Our first view of it was what we expected: stone building, metal roof, painted shutters; but as we walked around it we realized that this was no ordinary cabane (is there such a thing as an ordinary cabane?) The waitress that seated us spoke perfect English and they were able to easily accommodate Lisa’s gluten intolerance. We hiked along a dirt road that traversed underneath the gondola, occasionally departing the road for a foot path that cut a long switchback here and there. At the huts we either purchased (expensive) bottled water or filled up with their hikers tea. From here we chose to catch a bus up to Verbier. Our original plan was to take a bus to Argentière, but then quickly realized that the walk between Argentière and Le Tour was also just another road walk, and the bus could take us all the way to Le Tour…so that’s where we began our journey. Most of the time, the trail just cut across a steep angled grassy slope (possibly a 50 degree angle?) All I can say is that, when it was all over, it was so worth it. Since my wife's French only got us so far, we usually asked the hotel we were staying at to call ahead for us. 8.5 hours, 4.6 miles, +3446 ft, -315 ft; 15% avg grade up, -6% avg grade down. The Chalet hadn't opened yet for the day (the proprietor arrived just as we were departing) but we took the opportunity to shed some layers since the trail was now turning into the sun - this was a nice change, as we were concerned the entire hike was going to be as cold as our first day had been. For the best experience on our site, be sure to turn on Javascript in your browser. Thankfully, the wind had abated quite a bit and, as we descended, it became quite warm. We donned our rain gear and put on our pack covers as we began our descent. A few trails seemed to pick their way through the increasingly rocky landscape and all were well marked. We checked out the restaurant at Hôtel du Pigne d’Arolla, but it seemed a tad on the pricey side, so we opted to have dinner at our hotel – which was delicious! Speaking French probably helped more here than anywhere else, but Lisa had also found a few, There was more exposure along the trail then I expected; most people probably wouldn’t care…but I noticed it. The hotel was relatively busy for dinner – presumably with many hikers on the TMB (Tour du Mont Blanc) and a few that had just stopped in for a nice dinner. The Avenza Maps App offers an ala-carte download of single National Geographic maps, on which you can see your current GPS location and use the app’s navigation, tracking and data collection tools, either online or offline. Once we showered and did some much needed laundry, we wandered the town which basically consisted of two grocery stores, a sporting goods store, a bus stop, and two hotels with restaurants. Watch Alpenwild's free video training series to answer basic questions and help you prepare for a wonderful journey on the Haute Route. The trail contoured along the eastern side of Bec Termin and Bec de Rossos gaining only a few hundred feet of elevation. I found a few trip reports to be particularly helpful in both in preparing and on the trail. Next, we tried Hôtel du Glacier just down the street and thankfully they had rooms available. The trail was (thankfully) wider than on Sentier de Chamois and offered steady footing; at one point, some trail erosion required a little scrambling around but not in a terribly exposed section…beyond that, I can’t talk to the exposure level as my eyes did not deviate at ALL from the trail until we reached the terminus of the ridgeline (where the exposure ended). Past the farm, the terrain leveled out a bit and we finally caught sight of Augstbordpass in the distance. After a 15 minute rest, we pressed on towards Col de Louvie. Enjoy glorious mountain vistas, crisp air, and challenging terrain on what is a truly rewarding experience through one of the most beautiful regions of Switzerland. Most guidebooks only provide high level sketches, and topographical maps don't highlight which trail to take or where you currently are on the trail. Click on the link below to purchase a digital version of this map for the Avenza Maps App. Before departing from the hotel, Lisa asked the innkeeper (in French) if she could call Hotel Schwarzhorn to make a reservation for us, since lodging in Grüben is very limited. (You can download the route at the links below). Behind us was a grand view of Pigne d’Arolla and Mont Blanc de Cheilon. One of the observations many of us had at the hut that night was that these chains were frequently unnecessary where placed and would've been far more helpful had they been a few hundred feet farther down the trail! The trail dropped about 100 feet down to skirt a section of boulders along the ridge. What the rest of the valley lacked in terms of exciting views (at least that we could see from here) was entirely compensated by the glacier itself, and the path it carved through the rock. The descent into the Grand Dèsert was a bit slow – there were still a few small snow fields at the top of the pass that we had to descend – nothing too large, but sloped enough that it would be easy to slip on (with large pointy rocks at the base) so we took our time. The entire town was about a half mile long, and on the southern end there a number of old buildings constructed around the early 1800s. Since it was still early in the day, the owner let us drop off our stuff while they finished cleaning the room. This Topographic Map Guide outlines two different variations of the Haute Route from Chamonix, France to Zermatt, Switzerland: one for hikers and one for skiers. Rather than just a single path, it’s really a network of trails traversing the Pennine Alps and crossing the high passes and glacial valleys of the region. The stream had a set of rocks forming steps to cross (I probed the depth of the stream while crossing and I couldn't hit the bottom with my hiking pole). Lodging was easy to find in each town - whenever there was limited lodging (like in Grüben or at a hut) we'd call ahead the morning we departed to ensure we had a room waiting for us. The Haute Route looks the most stunning, but I’m also one of those people who prefer solitude hiking. Prior to emerging from the forest we encountered the first fixed chain along the trail on a rocky promontory. The other self-guided hikers on the trail with us regularly had their guidebooks in hand along the trail – we found this unnecessary (however I did regularly consult my GPS); having the guidebook in a handy exterior pocket was useful for the occasional consult, but the trail and signage was usually very clear. Dinner was at Le Monchu with a tasty prix fix menu for €43 for the two of us. Haute Route trek MapS The Haute Route trek is not marked on any trail signs along the 180km journey from Chamonix to Zermatt. It’s also not to be confused with ‘Haute Route’, the cycling event. The three "reverse" Haute Route hikers were talking the night before about how miserable Col de Chaux was as a pass - they said it was super steep screen and terrifying...based on this assessment, we chose Col Termin. Hike the Walker’s Haute Route, one of the world's great treks, through the French and Swiss Alps from Chamonix to Zermatt. At 2pm, we reached the exposure. The Haute Route—aka the High Route or Mountaineers' Route—traverses the French and Swiss Alps. We saw maybe four other Americans along the trail…and even fewer signed in to Cabane log books. We found ourselves relying heavily on Stewart’s book to help us up and out of town on the right road. The cabane probably had 40-50 people in it that night – it had most of the same group as was in Cabane du Mont Fort from the night before plus a group of paragliders that had arrived an hour or so after us. The tour group occasionally caught up with us on the trail, passing us. These signs were ubiquitous all along the trail with yellow arrows (tipped in red and white) pointing in a number of different directions indicating towns or landmarks and their distance in terms of hiking time. Across the valley we could see Cabane des Dix perched on a black rock, overlooking the massive conveyor belt of Glacier de Cheilon. Unfortunately, a rather nervous (I’ve been there...) father and his 10 year old daughter (and a third man) were descending the ladders quite slowly. After about 30 minutes, we were finally back on a solid trail and our pace picked up. Buy it and take it with you – it has nearly everything you’ll need to know about the route plus some details about each town (including lodging and restaurants). Update as of January 2014: This portion of the trail has been rerouted since we originally hiked it (thanks John Hendriks). Be sure to get cash (CHF, of course, not Euros) in Chamonix, Champex or Verbier, and Zinal. The clouds broke a little at the summit of the Col and we could make out some of the ridgelines surrounding us, and see some of the ski area below us on the other side of the Col. We continued to descend in heavy fog surrounded by sheep and cows and ski lifts. For water, we brought our 3 Liter CamelBak bladders and filled them up each morning. The rock character changed quite dramatically along this shelf – rather than picking our way through scree and talus we found ourselves rock-hopping across giant boulders and small ponds (which was actually a lot of fun). Unlike the ascent, there was no scrambling here; instead, the route was steep braid of slick dirt trails the dropped 300 feet in 400 feet of walking (a grade of 61%). Note: this really forces you into the following day from Cabane de Prafleuri to Arolla, but that was an awesome day too...and also the Verbier to Cabane du Mont Fort - so this is kind of a three day commitment. We quickly stopped at Refuge de la Gentiane La Barma as we’d seen the Brits and the tour group head this way. Breakfast in our hotel in Les Haudères consisted of an extensive buffet of cereal, meats, cheese, breads and fruits. Experience hiking in The Alps while wildflowers are in bloom, & breathtaking views of the Matterhorn during this stunning hike in Switzerland & France. We reached Col Termin (8,685 ft), 3 miles from the Cabane, at 10:20am, about 2 hours after starting our hike. We decided to skip the Chamonix to Argentière stage since it basically followed a road the entire way. 9.5 hours, 10.3 miles, +2703 ft, -4860 ft; 13.8% avg grade up, -12.5% avg grade down. Though originally called "The High-Level Route" by members of the Alpine Club, in 1911, a group first successfully established a winter route from Bourg St. Pierre to Zermatt on skis and afterwards the name of... Read More. In chatting with the others on the summit, everyone else was coming from the Champex side of the pass following the TMB route. The newer versions seemed to have a lot more details that our book lacked (we skimmed a few pages from other folks we met in the cabanes). I’ve created over 30 different personalised itineraries for the Haute Route so there is a good chance I can help. We avoided eating Mr. Ed and instead ordered cheese and tomato fondue, plus a wonderful dessert. The willingness of others to pass on information to help others that follow is an inspiring part of the hiking community. The trail started off with a pleasant walk along a bisse. There was just enough room to pass people coming in the opposite direction, and someone more sure of their footing wouldn’t need the chains. After an hour of hiking, we reached Chalet du Glacier (about 2 miles from Col de la Forclaz). More convenient and easier to use than folded maps, but just as compact and lightweight, National Geographic’s Topographic Map Guide booklets are printed on "Backcountry Tough" waterproof, tear-resistant paper with stainless steel staples. Once settled in our room, we started what became our nightly routine: washing our clothes in the (extremely tiny) sink. This trek is rigorous to say the least and is reserved for the fittest of mountain walkers as the daily height gain on the Walkers Haute Route full self guided trek can be substantial with the overall accumulation of 12,000m. Really steep. As an added complication, we weren't doubling back on our route, so we couldn't store any luggage anywhere for our after-hike trip down to the beaches of Italy - everything we had for our trip we had to carry. Who we recommend it for: This trail is for everybody (with some caveats)! A lot of others on the trail had simple drawstring backpacks as their “day pack”. 7-Day Haute Route Tour Info. We were in the shoulder season where they only operate it on select days of the week...and today was apparently not selected (as of 2010, it’s closed on Mondays and Tuesday in September). Surprisingly, after a few days of hiking, we really got into the groove of things and felt really very good at the end of the hike. The plus side, however, was that the hike climbed up a beautiful hillside and we had an unobstructed view of the Glacier du Trient the entire climb - yielding one of the most spectacular views on the entire hike as well. Your mileage may vary! We stayed in room #1 at the hotel (which I recommend) which has a fantastic view of the Matterhorn from its sun drenched porch (210CHF/night). As we descended. views that both guide books raved about. As we entered town, we encountered the tour group once again (who once again leap-frogged us) enjoying a drink in the sun on a restaurant patio (they were waiting for the last bus of the day to take them down to their campsite in Les Haudères). Lisa, thankfully, wasn't phased at all by the exposure and didn’t seem to mind the trail at all. As a result of their success, the French term stuck, and the journey gained a reputation amid skiers and ski mountaineers as a classic must-do winter/spring tour. After hiking for years in Colorado, I can easily say that nothing in Colorado compares at all. I would recommend picking this book up too and taking it with you as well - it was worth the weight. Trekking Chamonix to Zermatt: The Classic Walker's Haute Route - Kev Reynolds. At 4:45pm, we arrived in Grüben. Once we emerged from the forest we were offered an amazing view of the Combin massif and the entire valley of Verbier below. The trail dropped steeply down 500 feet with a grade of 31% but the. Trip cost includes trip transportation, accommodations, meals, deluxe excursions, luggage transfers (so you can hike light during the days) for guided tours Haute Route: Gruben to Saint Niklaus is a 10.6 mile point-to-point trail located near Turtmann, Valais/Wallis, Switzerland that features a river and is rated as difficult. The map is fully routable and includes topo lines and most major features - it displays very nicely in Basecamp and on the Oregon unit. This is because it is not marked on any of the trail signs along the journey from Chamonix to Zermatt. Lisa opted to semi-scramble using her hands to help with footing. ), I could feel a steady breeze coming down from the summit starting to lift my hat (and thinking to myself that if it went I would just let it go....); thankfully, I was nearly there. The half-board dinner was a four course meal (which we supplemented with a small bottle of wine) and they were very accommodating of Lisa’s gluten intolerance. After the ladders, the rest of the trail seemed rather dull and unexciting. Many cabanes had loaner shoes but they looked kind of sketchy. There was a hint of cell phone service if you stood on a rock located behind the cabane. At 12:20pm we began our descent from the Col. Second hardest: Cabane du Mont Fort to Cabane de Prafleuri – the numerous passes on this hike (including the highest pass along the trail) really stretch it out, plus you’re still an hour or so out once you begin your descent of the last pass. We opted instead to take a bus to Orsières, a train from Orsières to Sembrancher, another train from Sembrancher to Le Châble, then finally a bus from Le Châble to Verbier. My pack weighed around 40 lbs. Thankfully, the Swiss had the forethought to place a trail sign indicating that Cabane de Prafleuri was a mere 5 minutes away (geee...thanks). The summit was packed with people (all of whom spoke English) and it was a little difficult finding a spot to sit and have lunch. For the best experience on our site, be sure to turn on Javascript in your browser. We stopped for a snack in a meadow while we were pelted with occasional snowflakes (the temperature, with the wind chill, was probably right around freezing). We slowly ascended towards the pass, the trail first winding through the forest then emerging onto a meadow. Le Tour to Col de la Forclaz (September 31, 2010) 6.5 miles, +3482 ft, -3324 ft; 18.2% avg grade up, … The trail climbed gently as the valley floor fell away dramatically below, yielding amazing (albeit vertigo inducing) views. If, however, you wish to only take one, I would say that Reynolds is more critical to have. This was Lisa's favorite day of hiking because the views were non-stop amazing. Lisa and I both filled up about 2.5 liters each in our CamelBaks before departing. It was easy footing to get off the ladder...And there I was...at the top! We hit the restrooms at the base of Le Tour and began our hike up at about 9:40am. Ahead of us, on the other side of the col, we could see a non-descript ridgeline and a silt settling pond below a glacier; the valley walls prevented us from viewing much else. Our hiking group totaled 8 people (2 from Brazil, 1 from Canada and the rest from USA). The hotel was 184 CHF for a private bathroom and half board (rooms without bathrooms and even tent sites were also available). (In consulting the maps, it appears that the real trail was a few hundred feet to the west of the river and we missed it because we left the farm...but walking on the road actually felt quite nice on tired, aching feet.). This approach allowed us to shorten the journey to nine days of hiking and include rest days when needed (or weather demanded). It was a bitterly cold but clear day – the wind was whipping down from the pass in sustained gusts of 20 mph, making the 45°F weather even colder. We arrived at the base of the ladders at about 2:15pm. As an added complication to our trip, my wife Lisa is gluten-intolerant (meaning that if she eats anything with wheat (gluten) she’ll feel incredibly ill and lethargic for about 3 days – not life threatening (for her), but a horrible inconvenience especially when hiking 8 hours a day...not as bad as full blown Celiac Disease (thankfully)). Once we reached the end of the ridgeline, the Mattertal valley came completely into view…and what a view! Shortly after sitting down, the Kiwi we met back in Cabane du Mont Fort came down for dinner (between rest days and trips out to other huts, somehow our schedules had re-aligned). I stumbled a number of times along the trail just from sheer distraction! (I believe the trail to the left would have popped out in the exactly the same spot.). The trail eventually leveled out, crossing a wood bridge and dumping us into the town of Zinal at 4:30pm. Of course, we survived the cable car with no issues. We stopped for lunch at the turn off for Alpe Nava at 11:30am. The cabane had 3 minute showers available for 5 francs, but we decided to skip the shower. It was obvious that these switchbacks had been graded to accommodate the many day-trippers as they were not of the standard “Swiss” standards we’d come to expect (i.e. (Oddly enough, a CAIC (Colorado Avalanche Information Center) sticker was stuck to this pole…it’s good to see a little slice of home so far away!). We ended up with the nicest room at the hotel (Room #2) with lots of sunlight from a west-facing window and a small porch overlooking the Trient below! Thankfully, the trail relented shortly thereafter and levels out a bit as it contoured the hillside. This map illustrates the Walker's Haute Route. • Waterproof • Tear-Resistant • Topographic Map, The Haute Route—aka the High Route or Mountaineers' Route—traverses the French and Swiss Alps. It cost us a total of 6.80CHF to ride for 5 minutes, as opposed to hiking for an hour...well worth the expense! We had dinner at Hôtel Edelweiss (Rösti, sausage, and wine - 52 CHF) which was quite good (although just about everywhere in town had the exact same prices for food). The border was surprisingly anti-climactic – it was just a cement post in the ground. The tour departs from the train station in Martigny at noon. During the course of 10-12 days, Haute Route hikers cross lofty mountain passes, descend pastoral valleys, and bed down in country hamlets and village The trail was steep and rocky, but stable...and not exposed so our pace picked up a bit. The trail tipped to a 40% grade, dropping 800 feet in a third of a mile. One of the biggest misconceptions about long-distance hikes is that they are just like a regular backpack, only longer. (An important point: the ATMs in the Geneva airport only dispense Swiss Francs; but Alpy Bus would only accept Euros since they were taking us into France…I had to withdraw Francs and exchange them to Euros at the exchange counter). Trek the Alps - The Haute Route for Hikers Itinerary. Self-guided hiking is the best way complete these trails because it allows for independence, and freedom to … First on our agenda was to hit the tourist information office, as we hadn't arranged any lodging yet. Haute Route: Arpette to Le Châble is a 12.1 mile point-to-point trail located near Champex-Lac, Valais, Switzerland that features a river and is rated as difficult. The celebrated Haute Route, a high-level hike from Chamonix, France, to Zermatt, Switzerland, is immersed in alpine lore. (Note: we didn’t realize this at the time, but the Postbus and Train systems are linked – you can purchase tickets to Verbier as you get on the bus in Champex-Lac; instead we ended up buying tickets for each leg of the journey). The air was still quite cool (we started in 42 degrees F), but the sun (when out) provided some nice warmth. …but they were almost all FAST! After warming ourselves for about an hour, we began the descent down into Trient around 12:40pm. This site has a collection of photos, trip reports, and other write-ups that I wanted to share with the world. The cable car was self-operating (sort of) in Jungen. Though originally called "The High-Level Route" by members of the Alpine Club, in 1911, a group first successfully established a winter route from Bourg St. Pierre to Zermatt on skis and afterwards the name of the route was translated into French. (Note: the town has a number of potable water spigots to refill water bottles – the water is very white and has a hint of sparkle, presumably from the fresh glacier run-off). From there, the Haute Route starts, and the ascent is immediate. I wasn't nearly as sore or tired at the end of the hike as I had expected to be. Actually, it’s at least two completely different hiking routes, but we’ll come to that in a minute. Had we not departed the road, it would continue to descend down via switchbacks about half a mile south of Zinal (this is the route the Belgians ended up taking down); this may have been an easier descent, but longer. Restless from our rest day, we were anxious to hit the trail. As we got closer, the trail became increasingly rocky as we were basically just hiking along talus. Get in Touch: Plus, it was really cold! The road switchbacked through a small ski area just above Champex and eventually dumped us onto the west side of town. 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