Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
Chamonix-Zermatt Haute Route: trip planning questions
Display Avatars Sort By:
(WRYN) - F

Locale: Minnesota
Chamonix-Zermatt Haute Route: trip planning questions on 12/06/2009 09:46:52 MST Print View

My husband and I are researching the Walker's Haute Route for a potential August, 2010 trip. We've reviewed trip reports and the Kev Reynolds guide. Information from trip reports seems contradictory, so we have a few questions. I hope folks who've done the hike can offer advice.

1) How easy is it to follow the trail? Is it well marked?

2) Did you cross snowfields or glaciers? Did snow impede your progress? Does one need to bring crampons and/or an ice axe?

3) How technical is the hike? We've done long trips through the mountains, but we don't have climbing skills.

In advance, thanks for your advice.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Chamonix-Zermatt Haute Route: trip planning questions on 12/06/2009 13:41:22 MST Print View

We did it this year. Most of it is a really good walk.

> 1) How easy is it to follow the trail? Is it well marked?
Well marked, easy to follow. Lots of other people also doing it. Good Refuges.

> 2) Did you cross snowfields or glaciers? Did snow impede your progress? Does
> one need to bring crampons and/or an ice axe?
No need for crampons or ice axe - just excess weight.
Any snow you might encounter will just be neve left over from winter, and there will be a good foot track through it.

> 3) How technical is the hike?
I would not call it 'technical' at all.
You DO go up and down a LOT, so fitness is needed. Sleep in valley at 500-1,000 m, cross Pass at 2,500 m, back to valley. Repeat daily. But great views.

However, a BIG warning about the Europaweg. This high path up the Zermatt valley was created by bureaucrats with EU money. Pity they had absolutely NO idea what they were doing. Several parts of the track have partially avalanched away and look very risky. This is the Grose Graben gully.

The bit just after the Europaweg hut has avalanched away entirely - and rocks were still coming down as we watched it. Big rocks - boom.


(WRYN) - F

Locale: Minnesota
Thanks for the feedback, Roger on 12/06/2009 15:48:53 MST Print View

I'm glad you saw this thread, Roger, because based upon your other posts, I thought you might know a bit about this trail. (smile)

We've read trip reports that said one couldn't do the trail without a guide. Sounds like you did just fine. Did you bring maps and a compass and/or a GPS?

I'm wondering if you could share your gear list for the WHR hike. Given the hut system, did you carry a tent? Also, I've read posts where you advise hikers to be perpared for snow in the Alps -- even in the summer. What did you bring for clothing and footwear. I'm a trail runner convert, and I hope the MT hardrocks will be sufficient.

After doing the JMT last summer, I'm confident that we can get ourselves ready for the daily 1500m climbs. I'm actually looking forward to training for it.

Thanks again for the help!

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Thanks for the feedback, Roger on 12/06/2009 22:49:49 MST Print View

> trip reports that said one couldn't do the trail without a guide
ROTFLMAO! Written by a tour company no doubt!
I would agree that novices might need their hands held. But that would apply ANYwhere. If you have been walking a bit you will be fine.

I used the Cicerone guide book and a couple of 1:50k maps. We mainly used the guide book, and the maps are (really) optional. I find it hard to go without maps ...
GPS???? You jest!

Gear list: see
Different walk, but very similar gear.

Tent: this IS optional. You could leave behind the tent, sleeping bags and mats if you want. You could leave behind all cooking gear too. Most Europeans do the trip carrying a day pack with a towel and a change of clothing. Seriously. We did consider doing that for the Haute route, but in the end we took our camping gear so we could camp in high places, and make tea and coffee during the day at scenic spots.

One change we made this year: we swapped our heavy 2" thick Therm-a-Rest Deluxe LEs out for lighter Therm-a-Rest Prolites. We did carry some 5 mm CCF as well.

Trekking Poles: some people carry them, but we found they mainly got in the way.

Alpine clothing: yes, I do advise having enough clothing to be able to handle a storm. It can happen. In fact, the first day/night on the Haute Route saw a bad snow storm catch us at the col at 2,000 m. Some creeks flooded and we were not able to take the route we wanted, so we had to retreat down to Le Peuty (spelling?) - which we reached at 8 pm. It upset quite a few trips infact. Ah well...
You may see that most Europeans always carry a good jacket - even if that is all they have.

Shoes - New Balance 875s - very light. They went well. See
With Darn Tough Vermont boot socks - wonderful.


(WRYN) - F

Locale: Minnesota
thanks again, Roger on 12/07/2009 09:42:42 MST Print View

All great info and it is much appreciated! You rock!

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: Chamonix-Zermatt Haute Route: trip planning questions on 12/07/2009 10:00:44 MST Print View

Sounds like a wonderful trip. Perhaps you and Joe will be looking for a hilly late spring or early summer warm up trip?

Also, it might be worthwhile talking to Rod and/or Sharon Johnson (Midwest Mountaineering) ... they've given talks about doing that route self guided.

(WRYN) - F

Locale: Minnesota
Thanks, Jim -- good idea on 12/07/2009 19:22:20 MST Print View

Spring training hike? SHT? Heck yeah! Name the weekend, Jim, and we'll be there.

Thanks for the tip about Rod and Sharon. I'll follow up on that.

We're also thinking about the Brooks Range in Alaska. That would be a totally different kind of trip. More bear spray, less humming tunes from the Sound of Music.

Bernie Morris
(berniem) - F
camping on Walkers Haute Route on 03/19/2010 16:57:04 MDT Print View


this is my first visit here but I saw this thread and am hoping that someone will be able to provide some insight!

We're planning to walk the Haute Route (Chamonix-Zermatt) in June this year and were keen to camp as much as possible (preferably not in big camp grounds with swimming pools etc).

I noticed that you mentioned "camping high". Did you ask permission and camp next to cabanes or did you just camp off the track out of view and hope no one cared? I heard that in Switzerland camping can be a bit of an issue.

Views and suggestions for camping spots appreciated!


Frank Deland

Locale: On the AT in VA
next valley over on 03/19/2010 18:51:26 MDT Print View

Although it has been many tyears since I visited Saas-Fe, hike over ther from Zermatt if you can. It is an easy, beautiful day hike.

Steve Wilkinson
(SWilki9999) - F
Looking for Hiking Partner (C-Z route 20 Jun-2 Jul) on 06/17/2010 02:04:25 MDT Print View

I am hiking C-Z beginning on 20 Jun and arriving at Zermatt on 3 Jul.

My wife had to unexpectedly drop out of the hike, so I am looking for individuals or small groups to hike along side.

I am US military stationed in Belgium, so I will fly from Brussels to Geneva and train/bus the remainder of the trip to Chamonix.

Anyone know of anything during this time frame?



Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: Looking for Hiking Partner (C-Z route 20 Jun-2 Jul) on 06/17/2010 04:52:37 MDT Print View

Steve, all the information above is great. I hiked the Tour de Mont Blanc in 2007, alone, and only spent some of the time completely on my own. You will meet so many people along the way that you will rarely be alone. In the evenings, if you feel the camping will be too lonely, just reserve a space at a refuge and you will meet all the people you could ever hope for. I ended up walking with quite a few different groups and making some long-lasting friendships.

David Head
(BigDave9999) - F
Forwarding Luggage for Self Organized Haute Route Trek on 07/05/2011 21:35:22 MDT Print View

I need to forward a bag from Chamonix to the hotel I'll stay at in Zermatt following my trek. What's the best way to do this? Has anyone ever had issues doing it (i.e., lost luggage)?

Thanks in advance.

Sara Haley
(Montblanctreks) - F
Europaweg 2011 on 07/09/2011 06:48:48 MDT Print View

I went to have a look at the route this week (7 july 2011) and did the section between Gasenreid to the Europahutte, prior to taking a group of clients on a Haute Route trek that starts Monday. The route (the bit that is open) is in a shocking state, loads of stone fall danger, loose paths that are falling away from the side of the mountain and what little protection there is, has either been taken away by the constantly moving terrain or is placed in-appropriately.

The second half is closed from just beyond the Europahutte due to the new 230 m suspension bridge that opened a year ago being taken away by a landslide. You would need to drop down to Randa at that point and either continue to Zermatt via the valley bottom, climb back up 1300mtrs to the trail after the closure point or get a taxi to Taschalp and walk the last bit into Zermatt.

Yes I totally agree with your comments, this contrived route is in a totally unsuitable location, they play down the dangers and promote the great views but to be honest you will be too busy looking where you are putting your feet to bother about the vista!

I will be taking an alternative route with my group and will take the Europaweg of the itinerary from now on. As an alternative I thought I would keep the accommodation in Gasenreid as its nicer than St Nicklaus and cheaper than Grachen and take the mid route round through the woodland & alpages dropping down before Randa (haven't done this before so if anyone has I would be grateful for more info) and from Randa either continue in the valley bottom or take a taxi to Taschalp to get on to a better final stage to Zermatt.

Good luck for those who fancy it!

Mont Blanc Treks

Charles Nuttall-Smith

Locale: Northeast
Chamonix-Zermatt Haute Route Revived on 01/26/2013 18:00:15 MST Print View

Resuscitating this old thread...

1) anyone hike this in 2011 / 2012? after reading the whole thread, it appeared the trail was poorly designed but eminently follow-able - until the final commenter (associated with a trekking company apparently) painted it as an unnavigable mess. eager for current views

2) saw some folks in prior years tackled this in June, which is when I am looking at doing it. i'm a good strong hiker, but minimal snowfield/technical glacier skills, so interested in views as to when the route becomes walkable as opposed to x-country skiable

3) any other suggestions for classic multi-day hikes in Europe that are doable in June? scenery a must; crowds not so much....


Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Chamonix-Zermatt Haute Route Revived on 01/27/2013 01:48:13 MST Print View

The Europaweg is a unrecoverable disaster. There are too many active avalanches above it. End of story imho.

> classic multi-day hikes in Europe that are doable in June?
Oh God Yes!
Two sources: the GR routes by the FFRP in France - they have guide books and all, and the Via Alpina, which is about 5 or 6 different routes. Have a look at for the latter.

We have done a fair few of these over the years, typically taking 2 months or so.


Robert Kelly
(QiWiz) - MLife

Locale: UL gear @
Haute Route report on 01/28/2013 14:25:51 MST Print View

I hiked the HR in the first two weeks of September, 2012. Chamonix --> Zermatt. A damaged suspension footbridge on the Europaweg beyond the Europahut caused us to have to descend to the valley and finish our last day into Zermatt that way. In better weather I think we would have had an option to go back up to the Europaweg and finish into Zermatt that way.

Other than this episode, had no trouble with the rest of the Haute Route. Scenery was well worth the physical demands.