Backcountry Skiing across the Haute Route Traverse

CHAMONIX | FRANCE
5.00
2 REVIEWS
Trip Highlights

Top three reasons to do the Haute Route Ski Tour

  • Trip Highlight

    Traverse the most famous ski route in the world

  • Trip Highlight

    Week-long exploration of the Alps scenery, mostly above 3,000m

  • Trip Highlight

    Tour Chamonix and Zermatt, two spots highly coveted by any skier

Following the footsteps of pioneers, cross the French-Swiss border in the most epic way possible—by ski touring the world’s most renowned ski touring route. Set out on a 7-day Haute Route traverse, a journey through the heart of the Alps that skiers have been crossing off their bucket lists ever since 1911. With Chamonix-Mont-Blanc as your starting point, an alpine hut-to-hut venture takes you to the glacier paradise of Zermatt, lying at the foot of Matterhorn. Experience a daily change of surroundings as you make your way across steep passes and hidden valleys, or switch between mighty glaciers—and even mightier ski descents. This is ski touring at its best—dare to undertake this premiere alpine journey with an expert guide leading the way.

Season

April

Nearest city

Your tour starts in Chamonix, France

Duration

7 days

Skill level

Advanced

Itineraries

Book this adventure

Week-Long Haute Route Traverse Ski Tour

8 days

Haute Route is the mother of all ski touring traverses. Threading its way through steep Alps, the route takes you from hut to hut—from Chamonix, the birthplace of modern alpinism and ski mountaineering, to Zermatt in Switzerland—in a matter of 7 days. Cross some of the world’s most spectacular mountain terrain, and explore high mountain passes and broken glaciers. Expect a perfect mix of big Alpine days fused with European comforts, including local cuisine and fresh après-ski scene!

Trip Highlights

Itinerary

Day 0: Preparations

You’re meeting your guide and your group the evening prior to getting on the snow. The meeting point will most likely be the Moö Bar in Chamonix. If you’re not able to make it, you’ll meet your guide the following day at Aiguille du Midi.Chamonix town with snowy mountains on the background. Chamonix-Mont-Blanc was the site of the first Winter Olympics in 1924 and it's one of the oldest ski resorts in France.

Day 1: Mer de Glace

Ease into your Haute Route adventure by doing mandatory classic laps on the Mer de Glace, the largest glacier in France. Shake the jet lag, stretch the legs, and prepare for the challenge ahead!

"Mer de glace" glacier - translated "Sea of Ice" in Chamonix, France

Day 2: Grand Montets — Cabane du Trient

To kick off the Haute Route Traverse, you’ll ski down the Argentière glacier from the Grand Montets lifts. You have two options here: the classic option through the Col du Chardonnet or the Col du Passon. Both lines are similar in length and involve a steep snow section. Once through the Col, it’s smooth sailing to the Trient Hut, one of the highest ones on the route at 3,200m (10,500 ft).
Ascent: 1,100m (3,610 ft)
Descent: 1,600 (5,250 ft)
Length: 10km (6 miles)

Skiers in Col du Passon. Taken from Altus Mountain Guides.

Day 3: Cabane du Trient — Verbier

This is a more gentle day to recover from the previous one. A short glacier ski through wild glaciers takes you to the most technical climbing section of the route, Col des Ecandies. A 200-meter (656-foot) bootpack sets you up for a 1,600-meter (5,250-foot) cruise down the Val Ferret to the Swiss village Champex. A one-hour taxi ride takes you to Verbier, a village in south-western Switzerland where you’ll spend the night.
Ascent: 200m (660 ft)
Descent: 1,800m (5,906 ft)
Length: 10km (6 miles)

A skier in the Swiss ski resort of Verbier standing on top of a cliff above a sea of clouds, looking towards Mont Blanc and Chamonix.

Day 4: Refuge Verbier — Refuge Prafleuri

Catch the first lifts to the top of Mont Gelé standing at 3,519m (11,550 ft) above sea level. A quick skin up the piste and over the Col de la Chaux takes you across a quick traverse, descending to the Lac du Petit Mont-Fort. From there, you start a long climb up to the Rosablanche mountain before a long descent to the Prafleuri. Treat yourself to a pint of good brew and get some well-deserved rest!
Ascent: 1,200m (3,940 ft)
Descent: 1,550m (5,085 ft)
Length: 11km (7 miles)

Young skier downhill skiing at Zermatt ski resort with Matterhorn mountain in background, Valais canton, Switzerland, in winter morning. Taken by Sony a7R II, 42 Mpix.

Day 5: Refuge Prafleuri — Cabane des Dix

A quick early-morning climb up the Col des Roux sets you up for a long traverse above Lac des Dix. From the edge of the lake, a long skin takes you to what might just be the best hut of the trip, the Cabane des Dix. Once at the hut, you have two options: beer and rösti or more ski runs.
Ascent: 1,000m (3,280 ft)
Descent: 700m (2,300 ft)
Length: 9km (5.5 miles)

The off piste itinerary on the backside of Mont Fort in the Swiss ski resort of Verbier, the matterhorn and Zermatt in the distance.

Day 6: Cabane des Dix — Cabane des Vignettes

This day is a big up followed by a big down. First you’ll head up the Glacier de Tsena Réfien over the spectacular passage de la Serpentine and finally to the summit of the Pigne d’Arolla, the highest point of the route at 3,790m (12,440 ft) above sea level. Shed your skins and ski down the Glacier de Pièce to the steps of the Cabane des Vignettes for the evening.
Ascent: 1,000m (3,280 ft)
Descent: 750m (2,460 ft)
Length: 9km (5.5 miles)

Pigne d'Arolla. Location: Valais, Switzerland, Europe. Elevation: 12454 ft / 3796 m

Day 7: Cabane des Vignettes — Zermatt

An epic day ahead of you brings this traverse to an end. Pass over 3 cols, 7 glaciers, and 3,200m (10,500 ft) of descent, amounting to 29 km. This big day will certainly have you craving for a celebratory drink along with some traditional Swiss food. Your guides can organize transport back to Chamonix or they can arrange for your luggage to be shipped.
Ascent: 1,700m (5,580 ft)
Descent: 2,200m (7,220 ft)
Length: 29km (18 miles)

Zermatt Village Typical Traditional Swiss Alps Wooden Houses in the center of Zermatt Village with illuminated Swiss National Flag in the foreground. Famous Matterhorn Mountain Peak under blue summer sky in the background. Zermatt, Valais Canton, Switzerland, Europe
Reviews

Reviews (2)

Adam Newsome about Altus Mountain Guides on Google Reviews

Excellent guide service. From the moment of booking to the end of the course, the staff and guides were helpful, enthusiastic, patient, and very knowledgeable. Highly recommended.

Dora Vanourek about Altus Mountain Guides on Facebook

Fantastic mountain guides whom I would come back to anytime. My experience with Altus has been on three different occasions: ice climbing, ski touring and mountaineering, and each time had an awesome adventure. Their guides are extremely knowledgeable, inspiring, thorough, and able to cater to individuals’ preferences and needs

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Things to know

Things to know

What’s included?

What you get on this adventure:

    • An experienced, certified ski guide with extensive knowledge of the area
    • 7 days of guided ski traversing
    • Transportation during the tour
    • 5 nights of accommodation (no accommodation on day 0, 1 and 7)
    • All meals — breakfast, lunch, and dinner (except for dinner in Verbier, Zermatt, and on day 7, as well as all meals on day 0 and 1)

What’s not included:

    • Technical backcountry ski touring equipment
    • Transportation to and from Chamonix
    • Alcoholic beverages or additional beverages and snacks
    • Accommodation before and after the tour
    • Accommodation on day 0, 1 and 7 of the tour
    • Dinner while in Verbier and Zermatt
    • Meals on day 0 and 1
    • Travel insurance
    • Rescue insurance (needed for skiing in Switzerland)
    • Guide gratuities — optional

How fit do I need to be?

To enjoy this guided Haute Route Traverse, you need to be in excellent physical condition. Apart from that, you need to have previous backcountry skiing experience and advanced ski ability is required (black diamond runs). You will be on your feet for 7 full days for an average of 6 miles (10km) per day, with the last day amounting to 19 miles (30km). You will need to manage controlled descents and ascents in variable conditions, as the largest day requires 4,593 ft (1,400m) of climbing over 9,843 ft (3,000m) of elevation. All participants should feel comfortable on challenging black-level resort runs and be able to carry a loaded daypack while skinning up variable degrees of terrain.

What if I’ve never backcountry skied before?

To participate in this tour, you need to have extensive previous backcountry skiing experience. You will be skiing, touring, and summiting on glaciated terrain for 5-7 hours every day. If you’ve never backcountry skied before, we suggest joining a guide for a day of touring in Chamonix and Mont Blanc.

What do I need to bring?

For technical backcountry ski touring gear, you will need to bring:

    • Alpine touring skis, telemark skis or splitboard with skins (can be rented)
    • Touring boots and poles (can be rented)
    • Lightweight ice axe and ski-touring crampons
    • Avalanche safety equipment (can be rented):
      • Digital, 3-antenna avalanche transceiver or beacon
      • Lightweight snow shovel
      • Avalanche probe

For personal items, we recommend bringing:

    • Backpack large enough to carry all items listed (around a 30-40L backpack)
    • Helmet
    • Sunglasses or ski goggles
    • Gloves and hat
    • Wind and waterproof shell jacket with hood (Gore-Tex recommended)
    • Wind and waterproof ski pants (Gore-Tex recommended)
    • Lightweight, breathable jacket and pants
    • Insulated jacket (synthetic insulated jacket)
    • Balaclava or a neck warmer
    • Synthetic or wool base layers, underwear and socks
    • Hut clothing and shoes
    • One triple-action locking carabiner or two conventional locking carabiners
    • Repair kit and Leatherman for your equipment (can be shared between several people)
    • Water bottle and 1L of water
    • Small light quick dry towel
    • Thermos with a warm beverage — optional
    • Food you can eat on-the-go
    • First aid kit
    • Sunscreen
    • Headtorch
    • Camera — optional

Can I rent equipment?

All mandatory gear can be rented from one of the manifold rental shops in Chamonix. If you don’t have your own, you can rent:

    • Avalanche safety pack, including backpack, beacon, shove, and probe
    • Alpine touring or telemark skis, touring boots, and poles
    • Splitboards
    • Glacier gear and helmet

Gear rental locations are in Chamonix and should be picked up the night prior to your outing. If you need to rent gear, let us know and we can help make arrangements.

Group sizes and age requirements

Group sizes and prices:

    • For this guided Haute Route Traverse, the usual client-to-guide ratio is 6:1. 
    • The cost is per person and doesn’t decrease as the group grows. 

Backcountry skiing across the Haute Route Traverse can be arranged for larger groups. Contact us to make arrangements.

Min. age requirements:

    • If you are older than 18, you’re good to go.

All participants must complete a liability waiver, which is sent to participants upon booking and must be completed online or in paper form before the trip date.

Deposits and cancellation policy

A 30% deposit to secure your place is due upon booking. The remaining amount is paid 2 months (60 days) prior to departure. Once the trip is confirmed by the guide, the cancellation policy stated below applies. 

    • If Client cancels the Booking anytime prior to thirty (30) calendar days in advance of the trip contemplated by the booking, Client is entitled to a full refund. 
    • After that deadline, Client is not entitled to any refund. Any reimbursable expenses arising out of the Booking incurred by Guide prior to the date of cancellation (including but not limited to plane tickets, car rental payments, and lodging or transportation fees) are non-refundable as soon as they are incurred by the Guide.

Getting there and meeting location

To get to Chamonix-Mont-Blanc in France, most people fly into Geneva International Airport in Geneva, Switzerland, 1 hour away. From there, you can rent a car, take a bus, or travel by train to Chamonix.

Once you and your guide agree on the details of your itinerary, your guide will suggest the best place to meet. Most likely it will be the Moö Bar on day 0 or Aiguille du Midi on day 1. The guide will choose the appropriate terrain dependent on conditions and the ability of the group.

Covid measures in France and Switzerland

57hours is committed to providing safe outdoor adventure experiences. We require all guides using our platform to have a COVID-19 safety plan and to make the details of that plan accessible to travelers. In most cases, group sizes will be reduced, guides will avoid overcrowded locations, and other safety measures will be met depending on the location and activity. 

We also expect clients to respect local regulations and take measures to protect themselves, their guides, and the communities they’re traveling to. For more information on COVID-19 measures in France and Switzerland, please refer to France Diplomacy’s COVID-19 Information and Switzerland’s Travel Advisory by the Federal Office of Public Health.

Please contact us if you have any questions or require further information. We are happy to provide you with the most up-to-date information!

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