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Beyond Regular Hiking: Haute Route Glacier Trek

Yann Delevaux, Sebastien Tournoud, Marta Gil Sopena, Nuyama
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1 Person
5 day
Yann Delevaux, Sebastien Tournoud, Marta Gil Sopena, Nuyama
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  • Get ready to embark on an incredible 5-day journey, venturing through the heart of the Alps along the larger section of the Haute Route Glacier Trek. Your experienced local guide will lead the way, ensuring your safety and sharing their in-depth knowledge of the area. As we hike from Martigny to Zermatt, we'll experience some of the highest peaks in the Alps. Nights are spent in cozy mountain huts, providing all the meals and the perfect alpine atmosphere. 

    • Our adventure begins in Martigny, where our group will do a gear check before taking a taxi to the Mauvoisin dam (5,922 ft / 1,805 m). From there, we’ll embark on a delightful hike along the lakeside, guiding you to the Chanrion hut perched at 8,077 ft (2,462 m). This initial day offers an easy start without any glacier hiking, allowing us to cover 4.9 miles (8 km) in comfort. The accommodation is cozy, and the evening meal promises to be a delightful introduction to the trip and to the squad for the next four days.

      Accommodation: Chanrion hut
      Meals: Dinner
      Elevation: +2,198 ft (+670 m)

      Mauvoisin reservoir surrounded by a dam and Swiss mountains.
    • After breakfast, we’ll depart from the hut, starting our ascent of the Brenay glacier towards the summit of the Pigne d’Arolla, which reaches 12,434 ft (3,790 m). It’s the first day of “glacier hiking,” since our group will traverse the Otemma glacier on our way to the Vignettes hut, majestically perched at 10,367 ft (3,160 m) above Arolla. You’ll be in awe of the glacier landscapes surrounding you. The ascent of Pigne d’Arolla is optional, to be decided with your guide. As the day concludes, rest assured that a hearty dinner awaits. Spend some quality time with your guide and fellow trekkers before retreating to your bed. 

      Accommodation: Vignettes hut
      Meals: Breakfast, picnic, and dinner
      Elevation: +4,593 ft (+1,400 m) / -2,067 ft (-630 m)

      Two trekkers on an exposed, steep section of the Haute Route Glacier Trek, Switzerland.
    • Wake up, enjoy a hearty breakfast and get ready for adventure! The day kicks off with a short descent that leads us to the Mont Collon Glacier. From there, our group will ascend this glacier, arriving at the Col de l’Evêque (11,122 ft / 3,392 m). Descending from the col, we’ll venture down the Haut Glacier d’Arolla to the Plan de Bertol (8,366 ft / 2,550 m). Here, we start the ascent to the Bertol hut, situated at 10,207 ft (3,111 m). This rustic yet charming hut is uniquely positioned atop a rocky outcropping, and we’ll have to climb some ladders to reach it. A cozy mountain refuge and a delicious dinner will make for a memorable night.

      Accommodation: Bertol hut
      Meals: Breakfast, picnic, and dinner
      Elevation: +3,116 ft (+950 m) / -3,445 ft (-1,050 m)

      A high-altitude cabane, mountain hut, in the Swiss Alps, perched atop a massive rock formation.
    • We’ll begin our day by descending the ladders that we climbed the day before. Today’s journey takes us across the wide plateau of the Mont Miné glacier, which leads us to the highest point of the adventure, Tête Blanche (12,174 ft / 3,710 m). From this vantage point, we’ll be treated to breathtaking panoramic views, including the majestic Dent Blanche and the iconic Matterhorn, along with many other stunning peaks in the Valais region. Descending from Tête Blanche, we’ll traverse the Stocki Glacier, eventually reaching the Zmutt Glacier. From there, we’ll hike up to the comfortable Schönbiel hut, where we’ll spend the night with the magnificent north face of the Matterhorn as our backdrop. 

      Accommodation: Schönbiel hut
      Meals: Breakfast, picnic, and dinner
      Elevation: +1,529 ft (+465 m) / -3,609 ft (-1,100 m)

      Zmutt valley and glacier surrounded by glaciated peaks, a sublime landscape in the Swiss Alps.
    • Our final day will be a picturesque walk through the heart of Swiss mountain pastures, as we make our way to Zermatt. During the descent, we’ll enjoy the awe-inspiring view of the north face of the Matterhorn, a sight that will stay with you long after the journey ends. We’ll arrive in Zermatt by midday, marking the conclusion of our unforgettable hiking expedition. Celebrate your achievements with your guide and fellow hikers before saying goodbye both to them and to the Alps—or continuing touring on your own! 

      Meals: Breakfast and picnic
      Elevation: -5,925 ft (-1,806 m)

      The town of Zermatt, below Matterhorn, the ending point of the Haute Route.
    • What you get on this adventure:

        • An experienced, local hiking guide with extensive knowledge of the area
        • 5 days trekking along the larger part of the Haute Route Glacier Trek
        • Half-board accommodation in mountain huts (in mixed dormitories with up to 20 people)
        • Daily picnics for the duration of the tour (except on Day 1)
        • Transfer from Martigny to the Mauvoisin dam

      What’s not included:

        • Transportation to Martigny
        • Personal glacier trekking equipment
        • Accommodations before and after the tour (in Martigny and Zermatt)
        • Any personal expenses (drinks, snacks, souvenirs, etc.)
        • Travel and rescue/medical insurance
        • Guide gratuities — optional
    • To embark on the guided Haute Route Glacier Trek, it’s crucial to be in peak physical condition. The trek encompasses an average of 6 to 7 hours of daily walking for 5 days, with significant elevation gains and losses and elevations often exceeding 9,800 ft (3,000 m). You should expect steep and sometimes exposed trails, often on glacial terrain. Participants should anticipate carrying a backpack weighing around 11 lbs (5 kg), adding an extra layer of challenge to the journey.

      This adventure is recommended for people with extensive hiking experience and with experience of multi-day treks. However, even though this trip includes crossing glaciers, no mountaineering experience is required. In preparation, it’s advisable to engage in regular hiking and endurance training to build stamina and leg strength. Cardio workouts and uphill hiking can be particularly beneficial.

      Rest assured, you won’t be on this adventure alone. A seasoned guide will be by your side every step of the way. They will provide motivation, teach essential skills related to crampons and ice axes, ensure your safety, and adapt the route as needed, especially in the face of adverse weather conditions or if the challenge becomes too strenuous for the group.

      If you’re looking for something less challenging, check out this guided Walker’s Haute Route Trek.

    • Here’s a list of the technical equipment you need to bring:

        • Light mountaineering boots or sturdy, waterproof hiking boots covering your ankles
        • Backpack (35-45 L) with a fitted rain cover
        • Collapsible ski poles
        • Ice axe for glacier travel (50-75 cm)
        • Crampons with anti-snowballing plates
        • Harness for glacier travel
        • One triple-action locking carabiner or two conventional locking carabiners

      Here’s a list of clothes you need to bring:

        • Wind and waterproof shell jacket with a hood (Gore-Tex or similar)
        • Wind and waterproof over-pants with side zippers (Gore-Tex or similar)
        • Mountaineering pants
        • Medium-weight jacket
        • Medium-weight fleece sweater
        • Moisture-wicking top and bottom underwear
        • Moisture-wicking hiking T-shirt and shorts
        • Moisture-wicking sports bra — if applicable
        • Gloves (one pair lightweight and one pair heavier weight and waterproof)
        • Trekking socks (2-3 pairs)
        • Gaiters
        • Hat for covering your ears
        • Wide-brimmed sun hat
        • Bandana or neck gaiter

      Here’s the list of items you will need during your stays at mountain huts:

        • Sleeping bag liner
        • Regular underwear and socks
        • Sandals (crocs or similar)
        • Toiletries (keep to a bare minimum)
        • Ear plugs

      Here’s the list of other Items we recommend you bring:

        • Sunglasses with UV protection
        • Sunscreen and SPF lip protection
        • Hand sanitizer or sanitary hand wipes
        • Feminine hygiene supplies — if applicable
        • Bug spray
        • Two water bottles (1L capacity)
        • Headlamp with a new battery
        • Personal first aid kit and other needs (e.g., blister kit, prescription medicine, contact lenses, prescription glasses, etc.)
        • Ziploc bags to keep your backpack organized and important items dry
        • Camera
        • Adapter for European charging system

      You will get a chance to discuss your packing list with your guide prior to the adventure. Additionally, you will go through a gear check before the tour starts. Since the trek takes place at high elevations and in challenging terrain, it is necessary to be prepared for different weather scenarios and to have appropriate technical equipment.

    • All the technical equipment like mountaineering boots, crampons, harness, and ice axe can be rented with the help of your guiding service. They usually rent from the Sanglard Sports gear shop and they can arrange a discount. Contact us prior to booking to make arrangements.

    • During the guided Haute Route Glacier Trek, participants will stay in mountain huts, including Cabane de Chanrion, Cabane des Vignettes, Cabane de Bertol, and Schönbiel Hut. These huts offer dormitory-style accommodations with shared facilities, providing a unique opportunity to experience the Alpine culture and environment. On top of that, you can expect sublime panoramic views of the surrounding peaks and valleys from each hut.

      Meals typically include half-board accommodations, featuring breakfast and dinner. Breakfast options consist of a hearty Alpine meal with bread, cheese, cold cuts, yogurt, and hot beverages. Dinner options include Alpine cuisine, such as soups, stews, pasta dishes, and desserts. Most huts provide a fixed menu, and specific dietary requirements can be accommodated if participants inform their guides in advance. Picnics are also included during the adventure, which will consist of food bought at the huts.

      Huts may offer a selection of beverages, including water, soft drinks, and alcoholic drinks like beer and wine, available for purchase separately. Some huts also provide potable water for refilling personal water bottles. The meal options and services offered at the huts may vary, so it’s recommended to leave a note for the guide while booking to ensure your dietary requirements are met and to know what to expect regarding meals and drinks during your journey.

    • Group sizes and prices:

        • This is a private tour—just you and your people. It takes a minimum of 4 participants for this tour to operate. Due to wanting to avoid groups who do not match in skill or fitness level, your guides believe it’s best to have private groups only for this trip.
        • The maximum client-to-guide ratio is 6:1.
        • The cost is per person and doesn’t decrease as the group grows.

      Hiking the Haute Route Glacier Trek 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.
        • Minors younger than 18 may be permitted to join the hike on a case-by-case basis, but must be in the presence of a parent or legal guardian.

      If your group has hikers under the age of 18, contact us prior to booking to make arrangements.

    • Your tour starts in Martigny, Switzerland. To get there, most people fly into Geneva Airport. Once there, you can take a train ride to Martigny.

      You will meet your Haute Route guide and fellow hiker in Martigny in the morning on Day 1. We suggest you arrive the day before, to give yourself a chance to recuperate before the trek.

    • We highly recommend that you cover all your bases with both emergency medical and travel insurance. With medical insurance, if you have an accident or medical emergency on or off the mountain, you’ll avoid paying out of pocket for costly expenses. This covers everything from hospital treatments to emergency air transportation and more.

      Travel insurance covers canceled flights, natural disasters and other scenarios that may interrupt your travel plans.

      We also expect you to respect local regulations and take measures to protect yourselves, your guides, and the communities you’re traveling to. ​​For more information on travel recommendations and restrictions in Switzerland, please refer to the foreign travel advice for Switzerland.

      If you need assistance selecting the right insurance for your group, let us know and we will be happy to help!

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