Walkers Haute Route from Chamonix to Zermatt (Expert Guide)
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Walkers Haute Route from Chamonix to Zermatt (Expert Guide)

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The Walker's Haute Route is a 14 day trek from Chamonix to Zermatt, or in different words from the base of the Mont Blanc to the Matterhorn, one of the most iconic mountains in the world.

It is located in a place where France, Switzerland and Italy meet: the Alps.

The Haute route started as a mountaineering trail connecting two great mountaineering centres. The Walker's Haute Route is the ‘lower’ variant of this trail aiming at hikers wishing to spend two weeks overshadowed by the highest mountains in Western Europe.

This page provides a detailed overview for the Walker's Haute Route. We recommend using the quicklinks below to navigate to the sections that interest you most. Alternatively, bookmark this page for future reference.

walkers-haute-route-chamonix-to-zermatt

Route Overview

The Walker's Haute Route is one of Europe's best hikes, but also one of its most demanding. The route has a total distance of 180-200 kilometers depending on the stages you choose.

It starts off at the base of the Mont Blanc in Chamonix and ends in Zermatt, with views of the iconic Matterhorn.

The first three stages use the same trail as the famous Tour de Mont Blanc while the last few stages are similar to the Tour of the Matterhorn.

Along the way you’ll witness the greatest mountain views, spectacular valleys, delightful villages and remote alp hamlets.

The route crosses eleven passes, gains more than 12,000 meters and loses more than 10,000m.

Along the way you will spend some days in valleys, while other nights will be spent in mountain huts. In contrary to the Tour de Mont Blanc, the Walker's Haute Route is less walked and thus less-crowded.

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Pros and Cons

  • check
    Amazing scenery
  • check
    One of the most beautiful treks in the world
  • check
    Public transport possible to skip harder stages
  • check
    Less crowded than alernative alpine treks
  • Relatively expensive due to mountain huts
  • Physically challenging, not for the faint-hearted

Route Map

This map illustrates the Walker's Haute Route.

It starts off at Chamonix, France close to the Swiss border before heading east towards the Mattertal. There are 12 or 14 stages depending on if you end your hike via the Europaweg or the traditional valley walk.

The Walkers Haute Route is a linear route.

walkers-haute-route-map

Altitude Profile

In the chart below you can see the altitude profile of the full walk. It is quite clear there is a lot of altitude to be gained and distance to be covered over the 14 stages. You can see that there are a few strenuous stages ending at mountain huts that will require great effort.

walkers-haute-route-profile

Trek Recommendation

If you are unsure about how suitable the Walker's Haute Trek is for you and your group, please leave a comment below with your enquiry, and we will try to help you choose the most suitable option. 

We always reply within 24 hours!

Itinerary

Below we have laid out the most popular version of the Walker's Haute Route – 14 days, leaving from Chamonix and finishing in Zermatt. The itinerary includes approx. distances, hiking times and elevation changes.

Click each day to read more...

Day 1: Chamonix – Argentière

Day 2: Argentière - Trient

Day 3: Trient - Champex

Day 4: Champex – Le Chable

Day 5: Le Chable – Cabane de Mont Fort

Day 6: Cabane de Mont Fort – Cabane de Prafleuri

Day 7: Cabane de Prafleuri - Arolla

Day 8: Arolla – La Sage 

Day 9: La Sage – Cabane de Moiry

Day 10: Cabane de Moiry - Zinal

Day 11: Zinal - Gruben

Day 12: Gruben - St Niklaus

Day 13: St Niklaus - Europahut

Day 14: Europahut - Zermatt

walkers-haute-route-zermatt-matterhorn

Route Variations

Some stages of the Walker's Haute Route have alternative trails in case of bad weather. Here is the list of alternative for each of the stages:

  • Alternative stage 3: Trient – Alp Bovine – Champex: Bad weather alternative through the forests and alpine meadows
  • Alternative stage  6: Cabane de Mont Fort – Col de la Chaux – Cabane de Prafleuri: Little shorter than the traditional trail, but still demanding
  • Alternative stage 7: Cabane de Prafleuri – Pas de Chevres – Arolla: This alternative stage passes along Cabane de Dix and the famous ladders of Pas de Chevres. Recommended!
  • Alternative stage 11: Zinal – Hotel Weisshorn / Cabane Bella Tolla: Longer route than the traditional one. Mostly done when Hotel Weisshorn is the place you wish to spend the night.
  • Alternative stage 11a: Hotel Weisshorn – Gruben: Extra stage to finish your hike to Gruben
  • Alternative stage 13: St Niklaus – Zermatt: Traditional valley walk as alternative to the 2-day Europaweg. It is often regarded as an anticlimax regarding views and therefore hikers opt to do the Europaweg instead.

Video Overview

A beautiful video overview of the Walker's Haute Route by Cicerone Press.

The video is 04.50 long – enjoy!

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does the Walker's Haute trek cost?

Are permits required for the Haute Route trek?

When is the best time to trek the Haute Route?

Is altitude sickness a risk?

How difficult is the Walker's Haute trek?

What gear do I need?

What travel insurance do I need?

dempsey-cappelle

Dempsey Cappelle

Expert Contributor

About the author


Dempsey Cappelle is Mountain IQ's resident adventure-junkie! Dempsey has climbed 3 of the 7 summits - Mount Kilimanjaro, Aconcagua and Mount Elbrus, as well summited Mont Blanc. He has also completed the Great Glen Canoe Trail and the West Highland Way. In 2014 Dempsey completed the Walker's Haute Route. You can find out more about Dempsey on his travel blog: www.anadventurersjournal.com

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Leave a Comment:

10 comments
Michelle Isac says April 10, 2018

Hi,

We’re planning to do the Walker’s Haute Route this summer. We are a little limited on time and only have about 8 days. We’ve done the Tour du Mont Blanc in the past so we weren’t planning to bother with the Chamonix to Champex part of the route since we already did it. I was just wondering where a good place to start this trek would be and what parts would be best to skip (we would be willing to take buses to avoid the boring parts that might be hiking along a road etc). We can hike about 8-10 hours per day and are most interested in the great views.

Reply
    Mark Whitman says April 11, 2018

    Hi Michelle,

    Many people do the Walkers Haute Route using public transport to skip certain stages. Starting halfway in Arolla makes an easy and beautiful start and allows you to complete the last stages (Europaweg) to Zermatt. Most villages along the way are easy to be reached by public transport, so you could start in Champex as well (where Tour de Mont Blanc splits from la Haute Route) and skip a few stages along the way. This would allow you to complete the trail as well. On several occasions, cable lifts give you the chance to skip the strenuous climbs. It’s hard to say which stage to skip as we found them equally beautiful. I would let weather decide 🙂

    I can recommend the Cicerone guide by Kev Reynolds Chamonix to Zermatt as a great guidebook to see what stages you like 🙂

    Have fun on the hike!

    Reply
Lauren Augusta says May 8, 2018

Hi! We are planning a multi-day run on the Walker’s Haute Route- hoping to complete it in 6-7 days. Do you have recommendations for stages to combine? We are comfortable doing up to 35k in a day, and are thinking about starting in Argentiere because we’ve spent a good amount of time in the area between there and Chamonix. Thanks!

Reply
    Mark Whitman says May 8, 2018

    Running the whole trail is quite a challenge but if you’re well experienced, a real adventure. I have no experience in mountain running, but I think the terrain on some stages might make it difficult of making a lot of progress. Stage 6 and 7 have some boulder fields as these stages stay on high altitude. Also the Europaweg is very unstable and should be crossed with caution, but can be skipped, as the last stage descends to the valley earlier than it used to. Also bear in mind that there is quite some altitude to be gained on a daily basis. Ascending 1000 meters before descending most of it again per stage is no exception. In your case, this would make 35 kilometers a day with 1500-2000 meters of elevation gain. I would suggest starting in Chamonix and see how it goes along the way. Most villages you encounter have good connection to public transport (especially the last stages). Also, there is the possibility to skip parts by cable car. Enjoy the trip!

    Reply
Natalie says July 21, 2018

Wow!! What an amazing, full of details article!! The video is beautiful, and gives a good idea of what to expect. I would love to walk this trail but I don’t think I am ready to walk on my own some of the parts… Could you recommend some organised groups for this trail?

Reply
    Mark Whitman says July 22, 2018

    Hi Natalie, joining an organised group is possible and recommended if you are trekking solo. There are many tour companies who offer the Walkers Haute route as a group adventure. I recommend Googling it.

    Reply
Donal Hanafin says August 1, 2018

Amazing post man, there’s so much good info in there. Myself and a few friends are planning to do 2 nights and 3 days along the route starting at Le Chable and ending at Arolla. Is this possible to do? We’d leave the car in Le Chable and then get public transport back again. The other thing I’m wondering is whether or not the huts will be open. We’re doing it from the 14 – 18th September. I’ve emailed them but still waiting on a response.

Reply
Stephanie says October 3, 2018

My husband and I are interested in combining the Tour du Mont Blanc and Walker’s Haute Route into a 25ish day hike- this would start in Chamonix, loop back to Chamonix on the TMB and then head up on the WHR to Zermatt. We have experience on three-week hikes with a lot of altitude gain/loss in the USA, but not in Europe. We are hoping to take tents and camp in where we are able. In your opinion does this sound like a good idea, or a little too over-enthusiatic?

Reply
    Mark Whitman says October 7, 2018

    Hi Stephanie, this sounds doable. You may need to skip a few stages (weather dependent), but I think over a 25 day period you can fit in combination hike of the two routes.

    Reply
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