Chamonix to Zermatt in 13 Stages
Hotels, Mountain Huts
From $2,900 USD per person
Your Feet, Private Transport (optional), Baggage Transfers (optional)
The Walker's Haute Route takes the experienced hiker from the majesty of Mont Blanc in Chamonix to the iconic Matterhorn in Zermatt. Along the way, she will visit glaciers, mountain tarns and a number of charming hamlets—all set to the backdrop of some of the most stunning 13,120 feet (4,000 meters) peaks in the Alps.
But such rewards do not come without a price. It is a challenging hike; more so than its more famous cousin, the Tour du Mont Blanc. It requires more endurance, a better head for heights and a greater hiker's IQ. The Walker's High Road is approximately 117 miles (188 km) long and has an altitude gain of ca. 39,000 feet (12,000 meters) and loss of ca. 32,000 feet (10,000 meters). The trail itself passes through both France and Switzerland.
The Walker's High Road is customizable to the budget and preferences of our customers.
You will hike 117 miles (188 km) and gain more than 39,000 feet (12,000 meters) of elevation.
Hiking in the alps provides the intrepid hiker not only with great views, but also superb culinary treats. The superb Valais wine, which accounts for half of the wine produced in Switzerland, should be given thorough attention. Regional fare like Raclette du Valais and Roggenbrot should also be incorporated into the eager hiker's diet.
Marmots will almost certainly be seen. For those light-footed individuals, it's possible to see chamois, a goat-antelope like creature, and the rather squatty ibex.
Spectacular views of Moiry Glacier from Moiry Hut.
The challenging Europaweg and the longest pedestrian bridge in the world (Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge).
The trek crosses from the Haute Savoie region of France to the Valais region of Switzerland. Along the way, towering peaks, many of them above 13,120 feet (4,000 meters) will be seen. Mont Blanc (15,780 feet / 4,810 meters), Grand Combin (14,153 feet / 4,314 meters) and the Matterhorn (14,692 feet / 4,478 meters) are some of the most striking. Both Chamonix and Zermatt provide ample luxury to cater to the most sophisticated tastes. In between these giants of tourism, you will get to know the local population of the small towns and villages.
We customize the tour to your preferences and budget. Below, is one possible schedule.
GENEVA AIRPORT TO CHAMONIX
Welcome to Europe! Your shuttle driver will be waiting for you at the airport. After arriving at Hotel Le Morgane, you can enjoy the onsite spa and amenities. Rest up, because tomorrow you begin your trek around the largest mountain in western Europe!
ARGENTIÈRE TO COL DE LA FORCLAZ
You'll start the day with a bus from Chamonix to Argentière. From there, you'll hike up through a forest to Le Tour and catch a view of what you will tackle for the day: Col de Balme. On the other side lies Switzerland and your road to Zermatt. To save your legs the ascent, you do have the option of taking the cable car at Le Tour to Charamillon, and then the chairlift to Autannes, which takes you very close to Col de Balme. Once at the col, you've reached your first border and now stand firmly in Switzerland. There is an old shelter which, although in a privileged position, is run down and not always staffed. Continue down into Switzerland and to your accommodation at Col de la Forclaz.
COL DE LA FORCLAZ TO CHAMPEX
The higher route, passing through Fenêtre d’Arpette (8,747 feet / 2,666 meters) should only be attempted in good weather. On the descent from the col, there is some scrambling necessary and there is loose scree to deal with. Caution is advised. Still, the route has an amazing view or “window” onto a different landscape when you finally reach the top. Also, there is the view of Trient Glacier, which is quite beautiful, although it is shrinking in size.
CHAMPEX D'EN HAUT TO LE CHABLE
This stage has little elevation gain and loss, however it gives a glimpse into Swiss life. You'll be departing from the TMB and the droves of hikers will dwindle to a trickle. Here, you will be reminded that this is a more isolated hike. From Champex, head north through a forested path signposted to Sembrancher, which you will reach in a little over 2.5 hours. After passing through the stone walled village, you'll have a relatively easy hike to Le Chable. Enjoy the easy day, as tomorrow things begin to get tougher.
LE CHABLE TO CABANE DU MONT FORT
Today there is a lot of elevation gain, and you should prepare yourself for the steady 5.6 mile (9 km) climb. Here, there are beautiful views of the Combin Massif, which has several distinct summits above 13,120 feet (4,000 meters). There is also a plethora of ski lifts that crisscross the area, which, depending on your perspective, can either be a monstrosity or a blessing, or perhaps both. If you would like to avoid most of the elevation gain, it's possible to take two cable cars—one from Le Chable to Verbier, and then another from Verbier to Les Ruinettes—which leaves only 853 feet (260 meters) of elevation gain which can be accomplished in a little over an hour.
CABANE DU MONT FORT TO CABANE DE PRAFLEURI
Certainly a beautiful path, this stretch between the two cabins is wild and features some exposure and steep slopes. Early in the season, if you do not have much mountaineering experience, you may wish to bypass this stage. Still, if you choose to conquer this path, you will be awarded with views of Combin Massif, panoramas and if you're lucky, some ibex. Special care is needed on the Sentier des Chamois, on the way down from Col de Louvie and at Col de Prafleuri.
Cabane de Prafleuri to Arolla
Another demanding stage, you will have two cols to cross over. The first, however, is crossed easily and within 30 minutes, you will have your first glimpse of the Matterhorn. You'll also see Lac des Dix spread out below you after arriving at the first Col (des Roux). Nearing the second col (Riedmatten), you'll encounter some scree and a steep pitch. There are four ladders located near the col that can be used to bypass this tiresome endeavor, nevertheless you should have a good head for heights. You'll then make a 2,954 feet (900 meters), knee-busting descent down to Arolla.
AROLLA TO LES HAUDÈRES
Today is a short day, but that is not to say it is without interest. There are no cols that you need to traverse and apart from the first 1.5 hours, most of the stage will be a descent. Take the time and enjoy the meadows and lakes that you will pass. Starting out from Arolla, if the weather is bad, you can stick to the valley floor and walk along the river. If the weather is fair, then climb through the woods, where you will eventually hit an exposed section above the hamlet of Satarma and two footbridges, before reaching La Bleu in 1.5 hours. From there, you start your descent for the day passing La Gouille before reaching Les Haudères.
MOLIGNON TO CABANE DE MOIRY
This day will feature rocky terrain and hiking may be slow going, especially as you head to Col du Tsaté. The ascent from Molignon to Cabane de Moiry will be long, so steel yourself for the challenge ahead. Still, there are some treats along this section, including a sprinkling of "tarns,” or small mountain lakes, that you will pass by. Furthermore, the glacier, the namesake of the mountain hut, will be seen toward the end of the day. To that end, Cabane de Moiry, with its glass-walled dining room, provides an excellent view of the glacier and surrounding peaks. If you would like to skip most of this stage, you can take a series of buses and trains to "Parking du Glacier" and hike 1.5 hours from there to hut. If you would like to skip about 705 feet (215 meters) of elevation gain, you can take two buses from Molignon to La Sage.
CABANE DE MOIRY TO ZINAL
Although you will be crossing another high pass, Col de Sorebois, the ascent will not be as taxing as other high altitude stages, although it may frustrate you to lose most of your elevation from Cabane de Moiry, only to have to gain it back a few hours later. The true effort, however, lies in the descent, which will carry you from above 9,186 feet (2,800 meters), to below 5,577 feet (1,700 meters). But you are rewarded for your effort. After reaching Col de Sorebois, you will take in a landscape of the Val de Zinal and the imposing Weisshorn (14,780 feet / 4,505 meters), a friend that will accompany you for most of the remainder of the trek. About 98 feet (30 meters) from the col, there is a cheat to save the knees: you can take the cable car from Sorebois to the valley floor of Zinal.
ZINAL TO GRUBEN
Today's hike ventures into the lonely Turtmanntal valley. It's well off the tourist radar, and many of the doors are shut come winter. It's also your first taste of Germanic Switzerland, so pull out your high-school Deutsch and enjoy this pastoral location. As far as the hike goes, Forcletta can be an imposing pass if the weather is bad or if there is snow. A highlight of the stage is the belvedere heading to Barneuza. The Cicerone guidebook also exalts the view after descending from Forcletta as having "the most spiky panorama" in all of the Alps. If you are desperate to skip this stage and stay on course, you can take a series of buses all the way to Visp. From there, you'll need to take a bus to Turtmann, take the gondola up to Oberems, then a bus to Gruben VS. You'll need to double check sbb.ch for times to be sure.
GRUBEN TO GRÄCHEN
This will be a day to remember, provided the weather complies. You will be hiking over the Augustbordpass, which sits on rocky terrain at 9,495 feet (2,894 meters). Views of the highest mountain peak in Switzerland, Dom (14,911 feet / 4,545 meters) will delight you on the spur "Twära". Many consider this length of the trail along the spur to be of the utmost viewing quality, perhaps the best of the tour. Care is needed in a few exposed spots, so watch your step. When you reach the town of Jungen, there is the option to take the cable car down to St. Niklaus. From there, Grächen is located above you and on the other side of the valley. You can take a bus there to avoid the hike after a long and challenging day. You've earned it!
GRÄCHEN TO EUROPA HUT
The famed Europaweg. Although the altitude on this section is not the highest of the tour, this two day section between Grächen and Zermatt is considered the most dangerous stage of the tour. This is due to the nature of the landscape, which has both exposure and risk of rockfalls and landslides. Those who have difficulty with exposure, or are not sure-footed, should avoid this route. Furthermore, if there is bad weather, then the route should not be attempted and you should take the valley route to Zermatt. Still, in good weather, this promises to provide the best views of the Matterhorn yet. The most dangerous section of this stage comes at about 2.25 from Gasenried, near the "Grosse Graben combe". Shortly after this section you will reach the high point of the stage at 8,825 feet (2,690 meters). In 2 hours from there, you will be enjoying the hospitality of the Europa Hut!
EUROPA HUT TO ZERMATT
Your final day on the tour! Congratulations for making it this far. Although a long day, it’s all the better to make you feel like you've conquered this difficult alpine trek! Of note on this tour is the Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge, the largest pedestrian bridge of its kind in the world. It's almost a half kilometer across (1,620 feet / 494 meters) and hangs 279 feet (85 meters) above the valley floor. Of note are a few hamlets along the way that make the last section to Zermatt enjoyable. Still, if you would like to end the walk of your journey early, you can take either the funicular from Sunnegga down to the valley or an electric bus from Winkelmatten to Zermatt.
Pygmy Miles Total
You earn 1 Pygmy Mile for each $1 you spend with us.
You earn 10 Pygmy Miles for each 1 mile that you hike.
A 25% bonus is given for supporting the economies of small hamlets, villages and locally owned mountain huts that may otherwise be missed if not for making the trek.
Total Pygmy Miles
Hotel Le Morgane
In the heart of Chamonix, the style and the concept of the 4-star Boutique Hotel Le Morgane differs from traditional alpine hotels. Located in central downtown, Le Morgane will be your base for your first and last night on the tour.
Hotel La Grande Ourse
La Grande Ourse has both private rooms with shared bathrooms and small dormitories of up to 8 people. The rooms have been refurbished and provide a comfortable night’s sleep. Dining is together in the communal dining area.
Anchored in the region of St. Bernard, sheltered from crowds and prying eyes, the Hotel Splendide conveys conviviality. The hotel tells the story of the past century. A warm, soothing home with a true family spirit. No fuss, the decor is simple and leaves plenty of room for architecture, giving impressive volume to the rooms overlooking the massif of Grand Combin, which rises to 14,153 feet (4,314 meters).
Hôtel a Lârze
Located in the heart of Val de Bagnes, this small family-run hotel opened its doors in December 2015. Designed by the region's craftspeople, the hotel is mostly constructed from the wood of the larch tree, from which it gets its name: "A Lârze" means larch in the Val de Bagnes dialect. The 10 double rooms each have a private shower room with hairdryer. Some rooms also have a balcony with a view of Mont Rogneux. All rooms are furnished with a television and free Wi-Fi access.
Cabane du Mont Fort
The hut is located at 8,061 feet (2,457 meters), in a privileged position deep in the Verbier ski area. There are 15 rooms and 58 beds. Showers are available.
Cabane de Prafleuri
Between Verbier and Arolla
A small hut with communal dorms which provides a respite and lively atmosphere en route to Arolla. Showers available.
Grand Hotel Kurhaus
The Kurhaus Hotel is located above the village at an altitude of about 6,890 feet (2,100 meters) in the middle of a beautiful forest of Arolles. The building was built in 1896 but the interior was completely redone in 1979 with all modern comforts. The rooms are tastefully decorated and have at least a wooden wall with the species of the region (Arolle, Larch) from old beams recovered during processing. The large terrace is a great place to relax. The view of the surrounding peaks (Pigne d'Arolla, Mont Collon, Aiguille de la Tza, the Dents de Veisivi) is great.
Hotel les Mélèzes
Built in 1965 by Henri Anzévui and Cathy Gaspoz, the hotel has since been run by their daughter Claudia and her husband Michel, who have invested all their passion for refurbishing and renovating into the family business. The hotel is a typical example of the architecture particular to this region, and the panelling, traditional stone and warm décor bring a special charm to the house. In summer, guests can enjoy the sunny terrace and admire the facades decorated with flowers.
Cabane de Moiry
Possibly the best view of all the mountain huts on the Haute Route is at Cabane de Moiry. It is positioned to give you a sweeping view of the Moiry glacier. The lounge and dinner area of the hut has panoramic, floor to ceiling windows, that immerse the hiker in the environment. There are classic mountain hut dormitories in the original ”old” hut, varying between 8 to 14 beds per dorm, with nordic duvets and pillows. There are also small 4-bed rooms placed in the new building.
Hotel de la Poste
"Our double rooms are furnished in a mountain style and are tastefully designed with materials such as wood andrustic fabrics that give them the cosy feel of an Alpine chalet. With a surface area of 16m2, our rooms are furnished with 2 single beds, a TV and Wi-Fi for a maximum of 2 guests. The en-suite bathroom is equipped with a shower and toilet in a stone tile design." - Hotel de la Poste
"The Hotel Schwarzhorn enjoys a quiet and idyllic location in Gruben (VS) at an altitude of 1825 m above sea level in the sunny Turtmanntal valley. The Hotel Schwarzhorn is a traditional hotel with 15 rooms and dormitory." - Hotel Schwarzhorn
A 3-star hotel located in the idyllic hamlet of Grächen. The standard rooms start at 215 square feet (20 square meters) and offer a comfortable stay. They also have a spa and wellness area located on site.
Built in 1990 by the civic center of Randa, the Europa Hut sits at 7,218 feet (2,200 meters). It sleeps 42 people and has a large dining room and terrace with a panoramic view of the surrounding Alps.
The best time to hike the Walker's Haute Route is in August. As some sections of this hike climb close to 9,842 feet in elevation (3,000 meters), snow can be present on the trail well into July. For that reason, we recommend August as the preferred hiking month.
Self guided does not mean you are alone. We help you coordinate and plan your trip beforehand. Once you are on the trail, we provide 24-hour customer service in case there are any urgent issues with your bookings.
PYGMY ITINERARY BENEFITS
- Price Transparency: see where your money is going with line-item pricing
- Never Lose Your Deposit Guarantee: 50% refund, 50% credit to future trip
- Customized Handbook with Journey Details: maps, elevation profiles, tips and more
- Destination Book Digital Travel App: everything in your handbook, in digital form
- One Year Premium GAIA GPS Membership: your GPS routes, on your phone
- Complete Itinerary Customization: build the trip you want to take
- Special Meal Requests: we'll help you stick to your diet of choice
- Before-You-Go Email Series: helpful emails to get you prepared for your trek
- Transportation Options Information: timetables, routes and contact info
- 24/7 Phone Support for Urgent Issues: give us a call if anything goes wrong
- WhatsApp Support (9 AM to 5 PM, ET): rapid response to your inquiries
- Email Support (24-hour turnaround): answers for not-so-urgent questions
- Virtual Pre-Hike Briefing: one-on-one briefing with your travel consultant
- Baggage Transfers (where applicable): your bags, delivered to your accommodation
Starting at $2,900 per person, based on double occupancy
After initial consultation, we will customize your itinerary to meet your fitness level, budget, accommodation wishes and schedule. Depending on the journey, it might be possible to skip stages, rearrange their order, substitute accommodations, and add or subtract transfers. Find more information on the base itinerary and possible customizations below.
- 12 to 14 nights accommodation: a typical itinerary includes mountain huts
- Breakfast at all locations
- Dinners, depending on customization
- Shared airport transfers between Chamonix and Geneva Airport
- Baggage Transfers
- Private airport pick-ups and drop-offs
- Travel insurance
- Rest days in Zermatt
- In-situ transportation fees