Trek the classic ‘Haute Route’ from France to Switzerland
The Haute Route is one of Europe’s best known long distance ski-touring
routes; running roughly parallel is a spectacular summer trek from Mont Blanc
to the Matterhorn. Covering approximately 100 miles, it links the valleys of
the Haute Savoie in France to the Swiss Valais. Following our guide (IML),
our tour passes beneath ten of the twelve highest mountains in the Alps.
Walking through a landscape scattered with glistening glacial lakes and lush,
undulating valleys by day whilst sleeping in remote alpine huts and under
canvas by night.
Spectacular mountain scenery and some of the best walking in the Alps
Challenging walking amongst the highest concentration of 4000m peaks in the
Exciting high alpine towns of Chamonix and Zermatt
Fly to Geneva; transfer to Les Bossons, near Chamonix
Start at the campsite in Les Bossons. Wonderful views from the campsite of
Mont Blanc and the Bossons glacier, especially at sunset. In the afternoon
there is an introductory briefing by the trek crew.
*Campsite:* Camping Les Marmottes, Les Bossons
Free day in the Chamonix Valley
This is a limbering up day and there are several good walks nearby.
Alternatively, take the cable car (optional) to the Aiguille du Midi for
outstanding close-up views of Mont Blanc, the Chamonix Valley and the
*Campsite*: Camping Les Marmottes, Les Bossons
The trail contours high in the valley before descending to Les Frasserands
From Les Bossons (1012m 3320ft) we have a short bus journey to Chamonix
from where we take a gondola to Plan Praz (2000m 6560ft). The trail today
is named the ‘Grand Balcon Sud’ and is a must do trek for anyone visiting the
area. The trail contours on the opposite side of the valley from Mont Blanc
and has excellent views of the whole massif lying to the south. We walk from
Plan Praz to Flegere (1,900m 6230ft) and onwards to Les Frasserands
(1371m – 4500ft) where we finish our day. If timings allow we will climb to
the picturesque lac Blanc (2252m 7390ft).
8.5 hours walking time including breaks and lunch etc. 565m 1850ft up,
1015m 3350ft down
*Campsite*: Pierre Semard, Les Frasserands
Cross Col de Balme to Switzerland.
We begin by climbing steeply to the Aiguillette de Posettes (2201m/7200ft),
descend a little and then ascend towards the Col de Balme (2,191m/7190ft)
where we walk across the border from France to Switzerland. Excellent views
all morning of Aiguille d’Argentire and Aiguille du Tour and its glacier.
After lunch we descend to the small hamlet of Trient (1,296m/4250ft). Good
views of the Trient Glacier.
7.5 hours walking, 1120m/3670ft up, 710m/2330ft down
*Campsite*: Camping Triet, Trient
Over Fenetre d’Arpette to Champex
In good weather we take the trail adjacent to the Trient Glacier to cross a
high, rocky pass known as Fenetre d’Arpette (2,665m/8740ft) before descending
steeply into the Arpette Valley (1,627m/5340ft) and down to our campsite in
Champex (1,486m/4880ft). In poor weather we would take the lower trail, which
climbs first to the Col de Forclaz (1527m/5010ft) from where we can look down
into the Rhone valley. The Swiss town of Martigny is in sight far below, as
we follow the ‘Bovine route’ to Champex-Lac.
9 hours walking, 1350m/4430ft up, 1200m/3950ft down
*Campsite*: Camping Les Rocailles, Champex Lac
From Champex the trail leads to Verbier and on to Cabane Mont Fort
From Champex we walk down to Sembrancher (717m/2350ft) then travel by train
and cable car to the ski resort of Verbier (1,490m/4880ft) and then onwards
to Ruinettes. (2200m/7260ft). Our afternoon walk starts on a broad easy trail
with views of the Grand Combin and of the Mont Blanc Massif in the
distance.The trail than narrows and steepens and we traverse around the
southern flank of the Bec des Rosses to Col Termin (2652m 8750ft) before
descending to Lac du Louvie and our overnight stay at the Cabane de Louvie
The path today is quite committing and if the weather is poor, or there are
problems with the cables cars, or snow on the path we may need to take an
alternative route from Sembrancher. We travel by train and bus up valley to
Fionnay (1,495m/4880ft). From the here we ascend steeply through dramatic
open hillside to reach our first mountain hut, the Cabane de Louvie (2,242m
/7400ft) on the shores of the Lac de Louvie (a very scenic spot!) from where
we have great views of the Grand Combin .
Mountain huts have shared dormitory style accommodation with basic toilet and
washing facilities only. The support vehicle is unable to reach this hut so
we need to do some light backpacking until we re-join it in two days
8 hours walking, 550m/1800ft up, 1180m/3900ft down
*Mountain hut:* Cabane de Louvie
Cross the highest pass of the route, Col Prafleuri (2965m). Views of Rhone
Valley, Mont Blanc, the Grand Combin and the Matterhorn
A dramatic day with two passes to cross. We start with scenic traverse around
the shores of lac de Louvie before a reasonably steep accent to our first
col, Col de Louvie (2921m/9580ft) and onwards towards the Grand Dsert, a
rocky section of glacial moraine. If we’re lucky we may spot herds of Ibex.
We pass by small tarns fed by the outflows of the glacier and ascend for our
second pass the Col Prafleuri (2987m 9800ft) – the highest col on the
route – with views of the Rosablanche and Mont Blanc de Cheilon. It is then
only a short descent to the Cabane Prafleuri (2624m 8600ft). Again the
support vehicle will be unable to reach us so we will be doing light
backpacking to this remote mountain hut.
8 hours walking, 1000m/3300ft up, 550m/1800ft down
*Mountain hut*: Cabane Prafleuri, nr Lac Dix
Long walking day with two passes to cross; overnight at Les Hauderes.
Our route today starts with a short climb to cross the Col de Roux
(2,804m/9200ft). We descend across large boulders to Lac Dix (2,364m/7750ft)
and walk around its shoreline before climbing again above the glacier Dix,
through meadows, which during the summer are quite often filled with
edelweiss, to make a steep ascent on loose scree to the Col du Reidmatten
(2,919m/9570ft), or more likely the ladders of Pas des Chvre
(2855m/2920ft). The ladders have been recently renovated and now provide an
easier route over the ridge and consist of four sturdy near vertical ladders
divided by solid metal gantrys. Technically it is not hard but it is
certainly airy and not suitable for vertigo suffers. Excellent views of the
Pigne d’Arolla, Mont Collon and possibly the Matterhorn in the distance.
Finally, a long descent brings us to the small and charming village of Arolla
(1,998m/6550ft), from where we catch a bus to Les Haudres (1,436m/4710ft).
Here we are met by the support vehicle.
9 hours walking, 675m/2215ft up, 1330m/4360ft down
*Campsite:*Camping Molignon, Les Haudres
A free day to relax. The twin villages of Les Haudres and Evolene lie in
the most picturesque part of the Val de Hrens and there are many day walks
in the area if you feel the need for a little more exercise. Alternatively
the scenic town of Sion with its medieval quarter and many cafes and
restaurants is an easy bus ride away.
*Campsite*: Camping Molignon, Les Hauders
Past Lac Moiry to the picture-postcard village of Grimentz
Today we have a big climb to reach our col where well be rewarded with
stunning views. We climb first to Villa (1,730m/5675ft) then on to cross the
Col Torrent (2,919m/9575ft) and enjoy vast mountain views; the Pigne
d’Arolla, the Grand Combin, the Weisshorn, and make a long descent past Lac
de Moiry (2,249m/7380ft) to the woods above the picture postcard village of
9 hours walking, 1510m/4950ft up, 1290m/4230ft down
*Campsite*: Wild Camping, Grimentz
Longest walking day with excellent views of the Weisshorn
A long day that starts with a gentle walk through woods to reach the valley
bottom at Mottec (1,556m/5100ft). From here there is a short but steep climb
to join the main trail at a higher level with fine views of the Matterhorn
and Ober Gabelhorn. The climb continues to today’s col, the Forcletta
(2,874m/9426ft) where we enter German-speaking Switzerland. We have views
back to Grand Combin and possibly Mont Blanc as well. Descend, with views of
the Weisshorn to the southeast, to the Turtman Valley and Gruben
(1,822m/5975ft). This is the longest walking day. As there is no campsite in
the Gruben valley we stay in dormitories in a local auberge and our bags are
brought up by the support vehicle.
9 hours walking, 1345m/4420ft up, 1035m/3400ft down
*Hotel: *Schwarzhorn (basic hotel), Gruben
Join Zermatt Valley; descend to Jungu and St Niklaus, short transfer to
We climb again to cross the Augstbord pass (2,894m/9490ft) with good views of
the Weisshorn and the ‘Dom’ and join the main Zermatt Valley high on its
western side. We descend to cross the Emdbach and soon after get our first
views of the Zermatt Valley plus the Weisshorn, Kleine Matterhorn and
Taschorn. Descend to Jungu (1,955m/6410ft) and on to St. Niklaus
(1,127m/3700ft) either by walking or by an optional cable car, from where we
travel by train or taxi to our last camp at Randa (1,439m/4720ft).
8 hours walking, 1070m 3500ft up, 1790m 5870ft down (less 830m
2710ft descent if taking optional Jungu cable car)
*Campsite:* Camping Attermenzen, Randa
Follow a high-level balcony path that contours along the valley towards
For our final day of trekking we walk directly from the campsite to the
village of Tsch before ascending up to the Europaweg, a wonderful
contouring path with spectacular views of the Matterhorn. Rising above the
treeline and into a wild rocky landscape we pass by Stellisee (a mountain
lake and prefect spot to snap reflected views of the Matterhorn) and onwards
to the mountain hut Fluhalp 2606m. From here we have a long decent to Zermatt
passing through old mountain hamlets with more stunning photo opportunities
of the Matterhorn.
8 hours walking, 1300m/4270ft up, 1010m/3310ft down
*Campsite:* Camping Attermenzen, Randa
Optional trip to Zermatt
From our camp near Randa it is a short train or minibus trip to Zermatt.
Zermatt is an ideal place for a free day with lots of opportunities for short
or long walks or one can simply relax in town. There are also many excursions
such as the mountain cog railway to Gornergrat for spectacular views of the
Gorner Glacier and Monte Rosa or perhaps the most spectacular the cable car
ascent to Kleine Matterhorn.
*Campsite:* Camping Attermenzen, Randa
Transfer to Geneva; fly to London
Following breakfast we will be transferred from Randa to Geneva Airport
arriving at at approximately 11.00am. If you are not on the group flight
please be aware the earliest a train could arrive at the airport is
approximately 10.00am (although timings can change) and this would
alsomeanvery early start and a short taxi ride to the train station.
Taxis directly toGenevaairport are very expensive. Please ensure that
your return flight is late enough in the day to allow yourself time to join
the group transfer (if you wish the ease of using our transfer to the