Tips about hiking Switzerlands' Haute Route | John Millen
The Walker's Haute Route (High Route) between the Mont Blanc and Matterhorn starts in Chamonix in France and then quickly crosses the border to Switzerland to end after about 200km (124 miles) in Zermatt. Walking this route typically includes traversing high passes such as the Col de Torrent (2918m), the Col de Sorebois (2896m) and the Augsbordpass (2893m). Although the Walker's Haute Route is a popular hiking trail, you will find that compared to many other areas in Switzerland, most of the paths are little trodden.
To plan your self guided or guided walking holiday along the Walker's Haute Route from Chamonix to Zermatt, use this handy guide. And if you're totally convinced that this is the travel destination of your dreams, do have a look at our range of fully supported, high-quality walking holidays along Switzerland's Haute Route.
Best Time Of Year For Hiking The Haute Route
Due to the nature of the high passes where snow can hang around until quite late, there is quite a narrow season to hike the trails. Generally, late July through to mid-September is a good time for walking the Haute Route. The lower valleys see warmer temperatures and beautiful spring flowers much earlier, while the snow hangs around typically above 2600 metres until at least mid-July.
May and September are drier than June, July and August and the Valais area averages 10-25°C during this period and the monthly rainfall is approx 50mm. Compared to about 150mm in neighbouring Bern canton. However at the high passes, temperatures can drop to freezing with wind-chill even in the summer making layering up a good idea.
Highlights Of The Haute Route Hike
The mountain vistas you will get while hiking the Walker's Haute Route are continuously changing, although Mount Collon, the Weisshorn and Dent Blanche dominate the scenery. Once in Zermatt, there are also views to the Breithorn, Taschhorn, Liskamm, Monte Rosa, and The Matterhorn.
A tiny quiet mountain village where we start our self guided walking tour below Mount Collon. There are just a couple of small shops and then our traditional hotel with creaky wooden floors and the most beautiful terrace with geraniums. Look out for hummingbird hawk-moths here.
Lac Bleu & Lac de Moiry
Lac Bleu is a tiny gem of a lake with crystal blue green waters reflecting the mountains around it while Lac Moiry is an impressive barraged lake. It has a pale blue colour from suspended glacial fragments and stretches back to the ice falls of the Moiry Glacier.
The mountain town of Grimentz is famed for its pedestrianised main street with beautiful wooden chalets, geranium filled balconies, and fountains involving wood carved models. On our Haute Route Hike, make time to utilise the free cable cars up to the mountain.
Alone on the valley side with views of Dent Blanche, Rhone Valley and the Wildstrubel, this Victorian hotel is a cosy place where you can relax on the terrace. The hotel has its own hydroelectric and self-heating plant.
Food And Drink While Walking The Haute Route
Swiss food tends to be wholesome and hearty. It is big on meat cuts, potatoes and vegetables, and sometimes comes with unusual flavours such as from chard or fennel. Cheeses play a big part of the cuisine along the Walker's Haute Route and it is worth taking a slab of ‘Alpen Käse’ into the hills for picnics. The cheese can sometimes be found at farms in the mountains. Legend has it that raclette was invented by a Valaisian by the name of Léon. One cold day, he simply heated up a piece of cheese on the fire instead of eating it cold. This is how the typical Valaisian raclette came about. There is also a good selection of Valaisian wines to be found on the Haute Route. Quite a number of the hotels that we stay at in the mountains and valleys will have an extensive selection. The wines are produced in the valleys and villages leading out of the mountains to the Rhone.
Other Reasons For Walking The Haute Route
Visit Zermatt's Matterhorn Museum - Zermatlantis with features on the history of climbing Matterhorn, it is a fantastic museum to have a wander around in. The splendid town of Grimentz has been offering free use of its cable cars for guests holding local hotel cards. The cable cars can take you to save 500 metres ascent and descent if you wanted to climb Roc d’Orzival. A second cable car takes you up to just under the peak of Sorebois from where you get great views over to Lac de Moiry.
How To Get To And From The Haute Route
Ideally you fly into Geneva Airport for our self guided walk along the Walker's Haute Route. You then take a train to Sion (2 hours) where you change onto a postbus up to Arolla (1 hour 20 mins). Sometimes this includes a change at Les Hauderes. When you're planning to join our guided walk starting in Le Tour, we advise to also fly into Geneva and from there take a bus to Chamonix for an onward bus to Le Tour (aprox. 2 hours 30 mins).
Leaving Zermatt: ideally take the train to Geneva Airport and change at Visp (4 hours).
More Information On Walking The Haute Route
As the Haute Route offers such fantastic opportunities for walking in Switzerland, we were given a page of resident guide John’s diary that he wrote when hiking the Haute Route. If you like to learn more about what a walking day on the Haute Route can look like, we certainly recommend to have a look. Especially in the summer, the Swiss Alps offer attractive walking weather.
Contact the Walkers' Britain team
to organise your fully supported, self guided or small group guided hiking holiday along Switzerland's Haute Route. Or ask us to call you back