Haute Route Chamonix - Zermatt
We'll be skinning and skiing several hours every day - typically the days are between 6 and 9 hours in length and 700 - 1100 vertical meters of uphill. Therefore, you need to be fit and it's recommended that you train regularly in order to stay in shape for this trip - or improve if that's needed. Being fit will increase your safety as well as your enjoyment on the trip.
You should have tried skitouring previously but you don't need to be an expert skitouring alpinist or even very experienced. As long as you have some knowledge of the basics such as kickturns and know how to use skitouring bindings, you'll be OK. As for downhill ski skills, you need to be able to ski down pistes of any level while staying in control. You should also have some experience of skiing offpiste. We may (and probably will) encounter many different kinds of snow on the Haute Route, good snow as well as bad. If you've never tried skitouring before, you're recommended to join an introductory trip, such as the one offered in Vallée de la Clarée/Nevache or Chamonix. If you are in doubt about your level, you are welcome to contact Bluebird and ask
What's included in the price?
7 days of skitouring on the most famous skitraverse in the world - the Haute Route, Guiding and instruction, all necessary group safety equipment such as ropes, carabiners, icescrews, emergency shelter, accomodation for 6 nights in mountain huts along the Haute Route, lifttickets, taxitransfer from Champex to Verbier, taxi or train transfer from Zermatt to Chamonix, accomodation and lifts for the guide.
What's not included in the price?
Travel to and from our meeting point in the alps (Chamonix), accomodation in Chamonix the night before the trip, insurance, snacks/lunch, any consumption in the huts apart from breakfast and dinner, food and beverages while in Chamonix, personal equipment such as skis, boots, avalanche transceiver, shovel, probe etc. Some of this equipment can be rented from Bluebird Mountain Experience (if you need to rent equipment, please include a note in the "comments" section of the booking form when you book). Anything not mentioned under "What's included in the price?".
Skitouring is quite demanding on the equipment. Clothes need to protect from the wind and insulate but also be adaptable to different levels of activity.
Bindings and boots need a walk mode, we need avalanche safety equipment, glacier equipment, backpacks etc. Read more about the equipment here!
Booking and payment:
The Haute Route is a popular tour with many other parties skiing at the same time. Please book well in advance so we have a chance to secure our hut bookings.
Weather and conditions:
All mountain activities are subject to change depending on weather and conditions in the mountains. The guide will judge wether the planned route is feasible or not and make adjustnments accordingly. More often than not, som changes are neccesary along the way and the trip outline below should be read as an example of a possibility only, not a written-in-stone program. Keep an open mind and be prepared to adapt to the mountains.
Day 0: Those who aren't already in Chamonix arrive today. We'll meet in the evening and check the equipment and talk about the week.
Day 1: First day of the trip. The objective is to prepare and possition ourselves for tomorrow which is a fairly long day. We have two options: Either we do a daytrip somewhere in the massif and spend another night in Chamonix or we ride the lift to Grands Montets and ski to the Argentiere hut. We'll do some training and practice on the way. The first option has the advantage of allowing us to try our equipment out and make any necessary adjustments in Chamonix that night. The other option has the advantage of enabling us to make an early start the next morning, in order to make the most of the cold conditions and avoid possibly dangerous sun-affected snow.
Day 2: The goal today is to reach the Trient hut in Switzerland. Depending on which option we chose yesterday, we will either make an early start from the hut or catch an early lift to Grands Montets. From there we'll make our way towards either the Col du Passon or Col du Chardonnet. No matter what, we'll start our day in the beautiful and impressive setting of the argentiere glacierbassin with its famous chain of high and steep north faces. We'll cross several glaciers today, do a lot of skinning as well as a slightly steeper climb, done on foot. If we choose the Col du Chardonnet, we'll also need to do a long lower on the rope. In the afternoon, we'll arrive at the comfortable Trient hut, where we spend the night.
Glacier du Trient, seen from the Trient hut
Day 3: The day starts with some downhill skiing on the Trient glacier, followed by a short but steep climb up to the Col des Ecandies. We might need to rope up and use crampons for the climb. Col des Ecandies gives access to the Arpette valley and a long ski descent down to Champex. From here we'll use road transportation and then ride some lifts to leave the valley again. From here, we'll quickly be leaving the ski resort behind and venture back out in the high mountains. We cross two passes as well as passing closely by of the mountain Rosablanche. If we arrive early and feel energetic, we might ascend this peak. We finish the day by skiing down to the Prafleuri hut.
Day 4: We climb on skins to the Col des Roux and then do a looong traverse above a big frozen lake - Lac des Dix. At the end of the lake, we put skins back on the skis and climb, steeply at first and then gently, towards the Dix hut. The Dix hut is situated below the magnificent north face of Mont Blanc de Cheilon - a very pointy and triangular mountain when seen from this angle.
Day 5: From the Dix hut we wind our way up the glacier de Tsena Refien towards the Serpentine. We will negotiate a steep section, for which we may have to use crampons instead of skis. More skinning will bring us to the Pigne d'Arolla, the highest point on the tour (3790 m.). If we are lucky with the weather, we'll be rewarded with incredible views from the summit - and a long descent at a nice incline. In case of bad weather, this summit can be bypassed by going through the Pas de Chevres and descending towards Arolla before skinning back up Glacier de Piece. Both routes end up at the Vignettes hut, where we'll spend the night.
Day 6: We ski towards the Col de Chamotane, before climbing on skins to the Col d'Eveque where we briefly pass the border to Italy. Descending from here, we quickly find ourselves back in Switzerland. With a bit of luck, we'll have nice snow for this long descent of almost 900 meters to the Plans de Bertol. Here we'll put the skins back on the skis and make our way to the Bertol hut for our last night on the Haute Route. The Bertol is spectacularly positioned on a big rock above the glacier and it is necessary to climb some quite long ladders to reach it.
Day 7: Today we will reach Zermatt via a long ski descent. But first we have the last little bit of uphill to do. We skin towards the Tête Blanche, passing just below the summit. If we feel like it, we can go to the summit of this peak before strating the descent to Zermatt. The route down winds its way between crevasses, seracs and finally beneath the famous north face of Matterhorn - the mountain which is the pride of Zermatt and after which the Toblerone chocolate has been modelled. After passing the Matterhorn, we'll join the pistes of Zermatt, which we follow down to the village. We travel back to Chamonix, where we can congratulate ourselves on having completed the most iconic ski traverse in the world. Perhaps it's time to celebrate?