Walker's Haute Route West
7 stages . 8 nights . French Haute Savoie and Swiss Valais
Sunset outside Cabane du Mont Fort on the Walker's Haute Route
Walker's Haute Route West
Haute Route West
7 stages . 8 nights

Walker's Haute Route West
Self-guided walking holiday


Key information

Start: Chamonix in France
End: Arolla in Switzerland
Season dates: 15 July to 15 Sept 2024 and 14 July to 18 Sept 2025
Length: 7 days' walking
Typical walk: 14km, 1,110m ascent
Total distance: 109km or 68 miles
Highest altitude: 2,987m
Grade: Black 4 (Walking grades)
Group size: 2 or more trekkers

From GBP 1,430 per person


The Walker’s Haute Route West covers the 7-stage section of the full route from Chamonix to Arolla, providing some of the best – yet challenging - trekking in the Alps in just one short week. This hike is slightly harder than its Eastern counterpart but the views more than compensate for your hard work!

This neat 7-stage hike offers spectacular walking through the French and Swiss Alps, with amazing views to some of the highest mountains in the Alps including Mont Blanc and the Grand Combin. The walking is complemented by fine places to stay and great food. Starting in Chamonix, the route climbs to a high balcony path in the Aiguilles Rouges with views across to the Mont Blanc Massif with its jagged peaks and tumbling glaciers. Once in Switzerland, the route crosses the memorable Fenetre d'Arpette pass in all its rocky, dramatic glory, and down to the relaxed lakeside town of Champex. An easier day follows to Le Chable, whereafter the route takes to a higher course with two hut nights, several spectacular cols to cross and finally finishing in the pretty village of Arolla.

Our routecards follow the recognised route for the Walker’s Haute Route, with some optional variants. Being a self-guided holiday, you're free to complete the walks as you choose: we book the accommodation and provide you with our detailed routecards, proper French and Swiss topo maps and plenty of notes. It's up to you to do the walking!


Alternative trip options
Prefer a different style or length of trip? Why not try one of these:
Guided Haute Route West - join a guided group tour
Full Haute Route - 14 stages, 15 nights
Haute Route East - 7 stages, 8 nights
Map
Options
Our popular 7 stage trip follows the Western part of the recognised trail for the Walker's Haute route. The choice of accommodation along the way allows for many variants and trip lengths. We provide some of the options below and welcome you to ask if you would like more details!

Make the trip shorter
For faster hikers, it is possible to walk the Western Section of the trail in just 5 or 6 stages. For example, stronger hikers can walk from Chamonix to Trient in a single long first stage. Even shorter schedules are also possible but will often miss parts of the route in order to achieve this. Please do ask us for further details for our shorter hiking options, but we stress that these are only suitable for the fittest mountain walkers, as even our normal 7-stage trek is a challenging hike.

Make the trip longer
A longer 8-stage trip is possible by adding in an extra hut night at Cabane des Dix, between Cabane de Prafleuri and Arolla. Alternatively, you can add more stages, perhaps finishing your trip in Zinal instead of Arolla. There are lots of options on the route so please let us know your preferences and we can advise.

Additional Rest Days
Although most people walk the 7-stages without a rest day (the easier valley day from Champex to Le Chable acts as a semi rest-day for most), if you would like to add a rest day, we would recommend taking one in Champex. Perhaps of more interest would be a day or two in Chamonix before your trek, where there is a great buzz. 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.
2024 Prices
Walker's Haute Route West
15 July to 15 Sept 2024
Hutty Classic Comfy
Self-guided
6 stages
(7 nights)

GBP 1,150
Singles 140
GBP 1,355
Singles 215
GBP 1,430
Singles 295
7 stages
(8 nights)

GBP 1,215
Singles 140
GBP 1,430
Singles 245
Main Trip
GBP 1,570
Singles 375
7 stages
1 rest day
(9 nights)
GBP 1,300
Singles 175
GBP 1,540
Singles 315
GBP 1,680
Singles 445
Options
Baggage transfer
Please ask us

2025 Prices
Walker's Haute Route West
14 July to 18 Sept 2025
Hutty Classic Comfy
Self-guided
6 stages
(7 nights)

GBP 1,200
Singles 140
GBP 1,405
Singles 215
GBP 1,480
Singles 295
7 stages
(8 nights)

GBP 1,265
Singles 140
GBP 1,480
Singles 245
Main Trip
GBP 1,620
Singles 375
7 stages
1 rest day
(9 nights)
GBP 1,350
Singles 175
GBP 1,590
Singles 315
GBP 1,730
Singles 445
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 insight into the variation of accommodation available when hiking in the Alps. We mix charming family-run hotels in the towns and villages, with the auberges and mountain huts (cabanes) that best fit the route. As standard our Walker’s Haute Route West trip spends 2 nights in huts, 1 night in an auberge and the remaining 5 nights in 2* and 3* hotels.

Typically, we book 2 mountain huts on this trip: Cabane du Mont Fort and Cabane de Prafleuri. Accommodation in mixed-gender dormitory accommodation is the norm in the huts on the Haute Route. These huts are an important part of the route, and offer magnificent views from their remote locations.

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 to you rhike is to select our 'comfy' mix of accommodation, which would upgrade your hotels from 2 or 3* options to 3 and 4*. We book a hotel in Verbier in place of Le Chable on our 'comfy' trips - Verbier can be reached by cable car from Le Chable. Our comfy trip would still stay in the 2 huts as standard - if you'd like to avoid these, please ask us for details of the travel off-route involved.

Hutty
Our Hutty mix of accommodation would swap your hotel night in Argentiere for an auberge in Tre-le-Champ - where shared facilities are the norm - and we would book more basic hotels on the remaining nights, mostly in 2* hotels. Please just ask for more details if you are interested in our Hutty trip. An extra evening meals are included in our hutty trip, making 5 evening meals in total.

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.

Sunset from Cabane du Mont Fort
Sunset from Cabane du Mont Fort
Route
Ladders on stage 7 of the Walker's Haute Route
The ladders on the Pas de Chèvres alternative on stage 7
Our approach to the Walker's Haute Route West
Our trip is a linear journey on foot from Chamonix to Arolla, walking every step of the way. Although there are no 'Haute Route' waymarks to follow, our route follows the recognised Walker’s Haute Route trail with some optional variants. Where the trail splits, we advise on all viable routes and encourage exploration of the high options. We provide you with our detailed routecards (researched and updated every season) and the maps needed so that you can select your route as you go.

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

The Terrain
The Walker's Haute Route West comprises wide tracks through forests, the odd country lane, zig-zagging hillside paths and steep, rocky mountain paths. The route has a wonderful mix of high passes and pastoral valleys giving a delightful variety of walking across the 7 stages. The trek calls for no rock climbing or technical skills but is nevertheless a very tough hike even by the standard of Alpine walks. It’s worth noting that in some places the paths are particularly steep and loose, for example on the Fenetre d’Arpette and on sections of the route just before Arolla, the last 2 stages of which are wild and remote. A standard day would see you climb from the valley bottom up to a high col before dropping back down into the valley in the afternoon.

Is it for me?
The Haute Route West is a fantastic route with non-stop mountain views making the tough walking more than worth it. The route is one of our most challenging hikes due to the combination of distance walked, amount of ascent and descent each day and the rocky and uneven terrain encountered on much of the trail.

This section of the Haute Route would be suitable for the fittest mountain walkers who are happy to walk for between 6 and 9 hours, or more, per day along rocky mountain paths. This hike would best suit those with existing long-distance hiking experience in mountainous terrain and would not be suitable for first-time Alpine hikers. Some of the mountain passes are particularly steep, loose and rocky, calling for good mountain experience, surefootedness and a head for heights. Map and compass skills are also essential for safe navigation in poor weather on this route, especially over the more remote passes where the trail is hard to follow and waymarking is particularly poor.

Difficulty
The Walker's Haute Route West is Graded as a Black 4 and has a number of tough stages with loose and, at times, exposed terrain. Although this is first and foremost a walk, it is essential to note that it is at the very top end of difficulty in terms of Alpine trekking. The difficulty of the terrain is often underestimated and is much steeper and rockier than most people expect. Although there is no glacier walking, snow patches can be expected throughout the walking season on the higher and north facing slopes.

The Haute Route West does have a few sections that are difficult to navigate, if the visibility is poor. The trickiest sections to navigate come on the rockiest and most remote terrain. It is essential for all parties on the Haute Route to have at least one competent navigator with a map and compass.

Walking Guide to Walker's Haute Route - our detailed read
How to get there
Mont Blanc Express between Chamonix and Martigny
Mont Blanc Express between Chamonix and Martigny


Your holiday starts in the major French Alpine resort of Chamonix and ends in the small Swiss village of Arolla. Most Swiss airports work well but Geneva is by far the easiest for Chamonix, while Zurich (or Geneva) is the most convenient from Arolla. The transfer is quickest by a private or shared minibus service to Chamonix. Then from Arolla, take the bus through the Val d'Herens to Sion and join the Swiss rail network to reach either Geneva or Zurich airports.

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 plans.
Included
  • Bespoke accommodation itinerary - tailored to suit your particular requirements
  • Breakfast every morning
  • Dinner on 4 nights (5 on our 'hutty' trips)
  • Detailed Routecards HRT1-7 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 5 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 West?
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 West Self-guided

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The Alpine Exploratory Team
The Alpine Exploratory team in Edinburgh

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Tre le Champ on the Walker's Haute Route
  The pretty village of Tre le Champs at the end of Stage 1    Photos from the Walker's Haute Route


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