or High-Level Route (HLR)
The Chamonix-Zermatt Haute Route starts in Argentiere–six-kilometres up the valley from Chamonix–and finishes in Zermatt, thus connecting the two spiritual homes of mountaineering and the two most famous Alpine peaks: Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn. It is the most famous and sought after ski-touring route in the world, but it requires a great deal of luck to finish, since the weather and snow conditions must remain stable for a week or longer.
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 acclimatization.
Part of the magic of the legendary Chamonix-Zermatt Haute Route is the multitude of possible variations. The following itinerary is the purest ski-touring line and the most frequently done. There are several variations that avoid the road, but these require basic mountaineering skills: that is, mandatory use of ice axe and crampons for some ascents. If you are interested in an alternate, more difficult HLR variation but lack basic mountaineering skills, you should plan on another day or two for mountaineering training.
- 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. We’ll spend the first night 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 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.