haute route classic hike
Hike the High-Level Route from France to Switzerland

Classic haute route hike

Multi-day hiking trip from Chamonix, France, to Zermatt, Switzerland.

The Classic Haute Route Traverse is the flagship of our alpine hikes in Switzerland, linking the mountaineering capitals of Europe – Chamonix to Zermatt.

It has everything a classic alpine hiking traverse needs:  the very best views of the Alps, amazing hotels, varied trekking trails through larch forests, alpine meadows, and mountainous terrain, staying in unique alpine villages with culture, comfort, gourmet cuisine, and history.

Mont Blanc, the Grand Combin, Dent Blanche and the Matterhorn rise above us as we follow the Haute Route from Chamonix to Zermatt. Lunches are taken in mountain chalets on the way or as picnics, and dinners will be served in our hotels or chosen restaurants along the route from Chamonix to Zermatt. Luggage will be shuttled whenever possible so hiking with a light day-pack will make the journey that much more pleasant.

There’s truly no better way to experience hiking the Alps! This trip is also available as a self-guided version.

LOCATION
SWITZERLAND
LENGTH OF TRIP
7-11 DAYS
PRICE RANGE – This Itinerary
USD $ 4,800
CAD $ 6,300
*Pricing based on three hikers

Day 1: ARRIVAL DAY, CHAMONIX
Meet us in our Chamonix hotel at 6:30pm for your trip briefing, followed by dinner in one of our favourite restaurants in town.

Hotel in Chamonix
Dinner included

Day 2: COL DE LA FORLCAZ

A short taxi-ride up the Chamonix Valley to the town of Argentière before we begin to climb through a forest of larch and fir trees, quickly reaching the pastures of the Col de Balme and the border with Switzerland. Several variations are possible, depending on the group’s ability and weather. Stunning views down toward Chamonix.

Hotel Col de la Forclaz
Breakfast / Dinner included
Luggage delivered
Distance: 17.6km (11m), 5 hours, up: 1140m (3760ft), down 865m (2855ft)
Morning transfer from Chamonix to Argentière, 15 min

Day 3: CHAMPEX-LAC
Early morning taxi transfer to Col de la Forclaz in Switzerland.
Two hiking options today: Hike the more gentle Bovine Trail to Champex-Lac, or up  and over the Fenêtre d’Arpette with views out to the Trient glacier,  before descending to our lake side hotel.

Hotel in Champex-Lac
Breakfast / Dinner included
Luggage delivered
  Distance:15km (9.5m), 5-6 hours, up 661m (2170ft), down 521m (1710ft)

Day 4: CABANE DU MONT FORT
We transfer to the ski resort of Verbier in the Val de Bagnes and have some time to explore the mountain village, before we have lunch above Verbier in a beautiful alpine restaurant. Refreshed, we follow a 500-year old irrigation canal to the Cabane du Mont Fort, our lodgings for the night. The views at sunset over the Mont Blanc Range are spectacular.

Cabane du Mont Fort, shared bathrooms
Breakfast / Dinner included
  Distance: 14 km (8.75m), 4 hours, up 735m (2400ft), down 550m (1790ft)
Transfer from Champex-Lac to Verbier (45 min)

Day 5: CABANE PRAFLEURI
We are now high up in the alpine, as we cross three mountain passes; Col de la Chaux, Col de Louvie and Col de Pra Fleuri. These are difficult trails with rugged sections but the rewards are worth the effort. Not much in the way of a path, we skirt glaciers and follow blazes painted on the rocks. Walking time: 6 – 8 hours.

Cabane de Pra Fleuri, small dormitories, shared bathrooms
Breakfast / Dinner included
  Distance:14km (8.75m), 8 hours, up 800m (2628ft), down 634m (2080ft)

Day 6: AROLLA
The day begins with a short climb to the Col des Roux and views out towards the Dix dam and lake. The Dix hut, our lunch destination, is an engineering marvel, perched on a rocky outcrop jutting out towards the glacier below. Weather-permitting, we will have a picnic with our first glimpse of the Matterhorn.

We then carry on towards the Reidmatten pass. The climb to the pass is steep and requires some care, but the views at the top are why the Haute Route is so popular. A steep descent takes us to Arolla. Once a thriving summer destination a century ago, this sleepy town is still a gem built at roughly 2000 meters above sea level. Grand old hotels, hark back to the ‘Golden Age of Mountaineering’ when wealthy clients hired guides for months at a time and climbed the surrounding peaks. Our night’s accommodation is a majestic old hotel, with modern amenities and an excellent restaurant.

Hotel Kurhaus
Breakfast / Dinner included
Luggage delivered
  Distance:17km (10.5m), 8 hours, up 718m (2355t), down 1275m (4180ft)

Day 7: GRIMENTZ

Another short transfer brings us to our starting point in the agricultural hamlet of Villa, above Les Haudères. We climb up the Col du Torrent and descend to the Barrage de Moiry (dam) for a well-deserved drink, before we take the bus down to the town of Grimentz, a beautiful and very picturesque village with 16th century wooden houses and an abundance of geraniums.

Hotel in Grimentz
Breakfast / Dinner included
Luggage delivered
  Distance: 13km (8.2m), 5-6 hours, up 1184m (3885t), down 665m (2815ft)
Transfer Arolla – Villa (20 min), Lac de Moiry Dam – Grimentz (20 min)

Day 8: GRUBEN
From Grimentz we transfer across the valley to St. Luc by taxi and our funicular ride for an easy start. Our high point is the Meidpass (2,790m – 9’153 ft), which allows for sweeping views of several of the higher mountains in the Valais, including the Dom, the highest mountain that is entirely in Switzerland. A steeper descent from the pass is followed by a path in a lush forest, before reaching Gruben a summer only village in the Turtmantal the linguistic border between French and German.
Hotel Schwarzhorn
Breakfast / Dinner included
Luggage delivered
  Distance: 12.8km (8m), 4-5 hours, up 612m (2020ft), down 972m (3207ft)
Transfer Grimentz – St. Luc (20 min), Funicular (10 min)

Day 9: ZERMATT
We are almost in Zermatt: From our hotel in Gruben we make our way up the Augstbord Pass (2,788m – 9’147 ft), before reaching Jungu, a tiny hamlet just above St. Niklaus.  A funky, private cable car whisks us down to St. Niklaus where we hop on the train to Zermatt.

Hotel in Zermatt
Breakfast / Dinner included
Luggage delivered
  Distance: 12.8km (8m), 4-5 hours, up 1064m (3490ft), down 914m (3000ft)
Transfer St. Niklaus – Zermatt (45 min)

Day 10: ZERMATT: HÖHBALMEN, TRIFT
Leaving right from the hotel’s front door, we begin one of the more arduous hikes of the trip, with nearly 1100 metres of vertical gain. Our hike takes us steeply up the Trift Gorge where at the top, a lovingly restored hotel and refuge welcomes the weary climber and hiker alike.
Hugo, mountain guide and owner of the Trift Hotel serves wonderful home-made pies and other delights. With the sound of his Alphorn echoing in the distance, we carry on along the Höhbalmen trail with some of the best views in the Alps.
Monte Rosa, the second highest peak in the Alps unfolds before us, as do some of the other giants such as the Breithorn, Liskam, and, of course, the huge North Face of the Matterhorn itself, symbol of the Alps.

Our trail winds back down to the valley floor through pleasant haying fields. If the weather is good, we will have a drink in the hamlet of  Zmutt, before heading back to Zermatt’s main street. Dinner on your own in Zermatt.

Hotel in Zermatt
Breakfast / Dinner included
Luggage delivered
  Distance: 22km (13m), 6-7 hours, up/down 1125m (3690sft)

Day 11: DEPARTURE

All guests will depart from Zermatt at their own leisure. We can, of course, help with pre- and post-arrangements.

Breakfast included

Here’s a list of everything you can customize for your group of travellers:

ITINERARY – OPTIONS

The Haute Route is traditionally hiked in about 9 days, but there are also several options to either shorten or lengthen the trek, such as hiking the Demi-Haute Route, starting in Verbier instead of Chamonix and finishing in Zermatt, when time is of the essence. The minimum amount of hiking days should be about 6. Rest days can be added, as well as day-hikes in some of the areas if the group prefers to stay more than one night in a particular village and enjoy some of the classic hotels and mountain huts which make this hike one of the best in the world.

A: Demi Haute Route: Verbier to Zermatt 

This eliminates 2 days from the traditional itinerary (Chamonix-Champex-Verbier) without detracting from the adventure. We feel that the Haute Route really starts above Verbier and you get the sense of the ‘High Level” route, skirting glaciers, hiking on scree and climbing above 3000m (10,000ft) to reach high passes.

Verbier-Cabane Mont Fort-Cabane Pra Fleuri-Arolla-Grimentz-Gruben-Zermatt

B: Cabane de Moiry to Hôtel Weisshorn:

From Arolla, this option allows for a night in one of the most spectacular Swiss Alpine Club huts or ‘cabanes’ of the entire Haute Route, followed by a classic 19th century hotel, the Weisshorn, perched high on a ridge overlooking the Rhône Valley. This option requires strong hikers as the hike up to Cabane Moiry is steep with about 600m (2000′) of vertical gain. Get ready for another big climb the following morning, as the trail leads us back to the valley bottom before climbing to the Col de Sorebois 2835M (9000′). Optional cable-car ride down to Zinal saves knees and time. Lunch can be taken in Zinal before another long climb out of the Val d’Anniviers to the east side of the valley and a stunningly beautiful walk to the Hôtel Weisshorn and great views of the Matterhorn along the way.

C: Arolla to Grimentz: Rest day in Grimentz

Grimentz is by far the prettiest village of the entire Haute Route, with magnificently renovated homes dating as far back as 1529! The Hôtel Alpina, located at the entrance to Grimentz can be used as a base for several days of exploration around the Val d’Anniviers. Grimentz is ideal for a rest day, taking short walks in town or using the newly built (2014) cable car which links Grimentz to Zinal, an exhilarating ride that gets you high above the valley. The views are out to the “Imperial Crown” as the Zinalrothorn, Obergablehorn, Dent Blanche, Matterhorn and Weisshorn are known are second to none.

D: Zermatt-Hôtel du Trift-Schönbielhütte-Zermatt

One of our favourite variations to the Haute Route is the hike up the Trift gorge and a night in the Hôtel du Trift, then across the Höbhalmen trail to the Schönbielhütte (CAS mountain hut) for another night and finally past the tiny hamlet of Zmutt before returning to Zermatt. Ideally, upon arrival in Zermatt by train from St Niklaus, the group would hike up the Trift Gorge and spend the night in the Hôtel du Trift. This requires a bit of hustle and stamina as nearly 1800m  (5700′) of climbing is required to complete this day. Another option would be to spend the night in Zermatt, then hike mid-afternoon to the hotel after a leisurely day in Zermatt. The Höbhalmen trail, possibly the most spectacular of all the hikes in the Alps is not to be missed. The views toward the Matterhorn, Monte Rosa and the range bordering Italy are truly exceptional and another night high in the Alps in an authentic climber’s cabane adds to the magic of this hike. The Schönbielhütte, used primarily during the spring ski traverse-the original Haute Route-is quieter in the summer and sees day-trippers and a few climbers, leaving the hut at partial capacity. Food is excellent and the hut keepers gracious hosts. The walk back to Zermatt under the massive North Face of the Matterhorn is well worth the detour and the apple strudel and kaffee latte in Zmutt, the perfect end to a great day of hiking.

 

ACCOMMODATION

Accommodation is generally booked in three-star hotels, and if the itinerary stays in the mountains, some nights are spent in mountain huts. Accommodation can be adjusted to the group’s preference, from mountain chalets, mountain huts all the way to four-star or five-star hotels, where available. Five-star accommodation can only be found in Chamonix, Verbier and in Zermatt.

WHAT IS ALWAYS INCLUDED

  • Hiking guide (we only hire certified International Mountain Leaders and IFMGA Mountain Guides)
  • All accommodation
  • All breakfasts
  • Local transfers and lifts
  • Detailed information package including day-to-day itinerary with elevation gains/descents, and hiking maps of the Haute Route.

OPTIONAL SERVICES

  • Lunches, Dinners
  • Luggage transfer where possible. Most mountain huts have no access roads so luggage cannot be delivered.

This trip is rated: DIFFICULT – STRENUOUS

Difficult walking on some well-marked trails, but also some cross-country hiking. Scree slopes, some boulder-hopping, minimal ridge-walking with occasionally some exposure. Possibly ladders and cables.
6-9 hours of daily walking, consecutively for 6-11 days.

1400m (4600ft) maximum elevation gain per day.
Day-pack and occasionally overnight pack.

Maximum altitude reached is about 3,000m (10,000ft)

HOW TO GET THERE:
Nearest airport to get to Chamonix is Geneva (GVA), but an alternative option would be Zurich (ZRH). Minibus shuttles exist from Geneva airport to the Chamonix valley, with transfer straight to your hotel. For more information on how to get there, hotel, restaurants, etc, please have a look at our travel resources.

If you have experience in backcountry travel or with thru-hikes, can use map, compass, GPS and can provide first aid, the Haute Route should pose few issues for you.The Haute Route is probably the most technically challenging and difficult of all of our trips and does not necessarily lend itself to a self-guided option unless you fulfill the above criteria. Due to the nature of the terrain, long stretches without mobile phone reception and difficult terrain choices make it somewhat complicated without a guide. However, due to excellent Swiss signage, proximity to villages, popularity with other hikers, excellent guide books/maps and exceptionally accurate weather forecasting, the Haute Route rarely sees hikers getting into trouble. Please contact us in order to discuss if this trip would be well-suited for you as a self-guided option.

We are here to make your dream holiday come true
About Alpine Interface
Alpine Interface is a small, family-run organization, specializing in guided hiking tours, in the Alps, Europe, and the Canadian Rockies.

The company is owned and operated by Karin Stubenvoll and Louis Marino.

Louis is the owner of the company and the lead guide. He is responsible for the smooth operation and high quality of all our guided hiking trips, new itineraries, and our special customer care, which is the main reason why we have so many returning clients. Karin is the Office Manager and does all the work!

In 2005, Karin and Louis moved from Chamonix in the French Alps to the Bow Valley in the Canadian Rockies in order to explore the wilderness of the Canadian west. It also provides better customer service, being in North America.

Imagine letting Alpine Interface tailor your private dream holidays for your family and friends. Celebrating our 20th anniversary in business this year is a huge milestone for us and has not been without challenges. Luckily for us, we are a small, nimble operation capable of adapting to the ever-changing world or global tourism. With 32 years of guiding trips around the world under my belt, I feel very confident that we are can provide remarkable trips at a reasonable price. Let us take you to the majestic trails of the European Alps, to Provençal markets, the historic D-Day beaches of Normandy, and the jagged limestone spires of the Dolomites.

Louis J Marino 2021

  • All guides are certified professionals with adequate work permits
  • Exceptional customer care and service
  • Fully customized itineraries catering to your group
  • Safe travelling with family & friends only

19 Sep: Cheese-Tasting on the Tour du Mont Blanc

You’ve hiked and trekked your way to the Col du Bonhomme the highest point on the Tour du Mont Blanc(TMB) trail…

05 Jan: Hello world!

Welcome to WordPress. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start writing!