To the right were the standard red and white blazes we were used to following, so we continued to follow them to the right. As a result of their success, the French term stuck, and the journey gained a reputation amid skiers and ski mountaineers as a classic must-do winter/spring tour. Once we arrived at the cabane (122 CHF), we checked in with the host (who spoke English) and were shown to our room. After the ladders, the rest of the trail seemed rather dull and unexciting. Buy your Swiss Topo hiking maps before you leave to ensure you stay on the right track, especially if you're interested in a self-guided tour. Besides the stunning scenery and the gourmet food, another attractive aspect of this trek is that there is a good amount flexibility from day to day. The three "reverse" Haute Route hikers were talking the night before about how miserable Col de Chaux was as a pass - they said it was super steep screen and terrifying...based on this assessment, we chose Col Termin. Before departing from the hotel, Lisa asked the innkeeper (in French) if she could call Hotel Schwarzhorn to make a reservation for us, since lodging in Grüben is very limited. Despite all of the excitement and anticipation of the ladders, we still had a long and tedious descent down into Arolla. The Walker's Haute Route is one of Europe's best hikes, but also one of its most demanding. Eventually, the trail transitioned from a grassy hillside into a rockier wasteland (we arrived here about 1:30pm). The newer versions seemed to have a lot more details that our book lacked (we skimmed a few pages from other folks we met in the cabanes). The rock character changed quite dramatically along this shelf – rather than picking our way through scree and talus we found ourselves rock-hopping across giant boulders and small ponds (which was actually a lot of fun). At 11am, we were finally able to see the summit of the pass in the distance. 9.5 hours, 10.3 miles, +2703 ft, -4860 ft; 13.8% avg grade up, -12.5% avg grade down. We took the obligatory photo of the two of us with the Dom in the background, then continued on down the trail. The view from this particular pass was not that spectacular; the surrounding peaks (coupled with low clouds) blocked most vantage points which just left the rocky valley below that led us to the larger Mattertal valley. Past that choke point, the valley opened up significantly and we could finally start to see the other side of the Mattertal valley (however our viewpoint was still constrained by the ridges on both sides of us…and clouds). We fully intended to make use of this mechanized transport to get us to Zinal below but our hopes were dashed when we found it to be closed! The old cabane held the dortoir rooms and the mud room while the new wing held the small rooms, dining area, a drying room in the basement and restroom facilities. She popped up a few seconds after I did and we celebrated on the top by eating fine Swiss chocolate. to see or do, so we decided to catch the bus down to Les Haudères. It’s also not to be confused with ‘Haute Route’, the cycling event. We had gone from the solitude of alpine hiking to a bustling train station and town jam packed with people; more people than we’d seen in any of the towns we’d been in over the past two weeks. We perused several menus before deciding that this was the place to dine for the evening. We reached the road at the lake’s shore about an hour and twenty minutes after reaching the summit of Col des Roux, just before 10am. Breakfast in our hotel in Les Haudères consisted of an extensive buffet of cereal, meats, cheese, breads and fruits. Even with our break at the summit plus the delay in waiting for the group ahead of us to descend, we managed to beat them! Half of the book contains interesting facts about Switzerland, including flora and fauna which makes for interesting reading on the flight over, or each night along the trail. There are 12 or 14 stages depending on if you end your hike via the Europaweg or the traditional valley walk. The trail broke into numerous braids and climbed steeply up the rocky terminus at the south end of the lake. We asked (in French – from what we could tell, they spoke no English) if they had rooms. (I believe the trail to the left would have popped out in the exactly the same spot.). Unfortunately, we weren’t done climbing yet (like we had thought). I've also put together more general GPS receiver map resources here. The trail still climbed steadily, but now without the need for switchbacks. Our small documentary on the Haute Route Ski Tour trip that our group took from April 1-7th, 2017 - From Argentière to Zermatt. The scenery was outstanding. With a lighter pack, we wandered the streets of Les Haudères trying to solve our next dilemma: it was Sunday, most of the shops were closed, and we were really low on supplies (plus we were going to another Cabane the next night, so no opportunity to re-stock there). Watch Alpenwild's free video training series to answer basic questions and help you prepare for a wonderful journey on the Haute Route. Having a water filter on the hike was not necessary, but we each carried about 3 liters of water a day; a filter would have saved us some money at the cabanes where you had to purchase drinking water. If you cannot navigate the kowoma.de site or you've got a Mac, I've mirrored a version of their Switzerland map that you can download here and load into Garmin Basecamp (then transfer into your GPS via MapInstall) below. From the south side of Trient (4,443 ft, 2:40pm), we continued following the signs up towards Col de la Forclaz. Afterwards, we hit the grocery store near the bus stop to re-stock (in hindsight, this would’ve been just as easy in Verbier). We arrived at our hotel in Chamonix around 10:15am (Hotel de L’Arve (€95)). Another group arrived at the Chalet as we started to head off: a guide-led group of 12 from the UK that was also doing the Haute Route. Haute Route Hiking Maps, 1:50000, from Swisstopo by SwissTopo. The forest floor was also slick underfoot (the small pine needles acting much like ball bearings), making the descent that much more difficult. Not sure what the plural form of an ibex is...) on the rocky ridgeline to our right. Our other guide spoke broken French and some German. Once we showered and did some much needed laundry, we wandered the town which basically consisted of two grocery stores, a sporting goods store, a bus stop, and two hotels with restaurants. The Haute Route looks the most stunning, but I’m also one of those people who prefer solitude hiking. Since my wife's French only got us so far, we usually asked the hotel we were staying at to call ahead for us. We found that laundering our clothes each night kept the dirty clothes pile minimal (which is good, since we really only had two sets of everything) and if we had a balcony, we could line dry our clothes in whatever sun we had left. Published by Orell Fussli (the same folks who print Swiss currency) these beautiful full-color maps include hiking trails printed in red and with standard times (uphill and down) between trail junctions. 7% of our revenue is donated to sustainability initiatives in the Alps - find out more by clicking here. Extremely slow stepping was the name of the game here, as the dirt was loose, and small rocks could easily be dislodged (which would roll down onto the trail segments below). The trail snaked down the valley as the valley choked down, at one point through a narrow slot between massive rocks. Passing through glaciers, green valleys and picturesque villages over 10-14 days, this route promises beauty and variety in abundance. To wrap it up, in case you haven't gathered already, this hike was amazing. We arrived in Arolla at 5:15pm that day – another long day of hiking! When we first arrived, the weather was cold and rainy. All of the lunch menus seemed rather heavy (and pricey) so we decided to pick up some meat, cheese, fruit, and bread from the supermarket for lunch. Like any guidebook, though, their descriptions made more sense after we finished hiking for the day. Lisa mentioned to the host that she was gluten intolerant, to which the host indicated that it would be no problem – we were having risotto for dinner because apparently there were 3 others with gluten intolerance in the cabane that night. Plus, it was really cold! Trip cost includes trip transportation, accommodations, meals, deluxe excursions, luggage transfers (so you can hike light during the days) for guided tours We were definitely in a cow pasture (the cows surrounding us and staring curiously at us was a big giveaway...but so were the cow pies), so paying attention to our foot placement became a bit of an important detail. I said something to the two men that were starting their descent, and they were both able to move over onto the ledge such that I could pass them as I reached the top of ladder two. For dinner, they prepared Lisa a bowl of beef broth for soup (instead of the soup the rest of the hut guests enjoyed) but the rest of the meal was fine for her to eat. We encountered no issues in finding a room on our hike. The top of the third ladder had a section of iron that extended along the right-hand side as a hand rail, plus a metal grate had been placed at the edge of the cliff face to facilitate easier stepping off from the ladder. I agonize over what to bring on a weekend backpacking trip...so I really was struggling with my pack list for this trip. We hit the restrooms at the base of Le Tour and began our hike up at about 9:40am. For your planning purposes, I’ve included costs of lodging, meals, and transportation in this report – this is to help you gauge what this trip cost us in September 2010. The border was surprisingly anti-climactic – it was just a cement post in the ground. Next to the cement post was what was to become an all-too-familiar sight: the Swiss trail signpost. If, however, you wish to only take one, I would say that Reynolds is more critical to have. We reached Col Termin (8,685 ft), 3 miles from the Cabane, at 10:20am, about 2 hours after starting our hike. Once done with breakfast, we were ready to hit the trail – which was just out in front of the hotel. Enjoy! They were very helpful and spoke English, making our conversation a bit easier – they indicated that the cheapest hotel in town with en suite bathrooms was Hôtel La Pointe de Zinal, located just next door. Haute Route Chamonix Zermatt MapS The Haute Route hike is not marked on any trail signs along the 180km journey from Chamonix to Zermatt. Our approach to this trip was a tad different (but similar to that of our friends that had done it before): we aimed to hike from Chamonix to Zermatt, but where there was a road that took us where we wanted to go (i.e. It was an extensive buffet with bread, cheese, yogurt, cereal, meat, coffee and juice. From the top of my ladder, I was able to easily reach over and grab a rung from ladder 3 with both hands, then step over onto the rock ledge, even with two other guys standing on the small ledge. The sky was overcast, but the valley was still clear below us (for now). Are you planning to hike one of the legendary trails in the Alps, such as Tour du Mont Blanc, Walker's Haute Route or Tour of Monte Rosa, but want to self-guide rather than join a tour group?. I was wrong. Our room at Hotel du Glacier was spacious with a super comfortable bed, a nice sunny porch (perfect for drying laundry), a small sink, and a shower all for 160 CHF, including breakfast. Once we changed, we explored the cabane a bit more. After a few minutes of awkward waiting in the tiny car (not knowing when it was going to move), it finally. Much to our surprise we looked back and saw the tour group behind us, descending from the Col! Do you have some specific hiking, accommodation, route or time preferences for the Haute Route? It was important to plan ahead our cash supply – many of the small towns we stayed in did not have ATMs. …but they were almost all FAST! (Plus, our legs still felt a bit like jelly from the descent down from Sorebois.). It was here that we met the Belgians – three men and one woman that were also tackling the Haute Route; we talked for a while as we ate (their English was impeccable); this was another group that we encountered many times along our route. From Le Tsaté , the trail continued to climb at a steady grade through the meadow ahead. We arrived in Verbier around 10:40am. The hotel had decent sized rooms (recently remodeled) with free Wi-Fi (or a pay-for-use computer in the lobby). After about 20 minutes, the rocky terrain yielded to a grassy alpine meadow, but the steepness did not abate. Instead, we backtracked to the road that crossed over the river and followed it into town. The trail dropped steeply down 500 feet with a grade of 31% but the. Eventually we encountered a trail junction point which pointed the way to Jungen. We reached the summit of the pass at around 11:40am after climbing 3,540 feet in 3.3 miles. Our main hiking guide spoke French and some German beside her main language which is English. It was conceived as a summer mountaineering route in the mid-nineteenth century by members of the English Alpine Club. As we hiked, we spotted Sierre-Zinal ultra marathon signs indicating the distance remaining to Zinal – obviously this was the route taken into Zinal by the marathon! The cost of the bus/train was 37.60 CHF for both of us. It was easy, however, to occasionally miss a turn or end up on a false trail which made the climb a bit harder. Thankfully, just a few feet below the summit, a pile of rocks offered nice shelter from the wind where we could enjoy our lunch of cheese, sausage, bread, and chocolate. Haute Route National Maps. For dinner, we dined on fondue and saltimbocca (and wine) at Le Fermi for 67 CHF. The footing along the climb up the gully made me quite anxious, and the idea of climbing another 300 feet up (and then down) something that steep didn’t seem particularly appealing – so in an impulse decision, we decided to tackle the ladders instead of the Col. By this point, we were directly behind the tour group (we’d been leap-frogging with them since Lac des Dix), so we parted ways once again to head over to the ladders. Rainier National Park. The entire town was about a half mile long, and on the southern end there a number of old buildings constructed around the early 1800s. I was anxious about this day of hiking; I knew there was a section of exposure as the trail neared Jungen and I was not looking forward to it. Hike the Walker’s Haute Route, one of the world's great treks, through the French and Swiss Alps from Chamonix to Zermatt. Breakfast was available starting at 7am. Thankfully, before ordering, Lisa recalled an important piece of French vocabulary that she had forgotten: cheval, in French, means horse. , so I’ve decided to share it here instead of listing out what to bring and what not to bring (keep in mind, I’m an uber-geek, so there’s lots of nerd paraphernalia that I traveled with that many of you won’t need to). In turns, the road was wide enough to accommodate the bus and maybe a tiny car passing; at each curve (and there were a lot as the road contoured the side of the mountain), the driver would honk his horn. Thankfully, the wind had abated quite a bit and, as we descended, it became quite warm. You could certainly spend less than we did on lodging and food, but you could also spend quite a bit more. This book was a nice compliment to Reynolds; we found ourselves referring to both along the trail and in prepping the day before. The tundra with lots of marmots chirping and scampering about require a little easy scrambling in rocky. 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