The Haute Route trail provides some of the finest views in the Alps, stretching from Mont Blanc to the Matterhorn. The Classic Haute Route trail takes to the higher elevations crossing glaciers and lofty cols, where the walker's summer Haute Route which stays at lower levels in the lush valleys below. The route features the greatest concentration of 4,000m peaks in the Alps, creating the unique vistas and breathtaking alpine scenery which makes the summer Haute Route trail so famous worldwide. Completing the Classic Summer Haute Route trail simply means stunning mountain panoramas every step of the way! Mont Blanc, Grand Combin, Weisshorn and the Matterhorn are just a few of the 4000m+ peaks that you will encounter on this classic alpine journey.
The route follows a well-defined hiking trail, ascending up into glacial terrain where you’ll be walking above the snowline. There is no technical climbing but you need to be physically well prepared for long days of high-level trail walking. Most days on the Haute Route trail start early when staying in huts on the route this means breakfast is usually taken between 5.30-6am and we are on the trail by 7 am. The pace is relaxed and there is plenty of time to take photos and enjoy the fantastic scenery. Depending on ground conditions, at least 3-4 days will be above the snowline when you can expect to be wearing crampons. On the steeper sections and when crossing glaciers you will be roped up for safety. We usually walk for 6-8 hours and so often arrive at the next hut for a late lunch. The afternoon is spent relaxing around the hut - playing cards, reading, chatting to other hikers. The evening meal is usually served between 6 and 7 and lights out are at 10, although most people are fast asleep by then!
We offer a 2 day Mont Blanc Extension immediately after the Haute Route for anyone who wishes to attempt the peak. Price is £795 per person based on 2 climbers and includes 2 days guide fees and expenses and 3 nights accommodation (2 hotel and 1 hut). Find out more about climbing Mont Blanc here.
Explore the whole route with our guidebook on the FATMAP website here, or follow one of our favourite stages of the tour below.
Click on the aeroplane icon to experience a birdseye view of the route. This route was plotted by our very own Lead Guide, Matt Dickinson in partnership with FATMAP.
Guests make their way to Chamonix and meet up with the rest of the group and Mountain Tracks’ friendly guide at the hotel, usually around 6 pm. The guide will then brief the group on the week ahead, before checking equipment and final preparations for tomorrow’s start. The group will fuel up at dinner before resting overnight in the hotel.
As with all good adventures, the trek commences after breakfast. We take the local bus or train to the village of Le Tour and then we make use of the gondola and chair lift to assist with the first part of the walk. From here the trail traverses towards the Le Tour glacier and finally up the glacial moraine to the Albert Premier hut (2702m). The path is slightly exposed in places and we may have some snow patches to cross early in the season.
In the afternoon we'll do some mountain skills instruction - typically we will work on using an ice axe and crampons, ascending and descending on snow and ropework – in preparation for the days ahead. Dinner and overnight in the first hut of the trek, The Albert Premier.
Total walking time is 4-5 hours. 1,400m of ascent.
Breakfast is usually taken between 5 and 6 am before we set out up the side of the Le Tour glacier and head over the border into Switzerland. We will rope up on the higher section as we head up for the Col Superior du Tour (3288m). The views from the summit are spectacular, stretching all the way to the Matterhorn. On the descent down towards Champex, we'll often be walking on snow almost all the way to the Cabane d'Orny where we stop for lunch. From the hut, it is a pleasant stroll down to the picturesque lakeside village of Champex - Lac (1466m) where we will spend the night. Our dinner destination and overnight stay is our hotel, overlooking the lake.
Lift option: We can take the Breya chairlift from shortly below the Cabane d’Orny down to Champex. This takes out about 700m of descent.
Total walking time: 7-8 hours, 750m of ascent, 1,400m of descent.
Today is an easier day, starting with a taxi ride from Champex across the Rhone valley and up a mountain road to drop us close to the Lac de Mauvoisin. From here we trek to the Cabane de Chanrion. For the first hour, we walk on a good path just above the lake before heading up to cross the Col de Tsofeiret at 2643m where we make the short descent to the hut for our overnight stay.
Total walking time: 3-4 hours, 980m of ascent, 200m of descent.
From the Chanrion hut, we head up the impressive Glacier d’Otemma which leads us towards the Vignettes hut, our stop for the night. The vast expense of ice is surrounded by immense mountains and is in the heart of the Valais Alps. The Vignettes hut is located at 3157m altitude and offers breath-taking views of the surrounding mountains.
Total walking time: 7-8 hours, 700m of ascent.
Weather permitting, we can start the day with an early ascent of the Pigne d’Arolla (3,792m), the highest point on the Haute Route from where we can enjoy wonderful panoramic views. We’ll then return to the Vignettes hut to pick up our packs and spend the rest of the day descending to the small village of Arolla. We travel through a variety of different landscapes today from the high mountain ice and snow to the sub-mountain flora and fauna and down into the beautiful larch and pine forests above Arolla. In Arolla we stay in a comfortable hotel for the night.
Total walking time: 7-8 hours, 650m of ascent, 1,750m of descent.
We leave Arolla village and start our climb to the Bertol hut (3311m), this hut is perched high on the rock above the glaciers below, one of the best-located huts in the Alps. The full day of ascent takes us back through the forest until we reach the moraine and glaciers below the hut.
Total walking time: 5-6 hours, 1300m of ascent.
We have an earlier start from the Bertol hut in the morning and climb to the summit of the Tete Blanche (3710m). From here our descent is over the Stockli glacier, which is spectacular and from where we have a final short climb to the Schönbielhütte. This day is long with some technical ground to cover over rock, ice and large moraine walls. Getting to the end of this long and arduous day of is not the only reward, this the most beautiful stage of the Classic Haute Route, a real jaw-dropper!
Total walking time: 9-10 hours, 890m of ascent, 1,400m of descent.
The final day is short and gentler by comparison to those prior. A mellow walk to Zermatt through the mountain village called Zmutt. The descent takes approximately 3.5 hours, including a coffee stop! On reaching Zermatt we check in to our comfortable hotel and you have an afternoon to enjoy the shops or perhaps the Matterhorn museum or just relaxing enjoying a celebratory beer and the atmosphere in this tranquil mountain town.
Total walking time: 3-4 hour, 150m of ascent, 800m of descent.
Depart after breakfast.
If you are taking the Mont Blanc extension you will travel to Chamonix on this day and overnight in a hotel.
The guide client ratio for the climb will be 1:2. We take the Bellevue Cable Car and Tramway du Mont Blanc to the Nid d'Aigle and walk to the Gouter hut. This will take between 5-6hrs with a few stops on route. Dinner and overnight in the hut.
Breakfast in the hut. We leave the hut between 2-3am and head towards the summit of Mont Blanc (4810m), the climb from the Gouter hut will take between 4-6hrs. We descend via the same route all the way back to the valley. Overnight in the hotel in Chamonix.
Depart after breakfast.
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*Single rooms are subject to availability and supplement.
The additional cost for the Mont Blanc ascent is £795 per person which includes the guide fees and expenses and 3 nights accommodation (2 hotel and 1 hut) and is based on a minimum of 2 climbers.
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This list contains our recommended clothing and equipment for the Chamonix-Zermatt Haute Route trek, one of the finest multi-day tours in the Alps. Key for a successful and enjoyable trek is to bring the correct clothing and footwear. In the summer months, the days generally start cold and warm up during the morning to become hot in the afternoon. It is therefore essential you have 2-3 thin layers which you are able to put on/take off as the conditions change. Thin layers also allow better movement as opposed to one layer of bulky clothing. In the Alps there is permanent snow throughout the summer above about 2700m and on the glaciers. This means you will be walking on snow & ice for significant portions of the trip, with crampons on your alpine boots.
If you are uncertain or need further information, please contact us.
Base Layer Top and Bottoms – a few base layer tops, usually long-sleeved is best, wool base layers form Ortovox are good as they offer good wicking properties and dry quickly. A short-sleeved top is worth brining too for hot days. For your legs, a couple of pairs of long or ¾ length bottoms are best.
Mid-layer fleece tops – a couple of fleece type jacket or tops that can be worn between your base layer and outer layers. The “Layering” approach offers the best heat retention and flexibility in warm and cold weather.
Insulation Layer - a down or primalotf jacket is a good item to have ready to wear in the event of cold weather, it can live in your rucksack as a spare layer and can come in very handy for sudden changes in the weather.
Lightweight softshell type trousers - you want to wear a lightweight softshell or similar material on your legs, these types of trouser offer good protection from snow/ice as well as abrasion on rock and are comfortable to move in.
Walking shorts or a pair of trousers with zip-off legs. Useful for walk-ins to huts on hot days.
Gore-Tex Jacket - Gore-Tex or other waterproof breathable jackets. Best to have a lightweight jacket that can be worn in the event of wet or windy weather but is packable enough to fit in your rucksack. Your insulated ski jacket will be overkill and too hot and bulky.
Gore-Tex Pants - Gore-Tex or other waterproof breathable trousers. Lightweight is important plus side zips for putting on over your boots and crampons. Used in cold, wet and windy weather.
Sun hat and warm hat – bring a wide-brimmed sun hat or baseball cap plus a warm beanie style hat.
Light, thin gloves – a thin pair of fleece or softshell gloves for warm weather are a must.
Insulated gloves - You need to have a pair of waterproof warm gloves to wear on cold days
Gaiters – these are useful to wear to keep snow out of your boots.
Socks - 3-4 pairs of medium weight socks usually mid-calf length is good.
The Haute Route is a glacier trek and significant time is spent walking on snow and ice. You therefore require a boot which is ‘B2’ rated. This is a semi-rigid boot available in either leather or plastic/composite options. Leather boots tend to be more comfortable and breathable whereas plastic/composite boots are warmer and more waterproof. B2 boots are compatible with C1 and C2 crampons.
Boots can be hired in resort but to avoid discomfort we do strongly recommend that you have your own pair which need to be well worn-in prior to your trip.
Alpine huts supply hut slippers, croc type shoes, that you can use. We do recommend you pack a pair of flip-flops for the night you spend in Arolla on our Haute Route Trek as the hotel does not supply any shoes and its more comfortable to walk around in these than your boots or socks!
These items are essential for all our alpine trekking trips.
All items can be hired from Mountain Tracks or from sport shops in the Alps.
Rucksack - A simple and lightweight pack with a capacity of between 35-45 liters is recommended. You need to have one loop for carrying an ice axe on your rucksack.
Lightweight sleeping bag liner – a silk or cotton sleeping bag liner is now compulsory in all mountain huts.
Water bottle or Thermos – a water bottle or hydration system is needed.
Head torch with spare batteries
Personal first Aid Kit - Should contain:
Plasters – of various sizes and possibly some adhesive wound dressings.
Pain Killers – aspirin or Paracetamol/Nurofen
Antiseptic cream or wipes
Blister kit – compeed and elastic tape to hold it in place (essential)!
(Note: Guides will have comprehensive first aid kits and are qualified in mountain first aid)
Sun Glasses - minimum category 3.
Ski Goggles – these can be very useful if you encounter strong winds and poor weather.
Sunscreen and Lip Protection
Ear Plugs - For noisy huts!!
Hold-all bag - for gear not required on trek. Will be left at first hotel and collected on return.
Money - You will need some cash for food and drinks. There are some ATMs and most hotels, shops and restaurants will accept credit cards, but most huts still accept cash only. You should allow about 30-40 Swiss Francs or 25-35 Euros per day for lunch and drinks (amount approximate and depends on consumption).
Toiletries – Should contain:
Toothbrush and paste - a mini one is ideal
Anti-bacterial hand cleaner
Wet wipes – essential to try to maintain hygiene
Tissues and toilet roll
Small light quick dry towel e.g. a Lifeventure Soft fiber towel
(Any other essentials you need but remember there are no shower facilities and generally no running water in the huts and you have to carry everything with you!)
Alpine club card - If you're a member.
Book, pack of cards and or Ipod/MP3 player – It’s nice to have something to read or listen to when you are in the huts or to challenge your fellow travelers to a game of card. These items are not essential but if you have space you might appreciate them.
It is possible to hire boots and the technical items needed for our alpine trekking trips in resort. Prices do change by resort/country, but here’s an approximate guide to hire costs (for the 8 day trip):
Mountaineering boots €70-80
Ice Axe €50
Boot crampons €50-60
Our guides are also able to hire these technical items to you for your trip (excluding boots).
If you wish to hire from Mountain Tracks then please contact us in advance to book this up.
The town of Chamonix-Mont-Blanc is situated at 1042m (3,396 ft) above sea level. It sits at the foot of Mont Blanc, the highest peak in Western Europe at 4807m (15,770 ft).
Chamonix is considered by many as Europe's mecca for outdoor sports and draws many enthusiasts from all over the world. Unlike many of the purpose built resorts, Chamonix is a proper working town with a large population of about 12,000 inhabitants. This number can be boosted by as many as 80 - 100,000 during the peak months in summer and winter.
As befits a town of this size there are plenty of shops, hotels, cafes, bars, pubs and nightclubs.
Our top reasons to visit Chamonix:
Home of the Vallée Blanche, one of the world’s great off-piste descents
Great destination for weekends and short breaks
Easy access from the UK and just 75 minutes by road from Geneva airport, which has regular flights from many UK airports
Thriving, working town full of shops, bars and restaurants = good shopping, good après-ski
The Alpine capital of France renowned for big mountain skiing, alpinism and extreme adventure
Mont Blanc – the highest peak in Western Europe
Very long ski season with skiing possible until well into May
Good range of accommodation for all budgets
Chamonix Ski Area
The skiing area of Chamonix is generally considered to have some of the best off-piste skiing in the world. Much of this is accessible from the lift systems and includes descents of over 2,000m. The Chamonix valley extends over 20km and there are several separate lift systems and mountains which provide enormous variety and all are included on the Mont Blanc pass.
Off Piste runs include:
The Vallée Blanche
The longest off-piste ski descent in the world (24kms).
Pas de Chevre
Ascend to the top of Grand Montets and ski down to the Mer de Glace and on into Chamonix.
Glacier du Toule
You can ski the Glacier du Toule down towards Courmayeur and then catch the cable car back up to the top of the mountain and ski the Italian side of the Vallée Blanche.
From the back of the Le Tour lift system there is fantastic off-piste skiing towards Vallorcine and Switzerland.
Some of the very best areas can only be reached with an hour's ski tour from the pistes. The effort expended is more than rewarded with the awesome skiing across untracked terrain.
Chamonix is just as much about the climbing and mountaineering in the summer months, with easy access into the high mountains and many magnificent climbs and routes available plus an extensive network of high alpine huts its also a mecca for climbers. Mont Blanc draws over 20,000 ascents a year both by ski and foot and any good weather day in the summer months will see numerous people achieve the summit.
Resort Height: 1,042m
Highest Lift: 3,842m
Nearest Airport: Geneva
Transfer Options: From Geneva the transfer time from the airport is about 75 minutes to Chamonix. We recommend that you book a seat with one of the many transfer companies who offer shared minibus transfers to and from the airport. Mountain Tracks recommends Mountain Drop Offs or Cham Van who both offer comparativly priced transfers and run an efficient services.
More about Mont Blanc
Mont Blanc is the highest mountain in Western Europe. Its height is 4,807 metres (15,780 feet), but varies from year to year by a few metres, depending on snowfall and climate conditions. The mountain lies at 45°55′N, 6°55′E between the regions of Haute Savoie, France and Aosta Valley, Italy
The first known ascent was made on August 8, 1786 by Jacques Balmat and Michel Paccard.
It is a condition of booking that you are insured for your chosen activity and the cover must include medical expenses, personal accident, personal liability, third party risks and rescue (including helicopter rescue). You are strongly advised also to take out cover against cancellation and curtailment.
For more details and to purchase a policy online visit http://www.skiclubinsurance.co.uk/
If you need assistance arranging your personal insurance please let us know.
The impending deadline for the UK to leave the EU may have you worried, especially if you have travel plans in the new year, however with a few steps you can make sure you are well prepared for any eventuality. As of January 1st 2021, there will be new rules for UK residence when travelling to the EU and other European countries.
The Ski Club of Great Britain has compiled some of that advice to help skiers and snowboarders understand the changes, and what they might need to do if they are travelling after the Brexit deadline.
At Border control, you may have to show your return ticket and money
At border control, you may need to:
Visas for short trips: you will not need one if you’re a tourist
If you’re a tourist, you will not need a visa for short trips to most EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. You’ll be able to stay for up to 90 days in any 180-day period.
Different rules will apply to Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania. If you visit these countries, visits to other EU countries will not count towards the 90-day total.
You may need a visa or permit to stay for longer, to work or study, or for business travel.
On the day you travel, you’ll need your passport to both:
If you do not renew your passport, you may not be able to travel to most EU countries and Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland.
Most holiday companies have taken measures to ensure that there will be minimal impact to their guests’ experience.
If you are taking a package deal that is covered by ABTA, ABTOT & ATOL you will have the same buyer protection as before. You should always purchase travel insurance to make sure you are covered in case of delays or cancellations. If in doubt about arrangements contact your tour operator to make sure there aren’t any changes. It is probably worth adding a little extra time before passport control just in case things aren’t running as smooth as normal.
Both Ski Club Freshtracks and Mountain Tracks holidays are covered by ATOL & ABTOT protection and are guaranteed to run regardless of the new Brexit rules. Take a look at our holidays here.
Most travel insurers will offer the same amount of coverage in EU countries as they did before if you already have a policy with them, in fact, many of them are underwritten by large EU corporations. It is possible that premiums might go up after December 31st as we leave the EHIC scheme and other shared healthcare and insurance organizations. If you aren’t sure whether your insurance still covers you, head to their website or give them a call.
Your European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will be valid up to 31 December 2020. It’s particularly important you get travel insurance with the right cover if you have a pre-existing medical condition. This is because the EHIC scheme covers pre-existing conditions, while many travel insurance policies do not.
Ski Club Insurance will continue to provide the same cover whatever the outcome of the Brexit negotiations. For full Insurance, policy details go here.
A ‘green card’ is proof that you have motor insurance cover when driving abroad. You should plan to carry one for the vehicle you’re driving in the EU and EEA, including in Ireland, from 1 January 2021.
You will need to carry multiple green cards if:
Contact your vehicle insurance provider 6 weeks before you travel to get green cards for your vehicle, caravan or trailer. The green card can be emailed to you by your insurer for you to print. For more information head to gov.uk
From 1 January 2021, the guarantee of free mobile phone roaming throughout the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway will end.
A new law means that you’re protected from getting mobile data charges above £45 without you knowing.
You can find all the latest information on gov.uk.
You want to arrange to arrive in Chamonix by late afternoon on the first Saturday.
The most convenient airport is Geneva and from here the transfer time up to Chamonix by road is just 1 hr 15mins. To travel between the airport and Chamonix we recommend you reserve a seat on one of the many commercial shuttle buses. Mountain Tracks can book this for you, usual prices are from £35 per person one-way, please supply your full flight details to us so we can make the reservation.
Want to take the train to the resort? No problem – it’s possible to get to Chamonix by train from the UK using the Eurostar from London St. Pancras to Paris, then the TGV to Bellegarde and a regional train to Chamonix. The journey can be done in 1 day. For more information and other useful train travel details look at www.snowcarbon.co.uk
At the end of the tour you can depart directly from Zermatt, but please bear in mind if you leave any luggage in Chamonix or have rented any equipment this needs to be picked up or returned by you.
On request we can arrange for luggage to be transferred from Chamonix to Zermatt. This is arranged with a local taxi company and the transfer costs about 350 Euros which will need to be divided amongst the group. The luggage transfer is a good option if everyone wants to depart directly from Zermatt and has no rental equipment to return to Chamonix.
Departure from Zermatt at the end of the tour
You should arrive in Zermatt on the 2nd Sunday afternoon and the trek officially finishes after breakfast on the Monday. If you have carried all your belongings with you then you can depart directly from Zermatt at your leisure on the Monday. To return to Chamonix at the end of the tour we prefer to book the group onto a road transfer, based on a group of 6 travelling the price is approx 50€ per person. It is also possible to take the train from Zermatt to Chamonix, this costs in the region of 90 CHF.
On the Haute Route Trek we estimate that the cost for local transfers and uplifts will be in the region of £40-£50 per person which is not included in the price and needs to be paid for locally in a mix of Euros and Swiss Francs.
We will transfer any additional bags you want to leave in Chamonix with other personal belongings in to Zermatt for your arrival at the end of the trek. We scheduled this transfer for the day before you arrive in Zermatt incase of any change to the itinerary in the event of bad weather. Your luggage will be at the hotel we use in Zermatt for your arrival.
All our trekking trips are run by our team of IFMGA Mountain Guides. The team is led by Olly Allen, Matt Dickinson and Nick Parks.
The maximum ratio for the Classic Haute Route Trek is 6 trekkers with 1 guide and the tours often run with up to 12 trekkers and 2 guides.
In Chamonix our preferred hotels are either the Hotel Les Lanchers in Les Praz or the Hotel Couronne in Argentiere. Both are comfortable 3* hotels offering light and airy rooms and a comfortable lounge area. Rooms are booked on a twin share basis unless you specifically want a single room, where a supplement will be charged.
In Zermatt we use the Hotel Tannenhof which is centrally located just off the main street and has exceptional views of the Matterhorn. All hotels are booked on bed & breakfast and each hotel serves a mixture of hot and cold options.
During the trek you will be staying in a combination of comfortable Gite/Auberges and traditional mountain huts (like 1* hotels) operated by the Swiss and French Alpine Clubs.
The mountain huts have dormitory style accommodation with rooms ranging from 4 to 20 beds. All accommodation is mixed sex sharing and washing facilities are usually limited, some huts have some cold running water but typically its basic living. Toilets are septic tank type (non-flushing) in general and again mixed sex.
In the village of Arolla, mid-week, you stay in a nice 2* where you have twin rooms with private bathrooms.
Food in the huts is nourishing and comes in generous portions.
A typical breakfast will consist of coffee, tea, hot chocolate, orange juice, bread, butter, jam. In the Swiss Alpine huts you also often get muesli and yoghurt. During the day you carry 'hill food' e.g. snacks such as nuts & raisins, chocolate or muesli bars. Sometimes you will arrive at huts for a late lunch of omelettes, rosti (swiss fried mash) or pasta.
The evening meals are usually a set menu of 3 courses. Typical menu will be soup to start, a main dish of meat or pasta with mash or rice and vegetables. Dessert will be fruit or mousse. The huts will cater for vegetarians, vegans and Gluten Free diets but you need to remember that all their food is delivered by helicopter so you may not get a large variety in your meals but they do understand dietary requirements and do the best they can.
All the huts serve beer, wine and a selection of soft drinks including bottled water.
The Alps generally have a very pleasant climate throughout the spring, summer and autumn with warm days and cool nights, with daytime temperatures in the valley around 25 - 30°C. At high altitude the temperature often goes down below -10 and can feel even colder with wind chill.
I have little or no alpine experience but I enjoy hill walking and trekking. I am competent trekking on rough, rocky footpaths. I would like to use crampons, understand basic rope work and glacial travel. Any snow patches encountered are crossed without too much fuss. Carrying a 30 litre rucksack with my daily equipment is no problem.
I am an experienced trekker, used to walking between 6-8 hours per day, carrying a reasonably heavy rucksack (8-10 kg) with all I need in it for the trip. I am confident in my foot placement on all terrain, particularly on rocky exposed paths. I enjoy the challenge of more technical treks and don't mind some sections of scrambling on steeper ground.
On our Wild Blue Trek in Sardinia, we require participants to be at at least this level with a good head for heights, sure-footedness and happy to "climb" and abseil in exposed situations.
I have excellent cardiovascular fitness and plenty of endurance to cope with several demanding days in a row. I can climb 5-6 hours most days, and on summit days up to 10-12 hours. I have enough upper body strength to pull myself up short sections of fixed rope or ladders. Endurance fitness is gained through longer training periods of walking, running, cycling and swimming. These climbs can be strenuous with the need for upper body strength gained through, gym sessions, scrambling or in/outdoor rock climbing.
IFMGA / UIAGM / IVBV
The IFMGA / UIAGM / IVBV symbol is the logo of the International Federation of Mountain Guides Association.
Nick, Olly and Matt are all fully-qualified UIAGM Mountain Guides and members of the British Mountain Guides Association.
The International Ski Instructors Association is the world body for professional ski instructors.
The ISIA was formed in 1971 and there are currently 39 member nations representing the very best in ski instruction around the world.