Cabane de Moiry
Due to a re-grading of the ascent path to Cabane de Moiry in 2015, soon corrected, there is a small chance that if there is a recurrence we will have to swap from Cabane de Moiry to the our hotel in the village of Grimentz. We assume the Cabane but if the situation changes we will let you know.
Why Alpine Exploratory for your guided Haute Route?
We trek the full route, missing nothing
On completing this trek you'll have walked every step from Chamonix to Zermatt, a magnificent accomplishment for a trekker. Cable cars, buses and trains are available in places, and the group can use them if needed, but the plan is to trek continuously. Nothing is worth cutting out!
Expert knowledge of the route
The same careful research that goes into our self-guided Haute Routes informs our guided treks too. We keep on top of changes to the route and we place a lot of emphasis on good relations with our hotels and huts. Warm welcomes await.
Flexible, personal planning
As per our general ethos, even on our scheduled guided trips we like to be flexible. Single rooms are no problem, except at huts and some auberges where they're unavailable. (The single supplement takes this into account.) If you'd like extra nights in Chamonix or Zermatt, please just ask us.
Small groups expertly led
Alpine Exploratory follows best practice in the mountains. Our leaders are all International Mountain Leaders and we keep to a maximum group size of 8 clients. The aim is a small, tightly knit group with an engaging leader, completing the Haute Route with safety, proficiency and fun.
About us - more about what makes us tick
Options (for private trips)
If you join us as a private group instead of joining our scheduled treks, then we can adjust your Haute Route in various ways.
+ Add Hotel Weisshorn as a high alternative to Zinal
+ Add the Europaweg to make it 14 stages
+ Shorten the trek to perhaps 11 stages, or add rest days
+ Stay in Grachen as an extra day
+ Favour auberges or huts or up the comfort with our best hotels
Of course, on a private trip you can come on the dates that suit you. Except for the composition of the group and the dates, everything else is the same as on our scheduled Haute Routes.
Walker's Haute Route (Self-guided) - look here for all the options
Our approach to the Haute Route
This guided trek gives a complete journey on foot from Chamonix to Zermatt. Nothing is missed out. No transport is needed and on arriving in Zermatt's town centre you'll have completed the Walker's Haute Route in its entirety, a magnificent achievement. (On some days there is a choice of routes and the possibility of a cable car, so by sticking to the group you might skip some sections.) Standardly our trip has 13 stages. Where the trail splits we try to follow the higher and more scenic alternatives, subject to trail conditions. These change year-to-year on the Haute Route, more than any other of our routes.
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. At one point, Pas de Chevres, there is a long section of steep ladders. (This can be avoided by a very steep and loose alternative path.) However, the Haute Route has no via ferrata or climbing sections and is a trek throughout, albeit a tough one. On the optional Europaweg into Zermatt, some loose and rocky corries need extra care.
How to get there
Your holiday starts in the major French Alpine resort of Chamonix and ends in the Swiss resort of Zermatt. Most Swiss airports work well but perhaps Geneva is the easiest for Chamonix, while Zurich (or Geneva) is the easiest from Zermatt. The transfer is quickest by a minibus service to Chamonix and the superb Swiss trains out of Zermatt.
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.
Key information Summer 2020
Trip name: Walker's Haute Route
Dates Summer 2020
Scheduled trips 2020
Private trips 2020
Please join us any time in our season from
19 July to 18 September 2020
Research Summer 2020
The Matterhorn (Photo gallery)
Alpine Exploratory's service
The Haute Route in the Alps
Find out more
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