Also, pick up an elastic clothes line at somewhere like REI - they hardly weigh anything and they're invaluable for drying clothes). The trail from Col de la Forclaz to the summit of the pass was 4.2 miles with 4350 feet of elevation gain; we'd just hiked 2 miles and only gained 800 feet, which meant we still had 3500 feet left to climb…and only 2.2 miles to do it in – that translates into an average grade of 31%. If you cannot navigate the site or you've got a Mac, I've mirrored a version of their Switzerland map that you can download here and load into Garmin Basecamp (then transfer into your GPS via MapInstall) below. I got some money at the ATM (located next to the bus stop and grocery store) and we ate dinner at the Rand-evous Bed & Breakfast on the east end of town. The second ladder’s rungs were basically small iron bars, and the rock attachment points (large iron rods embedded in the rock that came out and around the rungs like hooks) occasionally jutted out. Your mileage may vary! This Topographic Map Guide outlines two different variations of the Haute Route from Chamonix, France to Zermatt, Switzerland: one for hikers and one for skiers. Our room had a double-sized bunk bed (with pillows and down comforters) that we shared with the Welsh couple we had met the night before (the room next to us had a triple layer bunk double-sized bunk bed!). (An important point: the ATMs in the Geneva airport only dispense Swiss Francs; but Alpy Bus would only accept Euros since they were taking us into France…I had to withdraw Francs and exchange them to Euros at the exchange counter). Let me reiterate that: the croissants were absolutely amazing! This Haute Route goes where bicycles cannot – and that is not a challenge (unless you’re Danny McAskill). The trail broke into numerous braids and climbed steeply up the rocky terminus at the south end of the lake. By the time everyone arrived, the hut had about 30 people staying for the night: the Belgians, the Brits, the tour group we met the day before, a Welsh couple we ended up sharing a room with in the next Cabane, a solo hiker from New Zealand, and a few others. We chatted a bit once they caught up with us; when I asked one of the group members how the Col was, his description was a quite sarcastic “exhilarating!”. It was a bitterly cold but clear day – the wind was whipping down from the pass in sustained gusts of 20 mph, making the 45°F weather even colder. I wasn't nearly as sore or tired at the end of the hike as I had expected to be. As an added complication to our trip, my wife Lisa is gluten-intolerant (meaning that if she eats anything with wheat (gluten) she’ll feel incredibly ill and lethargic for about 3 days – not life threatening (for her), but a horrible inconvenience especially when hiking 8 hours a day...not as bad as full blown Celiac Disease (thankfully)). The plus side, however, was that the hike climbed up a beautiful hillside and we had an unobstructed view of the Glacier du Trient the entire climb - yielding one of the most spectacular views on the entire hike as well. Words really cannot describe the amazing views and the entire experience. You will stay in high mountain refuges and hotels each night as you follow the route that traverses below the summits of ten of the highest peaks in the Alps. The cable car was self-operating (sort of) in Jungen. Thankfully, the Swiss had the forethought to place a trail sign indicating that Cabane de Prafleuri was a mere 5 minutes away (geee...thanks). Buy your Swiss Topo hiking maps before you leave to ensure you stay on the right track, especially if you're interested in a self-guided tour. Pyrenees High Route (HRP) Hiking Guide for 2020. The descent from the pass was very pleasant; the trail meandered through the tundra with lots of marmots chirping and scampering about. We chose to head towards Forcletta (the pass) and Grüben rather than Hotel Weisshorn (neither of our two friends that had hiked the Haute Route had said that Hotel Weisshorn was particularly amazing, so we chose to skip it and save a day). Shortly after sitting down, the Kiwi we met back in Cabane du Mont Fort came down for dinner (between rest days and trips out to other huts, somehow our schedules had re-aligned). From there, you could opt to hike along the top of the moraine (which fell away quickly on both sides) or stay low on the left-hand side between the valley wall and the moraine itself. Directly above us was Col de Riedmatten, to our right we had a clear view of the ladders (Pas de Chèvres). A weatherproof carrying case like this one wouldn’t hurt to have either. 7-Day Haute Route Tour Info. behind the clouds and it was too cool to remain outside. Not once did I ever see the need for an ice axe. The scenery was outstanding. With a personalised itinerary builder, GPS mobile maps, up-to-date trail information and affordable pricing, The Hiking Club has everything a self-guided hiker needs for … The trail gained elevation at a very consistent grade up the rocky valley. Like any guidebook, though, their descriptions made more sense after we finished hiking for the day. Once we showered and did some laundry, we headed out to grab dinner and restock our trail supplies. we could see more of the trail across the valley as it climbed to the cabane along the lateral moraine of Glacier de Moiry, but the glacier was still not visible. At 11am, we were finally able to see the summit of the pass in the distance. After re-reading the days’ route, we’d read the next day’s description – reading too far ahead just got us confused, so we avoided that. Not sure what the plural form of an ibex is...) on the rocky ridgeline to our right. Had we gone left, we would’ve stayed on the trail that led to Champex, but instead we ended up on a paved road down from Arpette to Champex. The route traverses below the summits of 10 out of the 12 of the highest peaks in the Alps, and crosses several high passes. It starts off at Chamonix, France close to the Swiss border before heading east towards the Mattertal. After lunch, we hiked up towards Les Ruinettes (where the gondola would have dropped us off). Enjoy glorious mountain vistas, crisp air, and challenging terrain on what is a truly rewarding experience through one of the most beautiful regions of Switzerland. Haute Route Maps. Since the base of the ladders was a narrow area that I didn't feel particularly comfortable removing my pack in, I had taken off my pack at a wider section of trail, stowed my camera inside the pack, and grabbed my gloves. We gained the summit of Col de Sorebois (9,298 ft) at 1:00pm – unfortunately, I can’t describe much of this trail because I couldn’t see anything except what was below my feet! The stage from Champex to Le Châble was hiked by one of our friends, but the others had skipped it. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, running, and nature trips. Panoramic Haute Route Maps now in stock These are the maps most frequently requested requested by our clients on the Haute Route. 5,000 feet directly below us was St. Niklaus (and Jungen). We saw maybe four other Americans along the trail…and even fewer signed in to Cabane log books. Once we could see the signpost on the summit of the Col there was no question as to where we were going. Eventually we encountered a trail junction point which pointed the way to Jungen. Following another delectable breakfast of croissants (and a buffet) at Hôtel La Pointe de Zinal, I walked next door to the bakery to pick up a baguette for the trail and we were off at 8:15am (both the bakery and the supermarket opened at 7:30am – plenty of time to stock up before hitting the trail). The staff spoke a little English and Lisa’s French came in handy. When we first arrived, the weather was cold and rainy. Personally, I think doing it without a guide was WAY better - we got to hike at our own pace (rather than stopping whenever the group decided to stop), we picked our own lodging (rather than camping or staying in large hostels), and eat where we chose to. After a 15 minute rest, we pressed on towards Col de Louvie. La Sage to Cabane de Moiry via Col via Col du Tsaté - this hike was really nothing special until you get over the pass. Planning is now well underway, and in this blog post I’d like to outline my approach to maps, route planning, and how I’ll handle navigation on the trail. Eventually, the trail and the valley floor converged, meaning an end to exposure. Finding Hotel Schwarzhorn was easy – it’s the tallest building in town; in fact, we were able to spot it from the trail 2,000 feet above the valley. Shortly after entering the rocky section of trail we encountered a fork. Towering high above us on the left of us was the ridgeline; to our right, the valley, dropping precipitously below us. The Haute Route—aka the High Route or Mountaineers' Route—traverses the French and Swiss Alps. Dinner was a vegetable soup; mixed vegetable salad; pork roast with carrots, noodles (substituted with potatoes for Lisa), and gravy; with crème caramel for dessert (Lisa dessert was substituted with fruit cocktail) . 6.5 miles, +3482 ft, -3324 ft; 18.2% avg grade up, -20.4% avg grade down. - See 18 traveler reviews, 4 candid photos, and great deals for Chamonix, France, at Tripadvisor. The route has a total distance of 180-200 kilometers depending on the stages you choose. While I could have made do with any brand of energy bar, Lisa's gluten intolerance meant that finding an energy bar might be more difficult. As we descended. It was the result of a two year renovation that had opened for the first time this season, adding a huge kitchen and dining area with floor to ceiling windows overlooking the glacier below, modern bedrooms, indoor bathrooms (and showers), and the capacity to sleep 110 comfortably. 8.5 hours, 4.6 miles, +3446 ft, -315 ft; 15% avg grade up, -6% avg grade down. We found that laundering our clothes each night kept the dirty clothes pile minimal (which is good, since we really only had two sets of everything) and if we had a balcony, we could line dry our clothes in whatever sun we had left. 3 hours after leaving the Chalet, we arrived at the summit of Fenêtre d’Arpette (8,769 ft, 1:20pm). Many others along the trail had tennis shoes as their secondary pair – we brought sandals; either worked fine (there were no stream crossings that required sandals, which was one reason we had them…just in case). The hiking poles were extremely handy here as the loose sand didn't offer much of a footing. Rainier National Park. From the south side of Trient (4,443 ft, 2:40pm), we continued following the signs up towards Col de la Forclaz. The view was absolutely beautiful, and a good chance to get to know our hut-mates a bit more. Most of the hikers on the trail were older than we expected – early 50’s maybe? There are 12 or 14 stages depending on if you end your hike via the Europaweg or the traditional valley walk. (Note: we didn’t realize this at the time, but the Postbus and Train systems are linked – you can purchase tickets to Verbier as you get on the bus in Champex-Lac; instead we ended up buying tickets for each leg of the journey). We had decided to take the cable car from Jungen down to St. Niklaus and avoid another 3,000 feet of steep descent - this made Jungen the end of our Haute Route hiking. At the huts we either purchased (expensive) bottled water or filled up with their hikers tea. We arrived at Clambin after 45 minutes of hiking (about a mile outside of Verbier). With a lighter pack, we wandered the streets of Les Haudères trying to solve our next dilemma: it was Sunday, most of the shops were closed, and we were really low on supplies (plus we were going to another Cabane the next night, so no opportunity to re-stock there). This required a bit more prep work but we found it to be well worth it! We avoided eating Mr. Ed and instead ordered cheese and tomato fondue, plus a wonderful dessert. Eventually, the trail leveled back out on the valley floor and crossed a small stream. We were in the shoulder season where they only operate it on select days of the week...and today was apparently not selected (as of 2010, it’s closed on Mondays and Tuesday in September). to see or do, so we decided to catch the bus down to Les Haudères. As we approached the base of the first ladder, the ledges became a bit narrower and fixed chains were connected all the way to the ladders themselves. She popped up a few seconds after I did and we celebrated on the top by eating fine Swiss chocolate. views that both guide books raved about. Breakfast at Hôtel du Glacier was a buffet with meats, cheeses, yogurt, and of course, bread. The trail switchbacked tightly down a rocky hillside with slick footing due to the bare dirt and incline. Lodging was easy to find in each town - whenever there was limited lodging (like in Grüben or at a hut) we'd call ahead the morning we departed to ensure we had a room waiting for us. The northernmost route or, Walker's Route, depicted on the map travels north from Chamonix and traverses through the Alps all the way to Zermatt. My name is Brian Davis. All I can say is that, when it was all over, it was so worth it. Eventually, as I knew we would, we ran out of ridge to contour along and it was time to round the corner into the next hanging valley…this, as I knew beforehand, was where the trail was exposed. The trail contoured along the eastern side of Bec Termin and Bec de Rossos gaining only a few hundred feet of elevation. In it’s current incarnation, the Haute Route is renowned as both a summer hiking trail, as well as a cross country skiing route in the winter. Restless from our rest day, we were anxious to hit the trail. As I started to climb the third ladder (probably about 10 feet? Best Haute Route: Alpenwild’s Chamonix to Zermatt Haute Route. but at times the slope gave way to a sheer drop below. Along this stretch of trail, there was one section of fixed rope where the trail crossed an small eroded rocky gully. Most of the passes get quite steep and having the extra stability was critical. After hiking for years in Colorado, I can easily say that nothing in Colorado compares at all. Of course, we survived the cable car with no issues. The trail dropped steeply down 500 feet with a grade of 31% but the. Maps: Two very good maps by the Carte nationale de la Suisse cover the entire Walker’s Haute Route: #5003 Mont Blanc-Grand Combin and #5006 Matterhorn-Mischabel. Our original plan was to take a bus to Argentière, but then quickly realized that the walk between Argentière and Le Tour was also just another road walk, and the bus could take us all the way to Le Tour…so that’s where we began our journey. The weather gradually warmed throughout the trip and we found ourselves hiking in short sleeves (but still keeping the zip-off pant legs on our pants), donning warmer layers only at the tops of passes. Once done with breakfast, we were ready to hit the trail – which was just out in front of the hotel. The trail continued to drop at about the same grade, but the plants changed from alpine tundra, to taller grasses, and finally to a forest. The road switchbacked through a small ski area just above Champex and eventually dumped us onto the west side of town. Breakfast at Hotel du Glacier was a fantastic buffet; they had croissants, bread, jams, meats and cheeses, yogurt, and boiled eggs. For dinner, we dined on fondue and saltimbocca (and wine) at Le Fermi for 67 CHF. Many people indicated that the weather was a bit unusual for this time of year. Planning is now well underway, and in this blog post I’d like to outline my approach to maps, route planning, and how I’ll handle navigation on the trail. The trail began climbing again around 11:30am (after dropping about 600 feet) just above Barrage de Moiry. We had gone from the solitude of alpine hiking to a bustling train station and town jam packed with people; more people than we’d seen in any of the towns we’d been in over the past two weeks. This tiny cable car descended silently down the steep hillside into St. Niklaus 3,000 feet below. Another group arrived at the Chalet as we started to head off: a guide-led group of 12 from the UK that was also doing the Haute Route. The old cabane held the dortoir rooms and the mud room while the new wing held the small rooms, dining area, a drying room in the basement and restroom facilities. departed with no warning. I found my hiking poles to be invaluable on this section, but Lisa did fine without any. At 12:20pm we began our descent from the Col. Since it was still early in the day, the owner let us drop off our stuff while they finished cleaning the room. Our small documentary on the Haute Route Ski Tour trip that our group took from April 1-7th, 2017 - From Argentière to Zermatt. If you have the chance - DO THIS HIKE! The trail started off with a pleasant walk along a bisse. We had not made reservations in Arolla, so we first popped into Hôtel du Pigne d’Arolla on the edge of town (one of our friends had stayed here on their journey) but they had no rooms available. Watery Trailheads: The Pyrenean Haute Route may well be – along with the GR10 and GR11 – the only long distance hike in the world where you can start with a dip in the ocean and finish with a swim in a sea. Update: For those that plan to continue hiking from here, the route from EuropaHutte to Zermatt was closed as of September 2013. The Haute Randonnée Pyrénéenne (HRP) is a high-level long-distance trail in the Pyrenees joining the Atlantic and Mediterranean. The exposure started making me real anxious...but the views of Grand Combin and the valley below couldn't be ignored and played a wonderful distraction! After dinner, some folks stayed down in the dining room and played cards or read. A stream flowed down what could have been a path, and there were a number of braided trails to pick from. At this point, the fog had descended down into the valley and we could see 20 feet in front of us. After 5 strenuous days of hiking, we’d decided to take a rest day. 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