Haute Route, The Walkers Route / 12 Days Chamonix To Zermatt -
DISCLOSURE: THIS POST CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS, MEANING I GET A COMMISSION IF YOU DECIDE TO MAKE A PURCHASE THROUGH MY LINKS, AT NO COST TO YOU –
The day Couldn't come soon enough where I was ready to go and leave Sydney Behind and live a Purpose / Live a Dream!!! But first was the 42hr door to door Transit from Sydney to my Hotel in Chamonix... It all started with a 6hr stop over in Hong Kong - So I go and clear customs and take the fast train to Kowloon for a "Bite to eat" - This travel thing is making me hungry all ready. Soon enough I was back at the airport and on a 1am flight to Frankfurt/ Germany, where I had a 5hr stop over - Ok on the train I go to the marienplatz for yet again food... The Lufthansa Flight to Geneva couldn't come quick enough and it was not until I was on the bus to Chamonix from Geneva Airport that i suddenly thought -
THIS STUFF IS REAL -12 DAYS OF HIKING ON THE HAUTE ROUTE - THE WALKERS ROUTE ...
I FINALLY MADE IT TO MY HOTEL in Chamonix on monday 26/6/17 at 16:40, there I had 2 nights before I met the whole group - With a quick dash around town that night and OH I forgot I had to speak French - I was buggered.
The next day I ventured to the Aiguille Du Midi / "The real top of Europe" and within view of the Mont Blanc Range with this you can read more on the Blog I wrote about it - That afternoon I met up with 3 members of our hiking group for a French dinner, the service was slow maybe because we were tourist but the food was really tasty.
Mont Blanc Range from Cabane Mont Fort -
Haute Route - The Walkers Route -
The Haute Route is the classic trekking route linking Chamonix to Zermatt, Mont Blanc with the Matterhorn. Each day is defined by ascending and descending formidable mountain passes. You’ll walk in rocky Scree, flowered meadows, skirt around massive glaciers and past torquise lakes On your Haute Route trek you pass the twelve highest peaks in the Alps. This truly Mountain Hiking at Its best ...
Haute Route -
29/6/17 Day 1 - Chamonix (1037m) to Trient (16kms) Time (8hrs)
Height Gain (1167m) Height Loss (925m)
Highest Point - Col De Balme (2204m)
The Excitement of the next 12 days was in the air as we had a early departure from civilisation - Awesome breakfast was had and we were on a way shortly after 08:10 for a 08:40 bus to Argentierre. The bus was extremely full, where are they going? thankfully it was not to our final stop...
We arrive at Argentierre at 09:10 and head straight to the bakery for lunch supplies (get used to it bread is on the menu for the next two weeks) We are finally on our merry way and found the track head and its UP UP and UP Followed by a drop to the valley then at the foot of the next rise was at Le Tour where we had a break (coffee) For some
We then continued up the beautiful alpine lush green Hills onto Col De Balme (2204m) - This is the Alpine Border of France and Switzerland - We could feel the instant change in weather here with the cold winds churning through the Col -
We along with other hikers attempted to retreat to the Day Hut and we quickly found out there was a Old Couple "managing the hut" which clearly were not friendly to anyone entering the hut - PROBLEM - Some entered excepting to eat their own food "picnic" once inside and they were only offering "Tea and Broth" - hardly appealing and of course the couple only spoke French. So we mingled in and out the the hut for a while until we headed off at 15:00 then hiked to Puerty where we enjoyed skirting along the mountain, through the forrest and then finally descended to Puerty at 16:30 and finally Trient (1279m) shortly after at 16:45 for our accommodation for the night at Auberge Du Mont Blanc - 12 Bed Dorn - Welcome to the party Non Snorers :)
I made a mistake - as I was admiring the lovely German Girl behind the bar I thought I would order a "vegetarian Tomato fondue" What was I thinking? Simply cheese and nothing but rather ordinary for a hike the next day.
Rising up to Col de Balme from Le Tour -
Decending into Puerty which was a short walk to Trient for the night.
The Girls Pausing before Col De Balme
30/6/17 Day 2 - Trient (1279m) to Champex: (18kms) Time (9hrs)
Height Gain (1386m) Height Loss (1199m)
Highest Point - Alp Bovine (2040m)
We left at 8:30 and for a moment I thought we were up for a tough day terrain wise, Not True as an hour later it was morning tea at Forclaz which is just a short ascent above Trient, with beautiful clear views looking down the valley, what a great spot for a Tea - some had coffee and cake. As we then skirted the side of the mountain with grand views looking through the valley, we eventually dipped down and found lunch at a old farm with amazing views into the valley called De Bovine Al Page (Alt 1987) home cooked food inside the hut so I couldn't resist to grab a Vegetable soup and Apple Cake.
After lunch we were off on rough sloping pastures to La Jure about an hour past Alp Bovine which then decends to a open track to Plan Leau - Spectacular mountain farm views and perfect time for the group to enjoy a drink -
It was then another 1.5 hr walking on fairly level ground through the valley and while passing a lovely Hamlet of chalets, we made a right at Champex de' n Bas for a final down hill to Champex (1466m) and our accommodation for the night at Pension Plein Air.
Beautiful little town situated on a lake, time to relax in town (get excited about Hemp Tea) Dinner at 07:00 was on the much improved list than the previous night at this lovely property overlooking the lake.
De Bovine Al Page (1987m)
Enjoying the drinks and the views
1/7/17 Day 3 - Champex (1466m) to Le Chable: (16kms)
Height Gain (1014m) - Height Loss (749m) Time (7.5hrs)
Low Point - Sembrancher (717m)
With a partly overcast morning we were off by 08:30 as we made our way out of Champex, The morning hike was quite relaxing as it was stroll down hills, past farm land and through a tiny Hamlet which shortly after got us to the old town of Dembremacher for lunch at a Italian restaurant (Its Sunday and nothing else is open) Horse is on the menu and atleast now I can say I have tried it ......
Sembrancher - is a attractive stoned walled village thats certainly worth some exploring.
This days hiking was relatively easy and were in Le Chable by 16:00 - A old town which is the base for lift access to the resort town of Verbier and many other locations such as Mont Fort. We stayed at Camp De Base Le Chable,
great afternoon for a few drinks before dinner at Restaurant Le Couloir which had fantastic service.
Enroute to Dembremacher
The streets of Le Chable
2/7/17 Day 4 - Le Chable (821m) to Cabane du Mont Fort: (9km) Time (8hrs) Height Gain (1636m)
Highest Point - Cabane du Mont Fort (2457m)
Well in our effort to take the cable car up to Mont Fort Glacier and come up close and personal to a Glacier without actually walking on it failed miserably, as we were shrouded in low lying cloud and visibility was very poor once we were at the base of Mont Fort glacier. So we headed back down to Verbier for lunch, where I had this amazing seafood spaghetti marinara - 2pm It was time to whisk back down and grab our packs at Le Chable for the final hike to our Mountain hut for the night - Cabane Mont Fort (2457m)
We finally had visual on the Cabane after we nagvigated our way through fog and low cloud. Amazing scenes on approach to the Cabane with a Awesome outdoor setting that overlooked the valley below and the Mont Blanc Range in the far distance (not that we could see anything). 18:30 Dinner was Spaghetti Bolognaise on the menu and there was a over supply of Pasta than anything else and not so much sauce. Dam iam a little hungry I say -
This is where we met the Americans, 1 Englishman and 2 Dutchies ....
Cabane Mont Fort
3/7/17 Day 5 - Cabane du Mont Fort (2457m) to Cabane de Prafleuri (14km) Height Gain (885m) Height Loss (740m) Time (9hrs)
Highest Point - Col de Prafleuri (2965m)
Wow - We woke to the cloud clearing in the valley which then gave us views of the Mont Blanc Range, so Majestic being above the clouds and seeing them move up the valley at a fairly fast rate.
Departure this morning was 08:30 we left to the right of the cabane and then up a awfully long scree slope to Col De La Chaux (2940m) - Arrived at 10:45 for a break - This was our first real taste of high alpine climbing, With very slippery scree and very technical hiking was what we had to tackle for the next two days.
The decent into Col De Louvie (2921m) was very slippery in terms of footing and then the mix of rock hoping over large boulders before a unexpected OH WOW, The View of Lac De Louvie Mont Fort was simply "Gorgeous" The valley high was carved from the last Ice Age with the Morriane Walls shaping the greater expanse and then a dramatic drop to Lac De Louvie..... and the Combin Massif as the backdrop -
This signalled a great spot for lunch. Leaving this view behind at 13:30 meant we still had another two Col's to pass, Col De Louvie and the second being Col De Prafleuri (2965m). Hiking in some of the most alpine desert like terrain that you will ever see, very harsh environment that has very minimal life.
The ascent up to Col De Prafleuri was rather tiring as there were several short but steep false summits before you actually got to the foot of the Col. The relief in hand was the view South East over a very scarred mountain Bowl looking out to Mont Blanc. The Decent down to Prafleuri was a steep and tricky one followed by a flat section over glacial runoff then a final drop on a slight grassy slope. You are then taken below the Cabane so unfortunately we had another rise to our destination to where I eagerly look my boots off and had a well earned drink.
What a tiring day of hiking though some extremely challenging terrain Col after Col but on the flip side being rewarded with some mind blowing scenery -
THIS IS WHAT WE LIVE FOR -
A nice rest was then followed by dinner shortly after at 18:30 and boy was I hungry.
Decending down Col De la chaux
Glacial lake of Col de Louvie
Col De Louvie
4/7/17 Day 6 - Cabane de Prafleuri (2624m) to Arolla (22km) Time (10hrs) Height Gain (735m) Height Loss (1353m)
Highest Point - Col De Rieddmatten (2919m)
08:00 departure of the gloomy terrain at Prafleuri meant we were on short but very steep ascent to Col Des Roux (2804m) to the left side out of the Valley - This posed a Grand view of a Glacial Lac called Val Des Dix, a large glacial lake in a huge mountain bowl.
After a short break here our decent was on the right side of the lake and then down green pastured mountains, A 5 km walk on our decent and along the lake, with a short break before the ascent up to the moon scape terrain similar to the previous day - Here we had lunch with a distant view of the lake and behind us the view to Pas de Chevres.
By 13:00 we were relaxed and up ready to tackle one of my highlights of the whole trip. A super rocky ascent up to Pas Des Chevres (2855m) which was ascending over glacial moraine walls that was very slippery under foot. The final Ascent to Pas Des Chevres was very steep with very soft rocks under foot, which meant it was best tackled on all fours to prevent yourself from taking a almighty slip back down to where you came from. You also had to be very careful that you didn't send a mini avalanche down to the group below.
As we all re - gathered, the decision was to either go straight up over larger rocks or take a right and head a along a very narrow trail to a set of Chains and then up a Four Tier steel ladder system ... That had a very high exposed drop to the right (Hold on and don't look down)
We took the second option and if anyone was scarred of heights (now is not the time to look down) Mitch and I with 2 others took packs or guided the group up if needed. I did this whole process 4 times !!! Finally once you rise after the last ladder its another story book picture - this includes the Veisivi - Bertol wall above Arolla, beyond that the top of Dent Blanche and the Summit Cone of the Matterhorn - Savour the moment as you won't see it again until you arrive in Zermatt several days later.
The decent down to Arolla was a steep but gradual one over mountain pastures, about halfway down Heidi one of the Americans we met previously had a nasty fall and in the respect to First Aid she took the Rescue Chopper out (At a hefty price no doubt) but recovered well and was on the trail a few days later.
We did not arrive into Arolla and our Hotel Aiguille de La Tza until 18:00 as it was a bit tricky finding the way down to Arolla and then to our accommodation.
Dinner was at 19:30 and some very annoyed Australians were starting to appear as it took 2 hours to receive our meals - I certainly will not be recommending their service.
Cabane de Prafleuri
Ascent to Pas Des Chevres
Part of the 4 tier ladder system
5/7/17 Day 7 - Arolla (2006m) to Le Sage (11km) Time (9hrs)
Height Gain (215m) Height loss (554m)
Highest Point - Les Hauderes (1452m)
A short walk to Arolla 09:10 for a cake/ coffee break and then it was off on a relatively short and undemanding stage to Le Sage - With a 2 hour walk though the forrest looking down to the meadows and a few sections with chains but nothing like the previous day.
By 12:10 we were at Lac Bleu for a break and Yen was the only brave soul that tested the freezing nature of the lake - This sections from Arolla to Lac Bleu is designed to avoid the road walking and a clear excuse to visit the lac.
Walk to Gouille for lunch at 14:30 - The walk to Les Hauderes was a short one of just over a hour and once arrived we had 45mins to explore the Old Hamlet town of wooden houses before we took at Taxi to Evolene for a ATM visit as the Swiss Franc's were running a bit dry.... Check in at Hotel De La Sage was 18:00 - Dave and Yen Cooked Dinner that night in our fantastic top floor apartment Followed by a great evening outside with drinks and a beautiful sunset -
As the sign says - La Forclaz that way
6/7/17 Day 8 - La Sage (1667m) to Cabane de Moiry (3.4km) Time 1.5hr
Height Gain (1617m) Height loss (459m)
Highest Point - Cabane De Moiry (2825m)
This was a day of our only late start, something we had not done on the trail so far - With a beautiful Hotel and location up on a hill that boasts grand views looking to the opposite side of the valley A chance to have a rest and buy some snacks/ lunch at the local shop. 10:30 we boarded a taxi for a 2 hour ride to Lac De Moiry (via Sion) Lunch was had at the Lac and shortly after we were all keen to arrive at Cabane De Moiry, it was a short 3.4km which only took 1hr 15min - Cabane De Moiry (2825m) sits in a Rocky Knoll over looking De Moiry Glacier, it is worth while including This stop on your Haute Route Trek - The climb up is along a wall of lateral moraine followed by a steep zig zag track up rocks - Once up at the Cabane the View of the Moiry Icefall is just amazing, where it feels like you can almost touch it.
Dinner was at 18:30 - Best seat in the house as the left overs kept coming my way...
Hiking out of Arolla
The amazing views of De Moiry Ice fall/ Glacier
7/7/17 Day 9 - Cabane de Moiry (2825m) to Zinal (14km) Time (7.5hrs)
Height Gain (462m) Height Loss (1612)
Highest Point - Col Sorebois (2847m)
08:30 departure as we walked back down the way we came for about 45 mins to take a right for the High Route, with splendid views as you rise to leave the Glacial landscape behind you through green pasture mountain side after a while the Jade Green of Lac De Moiry becomes in full view and you have the chance to see Chamois or Ibex, sadly we didn't see any - the intersection above the dam wall of Lac De Moiry we had a short break before taking a right and walking up steep long loops and valleys views into Grimentz - In reaching Col Sorebois (2847m) an hour later, Which presents you with panorama views of high peaks dominated by the Weisshorn.... The decent down to Zinal was a long one with tired knees/ legs, the views were impressive as you descended into the forrest and finally the village of Zinal. Probably one of the biggest towns on the Haute Route due to its proximity to the above lying ski fields. Tonight we were at the Auberge Alpina by 16:00 and shortly after enjoyed drinks in town on a fantastic summers afternoon then dinner shortly after.
A grand view Hiking the high route along Lac De Moiry
Hiking along Lac de Moiry
8/7/17 Day 10 - Zinal (1675m) to Gruben (12km) Time (6hrs)
Height Gain (1199m) Height Loss (1052m)
Highest Point - Meidpass (2790m)
Today we were up and out early, 07:30 bus to Vissoie then a 08:15 bus to St Luc - a quick shop for lunch and then the 09:30 Funicular to Tignousa - 09:45 we were off on our ascent to the Meidpass - This section leaves the French speaking Valais and into German Speaking Wallis. After leaving the service road for Hotel Weisshorn, We had wonderful views to the actual pass - Green mountain pasture crossing a stream a number of times until the base of the pass. Lunch was at the top of the meidpass (2790m) admiring the Almighty decent down to Gruben, It was a 2 hour hike over rough exposed terrain then through alpine forrest down to the tiny town. We arrived at Gruben by 16:00 and straight to - Hotel Schwarzhorn as it was the only service of hospitality, so straight to the garden for "drinks" then checkin to our 12 bed Dorn - literally 12 mattresses on the floor
Who doesn't snore? Apparently Three of our group say they don't snore - yeah right...
Enjoyed a fantastic three course dinner at 19:00
Say Jump at the Meidpass
Say Jump at the Meidpass
9/7/17 Day 10 - Gruben (1822m) to St Niklaus (16km)
Height Gain - (1072m) Height Loss (1767m) Time (7.5hrs)
High Point - Augstbordpass (2894m)
Our 09:00 departure signalled some light rain falling and was the first time since the first day hiking up Col De balme that we had to think about donning our rain gear - Despite the height noted of (1072m) It was not as demanding as the total height gain / loss suggest. This section is in comparison with just another day in the Pennine Alps -
The initial climb was steep but gradual through the tree line crossing with long switches, through high pastures and then into once again a "Stony Wilderness" With the threat of a storm, it was certainly on our mind that we didn't want to get stuck in the high alpine with a sudden bout of Thunder or Lighting. The Augstbordpass (2894m) was achieved by 12:00 but with it being cold and light rain, many of us were thinking of our selves and put our required gear on and took off and intern not thinking about the group. Halfway down the decent my nose just randomly started bleeding and as I didn't want to stop, so I jammed it with a tissue (which was completely useless) thankfully it stoped right before we decided to have lunch on lower ground and out of the wind. By 12:30 we were off on our decent though at times very undulating through a stony wilderness likened to a moonscape, it never seemed to end but some what saddened that as we finally switched over to the right we were back on green pasture and the start of our final decent -
This was it OUR LAST ASCENT OVER A COL AND DECENT INTO A TINY HAMLET....
Jungen was made by 15:30 - A tiny Hamlet that looks like its clinging to the mountains edge over looking St Niklaus - It is a living working farm and the last you will see on the Haute Route.
Some opted to take the tiny Cable car down to St Niklaus and from the Barhn Hoff it was just a 15min walk through the town to Hotel La Reserve as we arrived there by 16:30
A fantastic dinner at hotel La Reserve 19:00 followed by games
10/7/17 Day 11 St Niklaus (1127m) to Zermatt (18km)
Height Gain (479m) High Point - Zermatt (1606m) Time (7hrs)
High Point - Zermatt (1606m)
At 08:45 we left the cute little town of St Niklaus and took on our Final day on trail With a very undemanding and only slightly undulating section. the stroll through the valley on unsealed service roads which is never far from the railway and with your views limited by the steep valley walls that surround you. By 11:30 we stopped at Randa (1439m) Hotel Klein Matterhorn) for a break, While everyone else had their coffee Nikita and I enjoyed a creamy carrot soup - Yummo
Then it was off to Tasch (1438m) Here you could feel the tourist vibe as many people will now leave their cars here (as Motor vehicles are not allowed in Zermatt) before catching the train on the final stop to Zermatt.
A brief stop for lunch then it was on our final leg to the tourist Mecca of Zermatt. As we skirted around the right side of the valley it was a bit of a industrial look entering the town though a real interest seeing NO Vehicles as the only mode of transport that is operated are these futuristic looking Electric Cars.
THIS IS IT AFTER 12 DAYS WE FINALLY MADE IT TO ZERMATT - AFTER SUMMITING COL AFTER COL, VISITING HAMLET AFTER HAMLET - WE FINALLY HAVE CHECKED INTO HOTEL HOLIDAY ........
16:00 arrival at our hotel for 3 nights was met by a few celebration drinks and then dinner at the Swiss Chalet in Town at 19:00
Thanks Gang - Here comes the Australians, The Loud Aussies - The group that seemed to find it amusing to talkabout NUT SCAPING !!!! It was truly a memorable adventure and one that wouldn't have been complete without you.
As the sign says "private"
11/7/17 Zermatt - (1606m)
This was a lazy day of relaxing and wondering the town - Zermatt A very popular alpine resort town that has obvious links to the Matterhorn, there are more 4000m summits found here than anywhere in the Alps. It is of course a mountaineers Mecca though some purists may turn their backs on the crowded traffic free streets and with the many Glamours Fashion shops that line the Main Street.
Drinks in our room then followed by Dinner at Cafe Du Pont which clearly was not as good as the night before
Zermatt Main Street
12/7/17 Zermatt -
This day was partly spent taking the Funicular up to Sunnega and hiking to the 5 blue lakes circuit. A clear highlight, was swimming in one of the them (Yes the lake was much cooler than Lac Bleu at Arolla) and the back drop being the Matterhorn range towering above - This was somewhat priceless... We then ventured onto a mountain day hut for lunch that was serving Goulash and took the option to walk down the mountain to Zermatt instead of taking the Funicular.
Drinks were from 18:00 in Dave and Yen's room followed by Dinner in town, Hotel Alpenrose
Corner Gorge Zermatt
to purchase a Osprey Back Pack for your next adventure see below.
For all your outdoors needs you can visit REI.