The Haute Route Ski Tour is the most famous ski tour in the Alps and is a must for any enthusiastic ski tourer! It is a legendary high Alpine journey linking two historic Alpine centres, Chamonix in France and Zermatt in Switzerland. Total distance is about 120kms and there are 6,000m of ascent and descent.
The Haute Route ski tour traverses exceptionally high terrain and its popular reputation is fully justified on account of the fabulous mountain scenery you pass through. Whilst the Haute Route is undoubtedly very popular, our carefully selected route allows you to enjoy all the high points of the Verbier variation but avoid over-trafficked areas.
There are many other variations on the Haute Route that we can run on a private basis. Some like the 'Grand Lui' or 'Classic' variations involve greater technicality and are thus run on a lower guiding ratio.
Sunday 10th March 2019
Arrive in Chamonix and meet the guide and the rest of the group in the early evening for a welcome meeting, briefing and equipment check.
We start the tour with a warm-up on the Grands Montets ski area in the morning. Your guide will run skills sessions on avalanche search and rescue, skinning technique and use of crampons/ice axe. This will give you a chance to use all your kit and get your ski legs ready for the challenge to follow! In the late afternoon we ski and skin to the Argentiere hut for the night.
Tuesday 12th March 2019
Starting from the Argentiere hut we ski and skin towards the Col du Passon 3028m, which is our preferred route due to the technical difficulties you now encounter descending the Col du Chardonnet. From the col there is a short descent down to the Glacier du Tour from where we ascend to the Col du Tour 3288m. We then cross onto the Trient plateau in Switzerland and arrive at the Cabane du Trient 3170m where we spend the night. Approx 1100m ascent, 1200m descent (6-7hrs).
One of the best descents of the trip - initially down the Trient Glacier before turning east and making the short crampon climb over the Col des Ecandies 2796m and then down the wild and remote Val d'Arpette which ends in the village of Champex 1466m. From here we take a taxi transfer to La Chable and ascend using the lift system in Verbier. A quick piste ski down from Mont Fort accesses a short skin to the Col de la Choix. A short descent and then ascent to the Col de Momin 3003m gives amazing views of the Grand Desert and Rosablanche up ahead. If time allows we make the short ascent of Rosablanche 3336m then descend via the Glacier de Prafleuri to the privately owned Prafleuri Refuge 2624m where we spend the night. Approx 900m ascent, 2400m descent (8-9hrs).
Thursday 14th March
We make an early start and skin over the Col des Roux 2804m and then follow a long descending traverse on the west side of the Lac des Dix. At the end of the lake, we make the long ascent via the Pas du Chat 2372m which leads us to the Cabane des Dix 2928m our stop for the night. Approx 900m ascent, 600m descent (5-7hrs).
Friday 15th March 2019
A spectacular day. Beginning from the Cabane des Dix we make the long ascent to summit the Pigne d'Arolla 3790m (the highest point on the Haute Route). From here you get stunning panoramic views back towards Mont Blanc and onto the Matterhorn. A steep ski descent then leads to the spectacularly perched Cabane des Vignettes 3160m. Approx 950m ascent, 700m descent (5-6hrs).
Saturday 16th March
There are few days in alpine ski mountaineering to match this one. Covering 30km, we cross the three cols of the Col de L'Eveque 3386m, Col du Mont Brule 3218m and the Col Valpelline 3562m and seven glaciers. A fitting finale to the Haute Route before arriving in Zermatt. Approx 1,100m ascent; 2,400m descent (8-10hrs).
On arrival in Zermatt we stop for a celebration drink before taking a train to Tasch station below Zermatt where we meet a pre-booked private minibus to return to Chamonix at our hotel. Overnight in the hotel in Chamonix.
Sunday 17th March 2019
The group will disperse after breakfast.
The price shown is for the route via Verbier,
Price includes all guiding fees and expenses, 2 nights B&B hotel accommodation in Chamonix at the start and end of the trip, all hut fees on HB basis, taxi transfer between Champex and La Chable on Day 4, private return minibus transfer from Tasch to Chamonix.
The price does not include: evening meals in Chamonix, lunches, beverages, personal insurance, hire of ski equipment, travel to and from Chamonix, unscheduled local transfers and uplift costs.
For 4 participants for our standard ski tour the price will be £1,450 per person, for 5 people it will be £1395 and if you can get 6 participants it will be £1350 per person. If you think you will only have 4 to start with that is fine, we can begin with this number, each person pays a £300 deposit to secure their places. If you then manage to recruit a 5th and 6th person we can reduce the total price per person down to the above figures.
We are proud to offer all of our returning customers a £50 discount.
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This is an extensive list of the recommended clothing and equipment you will need if you are coming on one of our Haute Route Ski Tours.
During the tour you will be staying most nights in catered high mountain huts and will need to carry all the equipment and clothing you require for the duration of the tour. The huts are comfortable but basic with limited facilities – running cold water, European-style toilets, dormitory-style accommodation. All the huts provide ‘hut slippers’ – these days they are usually crocs - and so you will not need to carry additional footwear.
Any clothing or other items not required on the tour can be left in a travel bag at your first hotel ready for your return on the final night.
We recommend keeping the weight of your pack as light as possible. If you are new to alpine multi-day ski touring, try taking your pack out on the slopes before the tour to see how it feels. You quickly realise the benefit of ‘skiing light’.
If you are uncertain or need further information, don't hesitate to contact us.
For all touring trips it is essential you ski with an all-mountain/freeride type skis, ski touring boots and ski touring bindings. If you have your own skis but they do not have ski touring bindings then you will need to rent skis. The same applies if you have downhill ski boots, you will need to rent ski touring boots.
For alpine ski touring we recommend an all-mountain/freeride touring ski that isn’t too heavy, a really lightweight ski comes at a cost to performance on the descents so are only recommended for really good off-piste skiers with a strong interest in ski touring.
There are plenty of great skis to choose from and we highly recommend skis from the following manufactures:
Dynastar Skis: www.dynastar.com
Movement Skis: www.movementskis.com
Black Crows Skis: www.blackcrows-skis.com
Trab Skis: www.skitrab.com/en-us
Scott Skis: http://www.scott-sports.com
Volkl Skis: http://www.voelkl.com
If you are planning on buying skis for ski touring and general skiing and have any questions do not hesitate to call us to discuss the options available to you.
It is essential that you have ski touring boots for all touring trips as walking up hill is much more comfortable in these types of boots with a walk mode and great flex. A dedicated touring boot or a hybrid freeride boot is best.
Avalanche airbag rucksacks can be used for touring but they are heavy, adding somewhere between 5-8kg just for an empty pack plus canister. So unless you are sure you can carry it and fit all you need in, we do not recommend you use one.
Over a long multiday tour every gram of weight is important as you have to carry and move it yourself. Carrying a heavy pack will hinder and tire all but the most experienced and fit ski tourer.
The “Safety Trilogy” - required on all our ski tours and off-piste courses.
Food and Water
We suggest you bring with you or buy in resort snack food that you can take out on the hill with you each day. Things like cereal bars, dried fruit and nuts, chocolate, sugary sweets or your favorite hill snacks. When you’re staying overnight in huts its best to take supplies for the days you are away. Huts do sell food but it’s expensive and sometimes stocks run low.
If you have any food allergies or dietary requirements especially if you are a Coeliac (Gluten free) or have a dairy allergy we strongly recommend you bring some food with you that you can supplement your dinners with. The huts are fairly good at providing for vegetarians but less so for other dietary needs.
You have to buy bottled water in the huts as usually any running water is non-potable. Bottled water is expensive in French and Swiss huts; you can be paying upto 12-16CHF per 1.5L bottle of water. So please ensure you budget for this cost.
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.
You should arrange to arrive in Chamonix by late afternoon on the first day.
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 and the usual prices are from £40 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. However, please note to arrive in Chamonix by 5pm you should be departing Paris between 9am and 10am, there is a small selection of options ranging from 5hr to 7hrs of travel. If you need to arrive late in the evening for any of our trips please discuss with us as soon as possible.
All our ski tours are led by our team of IFMGA Mountain Guides. The team is led by Olly Allen, Matt Dickinson and Nick Parks.
French IGN 1:25,000 Chamonix.
Swiss 1:50,000 Martigny 282 (S), Arolla 283 (S) and Mischabel 284 (S).
Note: ‘S’ indicates that ski routes are shown.
The Haute Route, Chamonix-Zermatt by Peter Cliff ISBN 1871890217
Our Introductory level is suitable for people who can ski red and black pistes in resorts without problems and you can deal with moguls and some ice. You will be new to off-piste skiing or maybe have dabbled a little on the sides of the piste or even attended a previous off-piste specific course. You would like to ski powder snow with confidence and learn to link turns off-piste in a variety of terrain as well as being able to control your speed and adjust your turn radius.
Introductory level ski touring trips are appropriate for people looking for their first touring experience. The pace is relaxed and typically we skin for 2-4hrs per day so ascents are about 500 - 800m vertical. You need to be a reasonable off-piste skier (at our Off-Piste Development level), able to link controlled parallel turns in powder snow and ski through trees in control. You need to be prepared to hike short sections on foot carrying your skis on your rucksack (though you won’t need any specific mountaineering knowledge, so crampons and an ice axe are usually not required).
Off-Piste Coaching and Adventure
For our Intermediate graded off-piste ski courses and trips you will have at least a couple of weeks off-piste skiing experience and /or received some previous instructions on an off-piste specific course. You can link 10-12 turns together in reasonable control, speed and style, following the fall line in most conditions. If you’re looking to improve your technique in deeper snow and steeper slopes then our Off-Piste Coaching Development trips are for you. These are instructor-led courses.
If you want to get some miles under your skis then look at our Off-Piste Adventure Intermediate trips which are led by our team of Mountain Guides. On the Adventure courses you can expect to hike or ski tour short distances to get to better snow and terrain, although no previous ski touring experience is required.
These tours will involve around 3-5hrs of skinning per day, achieving around 800 – 1000m of vertical ascent. We would expect you to be able skin to a pace of 300m of vertical ascent per hour. You need to be able to execute good uphill kick turns on steeper slopes and have some familiarity with use of crampons and ice axe. You need to be a reasonably strong off-piste skier able to deal with a variety of snow conditions (powder, crust, slush) and able to ski on steeper and narrower slopes with the requisite ability and confidence for exposed sections.
For our Advanced Off-Piste Coaching courses you should be an excellent piste skier and have many years experience of skiing off-piste. You should be able to ski off-piste in most conditions linking controlled parallel turns, ski bumpy terrain, trees, narrow gullies and enjoy pushing yourself to achieve new things. Your skiing should be reasonably fluid and autonomous i.e. you can already adapt your turn radius and speed to the terrain and snow conditions off-piste. This course will focus on the technical and tactical skills to ski steep terrain, jump turns and line choice as well as refreshing your avalanche skills and mountain safety. The mission is for your skiing to become more dynamic and reactive!
You are an experienced and confident off-piste skier able to handle most snow types and conditions, you can ski steep slopes (30 degrees+) and make short turns in gullies and ski through trees. These skills have been learned over a number of years of skiing off-piste with mountain guides or experienced groups of friends. You are happy to ski tour to access descents and better snow, so you will have previously used ski touring equipment and can do effective and safe uphill kick turns. You aspire to ski the best snow available and are happy to push yourself to reach the best snow and terrain.
Advanced-level tours are for experienced ski tourers who’ve previously completed another hut-to-hut trip or multiple day tours. A large proportion of the terrain may be steep and exposed; thus confidence in your uphill kick turns on 35+ degree slopes is a must, as is your ability to ski slopes of 40 degrees. You will be a strong, fluid off-piste skier able to handle all conditions. You will be confident of using crampons and an ice axe and happy scrambling/climbing on snow and rock on short climbs to summits, and in gullies to gain a col.
You can ski fluidly and autonomously on all terrain. You often ski couloirs and gullies and seek out steep slopes and you can jump turn in narrow couloirs and have experience of abseiling and sideslipping on steep terrain. You can ski fast with fluid ‘freeride’ style turns and can jump off small rocks and ski trees with no fear or problems. You are happy to ski tour and hike to reach the best snow and terrain and you should have some basic knowledge of using crampons and ice axe. Your aims are to push your skills and challenge yourself further.
Expert level ski tours are pure ski mountaineering journeys in the high mountains. You must be confident skiing steep exposed terrain and ski touring for at least 5 hours per day with long ascents. You will be expected to climb on your feet carrying your skis on your pack to summit mountains above 4000m in altitude. You must be completely confident with your crampon placement and use of an ice axe and you will have some basic rope skills and be happy walking along exposed ridges on mixed terrain to gain the summits of peaks.
You can ski all day comfortably off-piste with only short stops for food and drink, you can do this for multiple days on your holiday. If necessary you can ski tour for around 1-2 hrs up hill plus your happy to do a few short hikes to access good snow with your skis on your shoulder or rucksack. Your stamina and endurance fitness is good and you work hard to maintain a good level of fitness. You will be exercising 3-4 times a week and also at the weekend; thus running a half marathon, doing a 50 mile cycle ride, 3-4 hours on a mountain bike or a full day’s hill walk would all prove possible with this stamina level.
You can ski all day comfortably and will be expected to ascend on skis at around 400m/hr and be able to skin for at least 5hrs with up to 1000m to 1300m of ascent per day. Your stamina and endurance fitness is good and you work hard to maintain a good level of fitness. You will be exercising 3-4 times a week and also at the weekend; thus running a half marathon, doing a 50 mile cycle ride, 3-4 hours on a mountain bike or a full day’s hill walk would all prove possible with this stamina level.
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.