Walking Haute Route 24th Sept - 2nd Oct

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17/07/2011 at 05:54

Hello everyone,

 This is my first post here on this site. Thanks to all who read and i hope i dont ramble on too much!

Right, a few questions, Im planning on doing the haute route on the above date. I know its possibly a 12-15 day hike, according to the books.

First question - I plan on doing it in 7 days, starting from (Day 1) Argenitire to Champax, (Day 2) Champax to Cabane Du Mont Fort, (Day 3) Cab. du Mont Fort to Arolla, (Day 4) Arolla to La Sage, (Day 5) La Sage - Zinal, (Day 6) Zinal to St Niklas, (Day 7) St Niklas to Zermatt. Id consider myself fit, but does anyone belive im taking too much on here? Is this possible?

Second question - This is on navigation and the weather, although i know the weather to be upredictable, what is it usually like late Sept? Are there any parts of the route that anyone may consider too dangerous that time of year? Im doing this on my own and would not like to end up lost, in bad weather, is the route still clearly visable? I can use a compass and map, just dont wanna under estimate the route i guess. 

Would appriciate any tips and advice guys, especially like to chat to you if you have done the route before?

 Would also be happy if someone would like to join me?

 Thank for looking peeps. 

17/07/2011 at 09:18

Hi Thomas,

I'm off there 5-23 August. I'll contact you with up-to-date info on my return. If there's anything specific you wish to know, either ask here or send a message to me.

Welcome to the site.

17/07/2011 at 14:44
Thomas. You must be a lot fitter than I was when I did it. Your days 1, 3, 5, 6 seem very long. i would consider using public transport Champex - Le Chable, take 2 days Cabane de Mont Fort - Arolla. Use bus for day 5, train day 7 and use the extra time on the other stages.
18/07/2011 at 00:12

Hey peeps,

 Thanks for the feedback, some good stuff there. Goldilocks, ill inbox you now, and thanks.

 And thanks John, really looked at the route, and definetly agree that the days are long, probably would not enjoy as much, id be shattered all the time lol. Pleas let me know what you think of this.....

Day one: Chamonix - bus to Trient - Walk to Champax.

Day two: Champax - bus to Le Chable - Walk to Cab du Mont fort.

Day three: Cab du mont fort - Cab de prafleuri.

Day four: Cab de prafleuri - Arolla - Bus to La Sage

Day five: La Sage to Zinal (big day)

Day six: Zinal - Gruben

Day seven: Gruben - St Niklas - Bus to Zermatt

That seems to make more scence to me now, hope you agree? Also have you done this route before? Was it well marked?

Thanks again peeps.

18/07/2011 at 02:45

To have any chance you would need very good weather,ive been going early September to the area for 10 years and rarely have had a week when I can safely go high everyday.Two years ago in early September we had 3 days with the snow level at 2400 meters and avalanches whizzing off the monte moro pass.

Some of the areas ,especially around Zinal and the europaweg into Zermatt are just some of the most gorgeous mountain scenary imaginable and warrant more time.The hike upto Roche de la Vache from Zinal is one of my favourites in the alps.Is there no chance of extending youre holiday or concentrating on a smaller area perhaps?

Route finding is generally good to excellent and signposted with typical Swiss efficency.If youve hiked say the Lakes you will find the Alps easy to navigate.Generally fewer paths and great signposting,you can often see youre route miles ahead of you.

18/07/2011 at 06:36

Thanks Julian,

I have booked this trip very much off the cuff, actually booked the plane tickets to Geneva before even doing any research into the Alps.

The Haute route was one of the first routes i saw, and thought it would be a good way to do some research along the way for the best places to return to at later dates, I want to make trips over there quite regular, looking at the UK in the winter (get some more experience) and then the Alps in the summer. So will probably spend more time in the reigons you reccomended on my return with my wife (she is staying at home with our 3 month old daughter this time, cant belive shes letting me go lol)

Am also resonably new to hiking / mountaineering, have navigated through the Cairngorms and Glencoe and the Nevis range, the Lake and my home in the Brecon Beacons. Dont really trust myself though, although i have not got lost yet, touch wood.

Appriciate the help aswell, dont know any people personally who do this sorta thing, but its now a real passion of mine now, and your help and advice is much needed.


18/07/2011 at 09:00

I've done parts of the Haute Route and visit that region of the Alps a lot.

Champex/Argentiere is a long days walk with a light pack if you are fit - took us about 12-14hrs.  Its about 7hrs run depending on weather.

Routefinding is generally easy (certainly easier than the UK) with good signposting and usually a clear idea from the topography of where a path goes.

I second Julian's view on the weather - its rarely stable at that time of year in my experience, and it can be quite extreme.

Regarding time of year - some of the huts may be closed, and some buses not running. Your revised plan seems to involve 4 buses - I would hazard a guess that you will spend almost as much time waiting for, and sitting on buses, as you will spend hiking.

I'd go for a loop with slack in the schedule for bad weather. e.g. the (little-known) tour du ruan (starts north-west of Chamonix www.tourduruan.com) with possible ascents of Mont Buet & Mont Ruan. Or my old favourite of the Tour Du mont Blanc, which if you're fit you could do in 7 days, if not you could break at Courmayeur (4+ buses/day to Chamonix, takes an hr) or Champex. 

18/07/2011 at 09:33

When I was younger use to dash about on these long distance paths but now base myself somewhere and enjoy day walks.The Zermatt tourist board produces a tour of the valley using the excellent mountain huts.For instance you could start by doing the two day Europaweg (one of the best walks in the alps now with the amazing Hangebrucke Grabengufer suspension bridge U tube that) which could lead to Zermatt and then day walks from there or use the excellent mountain hut network to do a tour.

The Hohbalm pastures walk to the Schobel hut is fantastic and from there you could go upto 3260 m up the Matterhorn at the Hornli hut and from there just follow the valley around.There really is a world of walking in each of the valleys,the Mattertal,Saastal and Zinal area are all world class.The Brecon beacons will never be the same!!

18/07/2011 at 09:56
Did the Tour du Mont Blanc in 2003, which took 10 days. Less ascent/descent each day than the  Haute Route. Possible in your time frame, if you're fit and prepared for longer days. Spectacular scenery and good accommodation.  Gives you the option to bail out at different points if you are injured (eg blisters), tired or simply run out of time. An ideal first taste of alpine walking.
18/07/2011 at 10:05
TMB is good (done in the early 90s) and its easy to follow.Not as spectaculur as some of the Valais but as said a good starter.
18/07/2011 at 10:12

Stove Man's and Julian's advice seems good. If you are using a base, I would recommend Saas Fee or Zinal.

Chamonix is complicated to get to by public transport from Geneva Airport unless you use Alpybus or similar. If you are not starting a walk there I would go to the walk start directly from Geneva Airport. Do not ignore the effects of altitude. If your first days of walking are Le Chable, Cabane du Mont Fort, Cabane de Prafleurie, Arolla you will be spending most of your time above 2400 metres and will notice the altitude. Check the hut closing dates in Sept especially Prafleurie which is isolated.

Have a read of Kev Reynold's Walking in the Valais and his guide to the Chamonix - Zermatt walk for ideas.

18/07/2011 at 11:20

Thomas, rather than using so much public transport and cramming so much in in such a short time, why don't you simply use a Transfer Card to go from Geneva to Verbier and then do the short walk to Cabane de Mont Fort for an itinerary like this:

1 - Geneva - Verbier - short walk to CMF

2 - CMF - Prafleuri

3 - Prafleuri - La Sage (long but easy)

4 - La Sage - Zinal

5 - Zinal - Gruben

6 - Gruben - Gasenried (long day)

7 - Gasenried - Europaweg - Zermatt (long day) or

7 - Gasenried - Europahut

8 - Europahut - Zermatt

9 - Zermatt - Geneva

That's popular with the Swiss and is what I'm planning for next time, and it also gives you a day spare depending on how you feel.

The Chamonix - Champex leg will still be there for when you do the TMB, and the Champex - CMF bit is relatively dull anyway. 

Failing that, there's always the 7 day Tour of the Jungfrau Region, which is lower, much easier and almost as spectacular.

Edited: 18/07/2011 at 11:43
18/07/2011 at 13:14
Had the pleasure of doing most of the tour of Jungfrau and it is very good.Scynne plate (sp) Faulhorn first is a classic walk as is the Eiger trail.There really is so much to choose from.
18/07/2011 at 13:34

Seeing as Thomas has only 7 full walking days, and given the time of year he's going, he's going to need to be lucky to do the relatively high level WHR in such a short time without any contingency for snowfalls or low cloud.  I had snow down to 2,000m one August when I did it, but luckily was past the highest stages by then.

Equally, 7 days for the TMB is fairly blasting it and is again hoping for no low snow on the higher cols.

I'd be more inclined to either base myself somewhere nice for a week or do the TJR, as that has many more contingency routes for snow.  I actually took 14 days to do it, but I lingered in a few places and did some detours just so that I could savour it as much as possible.

As Julian says, Schynige Platte - First is a fabulous route if you get a clear view over to the Eiger etc and is comparable in view terms to anything on the WHR or TMB.

Edited: 18/07/2011 at 13:55
18/07/2011 at 20:39

Hey guys,

So much to take it!

But i do think I maybe taking too much on by trying to do the Haute route to Zermatt. But at the same time do not want to be put off too easily.

I will definetly consider the Tour De Mont Blanc, and look into maybe staying in Zermatt, as the Matterhorn is what i really wanna see. Possibly a walk up onto the Matterhorn? Obviously not to the summit though. Possibly the Hornli hut?? There is so much to choose from!!!!!!!

Im a pain i know!!!

19/07/2011 at 09:30
i'd go for the walkers haute route - far better than TMB.  I did it a couple of years ago with my (then) 7 year old son.  we added in a few peaks and extended it a bit.  the day from champex to argentiere was quite long.  we went via the 2700m pass - can't remember the name.  Its a lovely route.
19/07/2011 at 09:44

Fenetre d'Arpette?

19/07/2011 at 10:36

I have been reading this thread with interest as the Haute Route is in the top 3 of list of trips to do. From all the responses I take it you are talking about the Walkers Haute Route, not the regular Haute Route?

Thomas: If you are really interested in the Matterhorn you can do a Tour du Matterhorn (I know its more time than you have but you can use their itinary for your inspiration, even takes in the Hoernli Huette). It sounds pretty good and you get to see it all! 

19/07/2011 at 11:03

thats the pass - fenetre d'arpette  quite dramatic when you get to the top coming from champex.  we saw a collapsing serac on the way down too.

19/07/2011 at 13:07
Thanks guys,

Yes it's the walkers haute route, love the look of it, have not had a look at tour de mont blanc yet, but will check it out along with tour de Matterhorn.

Finding it really difficult to decide, getting some really good feedback off you all, but think it's time I focus on something soon, will let you all know soon.

Thanks again, appriciate it.
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