For more than 150 years, trekkers have been swapping stories about their incredible adventures on the Haute Route. This challenging route takes them over several mountain passes, all while winding past glaciers and wildflowers. It’s a long, arduous journey, but the adrenaline rush and the views make it more than worth the effort.
If you’re looking for the perfect alpine adventure, you’ve found it. Here’s everything you should know about the Haute Route.
What to know about the Haute Route
Established in 1861 by the British Alpine Club, the Haute Route has been a favorite among trekkers for decades. It begins in Chamonix, France, then traverses all the way to Zermatt, Switzerland, about 95 miles away.
The Haute Route is actually a series of connected trails that create a network between several alpine villages. But since few people choose to live so high in the clouds, the trek is remote and unspoiled. In fact, most trekkers spend a couple of nights forgoing hotel accommodations for quiet mountain huts. It’s an unforgettable experience on one of the world’s most magnificent treks.
Of course, the route also brings trekkers up close and personal with several iconic peaks. Chamonix is located in the shadow of Mont Blanc, the tallest mountain in western Europe, and Zermatt is nestled at the base of the famous Matterhorn. But Mont Blanc and Zermatt are far from being the only mountains on the trek. The Haute Route crosses 10 passes, so it takes 9-12 days to hike from end to end.
For most people, the scenery is the real highlight on this trek. From waterfalls to lakes to forests, there’s a picture-perfect view waiting around every bend and over every pass. Whether you bring a DSLR, a point-and-shoot camera, or even a smartphone, make sure you have a way to take photos!
Variations of the Haute Route
There are several ways to experience the Haute Route, based on each person’s interests and fitness level. Avid skiers will enjoy the route best during the winter months, but hikers and walkers can only embark on the trek from June to September.
For years, people have modified the classic trek to come up with less demanding variations in the same area. Simple day hikes are a great option for some individuals, but others know that they still want a multi-day experience.
If you feel daunted by the classic Haute Route but want to fully enjoy the best of the Alps, consider a deluxe trek. It follows a similar route between Chamonix and Zermatt, taking it just a little bit easier and cutting out all hut accommodations. It’s the ideal choice for people who don’t want to choose between alpine scenery and Swiss luxury.
Already planning your next excursion in the Alps? Whether you prefer a standard trek or its deluxe counterpart, count us in. Your Alpenwild guide will be the perfect hiking buddy for the experience of a lifetime — so we’ll see you on the trail!
And if you’d like to consider other trekking options in the Alps, we’d suggest checking out the Tour du Mont Blanc.
Cover photo by Tom Dempsey