Trek the Alps - The Haute Route for Hikers

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Overview

The Alps have long been known as one of the most picturesque mountain playgrounds in the world. This summer Haute Route, or "high route," provides just the right combination of alpine splendor and cultural intrigue. Join us for the trek of a lifetime through the heart of the French and the Swiss Alps and enjoy gourmet meals, rigorous hiking, and vistas you'll not soon forget.

The Matterhorn, just outside of Zermatt.

The Matterhorn, just outside of Zermatt. Aeron Ries

For those seeking a more self-reliant trekking experience we offer a guided 10-day "light-backpacking" itinerary. Our unique highlights are our small groups and focus on a more hands-on experience as you build your trail skills through route finding, map and terrain reading, principles of treading lightly, group decision making, and self-care in the backcountry. To make this a more classic thru-hike feel, you will carry your own pack containing a few days of essentials, such as clothing layers, personal items, toiletries, snacks, lunch and water. You will have access to your extra travel luggage about every third night - where you can swap out clothes or enjoy those luxury items you don't need every day along the trek. You'll gain the art of packing light and experience living minimally between these luggage transfer days. 

As we make the journey from Chamonix, France to Zermatt, Switzerland, you will pass through quaint mountain villages and trek over high mountain passes with jaw-dropping views including some of the highest mountains in Europe - Mont Blanc, Matterhorn, and the Dent Blanche, as well as many more peaks over 14000 feet.  

The Haute Route is easily the best of the Alps.

Trek the Alps - The Haute Route for Hikers

Itinerary

Besides the stunning scenery and the gourmet food, another attractive aspect of this trek is that there is a good amount flexibility from day to day. Often, trekkers can opt to take a cable car or train for part of the day's journey, creating a less-strenuous hike if needed.

10-Day Itinerary Details

Day 1: Arrival in Chamonix
The group meets in the evening in Chamonix for a gear check and a welcome dinner with your guide. Here you will review your itinerary and have any remaining questions answered. 

Day 2: Chamonix to Trient
After our last french breakfast, we will leave Chamonix behind as we begin our adventure. First we will catch a quick, but scenic train ride to Mont Roc. From the station, we will begin our first hike to L'Aiguillette des Posettes and across to the Col de Balme, which is saddled on the border of France and Switzerland. This pass has impressive panoramic views of Mont Blanc. From here, we will descend into the valley village of Trient. 

Day 3: Trient to Champex
This is the first of the more challenging days, though we are immediately rewarded by the ever-intensifying views of the Glacier du Trient. We climb a high pass and descent down into pasture lands, stopping in Arpette for lunch before the last small section into the resort lake village of Champex. 8.5 miles, 4500 feet elevation gain.

Throughout the trek, we hike over pasture lands and through quaint mountain villages.

Throughout the trek, we hike over pasture lands and through quaint mountain villages. Jeff Ries

Day 4: Champex to Mont Fort
This is another very strenuous day, as we gain 5500 feet in 6.5 miles. Optional gondola ride shortens the hike to about 3 miles, 2000 feet elevation gain. We stay in our first alpine hut, high above Verbier with unforgetable scenery. They provide four-course meals and have hot showers. Ibex sightings likely. 

Day 5: Mont Fort to Prafleuri
This is usually our longest day, climbing over three passes and through a national park with many ibex. Expect excellent wildlife viewing. There are no options for gondolas or trains, as we are in high alpine terrain all day away from villages and farms. We will stay at the lively Prafleuri. 10 miles, 3900 feet of elevation gain, 6-8 hours. We will need to carry extra water this day.

Day 6: Prafleuri to La Sage
We start the day by climbing over a pass into a beautiful valley with a gorgeous greenish-blue lake. Here you climb a unique series of ladders, which are permanently affixed to the cliff wall, to ascen over the Pas de Chevres. We are rewarded with views of the Glacier de Cheilon, and we may catch our first, distant view of the Matterhorn. We descend into the cozy, charming village of Arolla and bus to La Sage, where we stay in an elegant (possibly the best) hotel with gourmet food well presented. 10 miles, 2500 feet elevation gain, 5-6 hours.

Haute Trek - The Moiry Glacier as we see it on Day 5.

The Moiry Glacier.  Aeron Ries

Day 7: La Sage to Zinal
It will be hard to leave such a nice setting and hotel, but you won't be disappointed. Possibly the biggest day on our schedule, we begin with a pleasant morning climb over pasture lands leads us to a high pass with great views of snow capped peaks. 4000 feet gain in 3 miles over 3 hours. Views of the Moiry Glacier are stunning from here, and we descend gently to the turquoise blue Moiry reservoir, a great place for picnic or snack before moving on. The last strech will be a climb up to Corne de Sorebois. From here we'll catch a break when we descend via cablecar down into Zinal. 

Day 8: Zinal to Gruben 

This is yet another spectacular, less strenuous day, and we are treated to astonishing views of the Turtmann and Brunegg Glaciers. We will go up and over the Col de Forcletta and descend down to Gruben where we overnight at the Hotel Schwarzhorn and treated to yet another four-course meal. 

Day 9: Grueben to St. Niklaus

We cross the Augstbordpass, savoring the high alpine views and then catch a lift from the hamlet of Jungen which will carry us down into St. Niklaus.

Day 11: St. Niklaus to Zermatt

This a new highlight we've added to our itinerary. Today will will take the train to Randa and walk over the huge and awe-inspiring Randa suspension bridge then walk into Zermatt from here. 

Once in town we will celebrate our adventure with our last dinner together before retiring for the night. 

Post Trip Ideas

Many trekkers will add personal days on to their travel plans to explore the region on their own. Options are unlimited and gondolas and trains can eliminate much of the climbing if you wish to catch views and sights of the French or Swiss Alps. Summer skiing or hang-gliding are also options! A train ride from Zermatt can get you back to Geneva for your next adventure.  

We also offer private climbing options if you would like to expand your adventure. For more information, please visit: Guided Alpine Climbing in the Swiss Alps or Guided Alpine Climbing in the French Alps/Chamonix or Mont Blanc, the Matterhorn, the Eiger

 

Trek the Alps - The Haute Route for Hikers

Cost and Details

Prices are Per Person

10 Day Trek:

  • $2840 - 5+ people
    $3220 - 4 people
    $3760 - 3 people
    $4900 - 2 people

 

Max Ratio - 6:1 (Trekker:Guide)

Capacity - 12

 

Dates

July 22 - July 31, 2020

August 22 - August 31, 2020

Prerequisites

  • Good physical condition
  • Previous hiking experience
  • Ability to hike up to 11 miles in a day
  • Ability to carry your own backpack up to 15 - 20 lbs 

Accommodations

Throughout the trek, we enjoy comfortable accommodations and on most nights, four-course meals. Many nights we stay at small hotels in the villages we pass through, though some nights we sleep in alpine huts with dorm-style sleeping arrangements. Dinner is includeed on arrival day. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are included on all other days unless participants choose lodging outside the typical program arrangements. We'll also make stops at local bakeries, cafes, and markets to pick up treats and snack items along the way. 

This itinerary also includes three luggage transfers where your extra travel luggage will be forwarded ahead of you and be awaiting your arrival. These will be on Day 3 - Champex, Day 7 - Zinal, and Day 10 - Zermatt.  Each day you will carry the essential items you will need for the few days and nights in between these transfers.  

Trek the Alps - The Haute Route for Hikers

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