THE HAUTE ROUTE SKI TOUR
Chamonix, France to Zermatt, Switzerland - 8 days
The Haute Route Ski Tour Overview
The Haute Route ski tour is a classic Alps ski tour that every backcountry skier should experience. In this European Alps ski tour, we traverse the spectacular alpine ski touring terrain from the Mont Blanc massif in Chamonix to the Matterhorn in Zermatt through the heart of the Valais Alps of Switzerland.
We begin skiing the Haute Route ski tour in the French alpine and ski mountaineeing center of Chamonix where we spend a day skiing the famed Vallee Blanche off the Aiguille du Midi back to town to get in some acclimating as well as just some great skiing. This day is also reserved for reviewing some of the skills needed for the Haute Route such as kick turns, skinning with ski crampons, and crevasse rescue on skis practice.
The next day we launch off on the Haute Route ski tour, crossing into Switzerland and spending the next six days ski traversing the Swiss Alps through the Valais region. We have chosen the "Verbier" variation via the Trient, Mont Fort, Dix, Vignettes and the Bertol huts. Staying the last night of the tour at the Bertol Hut is a special experience involving long ladders off the glacier to reach the hut. It also allows for a shorter last day into Zermatt. Most of the days start early from the huts and on many of the days arrive at the next hut with some time to take a few laps if energy levels allow. We end the Haute Route by skiing under the North Face of the Matterhorn and into Zermatt.
Along the Haute Route ski tour you will enjoy exciting ski mountaineering challenges, great descents, comfortable Swiss mountain huts, and spectacular high alpine scenery. With over 10 years of experience guiding hut to hut ski tours in the Alps, IAG owner and director and IFMGA/UIAGM certified ski guide Dave Miller leads the Haute Route ski tours personally. He has led over 14 Haute Route ski tours over the past nine years and knows the route and it's variations intimately. Dave and his team will be with you from the first night in Chamonix through the last night's dinner in Zermatt.
Along the way, we stay in high Swiss mountain huts which enables us to ski with a light pack during the Haute Route. The alpine huts provide all of our bedding along with tasty meals, so overnight gear is not needed. The alpine huts have a culture unto themselves, with camaraderie among skiers from around the world. In addition to the meals that we provide, beer, wine, snacks, etc. are also available at the huts. We also provide your lodging in Chamonix prior to the tour and your lodging in Zermatt after the tour.
The Haute Route ski tour is an accomplishment for any backcounty skier. It is also a great first long multi-day alpine ski tour for strong skiers with some previous backcountry ski touring and skinning experience. The days between the huts are usually around 5-6 hours in length which on some days allows for time to relax or to get in some more vertical after arriving at the next hut.
In addition to professional ski guiding by experienced internationally certified ski guides, we provide full logistical support for the duration of the Haute Route ski tour such as transportation and luggage transfer from the beginnning of the tour to the end.
HAUTE ROUTE SKIING SKILLS & EXPERIENCE LEVEL
Advanced level skiers with previous backcountry skiing experience on alpine touring or telemark equipment along with steep skinning experience is required.
You should be very comfortable skiing black diamond runs at a resort in most any conditions (including icy slopes) and can also ski double black diamond slopes up to 40 degrees in good conditions.
No previous mountaineering experience is required, but it is helpful. Excellent physical condition is required with the ability to travel on skis with skins up to 7 hours and 3-4 thousand feet of vertical in a day for multiple days in a row.
HAUTE ROUTE GROUND TRANSPORTATION & LODGING
The Haute Route ski tour is an inclusive trip that includes all lodging, ground transport, lift tickets, almost all food and all the guide's expenses. Other than some in-town meals and beverages while on the tour, we give you one cost with no hidden fees or expenses so there is less hassle for you.
2019 HAUTE ROUTE SKI TOUR DATES
March 30 - April 6
- Ground transport from Chamonix to Zermatt while on the normal Haute Route itinerary
- All lift tickets while on the normal itinerary
- 2 nights lodging in Chamonix and 1 night lodging in Zermatt in double occupancy with breakfast
- 5 nights mountain hut fees with breakfast, pack lunch, and dinner.
- Luggage transfer from Chamonix to Zermatt
- Logistical travel support to help you get from and to the beginning and end of the tour
- IFMGA/UIAGM American guides and all the guide's expenses
Haute Route Ski Tour Itinerary
Haute Route Ski Tour, Day 1
We meet in the alpine climbing and ski mountaineering center of Chamonix, France for a meeting before dinner at our hotel to discuss the logistics of the trip. Afterward we will all go out to dinner together (not included)
Haute Route Ski Tour, Day 2
Today we take the amazing Aiguille du Midi tramway to access the famed Vallee Blanche. We spend the day touring the Vallee Blanche area to get acclimated and doing avalanche beacon practice, skinning and kickturn practice, as well as reviewing crevasse rescue techniques before skiing down the Mer de Glace back to town...9,000 vertical feet and 16 miles. The night is spent back in Chamonix at our hotel.
Haute Route Ski Tour, Day 3
Today is a big day with two big climbs and two short descents.. We begin the Haute Route Tour by taking the Grand Montets tram out of the town of Argentierre and skiing down to the Argentierre Glacier. We then skin up to the Chardonnay Glacier to the Col du Chardonnay or to the Col du Passon depending on conditions and then into Switzerland. We then we make our way across the Trient Glacier to the Trient Hut where we spend the night. A long, yet rewarding day.
Haute Route Ski Tour, Day 4
We have a great descent down to the Champex, Switzerland, down a the Val d'arpette where we transfer by private taxi to the ski resort village of Verbier. There we take the ski lifts back up to the high alpine terrain and then ski down to the Mont Forte Hut, where we spend the night. The Mont Forte hut is just in-bounds at the mega-resort of Verbier, has been recently remodeled, and is very comfortable. Showers are available for purchase. There is also the option of skiing in the afternoon at the Verbier ski resort. An easier, mostly downhill day
Haute Route Ski Tour, Day 5
We leave the Monte Forte Hut and the Verbier area and make our way to towards the remote Dix Hut across the Grand Deserts Glacier. We also summit our first peak today, Rosablanche, an easy yet rewarding peak. We then traverse the Lac de Dix and then climb up to the Dix Hut where we are rewarded with stunning views.
Haute Route Ski Tour, Day 6
This day is spent climbing up the Pigne d'Arolla via the Serpintine Glacier. The Pigne d'Arolla is another one of our summits and the high point of the tour. We then make a fantastic descent down to the Vignettes Hut which occupies an amazing position perched on the side of a large cliff overlooking the glaciers. A longer day with a lot of up as well as down.
Haute Route Ski Tour, Day 6
Leaving the Vignettes hut we travel over the col L'eveque and down a glacier descent before ascending towards to Bertol Hut. The last bit to the Bertol is up ladders as it is perched on the side of the cliffs.
Haute Route Ski Tour, Day 8
A spectacular day. Leaving the Bertol we eventually climb towards the Col de Valpelline and then down the Stockli Glacier and along the Zmutt Glacier, passing under the North Face of the Matterhorn. We finally arrive in the idyllic Swiss town of Zermatt, which has no automobiles. We stay in a 3-star hotel or apartment in Zermatt this evening and enjoy a fine celebratory Swiss meal together (not included).
Day after the Haute Route Ski tour ends
This day is reserved for an optional add-on off-piste skiing day in Zermatt, a rest day, or a travel day to get to an airport for afternoon flights home.