Monday, June 13, 2011

Walkers Haute Route

Mont Blanc from the Chamonix Valley

Originally completed as a summer mountaineering route by the Alpine Club of Great Britain in the mid 19th century the walkers haute route has been adapted following a lower level making the route more accessible for summer trekking. Approximately 180 kms in length the route crosses 11 high mountain passes with 12,000 mtrs of ascent from Chamonix in France to Zermatt in Switzerland.

The route has variations but generally takes you from Chamonix initially following the Tour du Mont Blanc route via the Fenetre de Arpette to Champex Lac. The route decends to the Osieres valley and over to Verbier, things get a little bit more remote for a number of days passing by the Cabane Mont Fort, Cabane Plafleuri, Lac Dix before descending to the Arolla Valley. From Arolla the Walkers Haute Route rises and falls over mountain passes and down to the valleys and villages of La Sage, Les Hauderes, Grimentz, Zinal, Gruben before reaching St Nicklaus and the Matterhorn Valley. Two options are available from here by taking the starigh forward route up to Zermatt via the valley bottom or by ascending beyond Grasenreid onto the stunning yet precarious Europaweg.
Depending on the time you have available and how much rest and recuperation you need during the tour it is normally completed in 12 days however it’s possible to complete the tour in two halves from Chamonix to Grimentz or Grimentz to Zermatt.
Matterhorn from Zermatt
Villages en-route
Chamonix, Haute Savoie, France
Le Tour, Haute Savoie, France
Trient, Valais, Switzerland (French speaking)
Champex Lac, Valais, Switzerland (French speaking)
Champel, Valais, Switzerland (French speaking)
Verbier, Valais, Switzerland (French speaking)
Arolla, Valais, Switzerland (French speaking)
La Sage, Valais, Switzerland (French speaking)
Les Hauderes, Valais, Switzerland (French speaking)
Grimentz, Valais, Switzerland (French speaking)
Zinal, Valais, Switzerland (French speaking)
Gruben, Valais, Switzerland (German speaking)
St Nicklaus, Valais, Switzerland (German speaking)
Zermatt, Valais, Switzerland (German speaking)

Mont Blanc Treks Full Classic Walking Haute Route
The 14 day itinerary features the rigorous 12 day Classic walkers Haute Route from Chamonix to Zermatt.  The route takes you from the Chamonix Valley in France to the Valais region of Switzerland including 2 days on the classic Europaweg as we approach Zermatt.
Trient Glacier from Trient, day 3

Day 1 Transfer from Geneva Airport to the hotel In Chamonix, early evening welcome and trek briefing leaving the rest of the evening free to explore the bars & restaurants.
Day 2 A free day to explore Chamonix before we leave on our two week trek and take advantage of many of the excursions and tourist attractions on offer.
Day 3 Starting at La Tour in the Chamonix Valley we take the télépherique to the Col du Balme 2204m, walking a short distance before crossing the boarder into Switzerland. We descend to the Swiss village of Trient before making our ascent to the Fenetre d’Arpette at 2665m. We finally make our way down to the picture postcard village of Champex-Lac 1466m to our accommodation.

Approx height gain: 1400m
Distance: 18k
Day 4 Promises to be fairly easy in comparison to the first day. We descent from Champex-Lac into to Orsiére Valley and trough the Swiss villages of Sembrancher 717m and Châble 821m. From Châble we will take the télépherique to Les Ruinettes 2195m within the Verbier ski area, an hour walk will take us to our destination for the evening, Cabane du Mont Fort 2457m.
Approx height gain: 350m
Distance: 17k
Above Jungen, day 11

Day 5 A tough day ahead as we ascend over three mountain passes. Form Cabane du Mont Fort we start making our way up to the Col Termin 2648m which enjoys fantastic views towards the Grand Combin Massif at 4314m from here we descend sharply before our next ascent to the rocky Co de Louvie 2921m. After another descent with views of the Grand Desert Glacier we pass a series of small tarns before ascending once more to the third & final col the Col de Prafleuri 2965m. Descending steeply our accommodation for the night comes into view, Cabane de Prafleuri 2624m.
Approx height gain: 900m
Distance: 14k

Day 6 We make our way up to the Col des Roux 2804m where a delightful view awaits of the Lac des Dix and the high mountain landscape beyond. We descend to the lake and contour its shore for several kilometers before rising again to the Col de Riedmatten 2919m. Making our way down from the col we reach the small alpine village of Arolla 2006m and our rest stop for the night.
Approx height gain: 850m
Distance: 17k

Day 7 A big day ahead as we make our way down to the typical Valaisian Village of La Sage at 1667m, leaving the pastures behind we ascend steeply towards the Col du Tsate 2868m.  As we descend from the col in to the Val de Moiry we are given our first glimpse of the stunning Moiry glacial icefall and the Cabane du Moiry, our highest accommodation of the trek at 2825m.
Approx height gain: 1650m
Distance: 18k

Day 8 We descend to Lac de Moiry before climbing again towards Col de Sorebois 2847, as we reach the col another splendid view awaits of the Weisshorn at 4505m and surrounding peaks. We descend steeply through the ski area where we take the télépherique to Zinal at 1675m and our accommodation for the next two nights.
Approx height gain: 500m
Distance: 14k
Day 9 A well-earned rest day gives us the chance to relax and explore Zinal.
Day 10
We leave Zinal on day 9 fully refreshed and ready for the steady climb through woodland to the high mountain pastureland beyond passing the remote Barnueza Alpage 2211m.  We finally reach the Col du Forcletta at 2875m and pass into German speaking Switzerland, descending to the small village of Gruben 1822m & to the Hotel Schwartzhorn.
Approx height gain: 1200m
Distance: 14k

Day 11 Starts with another steep climb leaving Gruben through larch and pine woodland, as the gradient eases the route leads through high-level pastures to the Augustbordpass 2894m. Descending steadily towards Jungen 1955m we take the little télépherique to St Niklaus 1127m & on to our accommodation.
Approx height gain: 1100m
Distance: 16k

Day 12 For the final two days the stunning scenery of the Europaweg awaits. From St Niklaus we take a short buss ride across the valley to Gasenried 1659m. The trek starts here gaining height steeply at times offering great views of the Bernese Alps and magnificent Grosser Aletschgletscher. The path continues over difficult terrain at times before reaching the Europa hut at 2220m.
Approx height gain: 1000m
Distance: 14k

Zermatt, day 14

Day 13 Our final day on the Haute Route and we have saved the best till last. The high level path contours the valley through larch woods towards Täschalp & Ottavan 2214m with stunning views en-route. With the majestic sight Matterhorn we make our way down to conclude our trek to one of the most famous Alpine villages, Zermatt.
Approx height gain: 350m
Distance: 18k

Day 14 A day of celebration, rest and relaxation… a free day to explore the famous alpine village of Zermatt.

Day 15 Farewell and departure via private transfer to Geneva Airport.

Mont Blanc Treks 2011

Tuesday, June 7, 2011