Walker's Haute Route
14 stages . 15 nights . French Haute Savoie and Swiss Valais
The Pigne d'Arolla on the Walker's Haute Route
Walker's Haute Route
Walker's Haute Route
14 stages . 15 nights

Walker's Haute Route
Self-guided walking holiday


Key information

Start: Chamonix in France
End: Zermatt in Switzerland
Season dates: 15 July to 15 Sept 2024 and 14 July to 18 Sept 2025
Length: 14 days' walking
Typical walk: 14km, 1,050m ascent
Total distance: 221km or 137 miles
Highest altitude: 2,987m
Grade: Black 4 (Walking grades)
Group size: 2 or more trekkers

From GBP 2,390 per person


The Walker’s Haute Route from Chamonix to Zermatt is one of the most challenging and thrilling long distance treks in Europe. The dramatic route takes you over rugged passes, with splendid mountain views, and through pretty Alpine towns and villages. From Mont Blanc to the Matterhorn you’ll experience a wide variety of Alpine hiking up to the top-end of difficulty on an Alpine trek.

The Walker’s Haute Route starts in the French mountain town of Chamonix, in the shadow of Mont Blanc. Our first stage stays near Chamonix, ending in Argentiere, to see Lac Blanc and gain views of Mont Blanc. Once in Switzerland the route takes to a steady routine of climbing to a high col each day before dropping into the next verdant valley and your home for the night. The views are expansive and the walking is some of the finest in the Alps. The final stage into Zermatt is one of superlatives. Zermatt itself is magical, just below the Matterhorn and the start point of many a mountaineering story. Our classic 14-stage schedule stays in 4 mountain huts adding the essential Alpine character to your trip.

Our routecards follow the recognised Walker’s Haute Route (Chamonix to Zermatt) trail, with some optional variants. Being a self-guided holiday, you're free to complete the walks as you choose: we book accommodation and provide you with our detailed routecards and maps, and then 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 - walk the trail with one of our leaders
Haute Route West - 7 stages, 8 nights, from Chamonix
Haute Route East - 7 stages, 8 nights, into Zermatt
Map
Options
The most popular trip is our 14-stage option, but the choice and spacing of accommodation along the way allows for some varying trip lengths. We offer the options below and we welcome you to ask if you would like more details about a bespoke itinerary.

Make the trip longer
Extending the trip to 15 or 16 stages is a great option, if you'd prefer a slightly less challenging pace or would like to spend a little more time in the mountains. An extra night can be added at Cabane des Dix between Cabane du Prafleuri and Arolla on the Western section of the trail, thus breaking up a long stage (and making it 5 huts). Or, add a night at the historic Hotel Weisshorn or at Cabane Bella Tola, between Zinal and Gruben on the Eastern half. These additions make for shorter days either side, but are excellent options for extending your trip. Please ask us for more details.

Make the trip shorter
Our classic 14-stage trek can be made quicker for strong hikers, by skipping sections or combining days together. We emphasise, however, that our normal Walker’s Haute Route is already the most challenging trek that we offer by some way, and its difficulty is not to be underestimated. Therefore 14 stages is a good length for the majority of hikers.

For those with extensive trekking experience and who are fit and strong walkers, it's possible to combine stages, either by walking from Chamonix to Trient in a single long first stage, or walking direct from La Sage to Zinal later on in the trail (missing Cabane de Moiry). These are exceptionally long days, both over 25km with roughly 1500m of ascent and descent, so the challenge is considerable.

If you're happy with skipping a few short sections of trail, it's feasible to use public transport to shorten the trip. For example, you may wish to skip the long ascent from Le Chable to Cabane du Mont Fort using the Ruinettes cable car, walking from Champex to Cabane du Mont Fort in a day. It's also possible to skip our first stage by taking the bus or train from Chamonix to Argentiere.

A final option would be to walk from St Niklaus to Zermatt through the valley in a single day, skipping the Europaweg. Even shorter schedules are also possible, but at a cost to the evenness of the stages, and they will often miss parts of the route in order to achieve this.

Other options
The Walker's Haute Route is quite loosely defined, and while our usual 14-stage itinerary is our preferred way of approaching the route from Chamonix to Zermatt, we're more than happy to look into arranging your preferred itinerary if you'd prefer a slightly different approach. For example, some guidebooks start the route from Argentiere rather than Chamonix, or hike via Grimentz and Hotel Weisshorn instead of Cabane de Moiry. We're more than happy to accommodate either of these options - just let us know what your preferred itinerary would be!

Already hiked the TMB?
The first three stages of the Haute Route coincide with the famous and popular Tour du Mont Blanc, albeit in the opposite direction. If you have already walked the Tour du Mont Blanc, you may wish to start your Haute Route trip from Le Chable; this skips the 3 stages shared by these two famous routes, and the short valley stage between Champex and Le Chable.

We can also tailor a trip to fit the exact length of time that you have available for your holiday. For one week, we like to offer our 7-stage Haute Route West (Chamonix to Arolla) and Haute Route East (Arolla to Zermatt), which are superb trips in their own right.

Add a rest day
The full Walkers Haute Route has two relatively easy valley days (Champex to Le Chable and Arolla to La Sage) which reduce the need for full rest days. However, rest days can be added and are much appreciated by some clients. For one rest day we suggest peaceful Arolla, half-way. For two rest days, we like Champex then Zinal, two of the bigger villages and spaced at thirds. We can also add additional nights in Chamonix and Zermatt, to give time to see these two bustling Alpine towns. Please ask us about the options.

Hike with a leader
Hike with confidence in the company of Alpine Exploratory's 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 about a private guided trip or view our scheduled guided trips.
2024 Prices
Walker's Haute Route
15 July to 15 Sept 2024
Hutty Classic Comfy
Self-guided
10 stages
(11 nights - starting from Le Chable)

GBP 1,790
Singles 185
GBP 2,065
Singles 350
GBP 2,255
Singles 450
13 stages
(14 nights)

GBP 1,995
Singles 245
GBP 2,315
Singles 440
GBP 2,530
Singles 630
14 stages
(15 nights)

GBP 2,070
Singles 245
GBP 2,390
Singles 470
Main Trip
GBP 2,630
Singles 680
14 stages
1 rest day
(16 nights)
GBP 2,155
Singles 280
GBP 2,475
Singles 505
GBP 2,740
Singles 735
Customised schedules
Please contact us for a quote!
Guided
Scheduled guided trips Please see our Walker's Haute Route Guided page for full details.
Options
Baggage transfer
Please ask us

2025 Prices
Walker's Haute Route
14 July to 18 Sept 2025
Hutty Classic Comfy
Self-guided
10 stages
(11 nights - starting from Le Chable)

GBP 1,890
Singles 185
GBP 2,165
Singles 350
GBP 2,355
Singles 450
14 stages
(15 nights)

GBP 2,170
Singles 245
GBP 2,490
Singles 470
Main Trip
GBP 2,730
Singles 680
14 stages
1 rest day
(16 nights)
GBP 2,255
Singles 280
GBP 2,575
Singles 505
GBP 2,840
Singles 735
Customised schedules
Please contact us for a quote!
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 broad taste of the hospitality on offer in the French and Swiss Alps. We mix good family-run hotels in the towns and villages with auberges and huts that fit the route. As standard our Walker’s Haute Route has 4 nights in huts, 2 nights in auberges (similar to a guesthouse or simple hotel, with shared facilities and a mix of private and dormitory accommodation) and the remaining 10 nights in 2* and 3* hotels.

Hut accommodation options
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 remote locations. The size of dormitories at the huts varies, and two of the huts have a small number of smaller shared rooms, normally sleeping either 4 or 6 people; we aim to book these smaller shared rooms if they are available.
If you'd like more nights sleeping high in the mountains, it's possible for us to include extra nights at Cabane des Dix (between Prafleuri and Arolla) or Cabane Bella Tola (between Zinal and Gruben). We are also happy to book your accommodation at the friendly Cabane de Louvie instead of Cabane du Mont Fort, meaning you would take a slightly different route on stage 5. Please ask us for more details about these options.

Comfy
Our 'comfy' trip adds a touch of luxury, upgrading your hotels on 7 nights - you'll stay in a mix of 3 and 4* hotels. As part of this, we swap our 'classic' hotel in Le Chable for a night in the Swiss resort of Verbier, linked by cable car. We also swap our 'classic' hotel in St Niklaus for a comfier option in nearby Grachen, a pretty village up the hillside only a short bus ride away. Our 'comfy' trip still stays in 4 huts and 2 auberges - the remote nature of the Haute Route means that opportunities to upgrade your accommodation on these nights are limited.

Hutty
Our Hutty mix of accommodation swaps your hotel night in Argentiere for an auberge in Tre-le-Champ, and we would book more basic hotels on the remaining nights, mostly in 2* hotels. On a Hutty trip we book dormitory accommodation in the auberges as the norm. We have come to know some buzzing, friendly options at all levels.

Can I avoid dormitories?
The spacing of accommodation on the Haute Route, and the lack of private rooms at the huts on the route, means that travel off-route (and, sometimes, extra hiking) is needed to avoid dormitories altogther. We see the huts as a key part of the Haute Route experience, but are happy to suggest ways to minimise nights in shared accommodation. Please contact us if you'd like to explore options.

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. 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 cosy Hotel de la Sage
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
Our trip gives a complete journey on foot from Chamonix to Zermatt (Mont Blanc to the Matterhorn), walking every step of the Walker’s Haute Route. The route itself is often loosely defined and there are no official waymarks, but the signposting in the Swiss mountains is generally excellent. The Haute Route offers a number of variants and optional additions, all described in full in our routecards, allowing you to make the journey your own. Where the trail splits, we recommend routes via the Fenetre d'Arpette, Col Termin, Col du Tsate, the Forcletta and the Europaweg, but our routecards describe alternative routes too.

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 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 mountain passes. The most challenging stages are along the Europaweg into Zermatt, due to the loose and exposed nature of the trail, and along the stage from Cabane du Mont Fort to Cabane de Prafleuri, which is particularly rocky with some tough route finding. On a standard day you climb from the valley bottom up to a high col, before dropping down to the next valley in the afternoon.

Is it for me?
The Haute Route is a fine trek with a fantastic mix of high mountain passes and pretty trails in the valleys. It’s manageable for the fittest mountain walkers who are happy to walk for between 6 and 9 hours - or more - per day along a long-distance trail. Unusually even for an Alpine trek at this level, some of the mountain passes are particularly steep, loose and rocky, calling for good prior mountain experience and steady balance. If you are considering this route as your first Alpine hiking route, we would recommend you consider tackling something a little less challenging first, such as the Alta Via 1 or the Tour du Mont Blanc.

Map and compass skills are also essential for safe navigation in poor weather. It will greatly help your enjoyment of the trek to arrive fit at the start, used to walks of similar distance and height gain to those that you are about to face.

Difficulty
The Walker's Haute Route is first and foremost a walk, but it is essential to note that it is graded a Black4 and is at the very top end of difficulty in terms of Alpine trekking. The difficulty of the terrain is often underestimated and previous hiking experience in mountainous regions is essential. There is no glacier walking and there is no rock climbing. There are however some sections where the path crosses exceptionally rocky and steep ground. Our main route finishes on the Europaweg into Zermatt which presents loose and exposed hillsides, boulder fields, and navigational challenges. Please contact us and we'll be happy to describe these spots in more detail.

Most of the challenge to many hikers comes not in the terrain underfoot, but in the consistently big ascents and descents every day, for 14 consecutive days. A good degree of stamina and fitness is therefore very important. In poor visibility, there are sections that can be difficult to navigate, particularly on rocky and remote terrain. It is essential for all parties on the Haute Route to have at least one competent navigator with a map and compass.

Although graded a Black4, there are a few ways to make some of the stages a little easier. For example, the final 2 stages along the Europaweg can be merged into one easy day by taking the valley route. Please ask us for details about the various difficulties along the route and we can advise.

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 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 to either Zurich or Geneva. For most Haute Route hikers, Geneva will work well both in and out.

Since 2005 Alpine Exploratory has made it its business to explore widely in the countries of our hikes, and Switzerland is one of our favourite to travel around. The Swiss trains really do work, steaming into stations right on time and offering - normally - masses of space. Timetables are easy to work out. We have come to know the biggest Swiss cities very well and we love to suggest Bern for clients with time to explore. Our notes show how to reach all the airports including Basel.

A Swiss rail pass giving half-price tickets once bought, is not worthwhile for the Haute Route given the amount of hiking as opposed to travel. If you will be traveling around Switzerland after the trip, then an extensive week of trains can make a pass worthwhile, but generally it's hard to rack up enough trains to pay for the pass. We can advise.

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 at the huts and auberges, and some of the hotels (8 nights)
  • Detailed Routecards HRT1-14 of the Exploratory system, printed on waterproof paper
  • The 2 Swiss topographical maps needed, showing the whole 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 8 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?
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.


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Walker's Haute Route Self-guided

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The Alpine Exploratory Team
The Alpine Exploratory team in Edinburgh

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Approaching Col du Tsate on the Walker's Haute Route
  Beautiful mountain reflections on the approach to the Col de Tsate    Photos from the Walker's Haute Route


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