Haute Route, Chamonix-Zermatt
March 24-30, 2024
Haute Route, Chamonix-Zermatt
Deservedly the most historic hut to hut ski traverses in the world...
The original multi-day ski traverse between Chamonix and Zermatt. Experience the merging of mountain beauty and culture, this popular tour offers fantastic ski ascents and descents on high elevation glaciated terrain while staying in cozy mountain huts.
This classic tour is a great introduction to ski touring in the Alps. The Haute Route is a 7-day ski touring program best done in March & April.
Below is a sample itinerary for both the “Regular” and the “Classic” Haute Route from Chamonix to Zermatt. The regular haute route travels through Verbier and is slightly less technical than the classic itinerary. The later route travels through Valsorey and the “Plateau du Couloir” on the south side of Grand Combin, it involves more mountaineering and greater exposure. Both are 7-day programs.
To break the ice and get a chance to meet your guide(s) & acclimatize before your trip starts, we recommend you join a fantastic day tour and descent of the famous “Vallée Blanche” from L’aiguille du Midi near Chamonix before the Haute Route. Contact us for more details about this great option.
The “Regular” Haute Route via Verbier:
Pre-Trip Meeting: Meet your guide(s) for a pre-trip briefing, equipment check, and dinner. We will spend the night in a hotel in the Chamonix Valley.
Day 1: We will take the 1st cable car to the Grand Montet (3300m), descent to the Argentiere Glacier (about 2700m) and ascend the glacier to the Argentiere hut(2770m=9085ft). A ski ascent of the Glacier des Amethystes to Col du Tour Noire (3535m) from the hut is possible. Avalanche training and general mountaineering skills will be covered during our first day. 170m = 560’ ascent, 650m = 2130’ descent, 4km, 2.5hrs.
Day 2: After a short ski down the Argentiere Glacier we will ascend up to the Col du Passon (3028m), ski across the Glacier du Tour and up to the Col Superieur du Tour (3289m). From here we will ski across the border into Switzerland and down the Glacier du Trient (3090m). A short 80m climb will bring us to the lovely Cabane du Trient (3170m) where we will spend the night. 1000m = 3300’ ascent, 600m = 2000’ descent, 10km, 6hrs.
Day 3: A big varied day! We will start by doing a partial descent down the Glacier du Trient to 2700m. Then a short climb up to the Col des Ecandies (2796m) followed by a long descent down the Val d’Arpette to the quint village of Campex sur le Lac (1500m). From here we will take a 30-minute taxi ride to Verbier (Le Chables) and take a lift to Col Des Gentianes (2900m). From here we will travel along the south side of Mont Fort via Col de la Chaux (2940m) and Col de Momin (3020m) on our way to Cabane de Prafleuri (2624m). An ascent to the summit of Rosablanche (3336m) is possible along the way. 950m = 3100’ ascent, 2500m = 8000’ descent, 15km, 9hrs.
Day 4: We will start by a short climb to the Col des Roux (2804m) above the hut. From here we will descend and contour around Lac des Dix to the Pas de Chat (2385) and ascend to Cabane des Dix (2928m). After dropping off excess gear at the hut we will make an ascent of La Luette (3548m) and enjoy a great ski descent back to the hut. 1340m = 4400’ ascent, 1040m = 3500’ descent, 9km, 7hrs.
Day 5: From the Cabane des Dix we will ascend the Glacier de Cheilon towards the Col de la Serpentine (3547m) and eventually to the summit of Pigne d’Arolla (3790m). From here an amazing ski descent will take us down to the stunning Cabane des Vignettes (3160m). 900m = 2950’ ascent, 650m = 2200’ descent, 7km, 5-6hrs.
Day 6: From Cabane des Vignettes we will initially travel to Col de l’Eveque (3392m). After a long descent down the Haut Glacier d’Arolla to 2500m, we will ascend to the precariously perched Cabane de Bertol (3268m), our last mountain hut of the trip. 1150m = 3800’ climb, 900m = 3000’ decent, 13km, 6 hrs.
Day 7: From Cabane de Bertol, we will ski towards Zermatt via the upper Glacier du Mont Mine to Tete Blanche (3700m). From there, we will make a very long descent down the convoluted Stockli and Zmutt Glaciers all the way to Zermatt. An ascent and ski descent of the beautiful Tete de Valpelline is also possible along the way. 750m = 2500’ climb, 2100m = 7000’ decent, 18km, 6-8 hrs.
The “Classic” Haute Route via Valsorey:
Pre-Trip Meeting: Meet with your guide(s) for a pre-trip briefing, equipment check and dinner. We will spend the night in a hotel in the Chamonix Valley.
Day 1: We will take the 1st cable car to the Grand Montet (3300m), descent to the Argentiere Glacier (about 2700m) and ascend the glacier to the Argentiere hut(2770m=9085ft). A ski ascent of the Glacier des Amethystes to Col du Tour Noire (3535m) from the hut is possible. Avalanche beacon and general mountaineering skills will be covered during our first day. 170m = 560’ climb, 650m = 2130’ descent, 4 km, 2.5 hrs.
Day 2: Climb up to the Col Du Chardonnet (3323m), ski down to Switzerland. Climb back up to the Fenetre de Saleina (3267m). Ski down the upper Trient glacier to the Refuge du Trient (3240m). 1000m = 3300’ climb, 550m = 1800’ descent, 10km, 6 hrs.
Day 3: Descent on the steep lower Trient Glacier to the Fenetre des Chamois (2985m), through and down the other side steeply to Val d’Arpette and eventually the little village of Champex (1470m). 1570m = 5150’ descent, 9 km, 3 hrs. Taxi Ride from Champex to Bourg St. Pierre (30 min) and lodging in town with an opportunity to buy lunch food etc. for the next few days.
Day 4: After an early start, we will ascend through the lovely Valsorey to the Valsorey Hut (3037m = 9960ft.), 1400m = 4600’ climb, 8km, 7 hrs.
Day 5: A steep climb to the Plateau du Couloir (3664m) leads to a magnificent descent on the Durrand Glacier towards the Lac de Mauvoisin and back up to the Refuge Chanrion (2460m=8070ft). 940m = 3090’ climb, 1510m = 4950’ descent, 12km, 7 hrs.
Note: This is one of the crux days on the classic haute route which requires both good snow stability and stable weather. Itinerary may be re-routed through Verbier if these conditions are not optimal.
Day 6: A ski ascent of the Glacier Brenay to the summit of the stunning Pigne d’Arolla (3800m = 12500ft) offering great views of the entire traverse. Descent to the Cabane Vignette (3185m=10450ft). 1330m = 4360’ climb, 640m = 1340’ descent, 10km, 7 hrs.
Day 7: The famous 3 Col Traverse is probably the best day of the whole trip! Via Col de l’Eveque (3392m), Col de Mont Brulee (3213m) and Col de Valpelline (3568m) and a long, glaciated descent underneath the impressive North Face of the Matterhorn all the way into Zermatt. There we will spend our last night in a hotel. 1120m = 3675’ climb, 2670m = 8760’ decent, 25km, 8 hrs.
This is an intermediate to advanced program. Guests are responsible to self evaluate their skills as groups need to be matched together based on previous experience and ability. Prior experience with Summit Mountain Guides is an asset as it helps you anticipate the difficulty and style of our program. Please contact us to discuss your specific ski background.
The group will be meeting with the guide in Chamonix the day before the trip start. We will go over last-minute equipment issues, review the planned itinerary and update you with present conditions.
Spring mountain weather in the Alps can vary wildly from -15C to +10C in the day. Visibility may be poor with whiteout conditions when snowing heavily or clear on bluebird days. Ensure you are dressed for all variations as temperatures, wind and precipitation can change within the day.
- Pre-trip planning support for skiing, accommodation bookings, travel route
- Fully certified IFMGA guide service and guide expenses
- All mountain hut fees on the tour with Breakfast and Dinners (half board)
- 2 Hotel nights; Chamonix/Argentiere pre-trip & Zermatt at end of trip, including Breakfast
- Taxi transfer from Champex to Verbier / Bourg St-Pierre by bus or taxi
- Luggage transfer from Chamonix to Zermatt
- Group safety & technical equipment (ropes, communication device, rescue kit, first aid supplies, GPS, maps)
- Alternative plan based on current conditions
Not included in price:
- Optional Valley Blanche day
- Personal ski touring clothing & ski equipment including skis, skins, poles, ski crampons, ski tour boots
- Technical equipment such as; boot crampons, ice axes, avalanche transceivers, shovels, probes, etc.
- Transportation and lodging costs prior to meeting
- Dinner in Chamonix/Argentiere, Arolla for Verbier variation and Zermatt pre/post trip
- Lunch, alcohol & snacks in the valley/ at huts
- Grand Montet Lift fee in Argentiere, L’aiguille du Midi lift for Valley Blanche day trip option, Col des Gentians lift on Verbier variation
- Furi lift to Zermatt if snow cover prevents from skiing down
- Trip cancellation, adventure travel & rescue insurance, medical insurance
- Any additional lifts, train & taxi costs related to a plan change
- Gratuities for guide or assistant
Alpine Ski-touring or Telemark gear? Which should you use?
If you are a downhill skier then you should use Alpine touring gear. Only if you are already an advanced Telemark skier should you use Telemark gear.
Spring skiing the high alpine of the European Alps offers variable snow conditions. On one particular run, things may go from perfect powder to challenging breakable crust and or variable wind affected snow. When compounded, the variable snow conditions, the long ski touring days and the large day packs all call towards the use of easier skiing set up like alpine touring.
The Haute Route provides a fantastic mountain travel experience. The skis become a traveling medium in the greater goal of getting from A to B. Alpine touring makes for fast and efficient travel hence contributing to a safer and more successful experience.