Trek the very challenging and less-traveled Haute Route with the Alps specialists
No one knows the Alps like MTS. With over four decades of experience leading trips here, we have cultivated a regular following of clients who come back to try a different trip in the Alps with us each year. The Haute Route or “High Road” is one of our more challenging itineraries, designed for serious trekkers who love the thrill of summiting ten passes in ten days and the comfort of warm, alpine hospitality at night. The Haute Route connects Mont Blanc to the Matterhorn on one of the most spectacular hikes in all the Alps. Our professional guides are the best in the Alps, all qualified by the prestigious Companie des Guides. Their knowledge and skillsets make them indispensable companions on your adventure.
10 days very strenuous hiking (max. elev. 9,785')
- Trek the challenging, renowned and less-travelled Haute Route with the Alps specialists (since 1970!)
- Traverse ten high passes in ten days for incomparable eye-popping views, including the famous Matterhorn--a trekker’s paradise
- Superb leaders, local hospitality, and shared accomplishment make this an MTS classic
Duration: 12 days Start Location: Geneva End Location: GenevaDownload Detailed Itinerary
Day 1 : Geneva – Chamonix
Arrive at the airport in Geneva, Switzerland (GVA). You will be picked up promptly at 2:00 p.m. for a group transfer by private van to the famous mountain-ringed resort town of Chamonix, France. We suggest you arrive early enough (by 1:00 p.m.) to allow time to get through customs and immigration before the scheduled pickup. The transfer takes approximately 1½ hours. Once at the hotel, you'll have time to rest a bit, take a swim, or explore this charming town before meeting your guides and the rest of the group for a welcome dinner and orientation at 6:30 p.m.
Day 2 : Chamonix – Local "Warm Up" Hike
From the hotel, we’ll take a funicular from Brévent to Planpraz (6,600'). From this panoramic viewpoint we get our first complete vantage point of the Mont Blanc massif. Our hike will lead us to the Col du Brévent (7,814') and then to the Cornu Lake. We’ll have a number of options for our descent and the guides will select the one that best suits our group. Dinner tonight is on your own to explore the many fine dining options of Chamonix. (Approx. 8 hours hiking, 1,500' ascent/1,500' descent.)
Day 3 : Col de Balme
We’ll begin the day with a 10-minute vehicle transfer to the village of Tour, at the head of the Chamonix Valley. We’ll take a funicular up through the alpine forests to the Col de Balme (6,999'), and hike a short distance into Switzerland. After traversing above the tree line over dramatic views of the valley below, we’ll descend along the great Trient Glacier to our rest stop for the night, the Hotel de la Forclaz (5,035'). (Approx. 7 hours hiking, 300' ascent/1,900' descent, mild exposure.)
Day 4 : Fenêtre d’Arpette
Today’s hike is up to the challenging Fenêtre d’Arpette, or “Arpette’s window” (8,760'), and is among the most classic alpine mountain passes. Today’s views of the Trient Glacier are spectacular (as well as the views at the top of the pass!). We’ll begin with an easy walk to a hiker’s hut, then begin our challenging ascent up a steep trail of stone steps and boulders, requiring some scrambling along the way. After a picturesque lunch at the pass, we’ll descend through forests to the village of Champex (4,890') where we transfer to the celebrated ski town of Verbier, and rest for the night. (Approx. 6 hours hiking, 3,727' ascent/4,970' descent, significant exposure.)
Day 5 : Verbier – Cabane de Louvie
Today’s hike begins with a short, 10 minute transfer to our trailhead just above Verbier (4,950'), and then continues on foot up above the town to the Val de Bagne. We’ll then traverse along trails with outstanding views in every direction, then hike up to the Col Termin (8,740'); there is a possibility of seeing some ibex today. The trail has a fair amount of exposure, and chains are mounted on the rocks in some places to help ease our way. We’ll then descend steeply to the lovely environs of the Lac de Louvie (7,300') where we’ll spend the night in the hut of Cabane de Louvie. (Approx. 7 hours hiking, 4,210' ascent/1,440' descent, significant exposure.)
NOTE—You will not have access to your luggage tonight and will need to carry your overnight belongings.
Day 6 : Cabane de Louvie – Grande Dixence
Today is a long and beautiful day of hiking, with two passes, the Louvie (9,640') and Prafleuri (9,785'). From the hut, we’ll climb 2,500 feet on steep trails that bring us to lunar landscapes above the tree lines. There are very good odds of seeing ibex today. From the first pass, we’ll descend (possibly on snow) 400 feet, crossing Le Grand Desert (“big desert”), a glacial area that’s rich in minerals. You may have to cross the glacier itself or ford one of its streams, and even hike on snow. We will scramble over large boulder fields and steep cliffs with scree slopes to our second pass, then descend from the Prafleuri to our hotel, Le Ritz, located at the foot of Europe’s highest dam at 7,065 feet. (Approx. 8 hours hiking, 3,100' ascent/3,400' descent, significant exposure.)
Day 7 : Grande Dixence – Arolla
From the hotel, we’ll hike to the top of the dam and then continue around the lake (4 miles), before our start up toward the Pas du Chat (7,800'). The terrain is rocky and we’ll cross a glacier before scrambling over boulders and large flat rocks to the next pass. We have two alternates for crossing the Pas de la Chevre (9,785'—“pass of the goat”), either a steep 250-foot ascent, or up two sets of vertical ladders, before descending to Arolla (6,660'). This stage is considered very alpine, with rich mineral rock and a backdrop of the legendary summits of Pigne d’Arolla, Mont-Blanc de Cheilon, and Mont-Collomb. Our day ends with a short walk through the beautiful Arolla pine forest into this typical charming Swiss hamlet with its wooden houses and flower-filled window boxes. (Approx. 9 hours hiking, 2,720' ascent/2,000' descent, or 1,605' ascent/900' descent with ladders, significant exposure.)
Day 8 : Arolla – Grimentz
We’ll start with a 30-minute transfer to Cotter (5,790') where we begin what some consider the easiest day of the route as we ascend the Col de Torrent (9,630'). We’ll encounter picture postcard scenery with fabulous views of Mont Blanc as well as many other spectacular peaks of a range of mountains called the Dent Blanche (14,380'). From the pass, weather permitting, we will have fabulous 360-degree views of snowcapped mountains and turquoise glacial lakes. We might see marmots and eagles as we continue down through cow-filled meadows to the picturesque old Swiss village of Grimentz (5,300'). Part of the town is like a living museum representing the old, vanishing way of life, and is well worth an evening stroll. (Approx. 7 hours hiking, 4,180' ascent/3,468' descent, some exposure.)
Day 9 : Grimentz – Zinal – Gruben
We are now is the bilingual canton of Valais, where we’ll move from the French-speaking “Romansh Switzerland” to the German-speaking region. After a short transfer to Zinal (5,500'), our hiking begins with a steep climb through a beautiful forest of thick larch trees, heather, and blueberries. We’ll then make a long traverse along a ridge with views of the Matterhorn, before beginning another steep ascent toward the Col de Forcletta (9,480'). We’ll descend through beautiful green hills with large mossy rocks and babbling brooks to the summer hamlet of Gruben (6,012') where we’ll spend the night. (Approx. 8 hours hiking, 4,180' ascent/3,468' descent, some exposure.)
Day 10 : Gruben – St. Niklaus
Our first challenge of the day is the Augstbordpass (9,550'), the last major pass on our trek, which leads into the valley of the Mattervispa. From the top, the views are superb: we can see the Weishorn, Breithorn, and Mischabel, as well as others, all topping 14,000 feet. We’ll then make a long, 3,000-foot descent with fairly steep exposure, enjoying fabulous views of green hills dotted with slate-roofed wooden houses, to the cable car for a thrilling ride down to St. Niklaus (3,630'). Here we board our bus for the drive to Zermatt at the foot of the famed Matterhorn. Later, meet with the group and trip leaders for an evening farewell dinner, as the guides will leave Zermatt after tomorrow's half-day hike. (Approx. 7½ hours hiking, 3,538' ascent/3,000' descent, significant exposure.)
Day 11 : Zermatt – Zmutt
We have an half-day of light hiking in store today with a walk up above the town for great views of the Matterhorn. For lunch (on your own) we have the choice of staying in Zmutt, a charming village at the foot of the Matterhorn, or returning to Zermatt. You may want to take a walk via Blatten into the spectacular river “gorge” where you travel on catwalks and ladders heading back into Zermatt. We'll say good-bye to our guides at the end of today's hike. The remainder of the afternoon is free to take advantage of the charms of the alpine village and perhaps do a little shopping. (Approx. 4 hours hiking, 1,000' ascent/1,000' descent.)
Day 12 : Depart
After breakfast, we’ll transfer 3½ hours to the Geneva Airport (GVA), or you can take the train from Zermatt to other destinations in Europe on your own. (Please do not schedule your outgoing flight to depart until after 2:00 p.m.)
DATES: Best time to go: August Departures: Aug 10 - 21, 2015
Hotel Les AiglonsChamonix
Five minutes from the town centre, at the foot of the Midi summit, three star Les Aiglons Resort & Spa has undergone a full renovation.
Resolutely contemporary whilst breaking down the barriers of traditional mountain resort hotels, three star Les Aiglons Resort & Spa has undergone an audacious redesign and decoration, with warm and modern colours, natural materials, glass and light…
Hotel du Col de La ForclazTrient, Switzerland
Hotel de VerbierVerbier, Switzerland
Hotel de Verbier
Hotel SchwarzhornGruben, Switzerland
Hotel du GlacierArolla
Located at the edge of Arolla, a small mountain village situated at an altitude of 6,500 ft, it offers a beautiful mountain panorama. Amenities include private bath or shower, balcony, and TV.
Properties shown are representative of the accommodations we use on this trip, may not be inclusive of all accommodations we use, and are subject to change.
Expert leadership is the key to an exciting, unforgettable experience. Our trips feature gifted leaders for whom leading trips is a true vocation. Besides showing you wonders you’d never find on your own, they make sure everything runs smoothly and safely without a hitch. They are knowledgeable about all aspects of your trip, and take great pleasure in sharing their insights with you. More than just guides, they positively elevate your experience by being teachers, companions, and the best of friends. You’ll be in good hands with them every step of the way.
Laurent Langoisseur hails from Normandy, France, having grown up in Argentan (a small village that became famous in August 1944, “tournai sur dives”). At the age of 12, Laurent read La Grande Crevasse by Roger Frison-Roche, and became fascinated by the guiding and climbing descriptions of the Chamonix-Mont Blanc area. At 16, Laurent visited the area and was hooked. At 19, Laurent joined the French alpine troops, and after a year of service, moved to Chamonix. In 1991, he obtained his European Mountain Leader certification, and in 1995 he was awarded the coveted patch of the Compagnie des Guides. An avid sports enthusiast and inexhaustible hiker, Laurent has hiked the Tour du Mont Blanc close to 100 times. He is also an accomplished mountaineer, having summited Mont Blanc three times, as well as several other mountains over 13,000-feet. When he is not hiking and climbing, Laurent can be found running long distances for fun. Laurent recently completed a 48-mile race in 6 hours; and has also finished 48 miles in 9 hours with 10,000’ of ascent/descent. Laurent has been guiding for MTS since 1995, and is a senior guide on our Tour du Mont Blanc, Mont Blanc Express, Mont Blanc to Matterhorn (Haute Route), GR5, Gran Paradiso, and French Riviera trips, as well as any other trip we can get him on! His knowledge of the culture, history, plants, birds, and the name of every single peak and glacier along the trail is a wonderful complement to his guiding skills. When he isn’t guiding for us, he teaches First Aid and Mountain Rescue to mountain and hiking guides; and during the winter, he’s a ski patrol monitor in the mountains above Chamonix.
Stéphane is a true man of the mountains, with a Savoyard father and Swiss mother. He grew up in Chamonix, then left the valley to follow his first love, architecture. But the call of the wild proved too strong: numerous travels in North Africa, Siberia, and the Himalaya opened a new door to him—the profession of hiking guide. Nowadays Stéphane lives in a chalet in Chamonix from where he escapes frequently to travel the mountain areas of the world. “Steph” has now been a member of the Compagnie des Guides for many years, with over 100 trips to the Alps under his belt.
A native of Chamonix, Florence is a descendant from two of the area’s oldest families. After growing up in the Chamonix Valley, “Flo” spent several years in the south of France, and then traveled abroad to South America and Asia. She returned to her ancestral home, where the mountains now form an integral part of her life. She has led nearly 50 trips to the Alps, not counting how many times she has done this trip for her own fun! In addition to being an accomplished hiking guide, Flo is a skier and climber. As a member of the Compagnie des Guides, she follows in the footsteps of her forefathers.
Beatrice is a native of Chamonix, France, and has been guiding professionally in the Alps since 1989. She comes from a family of mountain climbers. Her grandfather was also a professional mountain guide. Aside from being an expert hiking guide, Beatrice is also an avid climber and accomplished skier, and is a ski instructor during the winter months. She loves the mountains, and will share her enthusiasm and her great experience with you during your trip.
Native from Chamonix, Fabienne comes from a family of mountaineers and farmers. Her grandfather was a recognized mountain guide. A former cross-country ski champion, she raced in several Europa Cups, and has been coaching the Chamonix cross-country Ski Club for the last 20 years. Very involved in the city life, she has a passion for the history of the valley and the surrounding mountains. A guide since 1993, she is also keen in botany and proud to share her love and knowledge of the Mont-Blanc massif.