The Iconic Chamonix to Zermatt Haute Route Ski Tour
There has been an explosion in the popularity of ski touring in recent years as people try and move away from resort skiing and explore the unpisted terrain on offer. The skills involved combine skiing, mountaineering, glacial travel techniques and an understanding of terrain and snowpack too.
Lots of people choose to include day tours or introductory sessions with ski instructors and high mountain guides into their holiday package. And there is undoubtedly something magical about finding yourself alone (or almost so) on a high alpine slope.
For the fit and adventurous, the Alps offer almost unlimited opportunities for exploration and adventure on skis. None more so though than the iconic Haute Route, a 180km trip from the foot of the Mont Blanc in Chamonix to the Swiss village of Zermatt and the home of the Matterhorn.
The route was first skied in 1911 having been established as a high summer mountaineering route a century before. To this day it remains the original “Haute Route” ski tour.
To describe it as a single route doesn’t do justice to the huge range of options that exist for crafting an itinerary from Chamonix to Zermatt. The original route includes extensive glacier travel. So, in the winter it will call not only for ski touring gear and avalanche protection equipment but also crampons, ropes and ice axes.
Like any mountain-based activity, much is dependent upon the weather and conditions at the time of travel. It’s for that reason that many people choose to include a high mountain guide to lead their tour.
Route options to Zermatt
This hut-to-hut tour involves staying in mountain refuges along the way. That allows skiers to remain high in the mountains and to wind their way through some of the most dramatic peaks in the Alps. It’s not for the faint-hearted and fitness is key. Just one example of the itinerary is via Grands Montets, Col du Chardonnet, Cab Trient, Verbier, Rosablanche, Pigne d’Arolla, cab Bertol and the Tête Blanche. It is possible to add ascents of a number of different peaks to any of the route choices – or even ski it in reverse, from Zermatt back to Chamonix.
For most people, the Haute Route ski itinerary takes seven or more days to complete and is generally skied in March and April – something which makes the record set in 2016 by Bastien Fleury and Olivier Maynet of 16 hours and 35 minutes all the more impressive.
What many people don’t realise about Zermatt though, is that it is a car-free zone and entirely pedestrian save for a number of electric taxis and authorised smaller vehicles. This means that everyone has to make their way by train from the centre of the village to Täsch the large mainline railway station and transport hub.
We are always on hand to help people with the logistics of starting a big route in one alpine resort and finishing it in another. Bag drops and team collections between Chamonix and Zermatt always form part of our spring activity with a choice of private or VIP transfers available. Our multi-lingual customer service team are always available to help with your planning, even if you need to transport larger numbers of people.
Find out more about other classic routes through the Alps, like the Tour du Mont Blanc in the summer.