The trail starts off with a bang. Your goal is just a little higher up in the Chamonix Valley, but to get there, take the trail to the iconic Lac Blanc. After taking in postcard views of the Mont Blanc massif, descend the TMB ladders as you make your way toward Argentiere.
If you’d like to start the Haute Route more gradually, or if you want to get in some hiking on the day of arrival, you can also hike up the valley directly to Argentiere.
17km and 1350m elevation gain
On your last day in France, you will hike along the ridge of Aiguillette des Possettes to the Col de Balme, the border with Switzerland. From there, you can look back at the magnificent Mont Blanc massif. Leaving France behind, you descend into the Swiss village Trient.
16km and 1200m elevation gain
On day three, you’ll hike over the Fenetre d’Arpette, with spectacular views of the Glacier du Trient. The tricky rocky descent soon turns into a pleasant walk into the green valley, where Champex-Lac, the charming lakeside town, awaits.
In the case of bad weather, the easier Bovine route (part of the Tour du Mont Blanc) is preferable.
15km and 1350m elevation gain
Hiking through less mountainous areas of Switzerland gives you a taste of the country’s beautiful countryside, not often advertised. You will follow the side of the picturesque Val Ferret and into Sembrancher of Val de Bagnes, where you hike along the river towards Le Châble.
14km and 300m elevation gain
From the start of the day, you’ll be climbing steeply on footpaths above the tree line, going through the slopes of the world-renowned Verbier ski resort. As you near the end of your trek, you will be treated to views of another Alpine massif — the Grand Combin — and eventually, reach the Cabane du Mont Fort hut.
12km and 1650m elevation gain
The sixth day of the hike presents itself as a stage full of contrasts — first the panoramic green ridges, then an eerie lunar plateau. Starting with the panoramic trail over Col Termin (optional Col de Louvie), the route will take you to the dying Grand Désert Glacier. It leads right below it, on the barren land of scree and stones. After passing many small lakes, you cross over Col de Prafleuri (2987 m), the highest point on the Haute Route. From there, you’ll soon reach the hut of Cabane de Prafleuri.
17km and 1000m elevation gain
The last stage of the Haute Route will keep you high up in the Alps, with some of the best views on the trail. Lac de Dix will surprise you just over the morning Col. After traversing alongside this 5 km long accumulation lake, you’ll cross over the morain of Glacier de Cheilon. You’ll admire Mont Blanc de Cheilon on your right and could even get a glimpse of Matterhorn in the distance as you cross over Col de Riedmatten. After that highlight, it’s time to head down to Arolla.
With public transport, it’s easy to get to Geneva or Zurich. We can advise you on the best option.
18km and 750m elevation gain
This week-long version of the iconic Walker’s Haute Route explores its western part, from the Mont Blanc massif to the Pennine Alps.
It follows the traditional route, starting in the French mountaineering mecca of Chamonix and finishing in the Swiss village of Arolla. It is a perfect compromise for those with limited time who still want to experience the Alpine vibe in both France and Switzerland.
The 7 stages here are slightly harder than on its eastern counterpart, but the views are well worth the effort. It will take you around 5-7 hours of hiking each day to reach your goal, be it a cozy mountain hut up high in the mountains or an authentic inn in the valley.
We’ll handle all the details so you can focus on your adventure. We’ll book your accommodations and other services, and a few weeks before setting off, we’ll send you a detailed itinerary booklet with the planned GPS route for your Walker’s Haute Route West trek.
The summer season for hiking is usually from mid-June to mid-October. Its start depends on the amount of snow left on the high mountain passes from the winter. The Walker’s Haute Route and Via Alpina have some high passes, which are usually free of snow only in July. Hiking before that could be dangerous without proper skill and equipment. In October, there is usually the first bigger snowfall, and the huts close to prepare for the winter ski season.
Read more about the hiking season in the Swiss Alps here.
We’ve rated our tours on a difficulty scale from 1 to 5 — with 1 being the easiest and 5 the most difficult.
The difficulty level of a tour tells you how fit you need to be and how much hiking is involved. Most of our tours are appropriate for people who are regularly active and can hike for about five to seven hours per day.
Technical difficulty means how skilled you need to be to hike on the path. Level 1 means the trail is smooth and wide (like a gravel road), while 5 means the surface is uneven and exposed, and you have to use your hands to help yourself move forward. In practice, that means that the higher the level, the more surefooted and skilled in scrambling you need to be.
It is best to book your tour early because most accommodations along the trail fill up quickly. That way, you can ensure that you have a place to stay.
Even though the routes are usually quite close to at least a farm or a small village, they also feature lots of wild and remote sections where you cannot just stop. In case of injury, it’s best to call the local emergency services.
On the other hand, if you just feel that you cannot hike anymore, you can always stop in any of the towns and villages along the way and use public transport to get to a bigger Swiss city.
Showers in Swiss mountain huts are rare and are only offered for an extra charge. That’s why it’s wise to bring wet wipes with you for the days that you are staying in one of them.
No, because the huts provide their own blankets and pillows. Still, you should bring a sleeping liner instead.
Cell connection is very changeable in the mountains. A good rule of thumb is that if you can see a town, you’ll have a reception. Mountain huts are the same — the signal usually doesn’t reach the insides, so try catching it outside. Wifi is available only in some huts, while most don’t have it.
If you dress accordingly, most stages can be done in light rain. However, do not hike if a storm is forecasted. In that case, you can take public transport to the next point when possible to make up for the lost time.
Vegetarian meals are usually available in most accommodations. Vegan options are harder to be found in huts, but we’re happy to let you know about them in advance so you can plan accordingly.
Comparing it to other classic treks in the Alps, the Haute route is the most difficult out of all of them. Each day features a lot of distance, ascent, and descent, with the routes often rocky, exposed, and steep. For comparison, the Haute Route’s average mountain pass is as difficult as the most difficult part of the Tour du Mont Blanc.
Still, the Haute Route is a hike first and foremost, and only a few rare sections demand the use of hands.
More about the Walker’s Haute Route difficulty >
Chamonix is the starting point of the Walker’s Haute Route and it is pretty easy to get to from Geneva international airport by train, bus, or shuttle.
It ends in the village of Arolla, from where you can take a bus to Sion. There, a train can connect you to Zurich or Geneva Airports.
Learn more about the travel options >
Huts mostly offer dormitories only, but some also have a few private rooms for 2 or 4 available. Please note that we require a very early booking for these rooms. We will do our best to get you the best possible accommodation from what is available at the time of your booking.
You can read more about the accommodations on the way here.
You can, but they need to be used of long hiking days and surefooted. We therefore recommend that they’re at least 8 years old.
Most of the stages can be shortened via cable cars or other modes of public transportation, saving your knees on the downhills or catching up on lost time because of bad weather.
Haute Route has many sections which are remote and hardly accessible, which is why we do not offer luggage transfer. The best option is to pack light, so check our packing list.
The Walker’s Haute Route starts in France but leads mostly through Switzerland. Therefore you should have some euros (EUR) with you, but most cash should be in Swiss francs (CHF).