Alps / France & Switzerland
The Haute Route Trek in Summer:
7 Day Hut to Hut Trekking on Glaciers and Trails in the Western Alps from Chamonix to Zermatt
Haute Route Glacier Trek Highlights
- The Alps most classic glacier trekking
- Hike 60% trails, 40% glacier travel
- Lodging in spectacular huts around 3000 meters
- Matterhorn & Mont Blanc close-ups
- Manageable backpacks!
- Instruction in crampon/ice axe use first day
The Haute Route, a.k.a the High Route or Mountaineers’ Route between Chamonix, France and Zermatt, Switzerland is “the mother” of all hut-to-hut alpine traverses. From Europe’s tallest mountain, the Mont Blanc (4807 m=15770ft.) to the Matterhorn, our route leads along some of the most exciting mountain scenery to be found anywhere. Contrasting the huge glaciers and rugged peaks are beautiful valleys with steep high pasture farms and quaint mountain villages.
The highest point of the Haute Route is the summit of the Pigne D’Arolla at 3800m (=12500 ft). After spending a week high in the mountains, walking down Zermatt’s bustling main street will feel like returning into a different world.
We will lodge in remotely and spectacularly located huts of the Swiss Alpine Club. The food is good and plentiful, the dormitories clean – but you should be able to survive without a hot shower for four days.
With a week of acclimatizing on the Haute Route under your belt, why not take two more days and try the Mont Blanc, the Alps highest peak.
- Details and Logistics
- Trip Packages
- Can I Do It?
- Gear List
- Custom Trips
Haute Route Trekking, Day-to-Day Itinerary
7 Days hiking, 5040m = 16500′ climb, 5220m = 17120′ descent, 71 km distance
Travel day. Most of our international guests arrive at the airport in Geneva, from where scheduled shuttles run almost hourly to the Chamonix Valley (1.5 hrs).
Gondola and chair lift rides to the Col de Balme (2000m = 7200ft). Beautiful hike with views of Mont Blanc and the Chamonix Valley to the Albert Premier Hut (2705m= 8870ft) for Lunch. In the afternoon introduction in safe glacier travel, use of crampons and ice axe. 500m=1640ft climb, 4 km, 2hrs of hiking time to the hut.
Early morning start (5 AM) and Via the Glacier du Tour to Col Superieur du Tour (3300m = 10,800ft), which marks the border to Switzerland. Beautiful views of the whole Mont Blanc range. Descent via the Glacier du Trient, Glacier Orny to the Cabane Orny (2830m = 9,300ft) for late lunch. In the afternoon, we continue our traverse on a panoramic trail (exposed sections with chains for hand-railing) to the top station of the La Breya Chairlift, which will save us a long and knee-rattling descent to the village of Champex (1500m = 4920ft). Lodging in double or triple rooms in a hotel located beautifully at the Champex Lake or we take a 1 hrs taxi ride to the Mauvoisin Lake (1850m = 6070ft) in the Bagne Valley from where we continue our Haute Route Trek early the next day. 600m = 2000ft climb, 1100 m = 3600 ft descent, 14 km, 8 to 9 hrs of walking time (not including breaks).
We commonly take the route via the “4 Saddles”: Col du Tsofeiret (2,640 m = 8,660ft), Col de la Lire Rose (3,100 m = 10,200ft), du Mont Rouge (3,400 m = 11,150ft) and the Col de Cheilon (3,240m = 10600ft) which traverses the smaller glaciers Gietroz and Cheillon in order to arrive at the Dix Hut (2,930m = 9,600ft). 1,450m = 4750ft climb, 480m = 1550ft descent, 14 km makes for 8 – 9 hrs walking time. Depending on conditions and group preferences we can also take a shorter but steeper trail (with exposed sections, protected by chains and cables for hand-railing). Either way, this day takes us through rarely traveled alpine terrain, where sightings of Ibex, Chamois and Edelweiss are commonplace.
This day can be substantially shortened in case of increment weather or for custom group departures by lodging at the Chanrion Hut (about 3.5 hrs of walking) and reaching the Vignetttes Hut the next day via Otemma Glacier (7 hrs).
Big summit day – all on glaciers! Via the Tsena de Refien Glacier to the summit of the Pigne D’Arolla (3,800m = 12,500ft), undoubtedly the high point of the Haute Route and one of the finest view points anywhere in the Alps. First easy, in the end steeper and more challenging descent to the Vignette Hut (3,160m = 10,360ft, showers available!). 870m = 2,850ft climb, 650m = 2,100ft descent, 6km makes for 6 – 7 hrs of walking.
A beautiful glacier hike takes us via the Col de l’Eveque (3,400m = 11,150ft) to the Upper Arolla Glacier to an ascending trail to an unguarded shepherd’s hut at Plan de Bertol (2670m = 8,750ft) for a pik-nik lunch. From there steeply across a small glacier and the last 250 meters (800ft on ladders and chains to the Bertol Hut (3310m = 10860ft), one of the most spectacularly located huts in the Western Alps. 900m = 2,950ft climb, 740m = 2,400ft descent, 12 km = 7-8 hrs walking.
Ascent of the Tete Blanche ( 3,725m = 12,220ft) with marvelous views across the whole route all the way from the Mont Blanc to the Matterhorn. Impressive glaciated descent right underneath the 4000ft north faces of the Matterhorn (4480m=14700ft) and the Dent d’Herens to the Schonbiel Hut (2700m=8856ft). 600m=1,970ft climb, 1,280m=4,200ft descent, 11 km, 7 hrs of walking.
All downhill today: On well-marked trails via the hamlet of Zmutt with plenty of opportunities for postcard shots of the Matterhorn all the way to Zermatt. 1,100m = 3,600ft descent, 10km, 3 hrs).
The trip usually finishes after lunch together, however many of our clients prefer to stay in Zermatt, in which case we offer to arrange and add additional hotel lodging to your trip itinerary.
Given sufficient subscription for our subsequent Mont Blanc ascent in connection with the Haute Route, we will have a shuttle transport organized for luggage transfers and return trips to Chamonix on day 8.
Day 7 and 8 can also be connected in a long day of hiking and sometimes groups prefer to descend all the way into Zermatt right away, in which case we will cover the lodging in Zermatt with breakfast in a two star hotel instead of the night in the Schoenbiel Hut. This option is only suitable for strong groups/hikers as the last two hours of the day turn into a bit of a “death march.”
Detail and Logistics
Meeting Point Haute Route: Usually 8 AM on the first trekking day at our preferred Hotel in Argentiere (first hotel night with breakfast included), about 15 min. up valley from Chamonix but some trips will have their guide meet them at 6pm on day of arrival depending on the guides schedule.
General Haute Route Itinerary Comments
After doing the Haute Route Trek for over 20 years we believe our itinerary has advantages over others offered: A stay in a nice hotel in Champex provides a break from the dorms in the high level huts and not to mention the rejuvenating effects of a warm shower! The itinerary can also be done in 6 days of hiking by descending all the way to Zermatt from the Bertol Hut on the 6th hiking day (i.e. combining day 6 and 7). This option gives us effectively a cushion day, should the weather be adverse or other contingencies delay us by a day.
Best Season, Weather and Temperatures for the Haute Route Mountineer’s Route:
The season for all mountaineering trips in the western Alps starts around June 20 and ends mid September, which coincides with the huts being guarded and catered by hut keepers along the Haute Route. Day time temperatures can vary between 30C (86F) in the valleys to -10C (14F) on clear mornings, when we start our day from a high level hut. Here is a link with precipitation, sun and temperature averages for the town of Zermatt .
Ideal conditions on the Haute Route means good snow coverage with well settled, easy to walk on snow on the glaciers and largely dry trails in the non-glaciated terrain.
June is often still too snowy, especially early June (which also means participants have to carry food / self-cater) and the weather can be more unsettled.
Late June until mid-August is the core season offering mostly good weather and good snow coverage on the glaciers, which commonly deteriorates during warm summers as the season progresses.
Mid August to mid September: In warm summers and especially after a low snow winter, our later season trips may require itinerary adjustments because: 1) Low snow coverage on the glaciers have reduced or eliminated crevasse bridges, which makes the glacier travel more cumbersome, 2) Increased rock fall hazard on some route sections, namely the ascent to the Bertol Hut, 3) more difficult crampon work in steeper sections, sometimes with Bergshrunds and motes opening up, namely on the ascent to the Col Superieure de Tour.
Early September often sees the first larger snow falls in the higher elevations which makes for a very pretty, pristine ambiance in the mountains but often not enough to improve travel conditions in warm summers. However, colder temps and often stable fall weather with less travellers make for great trips in those summers where snow coverage on the glaciers held up over the summer. The huts usually close down mid-September.
Services Included in the Total Price:
Guiding by an internationally (UIAGM/IFMGA) certified, multilingual mountain guide or guide aspirant under supervision including all guide expenses for 7 days. Two nights lodging with breakfast: Double rooms in 2 or 3 star hotels in Argentiere / Chamonix and Champex. 5 nights Dormitory lodging in huts of the French or Swiss Alpine Clubs. Half board (3 course meals and breakfast) in all huts and the hotel in Champex. All ground transport Chamonix Valley to Zermatt including all gondolas and chair lifts in accordance with the itinerary, parking fees and road tolls. Use of technical equipment: Harnesses, crampons, ice axes, rope, carabiners
Additional Trip Services Available
Airport shuttles Geneva to our Hotel in the Chamonix Valley: From Euro 40/ person
Luggage Transport from our Hotel in the Chamonix Valley to Zermatt: Euro 60 / bag
Additional nights Zermatt: Double room B&B, clean two star standard: Euro 60 / pers.
Additional nights Chamonix Valley: Double room B&B: From Euro 50 / person
Airfares, lunch (Sandwiches, snacks can be purchased in the huts or in the valley), dinner for 1 night in Argentiere, drinks (beer is about US$ 6-8/ can, wine US$ 20 – 40 / bottle, bottled water SFR10/litre), lodging in Zermatt on the day of arrival (can be arranged starting from CHF 65 / person B&B), single room supplement for all lodging in the valleys (surcharge applies), return trip from Zermatt to Chamonix, any additional cost in case of itinerary changes, regardless if those changes were made because of adverse weather or mountain conditions or due to personal or group preferences.
Mont Blanc Ascent
Optional Ascent of Mont Blanc (two additional days): The Mont Blanc ascent is technically more difficult than the Haute Route, implies more objective dangers and requires a client to guide ratio of two to one. This trip extension is very popular with our clients! Please refer to our Mont Blanc page for further details.
Haute Route Custom Trip Options:
Shorter Durations: If you don’t have enough time to hike the entire Haute Route you can skip the first two days and start in Champex for the last 4.5 days.
Haute Route without hut lodging: Very fast groups can do the entire Haute Route in 4 days with only 1 hut night in the Bertol Hut, all other nights would be in hotels in private rooms.
Haute Route out of season: Before June 20 and after September 15 the huts keep so called “winter quarters” open, which offer sleeping quarters and a simple kitchen. The trip becomes a lot “wilder” as few people travel during that time and groups have to carry food and assist the guide with food preparation. All in all very worth-while for those who are a bit more hearty and who don’t mind a heavier backpack
Strenuous alpine trekking. Although technically not very difficult, the trip requires up to 9 hrs of hiking – mostly uphill and at times on rough, steep trails and on glaciers, where you will be roped up with fellow hikers and your guide. The use of crampons might sometimes be required but participants are not expected to have previous experience. The afternoon of the first trekking day will be spend for an introduction to glacier travel and the use of ice axe and crampons on the Tour Glacier.
Relative to multi-day treks in most parts of the world, your backpacks will remain relatively light (5 – 8 kg = 11 – 18 lbs) as we don’t have to carry food (other than snacks), a light sleeping bag liner instead of a full sleeping bag and no cook ware or fuel. We recommend a backpack size of 35 – 45 liters (2100 – 2700 cubic inches).
The Haute Route Glacier Trek is also referred to as the Mountaineer’s Route and should not be confused with the so called Hiker’s Haute Route, which is a low level traverse on hiking trails with lodging mainly in hotels rather than high altitude huts. Should you be interested in this less challenging Haute Route hike, we recommend the trip of our friends Karin & Louis at alpineinterface.com
How much clothing should I bring for the Haute Route Glacier Trek?
It strongly depends on the weather. It may stay well above freezing all the time (even at 5AM when leaving the hut and stepping onto the glacier) but it could also snow every day of your trip, even in mid-summer. We’ve seen it all and our recommendation is to be ready for anything upon arrival in Chamonix. At the last practical moment, you have a look at the Swiss Weather Forecast, talk to the guides and pack accordingly. Anything you decide not to take, you should leave in your bag to be transported to Zermatt.
What do the guides carry on the Haute Route Trek?
Most guides, if they attach their rope to the outside of the pack, get away with a 35 liter pack, which is only a little larger than a day pack. The only clothes they bring on the Haute Route is what they wear on their body on a colder day plus a spare set of underwear, two pairs of spare socks, a spare short sleeve shirt, rain (over)pants with side zippers, flip flops or croqs for the huts and if the forecast is for colder weather maybe also thin long underwear, a thicker base layer and heavier gloves. Lots of our North-American guests are used to carrying heavy backpacks on multi-day trips due to the lack of hut infrastructure outside of Europe. Unfortunately, with the steepness of the terrain in the Alps and the common pace, some participants often figure out too late, that they are carrying way too much. There is a strong positive correlation between lighter pack loads and the ability to finish the trip in Zermatt.
Do you offer Luggage Transfers?
Yes, we can organise luggage transfers for an additional cost of 60euro / luggage piece. Please contact us for this service
Where can I rent mountaineering equipment in Chamonix?
We offer to provide you with the necessary technical equipment for the Haute Route (crampons, ice axe, harness & locking carabiner. If you need to rent boots or clothing items, there are 2 stores we recommend in Chamonix, Sanglard Sports rental equipment or Snell Sports rental equipment.
What about drinking water on the Haute Route?
Drinking water is available by bottled or boiled water/tea which can be purchased at an additional cost of approx. 10Euros / liter. Your group may consider bringing one filter for everyone to use at most of the creek waters. If you chose to bring Iodine tablets, please note that most of the higher huts have very limited amount of snow-melt water available, which the hut keepers only pass on to patrons in boiled form for a fee.
Will I need Gaiters for the Haute Route Trek?
We suggest you bring gaiters unless your pants close really well around the shaft of your foot. There will be a lot of walking in snow and the gaiters protect your pants / calf from puncturing with the crampons too….You can also have some “shorties” that do the job of sealing the boot against the pants.
What sort of boots do I need for the Haute Route Trek?
First and foremost make sure your boots are Comfortable! Key for comfort is that your boots are waterproof and have been worn a few times (so you know they wont give you blisters).
If you choose a trekking boot, it should be an upper end one like the Lowa Mens Trekking boot which is what our head guide has used the most on the Haute Route over the last 15 years.
Popular are light mountaineering boots, that tend to be a little stiffer in the sole than the trekking boots like the Sportiva Trango or the Scarpa Charmox . Our head guide also has both of those boots and they are excellent with the Trango being a little narrower in the toe box.
What should be my food allowance per day for huts and hotels along the Haute Route?
We would recommend budgeting 35 SFR/day which is about US$35. This would cover buying food/snacks (pic-nic lunch), water and one beer at each hut.
Will I get cell or Internet service on the Haute Route?
Wi-Fi is available in Chamonix/Argentiere, Champex & Zermatt at our hotels and many bars / cafes. Currently the huts have no Wi-Fi; most people rely on the cell service, which is pretty good for most of the Haute Route trek. Make sure to inquire with your cell phone provider as to your roaming capabilities in Europe
Each hut has plugs to recharge phones etc. but there is a bit of competition for them these days. All plugs are at 220 volts.
What’s the difference between the Tour du Mont Blanc (aka TMB) and the Haute Route Glacier Trek?
The tour du Mont Blanc (aka TMB) and the Haute Route Glacier Trek are very different in character. The Tour du Mont Blanc is probably the most popular multi-day hike in the Alps. It passes through some of the Alps most popular resort towns like Chamonix and Courmayeur and most days in the itinerary are easily done as day trips from those towns and hence, especially in high season, trails will be as busy as hiking trails can be. The tour du Mont Blanc is entirely non-technical and connects a lot of valley hiking with traverses over alpine passes that are entire snow free in mid-summer. About 50% of the walking is below tree line. There is a fair bit of flexibility for arranging lodging on the TMB between fully catered mountain huts with dormitory sleeping similar to the Haute Route Glacier Trek.
The Haute Route Glacier Trek (aka “Mountaineer’s route” not to be mistaken with the “Haute Route Hiker’s Route”) is the high level traverse between the Chamonix Valley and the Swiss town of Zermatt. About 30% – 40% of the travel is on glaciers which may require travelling roped and using crampons. This technical aspect as well as the necessity to stay in high mountain huts greatly reduces the number of travelers on the route. The trip is far more committing and requiring better fitness and stamina than the Tour du Mont Blanc.
When’s the “best” season for the Haute Route Glacier Trek?
Snowpack coverage can extend into the summer but depends largely on the weather in spring and early summer. Ideal conditions on the Haute Route means good snow coverage with well settled, easy to walk on snow on the glaciers and largely dry trails in the non-glaciated terrain. June is often still too snowy, especially early June (which is why most huts don’t usually open until early July) and the weather can be unsettled. July until mid-August is the core season. In some years with warm summers and little summer snowfall in higher elevations can have the following consequences: 1) Snow coverage on the glaciers is reduced reducing bridging of crevasses, which makes the glacier travel more cumbersome, 2) Increased rock fall hazard on short route sections, namely the ascent to the Bertol Hut, 3) more difficult crampon work in steeper sections, sometimes with Bergschrunds and motes opening up, namely on the ascent to the Col Superior de Tour. We usually address those issues by itinerary changes for route sections of concern. Early September often sees the first larger snow falls in the higher elevations which makes for a very pretty, pristine ambiance in the mountains but often not enough to improve travel conditions in warm summers. The huts usually close down mid-September.
Haute Route Glacier Trek – A high level glacier tour from Chamonix to Zermatt
References of prior guests: We will gladly put potential clients in touch with previous participants of each trip in order for interested guests to get more personalized references and their questions answered from a more objective point of view than what our office could provide.
“Philippe was great! We couldn’t have asked for a better guide. His personality, technical expertise and overall great attitude made the trip a once in a lifetime experience. On Top did a great job meeting our requirements and desires for this custom trip/We feel that all of our questions where answered in a prompt and thorough manner. Hotel in Argentiere was perfect for our needs. It was nice being in a small town but also having dining close by. The food and lodging at huts was as expected.”
—Robert P., VA, USA
“Seb was extremely compentent and knowledgeable. It was obvious we were in very capable hands. I (Trish) felt that the precautionary measures he took at various stages of the trip were most appropriate. We would gladly be guided by Sebastion again.
We were very pleased with the organization. The trip had a few ‘escape’ routes in Champex and again another night where a person could bail if it was too much.
OnTop Communication was punctual and thorough.
The drescription of the itinerary difficulty was accurate. It was a tough 7 days. The hiking times quoted were very close to our actual times. The route was incredible, awesome, challenging, unforgettable. The lodging in both Argentiere and Zermatt was perfect. Not fancy, but clean, in great locations, small family-run places with alot of history. We really enjoyed the lodging choices. We thought the small hotel in Argentiere was perfect; Chamonix easy to get to, but our hotel was in a nice quiet location. I(Trish) went to church in Argentiere the sunday before our trip. Felt like a real town. Breakfasts in both Argentiere and Zermatt were wonderful. The food varied a bit by hut. Some cooks really took pride in their meals, and it showed. We were impressed with what came out of the kitchen on most occasions. Quantity was consistent. Only one hut was a disappointment in the food department – and that was only a lunch stop for us. That said, all of us ate all of the snacks we brought with us – we expended some serious calories. We would recommend this company to friends in a heart beat. We were very pleased..”
—Tennis & Trish O., WA, USA
“Philippe is an incredible guide. Very professional, knowledgable and helpful. We would go with him again. We did not spend a lot of time with Didier, but he was very friendly. Everything was organised nicely, the hotel in Argentiere is great, very helpful and friendly people. Everything we received was great and very helpful. As mentioned the hotel in Argentiere was great. Their breakfast was excellent, a lot of food and great variety. The huts and the food there were far beyond our expectations. If any of our friends would ever consider a trip like this, we would definitely recommend OnTop.”
—Helma & Jonathan G., AB, Canada
“Till was a good guide althought some huts/routes were new to him. Trip organisation was good. The itinerary was pretty challenging and made it worthwhile. Huts and sleeping rooms seemed too crowded to me. Food quality was good but last 2 huts only offereed bread with butter/jame to eat for breakfast. I would rate my experience with OnTop about 8 out of 10. ”
—August M., CA, USA
” The guides were amazing- so impressed with Geoffroy’s professionalism and always felt safe. Nick also had a great 2 days with him after the trip instead of Mont Blanc. Fridjon was also a fantastic guide – very entertaining and great customer service. Also great at teaching. Both complement each other. All organisation was great. Needed more info about how much cash to take into mountains. Didn’t realise we’d be buying water and it was SOOOO expensive. Maybe iodine tabs would be better? Very environmentally unsound to be buying plastic bottles. Also the trek was much harder than I’d anticipated and if I’d been any less fit I wouldn’t have coped. Definitely need more detailed explanation of degree of difficulty in trip notes. I do like a challenge though so it was great for me but I can think of plenty of people who may have thought they could managed based on basic trip notes.
Itinerary fantastic. Loved it all. Geoffroy was a bit worried about the very long day (?day3) but we did the steeper route instead and though tough, was fine.
Lodging was fine. Food good and plentiful, though breakfast a bit sketchy. Would have liked more info as to what to expect on our first morning as it was so crowded, rushed and stressful. Not a great start to the day – just needed to know what it would be like in advance. Take more face wipes for washing (women). Broad spectrum antibiotics. Can’t think of anything else I needed.
Would definitely recommend this trip and On Top to friends. It was absolutely incredible and a fantastic experience!! Thank you! ”
—Nikki, Nick and Alice M., Australia
” I thought Till was an exceptional guide. We have had guides on all our climbs and treks in various parts of the world and he was certainly one of the best. He was very open and easy to communicate with and genuinely seemed to enjoy his time with us. His mountain knowledge was exceptional and he also was able to answer the many questions that we fired at him over the course of the trip. When we came off Mont Blanc Till offered to drive me back to Argentiere, which was above and beyond what I would expect from a guide. I would not hesitate to have Till guide me again if I was to go back to the alps.
The trip organisation and communication were very good. Apart from a hiccup with one of my emails to you, all our correspondence was answered promptly and accurately. Everything went smoothly with the organisation and communication and can only applaude you for that.
No problems with the itinerary. Plenty of time to do everything we had to do on any particular day, with enough time at the end of the day in each hut to relax and rest for a while before the dinner bell rang.
Lodging and Food. Considering the locations of the lodges we thought they were fine. Some of the lodges are showing signs of wear and tear but I would guess that the Alpine Clubs responsible for their upkeep would be aware of that and would have regular maintenance programs in place. No problems with the food. People have to remember the location and situation of the these huts in providing food for many people who come from different parts of the world and are used to eating different types of food. We go into the mountains for the mountains, not to enjoy a fine dining experience.
I would not hesitate to recommend OnTop to anyone wishing to do any of your itineraries. On your website you might like to consider putting some testimonials up for people to read. I have always found them invaluable in helping me to make decisions on whether or not I would use a particular organisation. ”
— Murray C., Australia
“Thomas was an excellent guide. He was knowledgeable and had a great sense of humor. The terrain was new and unfamiliar to me, but I had complete confidence and trust in Thomas’ skills and judgement. He always made sure we arrived at our huts in great time (avoiding pending rain!), but was also flexible and understanding should we want to stop for an occasional break or photo. I would highly recommend Thomas to any group. Very fast communication and responses to my questions. Also really appreciated your commitment to ensuring the trip was still happening despite those last-minute cancellations. Also, I really appreciated the email we got the night before meeting our guide that connected me with Lu and Thomas. I think you should continue to send these pre-trip emails in the future – I think guests will really appreciate it.
The Haute Route was a spectacular hike; we got to walk through some of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. Huts were comfortable, and had great food. Really appreciated how the first and last days were shorter, with the more difficult days in the middle of the trip (allowed us time to ‘build up’ to those more difficult days). Also, the gradual ascent to the more elevated portions of the trip made it easier to acclimatize (sleeping at gradually more elevated huts was helpful!). Huts were warm, comfortable, and had great food. Only thing was that some of them were quite crowded (and making it difficult to sleep sometime), but I understand that this was out of your control! 10/10 would recommend this trip to my friends.” Rosalinda C., Canada
“We adored both Geoffrey and Fridjion and they worked very well together. Geoffroy was a consummate professional who NEVER got ruffled even when I was convinced we would all die He said in his inimitable French accent when I asked if he was worried about the huge drop offs to the side of the trail with loose gravel, “yes, you must watch how you step.” I loved him. Fridjion was inspirational as well -what a tremendous story about how he came back after his accident. He was super funny, kind and super patient helping those who were timid or not as sure footed without making them feel bad – a real art. For both guides, we literally entrusted our lives in their hands and I felt VERY safe knowing that they would do anything to help us. Fridjon could also be a stand up comedian – his positive attitude rubbed off on all of us.
The huts were SPECTACULAR – great food, some had awesome beer – only ONE didn’t have running water and more showers would be nice and more women’s only bathrooms but I’m nitpicking for my dream hut! For high alpine huts, they were better than I expected.”
—Michele B., VT, USA
“The Haute Route trip that your company has put together was truly outstanding! As you know it not only provides a variety of outstanding scenery in one of the worlds most beautiful mountain ranges but also gives opportunity for physical challenges and tests of one’s endurance. It was absolutely wonderful! Every day was met with anticipation of where and what we would see and do next. To my knowledge there wasn’t any day that upon arrival we didn’t say what an incredible day it had been no matter how tired or hungry we were. I am positive that Rosalinda would agree. Hopefully, Thomas too:) Thomas was the most skilled mountaineering guide I’ve had to date! Of course he was wonderful to hang out with and is kind, patient and personable. But what mattered most is that he had a sound knowledge of the terrain on every surface that was clear and pronounced especially nearing the end when the glaciers got complicated and routes altered due to changes in landscape. The final day other groups were crossing the glaciers paying close attention to the routes Thomas confidently chose. As, well he helped instill personal confidence in the two of us to do things that I never once felt afraid or doubted my ability to achieve. Hope that makes sense! The communication on your side was above and beyond. I joked that you all stay up way too late at night responding to any query in order to get back as soon as possible. Especially given the difference in time zones. Great job! The lodging was awesome both on and off the trail. Pretty and super clean rooms in all three spots that I personally stayed, Argentiere, Champex and Geneva. The huts..in my opinion the best one ever was Vignette! Just saying:) Eggs and Bacon for breakfast and what a location! They were all great and had a personality of their own as you well know. Without hesitation I would highly recommend OnTop Mountaineering! Giving out a 10 isn’t suppose to be a good thing so that it leaves room for improvement but from my experience I couldn’t have imagined it being better. Before leaving the Schoenbiel Hut I was asked by another groups members who I had used to organize this trip and your name was written down by several of them. This was one of the groups that was looking to where Thomas took us.” Lue W., Canada
“Guide: Wow. I am speechless. Seb was absolutely amazing – extremely professional, tended to our needs, served as an example, kept the pace and morale – I really couldn’t ask for anyone better. I really hold him in the highest appreciation possible – I wouldn’t have been able to make this trip without him. I really respect his work, his style, and pretty much everything he did while on the tour.
Organization and communication were perfect – from the moment I made first contact, up until my summit certificate ;). I really appreciated and enjoyed the fact that everything was written, ordered, thought of, and delivered in mail. I think everything before the trip ticked very well, and it did as well during the trip – there was nothing missing, mis-communicated, and everything was very clear and precise.
Itinerary: In general, I think the days were perfect, balancing the correct amount of altitude gain and sleeping in relatively high-altitude huts, versus effort per each day. Some days were a bit longer and more tiring, but that’s the nature of these trips I guess.
Food was great, we had plenty, and ate very good food. The lodging in general was very good, save for one exception – as it happens, in the hotel at Champex Melissa and I had to share a room. It’s really not that big deal, and we were both very adult about it, but at least I was a bit surprised that this is the case. I think she and I might have felt a bit more comfortable to be notified of this arrangement ahead, and if possible not to share the room (of course, I can only speak to myself), but again, I don’t feel this created any complexity or unease that we couldn’t handle.
Score 9/10. Almost everything was perfect, and I mean it – you guys are very ordered, like I said – everything ticked and worked and went smooth, and I really felt I’m getting all the information I need and the value for my money. While this is not your direct responsibility, you are probably aware that we had to change course due to one of our party members having caught altitude sickness. I realize this can happen to anybody – I’ve been there myself. Seb handled this on the best possible and professional manner, and we didn’t even have to change too much of our original course, and had lodging in town, and even though we had this bump in the road, I think everything ticked pretty well. But, I do wonder if this could have been avoided – both in better screening and warnings for clients before the hike, and maybe following more of Seb advice regarding weight, sleep and such. It did not seem like the client had a lot of experience in hikes of this sort before, and I’m not sure how strict you are about registering clients (hey, you got me without too much trouble ;)), but I’m wondering if this could have been played out differently. The first 10 minutes of turning back down to the valley felt bitter, and while it was absolutely the right decision, it still stung a little bit. I don’t have a good advice as to how to overcome this issue without a tiring screening process, and eventually – this can always happen, but this is my food for thought and improvement.
Other than that, I had a perfect trip! I really enjoyed it, and felt it was challenging and interesting for me. I already did recommend this to numerous friends who might try their luck next year. Seb was really the best I could wish for, and all the logistics before and while on the trip were handled flawlessly.” Yochai E., Israel
“Markus and Lutz were first rate! I was very impressed with them during the second day out, orienteering us safety to our destination through the white out blizzard. They always had our safety first and were fun to hang out with and were encouraging the group during some tough sections. I thought all lodging was good except the lodging conditions at the Albert Premier hut, which was kind of crappy but excellent everywhere else, especially Arolla…”
—Dan M, DC, USA
“Credit definitely foremost to Markus and Lutz who are the best– certainly several parties who seemed to be asking for directions/pointers during one of our stormier days probably wished they were with us as well. They are fantastic guides– made the whole trip so very enjoyable from start to finish despite having to juggle some weather issues, variance in tempos amidst the group, and all the things we were likely entirely unaware of…”
—Meg J., NY, USA
“I had a great time on both the trek and Weissmies climb. Markus & Lutz were both great – very knowledgeable, professional, courteous and just fun to hang out with. We had a white out one day in a blizzard and they navigated us perfectly to our hut. I also appreciated their (and on top’s) flexibility with regard to changing our plans the last day. The hotel lodging – in Argentiere and Arolla – was very good. Most of the huts were nice, given their location. The food was pretty decent across the board as well, save breakfast. To some extent that’s to be expected, given the remote location of the huts. Thanks Jorg again for all of his help regarding answering questions. The only thing I’d recommend is emphasizing that people doing the Mt Blanc climb will need warmer clothing than the trek. our guides said it can be helpful to have a down jacket for rest stops during the climb…”
—Mike M., NJ, USA
“Flory was a really great guide – always ready to help and always sensitive to how everyone was doing. If it wasn’t for my concern about being affected by the altitude (I had a cold as well), I would be quite tempted to book another trip straight away!…”
—Martin R., UK
“Flory is a super guide. He is reassuring, knowledgeable, experienced, organized, interesting and a fun guy! He always let us know in advance what we should expect, how to be prepared and when to get up. I wouldn’t hesitate for a second to have him as a guide on another trip. I definitely will (and have) recommended OnTop to other people. The trip was well organized.
The food at the huts was great! Being a vegetarian was not a problem, there was plenty for me to eat. Loved the rosti, but don’t eat too much at lunch and then hike or you could get heartburn!…”
—Nancy D., NY, USA
“The whole trip was even better than I expected. Flory was awesome, one of the best guides I think I’ve ever had. Really knowledgeable and personable, and very responsive to individual concerns and abilities. La Couronne was a nice hotel, and I found the staff really friendly and helpful. All the other lodging was good, too, and the huts exceeded my expectations, as did the food. ..”
—Heather S., Montana, USA
“…The hotel in Argentiere was wonderful! The room was very very nice, the breakfasts were great and the woman at the front desk was just terrific. Hotel in Arolla was lovely and dinner/ breakfast very good. Itinerary? Great … challenging for me, less so for my daughter. We skipped one day on the glacier because of rain / fog…”
—Jeanne G., USA
“…For technical skills, knowledge and safety, Lutz gets an A+. He was also sociable and friendly in the afternoons and at dinnertime. He also gets an A+ for his excellent and creative work rearranging the canceled Mont Blanc expedition. Lodging in the huts was excellent, except for Albert Premier. Unpleasant “squat–style” bathroom. Food in all places excellent…”
—Brad A., Nova Scotia, Canada
“Lutz is a fantastic climber, he takes extraordinary care for the safety of his clients, and he genuinely seeks out the company of his clients during the long hours that can be spent in a hut, which is unusual and not easy for someone who speaks English as a second language. The Hotel de la Couronne in Argentiere and Grand Hotel Kurhaus in Arolla were both wonderful places to stay. The dormitory facilities and food at the huts were superior to anything I expected. I was very impressed with the amount of work Lutz did to come up with alternative hikes and accommodations when plans had to change because of the weather….”
—Stephen G., Oregon, USA
“I thought the huts were more than adequate, though the Albert could do with a some upgrades. Food everywhere was pretty good and plentiful, though the breakfasts could have been more substantial. Hotels in Argentiere and Alrolla were absolutely fine, with the award for hoteliers of the year going to our new best friends at the Sonne, which was excellent!!!!!!!!!! …”
—Jim R., UK
“Thank you all for the excellent administration, granting discounts and upgrades and lastly for delivering quite superb weather. Is it any surprise we had such a cracking adventure…”
—Ray M., Hong Kong, China
“Trient – modern and very nice. Chanrion also comfortable Bertol a real experience and very friendly welcome. Schonbielehutte serves excellent food (we didn’t stay there). Hotel Glacier in Arolla was excellent as was the Sonne in Zermatt…”
—Mark D., UK
“The huts and hotels were great. The toilet facilities in the Albert were pretty rough and one of the hut guardians could do with a course in customer relations. Food was great. Breakfasts very basic. Ear defenders should go on your kit list…”
—Alex B., Thailand
TREKKING with GLACIER TRAVEL, HUT-TO-HUT
1. Technical Equipment
• Leather mountaineering boots* with rigid soles or sturdy, waterproof trekking boots – usable with strap-on crampons
• Backpack (40 – 45 liters) with rain cover if possible. Rain covers can also be bought separately. Otherwise bring a big plastic (garbage) bag as an inside liner for your backpack.
• Ice axe for glacier travel (50-75cm, classic pick)**
• Crampons that fit your boots or can be easily adjusted**
• Anti-balling plates for your crampons **
• Collapsible trekking or ski poles* (One pole is highly recommended)
• 1 harness**
• 1 locking carabiner**
• Crevasse rescue equipment (optional), if you are familiar with it.(Prusik slings, webbing, pulleys, auto-locking device). Your guide will bring a full set.
All items marked ‘*’ can be rented from a rental shop locally.
All items marked ‘**’ can be provided by OnTop.
Please bring your own equipment if you have it.
We suggest using the ‘layer system’: Light technical clothing that doesn’t take much space in your backpack and dries quickly if sweaty or wet.
Layers can be put on and taken off fast if weather conditions change during the day.
• Wind and waterproof shell jacket with hood (Gore Tex or similar)
• Wind and waterproof over pants with side zippers (Gore Tex or similar)
• Mountaineering pants
• Fleece or heavy jacket
• Medium weight fleece sweater
• Long underwear or running tights (e.g. Capilene or polypro)
• Undershirt – preferably long sleeves (e.g. Capilene or polypro)
• Warm socks for mountaineering boots (wool/synthetic outers)
• Lighter socks
• Warm hat, covering your ears
• Lightweight gloves (fleece)
• Warm, waterproof pair of gloves
• Gaiters (unless pants lock tightly to your boots)
• Sun hat, with a wide brim if possible
• Bandana (optional)
3. Hut lodging
• Spare underwear, socks
• Down vest or light insulated jacket (optional)
• Thin sleeping bag liner (available also in silk weighing less than ½ pound) or thin youth hostel sleeping bag for the huts for sanitary reasons. Wool covers are provided by the huts.
• Light hut slippers optional – huts usually provide slippers, but the quality varies hugely
• Light stuff sacs or zip lock bags to keep your backpack organized (optional)
• Toiletries and small towel
• Alpine Club card, if you are a member of a European alpine club
• Ear plugs (optional but very useful)
4. Other Items
• Sun glasses (heavy duty – glacier use, with very good UV protection)
• Sun screen and lip protection
• Water bottle, preferably insulated, minimum volume: 1 liter or Camel-back (if too cold, bladder tube might freeze up!)
• Head lamp with spare batteries
• Blister kit (optional)
• Snacks (candy bars, dried fruit, sandwiches, nuts, etc. – can also be bought in the huts every day)
• Personal items (prescription medicine, extra contact lenses and maintenance equipment, extra pair of prescription glasses, etc.)
• Pocket knife or Leather-man multi-tool (optional)
• (Health/Travel) insurance documents
• Zip-lock bag for wallet and other documents to keep them dry (recommended)
• Camera, batteries (optional)
• Compass, maps and GPS (optional)
We gladly customize your preferred trip departure at any given time of your preference from mid – June to mid September and trip. Assuming the same format as our scheduled 7 day / 7 night trek you are looking at the following pricing relative to our scheduled departures:
Group of 3 participants: Premium of 30% over advertised scheduled trip price
Group of 4 participants: Premium of 8%
Group of 5 participants: Discount of 6%
Group of 6 participants: Discount of 12%
Transport options to Chamonix Valley:
Airport & Shuttles:
The closest airport to Chamonix Valley (where our Haute Route ski traverse begins) is Geneva Airport where there are regular airport shuttles to Argentiere (our preferred hotel location) & Chamonix. Airport Shuttles to Argentiere take around 1.5hours & Chamonix takes 2 hours.
There are a number of airport shuttle services that provide door to door service from Geneva International Airport at very competitive prices for any destination in the Chamonix Valley.
Mountain Drop Offs provides a reliable airport transfer from Geneva to Argentiere or Chamonix for about 40 euro, depending on the time of year.
If you arrive into Zurich airport then travel by train: Schweizer Bundesbahn SBB which will take approx 4 hrs via Martigny and Chatelard.
If you arrive into any Paris airport then travel by train: TGV which will take approx 4-5 hrs via St. Gervais.
Your Haute Route trip will end in Zermatt:
Travel from Zermatt to the Chamonix Valley, Geneva Airport or elsewhere in Europe:
Often our clients just buy the train tickets upon arrival in Zermatt or when they decide to leave Zermatt the “old fashioned way”. The train station is only 10 min by foot from our hotel.
However, if you already know when you’d like to leave Zermatt, you are better off to book your ticket online at Swiss Rail . Trains leave Zermatt as early as 6.30AM and depart almost hourly thereafter. If you return to our hotel in Argentiere for the Mont Blanc portion of your Haute Route trip, best you punch in: Departing “Zermatt”, arriving “Argentiere Haute Savoie” via “Martigny”. Cost should be around CHF 80 / person for the 4 hour train ride. You will have to switch trains in “Visp”, “Martigny” and “Chatelard la Frontiere”, which sounds a whole lot more complicated than it really is as those train stations are really small and it’s easy to navigate the connection. For Geneva airport, cost and trip duration are comparable.
The train trip is a neat adventure and some of the routing provides scenery that you don’t see when travelling by car. It works efficiently, both economically and ecologically!
Alternatively, we can organize a private taxi service from Zermatt to any destination of your choice. Price for the return trip to Zermatt is around CHF 500. The return transfer is not included in our trip price due to the large number of clients wishing to spend time in Zermatt before returning to Chamonix.
We gladly assist in organising any pre/post trip lodging and airport transfers.
Haute Route Glacier Trek
- Up to 9hrs/day
- Requires stamina!
- roped glacier travel
- exposed, steep trails
- some scree slopes
Haute Route Glacier Trek
8 Days, 6.5 Day Trek
June 9 – 16
June 16 – 23
June 23 – 30
June 30 – July 7
July 7 – 14
July 14 – 21
July 21 – 28
July 28 – Aug. 4
Aug. 4 – 11
Aug. 11 – 18
Aug. 18 – 25
Aug. 25 – Sept. 1
Sept. 1 – 8
Sept. 8 – 15
Sept 15 – 22
2 days departing 1 day after every Haute Route Trek
Custom dates anytime
Haute Route Glacier Trek
- US $2190
- CA $2790
- € 1690
- £ 1540
Guide & guide expenses, 2 nights double or triple rooms in hotels, 5 nights in huts, 6 dinners, 7 breakfasts, equipment rental (crampons, harness, ice axe), 2 lift/ gondolas, 1 taxi.
Extra:Luggage transfer to Zermatt (Euro 60), air port shuttles (from Euro 35), 1 x dinner in Chamonix, drinks, lunches ( can be purchased in huts)
US $80, CA $95
€ 64, £ 57