The Summer Haute Route from Chamonix to Zermatt is arguably one of the most scenic and famous multi-day hikes in all of the Alps. Our suggested itinerary follows the classic "Ski Haute Route" for some of the route, but stays a bit further north in non glaciated terrain for a large portion. For well over a hundred years "walkers" from all over the world have made the trek from the base of Mont Blanc to the incomparable view of the Matterhorn. This demanding, varied route wanders deep among high mountain glaciers and passes, as well as passing through traditional alpine villages and towns providing a huge variety of terrain, culture and scenery.
No climbing experience required
Very good physical fitness; you should be able to hike or climb for 5 to 6 hours with a pack varying from 20 to 40 lbs. and ascend 3,000 to 4,000 feet of vertical gain per day for several consecutive days.
The best way to get to Chamonix is via bus from the Geneva Airport. There are several private companies that provide transportation from the Geneva airport to Chamonix. These buses or minivans leave from right outside the baggage claim area.
Your guide will come and meet you at your hotel in the late afternoon of Sunday before the trip start. We will conduct a quick equipment check and get you fully briefed for the next day.
It is better to wait until you get to Chamonix. That way you pay the exchange rate only once (as opposed to from dollars to Swiss Francs then to Euros). So wait until you are in France to change Dollars into Euros, but we recommend changing dollars into Swiss Francs in Geneva, as the majority of the trip actually takes place in Switzerland. In fact all the huts we are staying in are Swiss huts. If you do not want to change too much money into Swiss Francs right away, you can also get more money in Verbier on the second day of the trip.
It is extremely important that you stay properly hydrated and fluids are not cheap in high alpine huts. Count on spending about sfr. 15 to 20 per day on tea, water, beer and wine for sure. Of course there are other things that will tempt you such as chocolate, cakes, sandwiches, and the undeniable Rosti. All things added up, sfr. 200 for the week should probably do it.
You have options. You can carry all your lunch food (as it is not included in the trip cost), but hardly anyone does it. Most people buy some bread, cheese, dried meat, sausage, chocolate, trail mix etc. in Chamonix that will last for a couple of days. Then they repeat this in Verbier and end up supplementing it with some items they buy at the huts later in the week. You can also have the hut keeper prepare a lunch packet. They are good, but pretty pricey at about $12 per lunch.
This transfer will be organized by Pro Guiding Service and is included in the trip. Please make sure that your extra luggage consists of one manageable piece.
Yes, we speak French, German and Italian. Speaking the right language or even better the right dialect does not only simplify logistics, but it opens a lot of doors to extra favors.
For the most part, you have to buy water in the huts and it is not cheap (about sfr10 for a big bottle). In the morning they will fill up your water bottle with tea or water. There will be water along the way, but you might have to purify it. There are some pretty cool products ranging from tablets to filters (which you are responsible for bringing if you choose that route). You will pass through a few towns and water is very cheap there in grocery stores. Estimate that you will need about 2 liters per day on the trail.
A lot of people do, but you can also buy a lot of those things in Chamonix.
This is hard to say, but it could range between 80 F and freezing depending on conditions, time of day and elevation of the trip. You are moving between 5000 and 11,000 feet, so it is safe to say that there might be quite a range. If you pack according the packing list, you should be fine.
About 20 to 25 pounds max.
We strongly advise against this, since our Summer Haute Route still travels over several glaciers along the way. Some of these glaciers are crevassed and located at over 10000 feet of elevation. The chance that you will be wearing crampons at times are very good, so a sturdy hiking boot or light mountaineering boot is recommended.
There is no need for that. You will be able to buy a ticket at the counter in Zermatt and just walk onto the train. The travel time from Zermatt to Geneva is about 3.5 hours.
If you intend to do further travel in Switzerland , you might consider purchasing the Halfprice Pass from the Swiss Railway System. Check it out at: http://www.sbb.ch/en/travelcards-and-tickets/railpasses/half-fare-travelcard.html
Although tipping is not a requirement, it is considered standard practice in the guiding industry and is appreciated by our guides. We generally recommend roughly 10%-15% of your course or trip cost or a flat amount that you are comfortable with.