The Haute Route is an emblematic hiking and ski touring route that joins Chamonix, in France, with Zermatt, in Switzerland. That is to say, you start out with views of Mont Blanc and end with a postcard of the Matterhorn.
The route spans around 180km (112 mi.) and takes on average one week to complete on a ski touring traverse, depending on the variant taken. On this occasion, we got in touch with Muffy from Wyoming who shared what her experience was like on the Haute Route tour she took starting from Verbier.
Haute Route Ski Tour: The Adventure
Muffy and her husband frequently go on ski touring day trips in the Teton Mountains of Wyoming (USA), where they are from. They decided that it was time for a special adventure and chose the Haute Route because of its notoriety. Going on an overnight trip from hut to hut in the Alps was a perfect choice.
We live in the Teton Mountains but the Swiss Alps are like that times 100. And to see the huts that have been built for mountaineering adventures, in some cases more than 100 years ago, is truly amazing. They chose spectacular locations that seem almost impossible, but they did it. Just incredible to visit these huts and have a cold beer and a warm meal on the top of a remote rocky precipice!
Haute Route Ski Tour: The Guide
A great skier (formerly part of the Cyprus national ski team) and also a rock climbing guide in the Alps. Extremely helpful and good company. Sense of humor, but low-key. Enjoyed him thoroughly and knew he was at all times looking out for our safety and well-being.
The Haute Route tour that Kyriakos offers takes 7 days and starts from Chamonix. Passing Rosa Blanche and Pigne d’Arolla and sleeping in lovely mountain huts on the way is part of this route’s charm, which is capped off upon arriving in Zermatt, where the stunning views of the Matterhorn act as the perfect exclamation point to end the traverse. Although this is the classic Haute Route itinerary he leads, Kyriakos is flexible, and depending on your needs and preferences, he can also find alternatives, such as starting from Verbier in Switzerland.
Haute Route Highlights
Muffy’s 3 favorite memories of her Haute Route ski touring experience were:
Looking out the window of our first hut and seeing the vastness of snow, mountains, and blue sky. Blackbirds rolling and dipping in the rising air off the cliffs. Mesmerizing.
Skiing past a crevasse that looked like just a 10-inch hole, but then gazing down into it and realizing it could fit a small car. A reason why we were roped up and skied with climbing harnesses. It added a note of caution but also an appreciation for the experience.
Our guide Kyriakos patiently trying to explain to me how to fold my crampons so that they would fit back in the case. I’d never used crampons before and was laughing at myself. It’s just an example of how helpful and easygoing he was at all times.
How difficult is the Haute Route?
Prior ski touring experience is a must to go on an Haute Route adventure, and going with a certified guide is essential. Any time you go out into the mountains there is a risk, and a guide will know what to do with that risk so that you are safe. For the Haute Route, being physically fit is also essential.
I would recommend doing a ton of uphill skiing for a few months prior to the tour. We backcountry ski a lot where we live but it wouldn’t have hurt to be in better shape! Our biggest climb was about 4700 feet and you’re carrying a certain amount of gear.
Depending on the variant you take, the Haute Route involves skiing uphill around 5 to 6 hours a day, skiing downhill too -but that’s much easier- and crossing stunning glaciers. You will need to use crampons, ropes, and other technical gear on your adventure.
The Haute Route is a classic ski touring path in the Alps. It’s as demanding as it is rewarding. Experience its gorgeous mountain views and huts on an unforgettable guided adventure!