- Wonderful views of the Mont Blanc Massif from the Col de Balme
- Enjoying a relaxed picnic lunch in a wildflower filled meadow
- Being part of the camaraderie on the Walker’s Haute Route
- Wandering through the greatest collection of 4000m peaks in the Alps
- Relaxing at your hand picked family hotel after a long day on the trail
Walk the western section of the Walker’s Haute Route from Chamonix to Arolla. Wonderful views of the Mont Blanc Massif and classic Alpine Walking.
The Walker’s Haute Route is an iconic high level walk that links the famous towns of Chamonix and Zermatt. This variation covers the first six days of the trail from Chamonix to Arolla.
Your adventure begins in Chamonix, one of the great mountaineering centres of the world. Initially the Haute Route leads you through the Chamonix Valley from the base of Mont Blanc over the Col de Balme and into Switzerland. Walking through alpine pastures filled with the sound of cow bells your journey takes you to the pretty Lakeside town of Champex and then through increasingly remote and beautiful mountain landscapes via Mont Fort and Prafleuri to Arolla.
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
Argentière to Trient
After breakfast either walk (2h/9km) or 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 Chamonix to Argentière: 9km, 2hrs, 214m ascent.
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
6 nights* accommodation are included in your trip. 4 Nights in 2 and 3 star hotels, 1 nights in auberges (private rooms) 2 nights in mountain refuges (dorms).
We carefully select small friendly establishments that offer great value, food and welcomes.
*Please note: we reserve Cabane de Prafleuri in advance for our
customers, however due to the hut's strict policy, the stay must be paid
for by cash upon arrival by the customer.
Please be aware that twin & double rooms in Switzerland are typically 2 single mattresses side by side in one double bed frame with two separate duvet covers and pillows.
Solo Walkers & Single Rooms
This trip is not available to solo walkers. Single rooms are available on 4 nights if you require single rooms in your party.
6 breakfasts and 5 dinners are included (In Chamonix dinner is not included and in Prafleuri breakfast and dinner are not included- payable locally). 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.
The Walker’s Haute Route is comprehensively way marked at all junctions and by regular paint marks along the trail. We supply you with detailed 1:50 000 Swiss Topo maps, a comprehensive guidebook and personal route cards so the route finding is straightforward.
Experience & Fitness
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 be capable of negotiating challenging terrain. The route can be affected by large snow fields early in the season.
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 Arolla
For general travel planning and information in Switzerland, please go to: www.myswitzerland.com/en-gb/transport-travel/getting-around
From Arolla regular buses via Les Hauderes connect to the railway at Sion. The journey to Geneva Airport takes just over 3h30.
If you wish to return to Chamonix from Zermatt at the end of your trip the journey takes between 4h10 and 5h00.
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 include the Col de Balme, Le Châble to Les Ruinettes. 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.
- 6 nights accommodation (1 night in Prafleuri payable locally)
- 6 Breakfasts
- 5 Dinners (Chamonix and Prafleuri not included)
- Detailed maps, information pack, route notes and guidebook
- Organisational assistance and backup
- Travel insurance (required)
- Overnight, breakfast and dinner at Prafleuri (payable locally)
- Travel to Chamonix and from Arolla
- Lunches (allow 10 to 15 CHF per day)
- Local transfers and ski lifts
- Drinks and snacks
- Personal equipment
- Luggage transfers
- Mountain rescue/emergency assistance
- Additional nights before, during or after the walk
- Single room supplement if required (only available for 4 nights)
How fit do I need to be?
This is a 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. Therefore you must have an excellent level of walking fitness and be capable of negotiating challenging terrain.
Which is the best airport to fly to?
The closest airport is Geneva which is served by flights from throughout Europe and around the world.
How far in advance do I need to book?
We suggest you book as soon as your plans are finalised. You will find up to date availability on our website and we will always try and accommodate your plans.
What personal equipment do I need?
You will need good walking shoes/boots (ideally waterproof), comfortable walking clothes, waterproof jacket and trousers, a light weight sleeping bag, a daypack and hats/gloves etc. Also it is best to take a compass and altimeter. A detailed kit list is included in your information pack.
When is the best time of year?
The season for the Walkers Haute Route runs from mid July to the beginning of September. The trail could still be affected by snow in late July, in which case your tour would need to be rescheduled or cancelled.