Guidebooks for walkers, mountaineers, trekkers, climbers and cyclists

Walk the Haute Route from Chamonix to Zermatt with a Cicerone guide

Cover of Chamonix to Zermatt
Availability
Reprinted
Published
18 Jan 2013
ISBN
9781852845131
Edition
Fourth
Size
17.2 x 11.6 x 1.7cm
Weight
300g
Pages
240
1st Published
28 Feb 2007
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Chamonix to Zermatt

The Walker's Haute Route

by Kev Reynolds
Book published by Cicerone Press

Essential guidebook for anyone walking the classic Haute Route from Chamonix to Zermatt. The route typically takes two weeks, and is described in 14 stages. Along the 180km trek, it crosses 11 passes and gains more than 12,000m of ascent and descent. The stunning scenery makes it a contender for the title 'Most beautiful trek in Europe'.

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Description

A guidebook to the classic trek from Chamonix to Zermatt, through the French and Swiss Alps. The Walker's Haute Route from Chamonix to Zermatt is a trek between, and through, the most spectacular and famous mountains in the Alps. Trekking between the Massif of Mont Blanc - the highest summit in the Alps - and the Matterhorn - the most iconic - is an opportunity to explore the French and Swiss Alps at their highest and best. This guide follows the entire route, with alternative lower stages, and includes the two-day Europaweg, that concludes the trek in a true high-level path way above the Mattertal to Zermatt.

The route is more of a challenge than its famous cousin, the Tour of Mont Blanc; at 180km it is longer, the passes are higher and the walking more arduous. Taking on this alpine venture will reap rewards for any trekker. On this journey, you will be witness to the greatest collection of 4000m peaks in the Alps, visit remote and pristine valleys with picture-perfect Swiss villages such as Arolla and Champex and experience the true splendour of the high Alps.

This guide is the perfect companion to the Chamonix-Zermatt route and contains all the information needed to make a successful trek. Typically taking about two weeks to complete, it's packed with practical information on accommodation, facilities, transport to and from the region and safety in high mountains. Not to mention the guide includes maps to each stage, route profiles, information on places and mountains of interest and breathtaking photography along the way.

  • Everything you need to plan your trek, and then walk it. From accommodation and access, currency and language to clear descriptions of the route.
  • The route is covered in 14 stages, including 10 variants and additions. There is also information on walking and climbing activities to do after your arrival in Zermatt.
  • Details and history on the Alpine towns, villages, huts and mountains along the way enrich the entire trek.
  • Activities
    multi-day Alpine trekking
  • Seasons
    Alpine summer walking - mid-June to mid-September. Snow could remain on higher passes well into July.
  • Centres
    Chamonix, Argentière, Trient, Champex, Sembrancher, Le Chable, Verbier, Arolla, Les Haudères, Zinal, Gruben, St Niklaus, Zermatt.
  • Difficulty
    180km, 11 passes, 12,000m of ascent over 2 weeks make this a fairly tough trek as well as a beautiful one. High alpine mountain walking.
  • Must See
    One big highlight ... from Mont Blanc and Chamonix's Aiguilles, the Combin stages, the fabulous vals d'Herens and Moiry, the Matterhorn view as you walk into Zermatt, the huts, the company ... shall I go on?

Updates

September 2013

p.99, line 3: The path/ route from the Cabane de Mont-Fort and over the Col
de la Chaux to the path junction below Col de Louvie is very well waymarked,
but with blue and white marks (not red and white as stated)

p.114, line 5: The path has changed due to rockfall. The split is now after
about 50 mins and well marked.

p.118, last line: The timings when added up suggest 45 mins from Pas de
Chevres to Arolla. In fact the signs state and having walked it, I can
confirm it is 2hrs which gives a total time for Alt Stage 7 of 7.5 hrs ie
allow 2.5 - 3 hrs from Cabane de Dix.

p.161, Hotel Weisshorn entry: The hotel has not done dortoirs since c. 2005.
Rooms are very expensive - 150CHF pp half board. If dortoir needed, far
better to continue to Cabane Bella Tolla, which is also extremely
hospitable.

Stage 13 & 14 - Europaweg. Rockfall, etc is continually changing the path.
Stage 13 - extremely well marked thorugh the various combes, so no chance of
getting lost, but the path is challenging in places.
Stage 14 - The long suspension bridge after the Europahut remains closed. It
may be repaired in 2014, but no formal decision made. The now signed
diversion route, drops down towards Randa, crosses the ravine well below the
suspension bridge and continues down to a path junction (just above Randa)
at 1708m before climbing back up to join the Europweg again. This adds about
1.5 - 2hrs to the timings.
In recognition of the continuing disruption, the authorities have arranged a
subsidised taxi transfer from Randa to Taschalp. There are full details at
the Europahut.
Finally, as evidence of the everchanging nature of the Europaweg, the
section between Taschalp and Tufteren was closed (due to rockfall risk) on
28.08.13. It will not reopen this season and has resulted in the early
closure (15.09.13) of the Europahut and the Europaweghutte (p.213).

Hut openings: If trekking late in the season - any time after the 1st Sept -
check with huts as to their exact closing dates. I was walking from
8-16.09.13 and some huts were closing a day or so after I came through,
despite the guide saying mid-Sept.

Appendix C, p.225 - Specialist Insurance
Provided you have hospital cover in place, it my be worth considering one of 2
Swiss 'helicopter-only' rescue options as this will be much cheaper than UK
bought insurance. Their websites are:
www.air-glaciers.ch and www.rega.ch

July 2008

Stage 1; p44
The Gite Belvedere in Argentiere isn't closed as previously stated, but under different management and with a different website:
 www.gitelebelvedere.eu

The previous owners of the Gite Belvedere have accommodation in the Rusticana apartments above the pharmacy in the centre of the village.
Check the following website for rates: www.gitebelvedere.com
Email: psch296049@aol.com or telephone 04 5054 0259

November 2008

Grand Hotel Kurhaus - Arolla
This hotel has asked to be mentioned as they are aimed at Haute Route walkers. They offer dortoir places, have shoes for walkers to relax inside the hotel, free internet access (wireless and a computer for customers'use), real fresh meals...etc.

www.hotel-kurhaus.arolla.com   tel: 027 283 70 00


Update, August 2009

Stages 13 & 14, the Europaweg

The unstable nature of the Europaweg, which takes the Chamonix to Zermatt route on its final two stages from Gasenried (above St Niklaus) into Zermatt below the Matterhorn, cannot be overstated.  During the summer of 2009 it was closed for a while due to further rockfall, and any detailed description of the route is likely to be out of date before next season.

Major changes have affected the route beyond the Europa Hut, with more tunnels being created and cable safeguards put in place; but in some areas the former path has been destroyed and a new (temporary?) trail been made.

The Europaweg remains a tough, challenging but rewarding finalé to the Walker’s Haute Route, with numerous scenic highlights. But all who tackle it should only do so after careful consideration of the risks involved. Before setting out, you are advised to phone the Europa Hut to see that the route is open, and to book accommodation if it is – the phone number is listed in the guide. 

Should the route be closed, or you decide against tackling it, Alternative Stage 13 describes the valley option from St Niklaus to Zermatt.

September 2011

The notorious Europaweg used by trekkers on the final two stages of the route to Zermatt has suffered yet more damage from rockfall. Trekkers are warned that the 250m suspension bridge south of the Europa Hut (p210 of the 2011 updated reprint) was destroyed just 2 months after it was opened at a cost of 350,000 Swiss francs. Currently the route has been diverted downhill for quite some way before climbing back to rejoin the 'old' route, but the unstable nature of the Europaweg will ensure that more changes will occur almost week by week. Great caution is needed by all who tackle it.
 
Note: the valley route from St Niklaus to Zermatt (Alternative stage 13) remains the safest option; it takes just one day to walk, as opposed to the two days of the Europaweg.

 

September 2011

Stage 4   Please note that the campsite in Sembrancher mentioned on p74 of the latest (4th) edition of the guidebook, no longer exists; the site now being used for housing.  There are no camping alternatives nearby.

With thanks to reader David Taylor from Australia for this information.

Contents

Contents
Introduction
The Walker's Haute Route
Getting There and Back Again
Accommodation
When to Go
Notes for Walkers
Equipment
Languages
Paths and Waymarks
Safety in the Mountains
Flora and Fauna
Recommended Maps
Using the Guide
Information at a Glance
The Route
Stage 1 Chamonix – Argentière
Stage 2 Argentière – Col de Balme – Trient
Alt Stage 2 Argentière – Col de Balme – Les Grands – Col de la Forclaz
Stage 3 Trient – Fenêtre d'Arpette – Champex
Alt Stage 3 Trient – Col de la Forclaz – Alp Bovine – Champex
Stage 4 Champex – Sembrancher – Le Châble
Stage 5 Le Châble – Clambin – Cabane du Mont Fort
Stage 6 Cabane du Mont Fort – Col Termin – Col de Louvie – Col de Prafleuri – Cabane de Prafleuri
Alt Stage 6 Cabane du Mont Fort – Col de la Chaux – Col de Louvie – Col de Prafleuri – Cabane de Prafleuri
Stage 7 Cabane de Prafleuri – Col des Roux – Col de Riedmatten – Arolla
Alt Stage 7 Cabane de Prafleuri – Col des Roux – Cabane des Dix – Arolla
Stage 8 Arolla – Lac Bleu – Les Haudères – La Sage
Stage 9 La Sage – Col du Tsaté – Cabane de Moiry
Alt Stage 9 La Sage – Col de Torrent – Barrage de Moiry/Grimentz
Stage 10 Cabane de Moiry – Col de Sorebois – Zinal
Alt Stage 10 Barrage de Moiry – Col de Sorebois – Zinal
Stage 11 Zinal – Forcletta – Gruben
Alt Stage 11 Zinal – Hotel Weisshorn/Cabane Bella Tola
Alt Stage 11a Hotel Weisshorn/Cabane Bella Tola – Meidpass – Gruben
Stage 12 Gruben – Augstbordpass – St Niklaus
Stage 12a St Niklaus – Gasenried
Alt Stage 13 St Niklaus – Täsch – Zermatt
Stage 13 Gasenried – Europa Hut
Stage 14 Europa Hut – Täschalp – Zermatt
 
Appendix A Walks from Zermatt
Appendix B Climbing from Zermatt
Appendix C Useful Addresses
Appendix D Bibliography
Appendix E Glossary
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