Self-guided Haute Route Trek: Chamonix to Zermatt
Classic Walker's Haute Route
One of the best treks in the world
Trek from Mont Blanc to the Matterhorn
See 10 of the highest peaks in the Alps
A challenging, stunning trek
Cross the new Charles Kuonen suspension bridge
Why Choose Cloud 9 Adventure
We are the Haute Route experts
Excellent self-guided itineraries
Trek part of the Europaweg
Flexible accommodation options
Luggage support available
Fantastic app with Route Notes
Self-guided Walker's Haute Route Trek: Overview
The Classic Walker's Haute Route, linking the famous mountaineering capitals of Chamonix and Zermatt, is one of the best multi-day trekking journeys in the world. The adventure begins at the foot of Mont Blanc in the Chamonix Valley. En-route from France into Switzerland, the lower sections of the trek take us through green alpine valleys, pretty mountain hamlets and flower-strewn meadows. The higher sections of the trek take us across high alpine passes, with spectacular views over 10 of the 12 highest peaks and glaciers in the Alps. The trek ends in Zermatt, beneath the Matterhorn, one of the most iconic mountains in the world.
The itinerary below follows the classic 180km (111 mile) trek, but we can create a number of different itineraries for groups of all sizes and budgets. Anything from a luxury Walker's Haute Route to a budget trip staying entirely in huts, or a trek with a good mix of hotels and huts. In terms of trip length you can add some extra days in order to take a more leisurely pace, do an "Every Step of the Way" trip, or perhaps visit the Cabane de Moiry.
How difficult is the Walker's Haute Route?
Although demanding at times (and slightly harder than the Tour du Mont Blanc), the Walker's Haute Route is a non-technical trek from Chamonix to Zermatt and is suitable for regular hill walkers. It is not really a trek for first-time hikers, and we'd recommend tackling something slightly easier first such as the Tour du Mont Blanc or the Alta Via 1 in the Dolomites. There are a couple of passages where it is important to take care, but in general the walking is straightforward and shouldn't pose any problems.
Which Walker's Haute Route shall I book?
We also offer the Walker's Haute Route in the following different options:
Classic Walker's Haute Route - the classic itinerary completes the trek over 10 days. We start hiking in Argentière and trek all the way to Zermatt, using 1 short cable car journey to enable reaching the Mont Fort hut the same day that we leave Champex. This is a pure trekking trip and does not involve glacier travel (so no crampons or ice axe needed).
Highlights of the Haute Route - we use vehicle transfers to miss out a couple of easy sections, enabling us to complete the highlights of the trek over 7 days. Perfect for those who want to maximise their time in the Alps. We also use the Cabane de Louvie instead of the Mont Fort, to get off the beaten track and away from the ski lifts.
Glacier Haute Route - for fit, experienced trekkers only. This is a more challenging version of the Haute Route, crossing glaciers over 7 or 8 days. For this trip we stay high in the mountains, and you will need mountaineering equipment. This trip is normally for private groups but we can organise a group trip if there is enough demand - just let us know if you are interested.
Skier's Haute Route - for advanced off-piste skiers and ski-tourers only. This is the most famous ski tour in the Alps and justifiably so. We offer this for private groups (maximum 6 people per guide), and we recommend booking well in advance as the mountain huts tend to be fully booked.
AT A GLANCE
10 days' trekking
Nearest Airport: Geneva
Flexible options including hotels, guest houses, auberges
Self-guided Walker's Haute Route Trek: Sample Itinerary
Day 1 - Arrive in Chamonix
This itinerary begins in the famous mountain town of Chamonix, at the foot of Mont Blanc.
Day 2 - Argentière to Trient or Forclaz
The trek starts with a beautiful train journey on the famous Mont Blanc Express. From the hamlet of Montroc, the day begins with a climb up the stunning Aiguillette des Posettes. Most other treks then head for the Col de Balme, but our route strays from the standard route to take a quiet, and beautiful variant through the meadows of Les Tseppes and into Switzerland, as it offers fantastic views. You can stay in either Trient or Col de la Forclaz depending on accommodation availability.
Walking: approx 7-8 hrs
Altitude gain / loss: +1100m / -1100m
Day 3 - Trek from Trient or Forclaz to Champex via Fenêtre d’Arpette
Today starts with an easy stroll along the bisse (Swiss irrigation system) to the Chalet des Glaciers, a small café next to the impressive Trient glacier. Here begins a long and sometimes steep ascent through spectacular scenery up the high pass known as the Fenêtre d'Arpette, from which there are wonderful views of the Trient Plateau. Next is a steep descent through the Val d'Arpette to Champex.
Walking: Approx 7 hrs
Altitude gain / loss: +1411m / -1200m
Day 4 - Champex to the Cabane de Mont Fort
Leaving the picturesque village of Champex you hike through summer meadows, and farmland to reach the little village of Sembrancher. From here it's a short walk to Le Châble, a traditional village en-route to the famous resort of Verbier. From Le Châble you take the cable car to Les Ruinettes, above Verbier. Then follow another bisse on the way up to the well-known Cabane de Mont Fort, and enjoy fantastic views of the Mont Blanc massif and the Grand Combin.
Accommodation: Mountain refuge
No luggage access
Walking: Approx 8 hrs
Altitude gain / loss: +1350m / -1300m
Day 5 - Trek from the Cabane de Mont Fort to the Cabane de Prafleuri
This is one of the most spectacular days of the trek, crossing 3 cols with dramatic views throughout. After climbing the Col Termin, there is a traverse , followed by a climb to the Col de Louvie, from where you make a steep descent at the edge of the Grand Désert glacier. You then traverse the aptly-named Grand Désert and make your way up to the Col de Prafleuri (2987m), then descend to the Cabane de Prafleuri (2642m) for the evening. A very long, but truly stunning day in the wilderness.
Accommodation: Mountain refuge
No luggage access
Walking: Approx 8 hrs
Altitude gain / loss: +820m / -550m
Day 6 - Trek from the Cabane de Prafleuri to Arolla
A short, steep climb starts the route this morning as you quickly summit the Col de Roux, overlooking the milky waters of the Lac de Dix. A gentle descent then takes you to the shore of the lake, which you follow to its end, in the shadow of Mont Blanc de Cheillon and the Pigne d'Arolla. Next is a steep ascent to the base of the Col de Riedmatten, where you have the option of either climbing up to the col or taking a more direct route up the Pas de Chèvres ladders. There are more spectacular views of the Dix glacier, then it is all downhill to Arolla.
Walking: approx 6-7 hrs
Altitude gain / loss: +735m / -1360m
Day 7 - Arolla to La Sage
You are now approaching the halfway point of the trek so today is something of a recuperation day, involving a leisurely walk through woodland (although there are 1 or 2 chains!) to the Lac Bleu, a favourite local beauty spot. From here, there is an easy descent through a beautiful gorge to Les Haudères where we recommend having lunch. After a final short climb, this stage finishes at the small farming hamlet of La Sage.
Walking: approx 4-5 hrs
Altitude gain / loss: +215m / -550m
Day 8 - La Sage to Zinal
No rest today as it is quite a long day and there are 2 high passes to cross! The first ascent to the higher of the two, the Col de Torrent (2912m), is long but not too difficult, and the path is in good condition. You then descend to the turquoise Lac de Moiry. Ahead you can see some of the giant peaks of the Pennine Alps, including the Dent Blanche and the Weisshorn. Of more concern will be the imposing Col de Sorebois, a climb which is shorter but steeper than the ascent of the Torrent, but again presents no real problems. From here, there are spectacular views of the Weisshorn, the Dent Blanche and the Zinal Rothorn. It's a steep downhill from here, and Zinal is a welcome sight after the hardest day of the trip so far. If the knees are suffering, there may be the option to take the cable car from the mid-station down (if it is running, which it usually does in the summer - tickets not included in the trip price).
Walking: approx 8-9 hrs
Altitude gain / loss: +2000m / -1850m
Day 9 - Zinal to Gruben
Today starts with a steep but pleasant ascent through larch forests, before a rising traverse takes you through alpine pastures with excellent views across the Val d'Annivers. We have a choice of 2 passes today, the Forcletta (2874m) or the Meidpass (2790m), but you would normally take the Forcletta as it offers a more direct route, and slightly better views. From here you can see into the Turtmanntal, and enter the German-speaking part of Switzerland. You can often see the rare edelweiss on the descent of this col, if you can manage to take our eyes away from the incredible vista of 4000m peaks on offer. Tonight will be spent in the tiny hamlet of Gruben.
Walking: Approx 7 hrs
Altitude gain / loss: +1200m / -1165m
Day 10 - Gruben to Saint Niklaus across the Augstbordpass
A really superb trek today starts out through open woodland, then across high pastures followed by an alpine rocky wilderness. The trek soon opens up to some of the most spectacular views in the Swiss Alps. The final pass is the Augstbordpass (2894m), beyond which you descend steeply to the wonderful viewpoint known as the Twära - and here is your first view into the Matterhtal. A steep descent takes you to the hamlet of Jungu, perched on the side of the mountain. And from here there is a steeper descent of a couple of hours to take you down to Saint Niklaus. No one will judge you if you take the cable car down from Jungu, as it will save your knees around 1000m of steep downhill!
Walking: Approx 7-8 hrs
Altitude gain / loss: +1070m / -1765m
Day 11 - Saint Niklaus to Zermatt
Today you have a choice of two different routes. Either a short taxi journey to Randa, then heading up to a high level route to finish the Haute Route in style - crossing the newly opened Charles Kuonen suspension bridge. At 500m it’s the longest suspension bridge in the world. The route finishes along the high level Europaweg to reach Zermatt. This route has been closed in previous years due to rockfall and has only just reopened. We will only recommend this route to people who can move nimbly over rocky terrain, but anyone wanting to miss this section can either take the train to Zermatt or can walk up the valley floor on an easy path. If the weather is bad, or there is any other reason that there may be rockfall, you will take the valley floor option.
Walking: Approx 4-5 hrs via the valley floor, or 8-9 hours via the higher Europaweg route
Distance: 13km or 18km
Altitude gain / loss: +450m / -0m via the valley floor, or approx +1400m / -1000m via the Europaweg
Day 12 - Depart Zermatt
The trip finishes after breakfast. Alternatively you can take the opportunity to stay on for some extra nights in this beautiful area. There are plenty of hikes to be done with incredible Matterhorn views.
All breakfasts & evening meals
Transfers as detailed in the itinerary
Cable car from Le Châble to Verbier
Luggage transfers on all but 2 nights
Personal drinks & snacks
Self-Guided Walker's Haute Route Trek: Book Online