Chamonix to Zermatt
The Classic Walker's Haute Route
By Kev Reynolds
Guidebook to the walkers' Haute Route from Chamonix to Zermatt. The 180km route typically takes two weeks to walk. Described in 14 stages, the route crosses 11 passes between Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn and involves more than 12,000m of ascent and descent. A complete guide for planning and walking the route, with accommodation information.
SeasonsAlpine summer walking - mid-June to mid-September; snow could remain on higher passes well into July
CentresChamonix, Argentière, Trient, Champex, Sembrancher, Le Chable, Verbier, Arolla, Les Haudères, Zinal, Gruben, St Niklaus, Zermatt
Difficulty180km, 11 passes and 12,000m of ascent over 2 weeks make this a fairly tough trek; high alpine mountain walking
Must SeeMont Blanc and Chamonix's Aiguilles, the Combin stages, the fabulous Vals d'Herens and Moiry, the view of the Matterhorn as you walk into Zermatt
A guidebook to the classic Chamonix to Zermatt trek, 180km from Mont Blanc to the Matterhorn, in the northern slopes of the Pennine Alps, described in 14 stages. Also known as the Walker's Haute Route, in 2 weeks of mountain travel you will see the greatest collection of 4000 metre peaks in the Alps and visit some of the most spectacular valleys.
The route crosses 11 passes, gains more than 12,000 metres in height and is a strong contender for the title of Most Beautiful Walk in Europe. You will discover delightful villages and remote hamlets, wander flower meadows and forests, skirt exquisite tarns that turn mountains on their heads, and clamber beside glaciers. The way explores lonely stone-filled corries, with marmots along the boulders and ibex on the heights, and provides a surprise around every corner. This new edition now includes the exciting two-day Europaweg - a true high-level path that carries the Haute Route way above the Mattertal and into Zermatt - a worthy conclusion to a great trek.
The guidebook also includes essential practical information on travel to and from Chamonix and Zermatt, as well as information on accommodation in alpine villages and mountain refuges, trekking safety, itinerary planning and how to best plan and prepare for this challenging but rewarding trek.
The Walker’s Haute Route
Getting There and Back Again
When to Go
Notes for Walkers
Paths and Waymarks
Safety in the Mountains
Wildlife and Plants
Using this Guide
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 Route summary table
Appendix B Walks from Zermatt
Appendix C Climbing from Zermatt
Appendix D Useful contacts
Appendix E Bibliography
Appendix F Glossary
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Trekkers planning to tackle the classic Walker’s Haute Route from Chamonix to Zermatt should be aware that on 29 July 2017, a significant change was made to a section of the EUROPAWEG (Stage 14). Please note the following changes to the guidebook:
p185: Please ignore the introductory paragraph beginning: A series of rockfalls beyond the Europa Hut...’ It is no longer necessary to descend to Randa, then regain 1300m of lost height to rejoin the route that had been destroyed by rockfall, as a 494m long suspension bridge has been put in place to avoid the danger area. Said to be the world’s longest pedestrian suspension bridge, it cost 750,000 Swiss francs to erect and hangs some 85m above a ravine.
p187: Ignore the sentence in brackets that runs from line 4-7 in the first paragraph. The new Europa Bridge makes this obsolete.
Please note that the Chalet Edelweiss in Arolla (end of Stage 7) now only provides accommodation for groups. But see the guidebook for plenty of alternatives suitable for non-group walkers.
Please note that the distance quoted on page 54 for Alternative Stage 2 of the route to Col de la Forclaz via Les Grands, should be 23km – and not 15km. Apologies for this error which will be amended for the next edition.
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A lifelong passion for the countryside in general, and mountains in particular, drives Kev's desire to share his sense of wonder and delight in the natural world through his writing, photography and lecturing.
Claiming to be The Man with the World's Best Job, he has enjoyed a fruitful partnership with Cicerone since the 1970s, producing over 50 books, including guides to five major trekking regions of Nepal, and to numerous routes in the European Alps and Pyrenees, as well as walking guides for Kent, Sussex and the Cotswolds.