From 4600 feet to 12218 feet above sea level, from the huge Swiss glaciers to the mountain pastures of Champex and Zmutt, Chamonix - Zermatt High Route offers a superb tour, close to the most famous summits of the Alps: Chardonnet, Mont-Blanc, Argentière Peak, Hérens Peak, Matterhorn.
Seven days within a wild environment, in full harmony with nature, to appreciate the authenticity of the mountaineers' welcome and of the Swiss mountain huts. The two last stages of the tour, linking Arolla glaciers to Zermatt glaciers, are known worldwide as the most beautiful stages of all the Swiss Glacier treks.
Day 1: Meeting point at MontRoc train station, valley of Chamonix, on the railway linking Chamonix (France) to Martigny (Switzerland), at 1:30 p.m. A few minutes walking, and then we catch the cable-car plus chair-lift going up from the village of Le Tour, the highest village of the valley of Chamonix, to Balme pass, 7152 feet.
From there, a pleasant path crosses the mountain pastures, providing a fantastic view on the "seracs" of the "glacier du Tour". Following the ridge of a moraine, the footpath will finally reach "Albert 1er" hut, height 8865 feet. Night in the hut. Duration of walking is 3 hours. Length - 4 miles. Difference of level is 1713 feet up.
Day 2: At dawn, a short footpath will quickly bring us up to the glacier. You will rope on, adjust your crampons, and easily acquire the techniques of walking with crampons, linked to other members of your roped party, on the way up to the pass of Le Tour, 10768 feet, on the Swiss border. By this pass, we will not find any customs officer, but a magnificent view on the glacier of Trient, the "Aiguilles Dorées", and all the summits of the Swiss Valais, including Matterhorn.
The easy crossing through Trient plateau will bring us to Orny pass, 10164 feet, a perfect place for picnic. In the afternoon, we will follow the footpath of Orny till the Breya chairlift (7178 feet) which will bring us down to Champex village (4724 feet). We will sleep by the Alpine Club lodge, on the shore of Champex lake (this lodge has hot showers!). Duration of walking is 6 hours. Length - 10 miles. Difference of level is 1902 feet up, 3596 feet down.
In order to avoid an extra descent of 2400 feet of variation of height on a uninteresting and stony ski run joining the top of Breya chairlift to Arpette lodge, we have chosen to go down by chairlift right to Champex village, built on the shores of a very nice lake. Champex offers many small shops where to buy food for the next picnics, and most of all, a warm welcome by the family De Rivaz which manages the Alpine Club lodge.
Day 3: In the morning, a private minibus will bring us to the height 6443 feet, on top of Mauvoisin dam. Following the footpaths of Paturau and Pierracarro, we will walk through the mountain pastures of Mauvoisin lake, and we may have the chance to see marmots, chamois or ibexs. Far above us, the peaks of Grand Combin (14153 feet) tear the clouds of the end of afternoon. Night by Chanrion hut (8077 feet). Duration of walking is 3 hours and a half. Length - 6 miles. Difference of level is 2218 feet up, 584 feet down.
Day 4: A splendid stage on Otemma glacier, immense river of ice which moves down of nearly one foot per day, due to the persistent thrust of the glaciers of its basin. We leave Chanrion hut by a easy descent, and then reach Otemma glacier by its downstream side. Just a few crevasses on this wide glacier which makes its way through the sharp-edged peaks of the Italian border (Singla - 12185 feet, Grand Blanchen - 12067 feet) and the easiest Swiss mountain group of Portons.
After four hours walking easily up on Otemma glacier, we will reach the wide snowy pass of Chermotane, and close to it the Vignettes hut (10,361 feet) which looks like an eagle nest built on the top of a vertical wall. Duration of walking is 6 hours. Length - 9 miles. Difference of level is 2776 feet up, 492 feet down.
Day 5: From the hut, ascent of the Evêque pass (11128 feet), on the Italian border. A beautiful descent on the High Glacier of Arolla, near the Bouquetins hut, will lead us to Plans Bertol (8,30 feet). This descent, close to the Blessed Virgin summit (10604 feet) and to the Bishop peak (12191 feet), has a little taste of Mountaineer's Paradise. From Plans Bertol, a good footpath goes up, following old moraines ridges, till a small glacier, and to the fixed ladders which give access to Bertol hut (10863 feet) one of the most beautiful hut of the Alps. Duration of walking is 7 hours. Length - 10 miles. Difference of level is 3770 feet up, 3268 feet down.
Day 6: Through the high plateau of Mount-Miné glacier, the tracks lead us to the highest point of this tour, Tête Blanche (12218 feet). The immense west face of Matterhorn, the giant piles of seracs of Dent d'Hérens north face fill the horizon, while, soon far behind us, the Mont-Blanc group waves us goodbye. The magnificent descent of Stöcki glacier may offer us a few jumps over small crevasses. Further down, the moraine footpath will bring us up to Schönbiel hut (8838 feet) from which the view on Matterhorn North face is an extraordinary scene. Duration of walking is 6 to 7 hours. Length - 9 miles. Difference of level is 1991 feet up, 4016 feet down.
Day 7: Following the moraine of Zmuttgletscher, our footpath goes through many small mountain pastures, rich with numerous small chalets with slate roofs, decorated with flowers. Our tour will end right in the center of Zermatt, facing Matterhorn and all the 13000 feet high summits on its left: Breithorn, Castor, Pollux, Lyskamm, Monte Rosa. Duration of walking is 3 to 4 hours. Length - 6 miles. Difference of level is 3570 feet down. End of the course by mid-day, in Zermatt. Easy return by train to Visp, Lausanne, Paris or Chamonix valley.
Note: To go back from Zermatt to Montroc, we use to reserve, only for clients interested, a private minibus which is allowed to pick us right in the center of Zermatt. A minibus transfer is faster than a train transfer (2 hours 15 minutes instead of 4 to 5 hours by train) and cheaper (50 to 55 EUR, instead of 60 EUR by train).
Note: All inclusive price except picnics for lunch.
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