The trail around the rock was about the width of two boots with a decent drop, so the chain offered a little more security as you rounded the slanted rock (of course, Lisa chose to ignore the chain…I held on for dear life; you’ll start to notice a trend here). They did have slippers available, but most of them looked pretty disgusting (just in terms of dirt). In addition, Swiss Topo also has hiking maps at a larger scale (1:33,000), although it would be quite cumbersome to carry maps to cover the entire Walker’s Haute Route at that scale. Words really cannot describe the amazing views and the entire experience. We had no reservations for lodging, so we popped into the tourist information office on the north end of town. Afterwards, we asked the hotelier if she could put us up for another night – she checked, and said it wouldn’t be a problem...so we enjoyed a rest day in Zinal. Trekking Chamonix to Zermatt: The Classic Walker's Haute Route - Kev Reynolds. We paid the lift operator once we reached the bottom (don't recall the cost of this lift) and waited for the 5:10pm train to Zermatt (32 CHF for both of us). The front desk spoke perfect English as well. The side of the trail dropped steeply down the mountain into Trient below offering a great view of the town (but the exposure made me a tad uncomfortable at times). Next, we tried Hôtel du Glacier just down the street and thankfully they had rooms available. We stopped for a snack in a meadow while we were pelted with occasional snowflakes (the temperature, with the wind chill, was probably right around freezing). We ate lunch at Bar Creperie La Ferme for €19. As the trail descended, the route became a bit tougher to follow – we had to pay close attention to paint blazes on rocks to avoid following the (much longer) road down the mountain. For water, we brought our 3 Liter CamelBak bladders and filled them up each morning. Lisa opted to semi-scramble using her hands to help with footing. The forest floor was also slick underfoot (the small pine needles acting much like ball bearings), making the descent that much more difficult. JUMP TO: PROS & CONS / ITINERARIES / COMPARISON WITH GR10 & GR11 / CAMPSITES & HUTS / WHEN TO GO / MAPS & GUIDEBOOKS / ANIMALS / WHAT TO PACK The Pyrenees High Route (Haute Route Pyrénées, HRP) is a long distance hiking trail that follows the mountainous divide along the French-Spanish border. The northernmost route or, Walker's Route, depicted on the map travels north from Chamonix and traverses through the Alps all the way to Zermatt. I strongly recommend picking up the latest edition! Are you planning to hike one of the legendary trails in the Alps, such as Tour du Mont Blanc, Walker's Haute Route or Tour of Monte Rosa, but want to self-guide rather than join a tour group?. It was a bitterly cold but clear day – the wind was whipping down from the pass in sustained gusts of 20 mph, making the 45°F weather even colder. We stopped for lunch at the turn off for Alpe Nava at 11:30am. We hit the trail a little after 8am with the Brits after the tour group departed, figuring we’d let them get some distance ahead of us. Extremely detailed maps of the Haute Route (1:25,000) Price $170.00 Details. This is because it is not marked on any of the trail signs along the journey from Chamonix to Zermatt. It was painfully obvious that we’d go crazy if we stayed in Arolla all day since there was little. Lisa and I needed to warm up from the wind and the cold, so we went in. From the summit, we could make out Col de Balme in the distance: tomorrow’s first pass. From here we chose to catch a bus up to Verbier. Following lunch, we rode the cable car up to Le Brevent across from Mont Blanc. All Rights Reserved. About 1.3 miles after reaching the valley floor, we emerged from the forest into a pasture above the small town of Arpette, another 0.7 miles ahead. This is because it is not marked on any of the trail signs along the journey from Chamonix to Zermatt. We were a bit anxious as we approached the front desk – we were now in the German-speaking portion of Switzerland (and my German is VERY weak). Before dinner, everyone gathered out on the deck to watch the sunset over the ridge to the west. Even before reaching Col Termin, the trail started to exhibit some exposure (at least in my opinion…in comparing notes at the days’ end, many other hikers didn’t even notice it). Another group arrived at the Chalet as we started to head off: a guide-led group of 12 from the UK that was also doing the Haute Route. We stopped into the two sporting goods stores to look for replacement sunglasses for me (mine met an untimely end along the trail a few days before) but couldn’t find anything quite right. The map is fully routable and includes topo lines and most major features - it displays very nicely in Basecamp and on the Oregon unit. As we hiked, we spotted Sierre-Zinal ultra marathon signs indicating the distance remaining to Zinal – obviously this was the route taken into Zinal by the marathon! You’ll take a few transfers at strategic points to skip the lesser scenic parts of the trip while still doing most of the full route. • Waterproof • Tear-Resistant • Topographic Map, The Haute Route—aka the High Route or Mountaineers' Route—traverses the French and Swiss Alps. (As a side note, we found out later from two different sets of hikers we met along the trail that the dortoir in Trient was a very entertaining place to stay: the proprietors would serve numerous types of cheese and explain the origins of each type; additionally, you were not allowed to eat until all the children returned home for the day. It was conceived as a summer mountaineering route in the mid-nineteenth century by members of the English Alpine Club. Lisa had plenty of gluten free options available to her. The footing along the climb up the gully made me quite anxious, and the idea of climbing another 300 feet up (and then down) something that steep didn’t seem particularly appealing – so in an impulse decision, we decided to tackle the ladders instead of the Col. By this point, we were directly behind the tour group (we’d been leap-frogging with them since Lac des Dix), so we parted ways once again to head over to the ladders. both directions lead to Zinal (the route we took had the familiar red and white sign tip). A weatherproof carrying case like this one wouldn’t hurt to have either. Once we changed, we explored the cabane a bit more. Half of the book contains interesting facts about Switzerland, including flora and fauna which makes for interesting reading on the flight over, or each night along the trail. We summited the pass (9,916 ft - the highest pass of the route for us) at 1:10pm, about three hours after reaching Col Termin – here, we caught up to the Tour Group as they were just beginning their descent of the Col. We took a 15 minute break to eat some lunch (one of my mistakes on this entire day of hiking was not eating enough along the trail – I was so anxious about the exposure that I didn’t think to eat which, in one of life's cruel ironies, just made me more anxious). I was anxious about this day of hiking; I knew there was a section of exposure as the trail neared Jungen and I was not looking forward to it. Prior to emerging from the forest we encountered the first fixed chain along the trail on a rocky promontory. As we descended to the valley floor, it felt much more like fall than it had so far along the route. We strolled into town around 5:30pm after hiking for 8.5 hours. Passing through glaciers, green valleys and picturesque villages over 10-14 days, this route promises beauty and variety in abundance. After lunch, we hiked up towards Les Ruinettes (where the gondola would have dropped us off). Besides the stunning scenery and the gourmet food, another attractive aspect of this trek is that there is a good amount flexibility from day to day. Once the group was down (about 15 minutes later…lots of time to sit, hold tightly onto a chain, and think about what I was about to do) I started climbing first. We also were able to take rest days when we needed them (or when weather dictated). We explored the cabane a little and were incredibly surprised to see a poster of Arapahoe Basin, a popular Colorado ski area, hanging in one of the rooms! After the ladders, the rest of the trail seemed rather dull and unexciting. I made my pack list in Excel (yeah...I'm a nerd like that...isn't it obvious already?) As we descended. She joined me out on the deck, where we got a chance to get to know the Brits (the three British men we met earlier on the trail) and the Belgians better (as they were also staying at the Cabane for the night) until the sun went. We could see another ridge crest ahead of us but realized it was too close to be the Col. We continued up the trail, passing a small tarn on our right. The Chalet hadn't opened yet for the day (the proprietor arrived just as we were departing) but we took the opportunity to shed some layers since the trail was now turning into the sun - this was a nice change, as we were concerned the entire hike was going to be as cold as our first day had been. Once done with breakfast, we were ready to hit the trail – which was just out in front of the hotel. As we climbed, the ridgeline we crested yesterday came into view, offering a spectacular glimpse of where we had come from. Extremely slow stepping was the name of the game here, as the dirt was loose, and small rocks could easily be dislodged (which would roll down onto the trail segments below). The trail barely climbed at all, gaining just 800 feet of elevation over 2 miles. The trail climbed 250 feet in 520 feet of distance (a nice 40% grade) along loose sand before cutting across the gouge and easing up. Then, in 2007, another set of our friends tackled the journey as well (inspired by the first set). This was really fine with us: the road was steep but paved and the level surface felt rather nice on our feet contrasted against all the rock we were on during the day. (I believe the trail to the left would have popped out in the exactly the same spot.). While we were planning the trip (and even on the trail) we read these trip reports and found them to be exceedingly useful: Our two sets of friends both had notes as to where they ate and where they stayed – this information was invaluable, and hopefully this trip report can relay that information. We fully intended to make use of this mechanized transport to get us to Zinal below but our hopes were dashed when we found it to be closed! After joking with her (indicating that our meal of the night was veal sweetbreads), he said that there wouldn’t be a problem with her gluten intolerance (he did recommend that this should be mentioned ahead of time when making a reservation). We rested for about an hour on the summit of the pass in the warm sun. We had not made reservations in Arolla, so we first popped into Hôtel du Pigne d’Arolla on the edge of town (one of our friends had stayed here on their journey) but they had no rooms available. I had thought the exposure on the trail was going to be the scariest part of the day. We took the 8:25am bus out of Champex-Lac down to Orsières; we were able to purchase our tickets on the bus (all the Postbusses had the ability to purchase tickets onboard, even without exact change). You didn't use a tour company - was it hard getting rooms or following the route on your own? 3 hours after leaving the Chalet, we arrived at the summit of Fenêtre d’Arpette (8,769 ft, 1:20pm). She popped up a few seconds after I did and we celebrated on the top by eating fine Swiss chocolate. This Haute Route is for those who want a more leisurely pace, finer accommodations (no huts), daily luggage transfers, exclusive spa services, and first class rail.We've added a well-deserved rest day at a 4-star Belle Epoque hotel in historic St Luc. Realizing, however, that it was followed by one of the best views on the trail (and that we had little other options for getting to St. Niklaus) we pressed onward. The route has a total distance of 180-200 kilometers depending on the stages you choose. It was easy footing to get off the ladder...And there I was...at the top! Lisa and I are experienced hikers in Colorado, but hiking halfway around the globe means that things are a bit different...and I like to be as prepared as possible. The tourist office showed us a hotel price list and provided us with a bus schedule for tomorrow's trip down to Verbier. I used this after our hike in Italy and whenever we wandered around town (plus this was my carry on luggage for the flight over). to see or do, so we decided to catch the bus down to Les Haudères. About a mile from the cabane (9:30am) our trail for the day departed the trail we’d hiked in on the day before and began to contour around the ridgeline to our right. The trail descended gently at first, giving us a view of both Trient in the valley below and Col de la Forclaz across on the far side of the valley. 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