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Photo credits: Mark Seaton collection, Charles Sherwood, John Norris, Jeff Brown & Faerthen Felix.
Site design: Faerthen Felix, 2005.

Haute Route

The Haute Route starts in Argentiere--six-kilometres up the valley from Chamonix--and finishes in Zermatt, thus connecting the two spiritual homes of mountaineering & the two most famous Alpine peaks: Mont Blanc & the Matterhorn. It is the most famous and sought after ski-touring route in the world (see title image at top of page).

Haute Route Download a Google-Earth file showing cols, ski peaks, towns & huts along the major Haute Route variations (right click & save to your computer, then open the file in Google-Earth)

The following itinerary is aimed at people who are good, strong and fit off-piste skiers but who may have limited experience of mountaineering. The optimal group size is 4 skiers, plus the guide.

In order that everyone is thoroughly confident in their equipment and has had a chance to find their skiing legs, our first day together is spent training, being well briefed about what to expect, and gaining valuable acclimatisation.

Part of the magic of the legendary Chamonix-Zermatt Haute Route is the multitude of variations possible. The following itinerary is the purest ski-touring line & the most frequently done. Many other options are available but most require basic mountaineering skills: that is, mandatory use of ice ax & crampons for some ascents. If you are interested in an alternate, more difficult variation but lack basic mountaineering skills, you should plan on another day or two for mountaineering training.

More Haute Route information: Story | Photos

The Itinerary.

Day 1: Training in the use of ski touring equipment and the use of avalanche transceivers, plus all the other skills necessary to complete the trip safely.

Day 2: Set off on the Haute Route from Chamonix. From the top of Grands Montets, we firstly ski down the Glacier des Rognons before tackling the long ascent to the Col du Chardonnet or the Col du Passon, depending on which has the best conditions. The first night is spent in the beautiful setting of the Trient Hut.

Day 3: Ski down the stunning Val d`Arpette to Champex and take a taxi to Verbier. Catch the cable car up to the Mont Fort Hut.

Day 4: Mont Fort Hut to the Prafleuri Hut, via an ascent of the Rosablanche (3600 meters.)

Day 5: Prafleuri Hut to the Dix Hut via Lac du Dix.

Day 6: Dix Hut to the Vignettes Hut, making an ascent of the Pigne d'Arolla. This is a major alpine peak with breathtaking views across the Alps. It is the highest point on the trip. (3800 metres)

Day 7: Vignettes Hut to Zermatt, staying in Zermatt. This is a long hard day. We will pass through some of the most dramatic alpine scenery to found anywhere in the world.

Day 8: Spare day in case of bad weather. If unused we will make an ascent of the Breithorn on skis. The Breithorn is one of the Alps coveted 4000-meter peaks; we then transfer from Zermatt to Chamonix by taxi.

Maps, Mountaineering & Guidebooks .

If you like to do arm-chair research, good guidebooks in English to the Haute Route & other Chamonix or Zermatt area ski tours include:

Swiss topo maps are gorgeous & make excellent souvenirs or references for planning your next year's outing. You can order them here. The 1:25,000 series are beautifully detailed, but too bulky to use as field maps for long tours. The Haute Route & its variations rest mainly on the following 1:50,000 maps:

282 S Martigny 1:50,000
283 S Arolla 1:50,000
284 S Mischabel 1:50,000 [includes Saas Fee extension & Zermatt day-tours]

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