THE GLACIERS HAUTE-ROUTE :
VERBIER TO ZERMATT
The Haute Route, a mountain route linking Chamonix (France) to Zermatt (Switzerland), is probably the most famous glacier trek in the Alps, or even in the world. Inaugurated in 1903, it connects the two historical capitals of mountaineering through passes at more than 3000m and a summit at 3800m. The beauty of its landscapes makes it an unmissable destination. In spite of its fame, the Haute Route is a serious challenge requiring a good general physical preparation but remains technically accessible to good walkers with little or no experience in mountaineering.
A real trans-alpine journey linking the 2 most emblematic summits of the Alps: the Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn.
The original itinerary is usually done in 6 to 7 days. However, it is possible, as proposed here, to do it in 5 days starting directly from the Val de Bagnes. This way, you skip the Chamonix to Champex glacier part which can be done later on a weekend for example, while keeping 5 days totally immersed in the high mountains from the Val de Bagnes (Verbier) to Zermatt.
Day 1 : Martigny – Cabane de Charion
Meeting in Martigny from where we will take a cab to the Mauvoisin dam (1805m). We will then go up along the lake to the Chanrion hut located at 2462m. For this first day, no glacier, we will start on hiking trails with little elevation gain and about 8km of distance to cover.
Elevation gain & loss: +670m / 0m
Day 2: From the Charion hut to the Vignettes hut
Departure from the hut to go up the Brenay glacier towards the summit of the Pigne d’Arolla, 3790m. First day of “glacier trekking” on the Otemma glacier to reach the Vignettes hut perched at 3 160m above Arolla. The ascent of the Pigne d’Arolla is optional and will be decided with your guide.
Elevation gain & loss: +1400m / 630m
Day 3: From the Vignettes hut to the Bertol hut
We start the day with a short descent to reach the Mont Collon Glacier that we will climb up to the Col de l’Evêque (3 392m). Then we descend the Haut Glacier d’Arolla down to the Plan de Bertol (2550m) from where we start our ascent to the Bertol hut (3311m). Perched on a rocky outcropping, a ladder climbing is required to reach the hut.
Elevation gain & loss: +950m/ -1050m.
Day 4: From the Bertol hut to the Schönbiel hut
We start the day descending the ladders we climbed the day before. Then we cross the large plateau of the Mont Miné glacier to reach the highest point of our trip, Tête Blanche (3 710 m). Here we have a magnificent view of the Dent Blanche (4 357m) and the Matterhorn (4 476m) as well as many other 4000m peaks in the Valais. We start the descent of the Stocki Glacier which leads us to the Zmutt Glacier. From there we go up to the comfortable Schönbiel hut where we will spend the night right in front of the beautiful and large north face of the Matterhorn.
Elevation gain & loss: +565m/ -1 100m.
Day 5 : From the Schönbiel hut to Zermatt
Day on trails, in the heart of Swiss mountain pastures, to reach Zermatt. All along the descent, the view on the north face of the Matterhorn is breathtaking. We will arrive in Zermatt by mid-day.
Elevation gain & loss: +0m/ -1 806m.
Important: the program and the itineraries are modifiable and adaptable at any time by the guide according to the weather and mountain conditions.
About the Haute-Route by the glaciers: from Verbier to Zermatt
The summer version of the Haute Route is a glacier hike. There are normally (i.e. in usual snow conditions) no technical difficulties. It is therefore accessible even without any experience of cramponing/mountaineering. On the other hand, you need to be in very good physical condition. You need to be used to hiking, doing sports for several hours (the days are on average 6/7h of walking on 5 days) and the altitude quickly tires the organism.
To conclude, if you are in a good shape and used to maintaining physical efforts for several hours, this adventure is for you.
The Swiss railway network as well as the local bus lines make it easy to reach Martigny or Zermatt from any city. The village of Zermatt itself is only accessible by train. We have chosen not to include the transfers so that everyone can have the possibility to spend a little more time in Zermatt at the end of the stay, or even stay there a few days more. On the other hand, a departure from Martigny allows all of us to meet up and take a cab to the Val de Bagnes, which is not well served by public transport.
When you register, please let us know if you have a special diet. Making several menus in the huts is constraining for the guards and it is very important that they can anticipate both for dinners and picnics.
In the case of a gluten-free diet, it is good to come up with extras (bread, bars, …).