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Chamonix to Zermatt this August
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Eric Krumland
(Eric_K) - F

Locale: The northwest is the BEST
Chamonix to Zermatt this August on 04/12/2012 16:06:10 MDT Print View


My wife and I plan to hike the Cham to Zermatt route this summer. Right now it looks like we will be starting around August 12th and we plan to take 4 to 5 days to do the hike. Here are our current questions.

First, should we camp in our tent or stay in the huts? This will be our first hike in the alps since we moved to Europe and neither of us have ever stayed in a hut before. I like the idea of not needing to carry a tent but I do love camping up high. Are places to camp easy to find and is it even legal to camp off trail?

Do you need to carry more than 1 days worth of food? It looks like we will go through so many towns there would be no need to carry more than just a days worth of food. Is this correct, and if we do camp outside of the towns what are your food storage recommendations.

We will likely drive, is it safe to park a car for that long without it being broken into? I will also have loads of climbing gear I do not want to loose.

Lastly, is my time frame reasonable? My wife and I are used to hiking 30 plus miles in a day, and it would seem that high mileage would not be hard on such a well worn trail. Also will the trail be snow free this time of August?

Thanks for any help you can offer, it is very much appreciated.


Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: Chamonix to Zermatt this August on 04/12/2012 17:35:05 MDT Print View

I walked the Tour de Mont Blanc in 2007 and it is essentially the same kind of walk.

I'd say do both camping and staying at the huts. The huts are a wonderful places to meet people everyday and make good friends. The food at the huts can be outstanding, too. You'll get lots of information about the trails there, get to know people whom you see on the trail. You can also camp right outside many of the huts, but still eat the dinners provided... thus saving quite a lot of money.

But camping allows you to get away from the crowds and enjoy the mountains as they are, in silence and solitude. You can also get up much higher on the high routes and not have to worry about being at a certain place at a certain time.

I never carried more than a day's worth of food. Every morning I'd walk to the village below and buy bread, cheese, and salamis at the bakeries that open at 5 in the morning. I'd also get breakfasts of rolls and great coffee there. The cheese and salami last for about two to four days, especially the salami. Being near the towns also allowed for fresh vegetables daily.

I don't think you have to think the same way as you do in America about the safety of your car. You should be careful, but in most cases, especially Switzerland, there is little need to worry.

As to high mileage, do remember that there is a hell of a lot of elevation gain everyday. You'll be going up and down a lot, though the grades are not very steep and the trails are easy to find and negotiate.

Weather-wise it is very variable. Some years are snow free, others, it can be packed with snow and winter-like. When I went it was mostly sunny and warm, but I did get two days of snow storms. It all depends on the year. The year after I went two friends who did the TMB had to wear their winter gear the entire time and use crampons on the steeper sections. You'll want a shelter that can handles these conditions.

Edited by butuki on 04/12/2012 17:36:40 MDT.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Chamonix to Zermatt this August on 04/12/2012 20:42:43 MDT Print View

> we plan to take 4 to 5 days to do the hike.
Ahhhh... It took us ~12 days, and we were moving. The guide book time is slightly longer I think. Perhaps you have not taken the height of the passes into account? Basically, 'a pass a day keeps the doctor away'. You are knocking off 1,000 m up and 1,000 m down each day, *at least*. Trying to do 30+ miles per day would either be killing, or just not possible.

> Huts vs tent
Technically, camping is illegal in Switzerland below about 2,500 m. People do it all the time of course. However, it can be difficult to find suitable non-obvious sites. A lot of that country is either steep, farmers' fields, or above the tree line.
The huts are fun.

> carry more than 1 days worth of food?
No. many people do the walk with a day pack containing a water bottle, lunch and spare clothing.

> what are your food storage recommendations.
Question not understood, sorry. No bears.

> is it safe to park a car for that long without it being broken into?
Well, I would hide all the gear from sight, but Switzerland is fairly good.

> will the trail be snow free this time of August?
Normally, but recent years have been very variable. We went over the Col du Bonhomme twice in summer, in snow. The weather wasn't all that good either. Another time, the first day out of Chamonix had us in a howling storm over the pass, and there was snow everywhere the next morning.