The Haute Route: Chamonix to Zermatt via Verbier
Please contact us if you are interested in private dates for March or April 2019.
It's hard to think of a better way to spend seven days. With nothing but skis, a little gear, and a light packs, we ski over high passes and across big glaciers on our way from Chamonix to Zermatt. Along the way we enjoy enjoy the hospitality of five lovely mountain huts. Duly fortified with a hearty dinner and breakfast, we set out each morning to enjoy new and unique terrain.
Day 0: We go for a shake down on one of the most celebrated glaciated ski runs in the world. After an 8,000' gondola journey, we pop out of the Aiguille du Midi station and enter the high mountains. It's an unforgettable ski amongst towering peaks, tributary ice falls, and yawning crevasses. A cog wheel train takes us back to town where we gather last minute items and enjoy a fine meal (If your schedule is tight, contact us about opting out of this day).
Day 1: From the top station of the Grands Montets, we ski down to the mighty Argentiere glacier. After a climb to the Col du Chardonnet, some rope work gets us down into the next valley. From there it's a romp through two more cols to gain the Trient Plateau and the warm welcome of the Trient Hut. Welcome to Switzerland!
Day 2: After a short morning ski, we climb up to the scenic perch of the Col des Ecandies. It's a long ski down to the valley, where we meet a taxi that will bring us to Verbier. After lunch in town, we ride lifts and ski to our lodging at the Mont-Fort hut.
Day 3: This day delivers a strong feeling of movement through the mountains as we cover many kilometers of isolated alpine valley. With good weather we can make an excursion to the summit of the Rosa Blanche where the panorama is nothing short of exquisite. From there, it's all downhill to the Cabane de Prafleuri, though its namesake flowered meadow is still quite buried.
Day 4: We forge our way along the expansive Lac de Dix, following a devious route up the Pas de Chat up to the edge of another massive glacier and the Cabane de Dix.
Day 5: This day gets us up close and personal with some big mountain features; big ice cliffs abound, and we emerge onto a high alpine plateau ringed with jagged peaks. From the summit of the Pigna d'Arolla, you can almost see to Zermatt...almost. It's a beautiful ski down to the Vignettes hut, where you will be unable to refuse the roschti.
Day 6: The grand, final day sees us crossing col after col through constantly changing mountain architecture. From near the top of our last climb you can nearly reach out and touch the Matterhorn, and it's a long, exhilarating ski under its north face, down among the larches and warm alpine splendor of Zermatt. It's time to celebrate a successful Haute Route--or, if you're tight on time, you can still catch a train back to Chamonix in time for dinner.
two nights lodging in Chamonix at trip start
5 nights lodging in mountain huts
breakfast and dinner at each hut
baggage transfer from Chamonix to Zermatt
any taxis and lifts used during the trip, and guide fees.
Price does not include:
drinks and lunches along the way
ground transport from Zermatt back to Chamonix
meals in Chamonix
meals in Zermatt
This ski tour requires strong all-around backcountry skiing skills. We encounter a variety of terrain and snow conditions, and in a number of places your safety will depend on your ability to ski in control. In order to safely enjoy the Haute Route, you should feel competent with the following:
Skiing a variety of conditions, including powder, crud, glop, breakable crust, and very firm snow.
Side-slipping both forward and backward on steep, firm snow up to 45º
Skating on flat ground
Crucially, you need to ski efficiently; if variable conditions wear you out quickly, then it's time to hit the slopes and work on getting comfortable with steep terrain and funky snow.
This should not be your first ski tour. You should be fairly efficient with transitions from uphill to downhill travel, including transitions to carrying skis. It's okay if you are new to crampons, ice axe, and glacier travel. It's important to understand the role of time in alpine ski touring; we won't be racing up the hill, but we do have a time plan to keep. As the old saying goes, it's not how fast you go but how long you stop.
We will typically be moving for around 6 hours a day at a moderate pace. Be able to cover 3,000 to 4,000 feet of gain per day for a week carrying a 20 to 30 pound pack. Factor in the fatigue of skiing based on your ability--if you don't know what it's like to go for a long ski tour with a pack, the Haute Route isn't the best time to find out. Come ski with us for some prep, or let us set you up with a good guide near you who can help get you up to speed with any of these pre-requisites.