Chamonix, France

Classic Haute Route Trek

The Summer Haute Route trail linking Chamonix in France with Zermatt in Switzerland, two of the principal alpine mountaineering centres, is one of the world's great multi-day treks and is featured in National Geographic's top ten worldwide treks.

The Haute Route trail provides some of the finest views in the Alps, stretching from Mont Blanc to the Grand Paradiso. The Classic Haute Route trail takes to the higher elevations in the mountains, as opposed to the walker's summer Haute Route which stays at lower levels. 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 this means breakfast is usually taken between 5.30-6am and we are on the trail by 7am. 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!

Mont Blanc Extension

We offer a 2 day Mont Blanc Extension immediatly 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).  

Day Itinerary

  • Travel to Chamonix. Meet up with the rest of the group and your Mountain Tracks guide at the hotel usually around 6pm. Guides briefing, check equipment and finalise preparations for tomorrow’s start. Group dinner. Overnight in the hotel.

  • The tour 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 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. Total walking time is 4-5 hours. 1,400m of ascent.

    In the afternoon we'll do some mountain skills instruction - use of crampons, ascending and descending on snow, ropework – in preparation for the days ahead. Dinner and overnight in the hut.

  • Breakfast is usually taken between 5 and 6am 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 to the Cabane d'Orny where we stop for lunch. From the hut it is a pleasant stroll down to the picturesque village of Champex - Lac (1466m). Dinner and overnight in our hotel overlooking the lake. Total walking time approx 7-8 hours. 750m of ascent. 1,400m of descent.

    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.

  • Today is an easier day. It starts 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 and descending to the hut. Total walking time about 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 tonight. The vast expense of ice is surrounded by impressive mountains and is in the heart of the Valais Alps. The Vignettes hut located at 3157m and offers impressive views to the surrounding mountains. Total walking time about 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 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. Total walking time is about 7-8 hours. 650m of ascent.  1750m of descent.

  • We leave Arolla village and start our ascent to the Bertol hut (3311m), this hut is perched high on the rock above the glaciers below, one of the best locations in the Alps. The days climb takes us back through the forest until we reach the moraine and glaciers below the hut. The total ascent is 1300m and takes around 5-6hrs.

  • 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 Schonbiel Hut, all together 9-10 hours. This day is long with some technical ground to cover over rock, ice and large moraine walls. You need to be prepared for a long but rewarding day on the most beautiful stage of the trek.  890m of ascent. 1400m of descent.

  • The final day is short and there is a more gentle 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 coffee and the atmosphere in this tranquil mountain town.  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.

2019

Dates

Price

Sat 15 Jun
- Sat 22 Jun
£1595 Book
Sat 29 Jun
- Sat 06 Jul
£1595 Book
Sat 13 Jul
- Sat 20 Jul
£1595 Book
Sat 27 Jul
- Sat 03 Aug
£1595 Book
Sat 10 Aug
- Sat 17 Aug
£1595 Book
Sat 24 Aug
- Sat 31 Aug
£1595 Book
Sat 07 Sep
- Sat 14 Sep
£1595 Book

The price includes all guide fees & expenses, 9 nights accommodation, 9 breakfasts, 7 evening meals and transport of your bags from Chamonix to Zermatt for the end of the trip.

The price does not include lunches, beverages, 2 evening meals, personal insurance, equipment hire, travel to and from Chamonix, local transfers and uplift costs.

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 Smartwool or Icebreaker 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 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 jacket. 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.

    • Climbing helmet
    • Ice Axe - General mountaineering / alpine pick 55-70cms long depending on your height.
    • Boot crampons - with anti-balling plates.
    • Climbing Harness – adjustable leg loops are useful for easy of putting on over your boots.
    • Adjustable trekking pole(s)
    • 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

    • Penknife

    • 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)

    • Whistle

    • 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!!

    • Camera

    • Hold-all bag - for gear not required on trek. Will be left at first hotel and collected on return.

    • Passport

    • 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

      • Soap

      • 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
    Harness €40
    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.

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Chamonix

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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.

Le Tour

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 Information:

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 UK residents Ski Club Travel Insurance may be a suitable option.

    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.
     

  • 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.

    Meals

    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.

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