The Haute Route Ski Tour is the most famous ski tour in the Alps and is a must for any enthusiastic ski tourer! It is a legendary high Alpine journey linking two historic Alpine centres, Chamonix in France and Zermatt in Switzerland. Total distance is about 120kms and there are 6,000m of ascent and descent.
The Haute Route ski tour traverses exceptionally high terrain and its popular reputation is fully justified on account of the fabulous mountain scenery you pass through. Whilst the Haute Route is undoubtedly very popular, our carefully selected route allows you to enjoy all the high points of the Verbier variation but avoid over-trafficked areas.
There are many other variations on the Haute Route that we can run on a private basis. Some like the 'Grand Lui' or 'Classic' variations involve greater technicality and are thus run on a lower guiding ratio.
Arrive in Chamonix and meet the guide and the rest of the group in the early evening for a welcome meeting, briefing and equipment check.
We start the tour with a warm-up on the Grands Montets ski area in the morning. Your guide will run skills sessions on avalanche search and rescue, skinning technique and use of crampons/ice axe. This will give you a chance to use all your kit and get your ski legs ready for the challenge to follow! In the late afternoon we ski and skin to the Argentiere hut for the night.
Starting from the Argentiere hut we ski and skin towards the Col du Passon 3028m, which is our preferred route due to the technical difficulties you now encounter descending the Col du Chardonnet. From the col there is a short descent down to the Glacier du Tour from where we ascend to the Col du Tour 3288m. We then cross onto the Trient plateau in Switzerland and arrive at the Cabane du Trient 3170m where we spend the night. Approx 1100m ascent, 1200m descent (6-7hrs).
One of the best descents of the trip - initially down the Trient Glacier before turning east and making the short crampon climb over the Col des Ecandies 2796m and then down the wild and remote Val d'Arpette which ends in the village of Champex 1466m. From here we take a taxi transfer to La Chable and ascend using the lift system in Verbier. A quick piste ski down from Mont Fort accesses a short skin to the Col de la Choix. A short descent and then ascent to the Col de Momin 3003m gives amazing views of the Grand Desert and Rosablanche up ahead. If time allows we make the short ascent of Rosablanche 3336m then descend via the Glacier de Prafleuri to the privately owned Prafleuri Refuge 2624m where we spend the night. Approx 900m ascent, 2400m descent (8-9hrs).
We make an early start and skin over the Col des Roux 2804m and then follow a long descending traverse on the west side of the Lac des Dix. At the end of the lake we make the long ascent via the Pas du Chat 2372m which leads us to the Cabane des Dix 2928m our stop for the night. Approx 900m ascent, 600m descent (5-7hrs).
A spectacular day. Beginning from the Cabane des Dix we make the long ascent to summit the Pigne d'Arolla 3790m (the highest point on the Haute Route). From here you get stunning panoramic views back towards Mont Blanc and onto the Matterhorn. A steep ski descent then leads to the spectacularly perched Cabane des Vignettes 3160m. Approx 950m ascent, 700m descent (5-6hrs).
There are few days in alpine ski mountaineering to match this one. Covering 30km, we cross the three cols of the Col de L'Eveque 3386m, Col du Mont Brule 3218m and the Col Valpelline 3562m and seven glaciers. A fitting finale to the Haute Route before arriving in Zermatt. Approx 1,100m ascent; 2,400m descent (8-10hrs).
On arrival in Zermatt we stop for a celebration drink before taking a train to Tasch station below Zermatt where we meet a pre-booked private minibus to return to Chamonix at our hotel. Overnight in the hotel in Chamonix.
The group will disperse after breakfast.
Here at the Mountain Tracks, we give you our word that we will fully refund every part of your package holiday if it is not able to run due to COVID-19.
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The price shown is for the route via Verbier, please contact our office for prices for the Classic or the Grand Lui variations.
Price includes: all guiding fees and expenses, 2 nights B&B hotel accommodation in Chamonix at the start and end of the trip, all hut fees on HB basis, taxi transfer between Champex and La Chable on Day 4, private return minibus transfer from Tasch to Chamonix.
The price does not include: evening meals in Chamonix, lunches, beverages, personal insurance, hire of ski equipment, travel to and from Chamonix, unscheduled local transfers and uplift costs.
2-day ski touring skills course immediately preceding the Haute Route trips costs from £275 per person for course fees only. i.e. Party of 4 - £275 each, Party of 2 - £450 each.
We exclude the cost for any local transfers because these are dependent on weather and snow conditions. Based on previous trips the cost of transfers and uplift for this week will be approximately €160 per person.
We recommend that you book your return journey home for late on the second Saturday in case of any delays due to bad weather delays on the ski tour.
This is an extensive list of the recommended clothing and equipment you will need if you are coming on one of our Haute Route Ski Tours.
During the tour you will be staying most nights in catered high mountain huts and will need to carry all the equipment and clothing you require for the duration of the tour. The huts are comfortable but basic with limited facilities – running cold water, European-style toilets, dormitory-style accommodation. All the huts provide ‘hut slippers’ – these days they are usually crocs - and so you will not need to carry additional footwear.
Any clothing or other items not required on the tour can be left in a travel bag at your first hotel ready for your return on the final night.
We recommend keeping the weight of your pack as light as possible. If you are new to alpine multi-day ski touring, try taking your pack out on the slopes before the tour to see how it feels. You quickly realise the benefit of ‘skiing light’.
If you are uncertain or need further information, don't hesitate to contact us.
When choosing clothing for ski touring you want to think light, warm and versatile. During the trip weather conditions will change and you’re likely to go from warm afternoons where you’ll be carrying most of your gear in your rucksack, to icy-cold mornings when you’re wearing everything to keep warm! Getting hold of the best and lightest kit available is always worth it and most of the major brands will be able to supply a suitable kit.
This season, we’ve partnered with Ortovox to provide us with the very best safety kit and clothing. Our guides will all be decked out in the latest Ortovox jackets and trousers and will keep warm, dry and comfortable thanks to their technical wool base- and mid-layers. Our guides couldn’t recommend their kit more highly.
For all touring trips it is essential you ski with an all-mountain/freeride type skis, ski touring boots and ski touring bindings. If you have your own skis but they do not have ski touring bindings then you will need to rent skis. The same applies if you have downhill ski boots, you will need to rent ski touring boots.
This winter our lead guides are using Salomon Explore MTN and Salomon QST touring skis. The MTN 95 is an award-winning ski with great stability at high speeds whilst the MTN 88 is a best-selling lightweight touring ski. The QST’s are slightly heavier and therefore suited to charging; perfect for day-touring.
Lockwoods Ski and Outdoor are supporting our guides and we suggest that if you’re interested in any of the MTN or QST skis, you should make Lockwoods your first point of call.
For alpine ski touring we recommend an all-mountain/freeride touring ski that isn’t too heavy, a really lightweight ski comes at a cost to performance on the descents so are only recommended for really good off-piste skiers with a strong interest in ski touring.
There are plenty of great skis to choose from and we highly recommend skis from the following manufacturers:
Dynastar Skis: www.dynastar.com
Movement Skis: www.movementskis.com
Black Crows Skis: www.blackcrows-skis.com
Trab Skis: www.skitrab.com/en-us
Scott Skis: http://www.scott-sports.com
Volkl Skis: http://www.voelkl.com
There are plenty of other great skis to choose from so if you’re planning on buying skis for ski touring or general skiing and have any questions do not hesitate to call us, or Lockwoods, to discuss the options available.
If you are planning on buying skis for ski touring and general skiing and have any questions do not hesitate to call us to discuss the options available to you.
It is essential that you have ski touring boots for all touring trips as walking uphill is much more comfortable in these types of boots with a walk mode and great flex. A dedicated touring boot or a hybrid freeride boot is best.
Scarpa have lead the way in touring boots for many years but they have been joined by other manufactures like Dynafit, Salomon, Scott, Black Diamond, Dalbello and K2; all producing their own versions of a ski touring boot.
• Scarpa’s Freedom boots are their Hybrid offerings, great ski performance, a walk mode and vibram sole. Their Maestrale (men’s) and Gea (women’s) boots are also highly recommended.
• The Scott Celeste and Cosmo boots have stood the test of time and are good all-round choices.
• Salomon’s Quest Max series offer boots with a walk mode in various flex’s with good downhill performance.
• Dynafit offer the Mercury or Vulcan boots plus a range of lightweight options like the TLT6.
The best of the rest are:
Fischer - Transalp
Black Diamond – Quadrant and Factor
K2 – Pinnacle boot
Dalbello – Lupo or Sherpa
Langue – XT series offer a ski boot with a walk mode in various flex options
These days many manufacturers offer ‘thermo-fit¹ liners as standard equipment. You may also want to consider a custom liner as these are heated and molded to your foot and boot for a perfect fit. They can make all the difference especially if you have trouble finding really comfortable ‘off-the-shelf’ boots. Zipfit liners are a great option for anyone seeking total customisation in fit and comfort. They will replace the original liner.
Essential kit – to provide additional comfort and ski control. If you want to get footbeds made or a pair of new boots fitted then we suggest you visit somewhere like Profeet for a professional fitting. Don’t forget if you have footbeds in your downhill boots but need to rent touring boots then you can bring the footbeds with you and put them in the hire boots.
For all ski touring trips ski touring bindings are essential. Fritschi and Marker both make excellent ski touring bindings and you have a few different options to choose from. Many more people are seeing the advantage of the “pin” binding system now offered by a number of manufacturers as these are light and offer ever improving security despite their minimalist looks!
It’s essential you have ski touring bindings on your skis. Although Pin bindings have been around since the Dynafit Low Tech bindings over 30 years ago, since their patent expired the technology has advanced substantially. Salomon, with their Shift Binding, are at the forefront; they’re ‘multi norm compatible’ so fit a selection of boots and are lighter than most freeride bindings. Our lead guides are using the Shift binding this winter, so if you’d like to know more about them give Lockwoods a ring.
We recommend telescopic poles. They must have wide powder baskets (4-5 inches/100-120mm diameter) otherwise you’ll be up to your armpits on the ascents. Go for an alloy rather than carbon poles which are lighter but have a nasty habit of snapping near the basket due to ski edge nicks.
For most ski tours especially multi-day hut-to-hut tours you will need a 35 - 40 litre rucksack. You might get away with a big 30 liter pack if you are an experienced ski tourer and know what to pack. Most people will find a 35-40 liter pack is a good size for touring.
Key features of a good ski touring pack:
Ortovox Haute Route 40 rucksack will be a good choice for ski touring trips.
Avalanche airbag rucksacks can be used for touring but they are heavy, adding somewhere between 5-8kg just for an empty pack plus canister. So unless you are sure you can carry it and fit all you need in, we do not recommend you use one.
Over a long multiday tour, every gram of weight is important as you have to carry and move it yourself. Carrying a heavy pack will hinder and tire all but the most experienced and fit ski tourer.
The “Safety Trilogy” - required on all our ski tours and off-piste courses.
We recommend Simple and intuitive ORTOVOX AVALANCHE RESCUE KIT 3+
Remember it is not enough just to carry this equipment; you have to know how to use it.
How about joining one of our specialist avalanche courses – check out www.mountaintracks.co.uk/activity/avalanche-training
Food and Water
We suggest you bring with you or buy in resort snack food that you can take out on the hill with you each day. Things like cereal bars, dried fruit and nuts, chocolate, sugary sweets or your favorite hill snacks. When you’re staying overnight in huts its best to take supplies for the days you are away. Huts do sell food but it’s expensive and sometimes stocks run low.
If you have any food allergies or dietary requirements especially if you are a Coeliac (Gluten free) or have a dairy allergy we strongly recommend you bring some food with you that you can supplement your dinners with. The huts are fairly good at providing for vegetarians but less so for other dietary needs.
You have to buy bottled water in the huts as usually any running water is non-potable. Bottled water is expensive in French and Swiss huts; you can be paying upto 12-16CHF per 1.5L bottle of water. So please ensure you budget for this cost.
It is a condition of booking that you are insured for your chosen activity and the cover must include medical expenses, personal accident, personal liability, third party risks and rescue (including helicopter rescue). You are strongly advised also to take out cover against cancellation and curtailment.
For more details and to purchase a policy online visit http://www.skiclubinsurance.co.uk/
If you need assistance arranging your personal insurance please let us know.
You should arrange to arrive in Chamonix by late afternoon on the first day.
The most convenient airport is Geneva and from here the transfer time up to Chamonix by road is just 1 hr 15mins. To travel between the airport and Chamonix we recommend you reserve a seat on one of the many commercial shuttle buses. Mountain Tracks can book this for you and the usual prices are from £40 per person one-way. Please supply your full flight details to us so we can make the reservation.
Want to take the train to the resort? No problem – it’s possible to get to Chamonix by train from the UK using the Eurostar from London St. Pancras to Paris, then the TGV to Bellegarde and a regional train to Chamonix. The journey can be done in 1 day. However, please note to arrive in Chamonix by 5pm you should be departing Paris between 9am and 10am, there is a small selection of options ranging from 5hr to 7hrs of travel. If you need to arrive late in the evening for any of our trips please discuss with us as soon as possible.
All our ski tours are led by our team of IFMGA Mountain Guides. The team is led by Olly Allen, Matt Dickinson and Nick Parks.
French IGN 1:25,000 Chamonix.
Swiss 1:50,000 Martigny 282 (S), Arolla 283 (S) and Mischabel 284 (S).
Note: ‘S’ indicates that ski routes are shown.
The Haute Route, Chamonix-Zermatt by Peter Cliff ISBN 1871890217
IFMGA / UIAGM / IVBV
The IFMGA / UIAGM / IVBV symbol is the logo of the International Federation of Mountain Guides Association.
Nick, Olly and Matt are all fully-qualified UIAGM Mountain Guides and members of the British Mountain Guides Association.
The International Ski Instructors Association is the world body for professional ski instructors.
The ISIA was formed in 1971 and there are currently 39 member nations representing the very best in ski instruction around the world.