Your Walker’s Haute Route begins in Chamonix, the centre of mountaineering in the French Alps and always a hive of activity. If you arrive early you may wish to walk the first section of the route to Argentière or take the cable car up to the summit of the Aiguille du Midi with views over Mont Blanc and into France, Switzerland and Italy.
Chamonix is easily accessible via numerous shuttles, buses and trains from Geneva Airport.
Overnight: Chamonix Hotel
Optional walk Chamonix to Argentière: 9km, 2hrs, 214m ascent.
Argentière to Trient
After breakfast take the free shuttle bus to Argentière, where you begin your ascent to the Col de Balme, which marks the Swiss border and rewards with panoramic views of the Mont Blanc massif including the Mer de Glace, Trient and Argentière glaciers.
From the Col de Balme you descend into the Valley of Trient, which is pretty, green and pastoral. This part of the route is shared with the Tour de Mont Blanc.
Walk Argentière to Trient: 12km, 950m Ascent, 925m Descent, 5 – 5.5 Hours
Overnight: Trient Auberge (private room)
Trient to Champex
Today you can look forward to a truly amazing day of walking over the Fenêtre d’Arpette (2665m). It is a very demanding but rewarding climb parallel to the frozen cascades of the Glacier du Trient. The descent into the green meadows of the Val d’Arpette passes steams, mountain meadows and broad leaf woods. There is an easier variation via Alp Bovine in case of poor weather or for a gentler start to your trek.
Champex is a lakeside village filled with attractive chalets and colourful flower boxes.
Walk via Fenêtre d’Arpette: 14km, 1400m Ascent, 1200m Descent, 6.5—7.5 hours.
Walk via Alp Bovine: 16km, 930m ascent, 710m descent, 5.5 hours.
Overnight: Champex Hotel
Champex to Le Châble
Leaving Champex the trail becomes as you leave the Tour du Mont Blanc. Your day begins with a gentle descent into the Orsiére Valley through small Swiss farming communities, such as Sembrancher, an attractive stone-walled village. This is an easy day ends at the valley capital of Le Châble.
Walk: 13km, 105m ascent, 750m descent, 3.5 - 4 hours
Overnight: Le Châble Hotel
Le Châble to Cabane du Mont Fort
From Le Châble you can choose either a long ascent through forests and villages, bypassing Verbier to the superbly situated Cabane du Mont Fort.
Alternatively you can skip most of the ascent taking the télépherique to Les Ruinettes, which is only an hour’s walk from Cabane du Mont Fort. (if you plan to take the cable-car we suggest combining day 4&5).
Walk: 9km, 1640m ascent, 50m descent, 6-6.5 hours
Overnight: Cabane du Mont Fort
Walk to Cabane du Prafleuri
Once you leave Mont Fort you are committed to two days of challenging trekking, which is consistently at a high level and can be affected by snow early in the season.
You can look forward to a varied and interesting day of waling in superb mountain scenery. The vast panoramas of the Combin Massif are a highlight as you cross the Col de Louvie and Col de Prafleuri to the refuge at Col de Prafleuri.
Walk: 14km, 900m Ascent, 750m Descent, 6-6.5 Hours.
Overnight: Cabane Prafleuri, Prafleuri
Please note: We reserve Cabane de Prafleuri in advance for our customers, however due to the hut’s policy, the stay must be paid for by cash upon arrival by the customer.
Cabane du Prafleuri to Arolla
Leaving the refuge and make your way up to the Col de Roux. The Val de Dix lies before you; green pasturelands and big mountains centred on the turquoise Lac Dix.
Mountain lovers will be in their element today as you cross two mountain passes and traverse some challenging sections en route to the narrow notch of Col de Riedmatten. From here descend into a valley of grassland where the route curves east and down into Arolla, a small mountaineering and walking centre.
Walk: 16km, 735m Ascent, 1350m Descent, 6.5 Hours
Overnight: Arolla Hotel
Arolla to Les Haudères/La Sage
After a couple of tough mountain days you can look forward to an easier day of valley walking. You walk by way of Lac Bleu with exquisite views when you take a backward glance. Pass the tiny hamlet of Louché before the path forks and you descend into La Gouille. From here take a wooded path to Les Haudères, an unspoilt Valsaisian village. A further hour and 200m as ascent brings you to the hamlet of La Sage.
Walk: 10km, 215m Ascent, 550m Descent, 4 Hours
Overnight: La Sage (or Les Haudères) Hotel
La Sage to Barrage de Moiry/Grimentz
Here we have chosen to take the alternative route over the Col du Torrent to the Barrage de Moiry and gorgeous village of Grimentz. The views on the way up to the col are particularly lovely. When you reach the dam you can either walk or take the bus down to Grimentz.
Walk: 10km, 1250m ascent, 670m descent, 5 hours
Overnight: Grimentz Hotel
ALTERNATIVE DAY 9:
La Sage to Cabane de Moiry
If you would prefer to stick to the “official route” of the Walkers Haute Route then your route heads up and over the Col du Tsate to the spectacularly located Cabane de Moiry, which enjoys a head on view of the Moiry icefall. Although a tougher walk this alternative is a better option for purists who want to spend more time in the high mountains.
Walk: 10km, 1617m ascent, 460m descent, 5 - 5.5hrs
Overnight: Cabane de Moiry (Dormitory)
Barrage de Moiry/Grimentz to Zinal
You have two choices today. Either catch the bus back up to the Barrage de Moiry to re-join the Haute Route and climb over the Col de Sorebois before descending into Zinal. (cable car available) Alternatively I would recommend following the route of the Tour d’ Val de Anniviers, which contours through the forested slopes of the Corne de Sorebois to Zinal.
Walk: 8km, 600m ascent, 1200m descent, 4 - 4.5hours
Overnight: Zinal Hotel
ALTERNATIVE DAY 10:
Cabane de Moiry to Zinal
Leaving the high alpine splendour surrounding Cabane de Moiry the trail contours through high alpine meadows above the blue green waters of the Barrage de Moiry before crossing the Col de Sorebois and descending steeply to Zinal. The final steep descent can be avoided using a cable car.
Walk: 14km, 5 - 5.5 hours, 465m ascent, 1610m descent.
Overnight: Zinal Hotel
Zinal to Gruben
Your day begins by climbing through forests and alpine meadows to Col de Forcletta before descending into the Turmanntal and to the hamlet of Gruben.
Walk: 14km, 1200m ascent, 1050m descent, 5.5-6 Hours.
Overnight: Gruben Hotel
Gruben to St Niklaus
Your day begins with a climb to cross the Augustbordpass, which links the Turmanntal with the Mattertal and has been used since the Middle Ages as a trading route.
The climb is worth the effort as this is the last major pass on the Haute Route and the views are as spectacular as ever. The descent brings you to Jurgen, a tiny traditional hamlet of wooden chalets clinging to the mountainside above St Niklaus. Purists can tackle the steep descent to St Niklaus but most will opt for the cable car.
Walk: 16km, 1100m ascent, 1800m descent (1000m if taking the cable car), 6.5 - 7 hours.
Overnight: St Niklaus
DAY 13: Bus to Gasenreid, walk to Europa Hut
For your final two days of walking on the Haute Route you follow the Europaweg, a high level mountain route to Zermatt.
The climbs are steep and the going can be tough and exposed. But with views of the Bernese Alps and the Grosser Aletschgeltscher, Pass Mattsand, Herbruggen and Breitmatten it’s a fitting end to the Haute Route.
The Europaweg can be unsafe in poor weather in which case there is a low level alternative on the valley floor. If you think you would prefer not to take on the Europaweg, contact us for an alternative itinerary.
Walk: 14km, 1131m ascent, 570m descent, 5.5 - 6.5 hours.
Overnight: Europa Hut
DAY 14: Europa Hut to Zermatt
From Randa make your way to Tasch and join the Europaweg at 1930m. This high balcony path follows the Zermatt valley and it is here where you finally have a magnificent view of the Matterhorn and Zermatt, your final destination. You will also be walking across the Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge, the longest hanging bridge in the world at just under half a kilometer in length!
Located at the foot of the Matterhorn Zermatt is one of the great mountaineering and winter sports centres in the Alps. A beautifully preserved old town, mountain railways, cable cars and wonderful walking will tempt you to spend a few more days.
Walk: 18km, 348m ascent, 962m descent, 6.5 - 7.5 hours.Overnight:
DAY 15: Onward Travel
Everything about car free Zermatt is a delight. Wander the narrow streets of the old town, walk up to the village of Zmutt for close up views of the Matterhorn or take the cable car to the glacier at Kleine Matterhorn. If time permits, we recommend taking an extra night or two in Zermatt. If you are not staying longer in Zermatt you can connect by train to Geneva(4h00) and Zurich (3h30).
You can start your Walker’s Haute Route anytime between mid July and the beginning of September.
Solo Walkers & Single Rooms
This trip is not available to solo walkers. Single rooms are available on 11 nights if you require single rooms in your party but there is a supplement payable.
14 breakfasts and 11 dinners are included ( Chamonix, Prafleuri & Zermatt not included). Packed lunches are available from your accommodation (order the night before) or you can stop on the way. Allow about 10 - 15 CHF per day for lunch. Drinks are not included but available at all overnight accommodation.
Due to the remoteness of many of the overnight stops, bag transfer is not available. You will therefore need to carry your kit with you each day. You will need to bring a sleeping bag liner for when staying in dormitory-style accommodation. Bedlinen is provided when staying in private rooms. If you have excess baggage with you, it is possible to send this from Geneva ahead of you to Zermatt by train. For more information, please have a look here.
The Walker’s Haute Route follows well-marked trails, although generally it is not marked as the WHR but rather to the next destination. The trail marking in Switzerland is particularly good. We supply you with detailed 1:50 000 Swiss Topo maps, a comprehensive guidebook and route suggestions for each day.
You will need to use your own experience to decide which route to choose each day and navigate the route from one overnight stop to the next. The Walker’s Haute Route does cross high mountain passes, snow can lie on the ground late into the summer and the weather can change quickly, with snow possible at any time of year. You should be able to navigate with a map and compass in poor visibility and be experienced in the mountains.
Experience & Fitness
The Walker’s Haute Route is a tough trek with considerable ascent and descent on each day. We have rated this tour strenuous. This is a challenging high mountain trek and the weather can be poor so you should have previous high mountain experience and good navigation and mountain skills. As this is a self-guided trek you will be responsible for navigation, decision making and safety during your trip. The daily height gain is substantial and over the course of 13 days of walking you will gain approximately 12,000m. Therefore, you must have an excellent level of walking fitness and can negotiate challenging terrain. The route can be affected by large snowfields on the highest passes early and late season.
The terrain is mountainous, exposed, rocky and rough underfoot. There are several sections that include the use of fixed ropes and handrails to aid ascent/descent over particularly tricky sections.
Our pre-departure information pack (and the supplied guidebook) have detailed advice and a kit list on what to take on the Walker’s Haute Route. This includes warm and waterproof gear, hats and gloves, a sleeping sheet and lots of other useful bits and bobs. Walking poles are recommended as the WHR is tough on the knees.
It is a requirement of booking this tour with Macs Adventure that you have suitable travel insurance which covers you for the activity, emergency evacuation and hospital care.
Getting to Chamonix
By Air: Geneva is the best airport for the Chamonix. To get from Geneva to Chamonix you can catch a train or bus but the best option is a pre-booked shuttle. Chamexpress or Mountain Dropoffs are both good and cost around €30 each way.
By Rail: TGV to Saint-Gervais-Le Fayet and from here catch a regular train to Chamonix. More information on train times and schedules may be found on www.voyages-sncf.com
From Zermatt take a train to Zurich which will take 3-4 hours with one change. You can also return to Geneva if you wish and this train journey takes about 3 hours.
By Road: To get to Chamonix take highway A40-E25 Mont Blanc-Chamonix. More information at www.viamichelin.fr If you wish to return to Chamonix from Zermatt again you can check the Via Michelin website.
Parking: In Chamonix, free parking at the Aiguille du Midi & the parking Planards (Montenvers station).
Getting from Zermatt
From Zermatt regular trains connect to Zurich Airport (3h30) or Geneva Airport (4h00).
If you wish to return to Chamonix from Zermatt at the end of your trip the train takes between 4h37 and 5h11.
Optional ski-lifts and transfers during the walk
You can use ski-lifts/cable cars to skip several of big ascents/descents during the trip. These sections are as follows: Le Châble to Les Ruinettes, above Zinal to Zinal village, and Jungen to St Nicklaus. If you wish to skip a stage completely it may be possible to do so using public transport or taxis. We provide you with a detailed transport guide including alternative transport options and timetables for each section. Ski lifts and optional transfers are not included in the package price.