Summer Haute Route

The Summer Haute Route from Chamonix to Zermatt is arguably one of the most scenic and famous multi-day hikes in all of the Alps.

Difficulty rating and Skill requirements

Difficulty Rating System Explained

No climbing experience required

Very good physical fitness; 
you should be able to hike or climb for 5 to 6 hours with a pack varying from 20 to 40 lbs. and ascend 3,000 to 4,000 feet of vertical gain per day for 2 to 3 consecutive days.

  • Category: Alpine
  • Type: Guided
  • Ratio: 3:1,6:2

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The Summer Haute Route from Chamonix  to Zermatt is arguably one of the most scenic and famous multi-day hikes in all of the Alps. Our suggested itinerary follows the classic "Ski Haute Route" for some of the route, but stays a bit further north in non glaciated terrain for a large portion. For well over a hundred years "walkers" from all over the world have made the trek from the base of Mont Blanc to the incomparable view of the Matterhorn. This demanding, varied route wanders deep among high mountain glaciers and passes, as well as passing through traditional alpine villages and towns providing a huge variety of terrain, culture and scenery.  
Suggested Itinerary:
Day 1:
Argentiere – Champex: We will take a taxi up to the Col de la Forclaz and hike up to the spectacular Col des Ecandides at 2665 meters. From here we will hike down the Val d’Arpette down to the village of Champex. Hiking time about 6 hours.
Day 2:
Champex- Prafleuri: As early as possible we will transfer to Verbier, take the lift system up into the ski area and start our hike to the Cabane de Prafleuri. The trek heads into a very wild and remote section, but the views are stunning as you cross three major mountain passes (cols) today on route to the Prafleuri. First is the Col de la Chaux, then it's up to the Col du Louvie with the pretty mountain hut nestled against the lake shore below, and then the final section is up over the Col Prafleuri. The hut comes in to view far below. Hiking time about 7 to 8 hours.
Day 3:
Prafleuri - Arolla. After crossing the Col des Roux, you trek past the Dix lake to the hut of the same name at its head. Here there is the chance of your first view of the Matterhorn. From the Dix you cross the valley and take one of the passes that leads across to Arolla. We will stay the night in one of the hotels in the centre of the village. Hiking time about 7 to 8 hours.
Day 4:
Arolla – Cabane de Bertol We will leave Arolla (2000 meters) early in the morning and start the ascent to the Cabane de Bertol at 3311 meters. This day is very spectacular and covers a lot of vertical gain. The location of the Bertol hut is certainly worth the effort. Hiking time about 5 to 6 hours.
Day 5:
Cabane de Bertol – Schoenbiel hut This may very well be the most high-alpine section of the week and we will spend the entire day on glaciated terrain. From the Bertol we will hike up to the Col de la Tete Blanche (3650 meters) and then start the long descent down the Schoenbielhut (2694 meters). The looming presence of the Matterhorn West and North Face will dominate the ambience of the day. Hiking time about 7 hours.
Day 6:
Schoenbiel hut – Zermatt Good news. No more uphill travel. We will simply follow the moraine above the Schoenbielgletscher towards Stafelalp and then out to Zermatt. Hiking time about 3 to 4 hours.

Pro Ski Service Logo

Sign up for a course or a trip and receive a 10% discount on purchases and a 20% discount on gear rental. Go to Pro Ski and Mountain Service

Pro Ski and Mountain Service is our retail specialty store. It has been located in North Bend, WA since 1999.

The past trips and courses have had a large influence on what we sell. Many of our Pro Guiding customers come on trips and courses with gear they purchased from our store. Not only do we want our clients to have the right gear for the job; we also receive direct feedback from them while they are using it in the field. Trust us - if the gear does not work - we won't sell it.

•            BASE  LAYER
o            1 Bottom - midweight or lightweight
o            Non-Cotton Underwear
o            1 or 2 Tops - midweight or lightweight
o            Sock Liners - 2 or 3 pair
o            Socks - 2 pair
•            MID LAYER
o            Windshirt, Soft Shell, Fleece Jacket - only one of these is necessary
o            Soft shell type pants
o            Shorts
•            OUTERWEAR
o            Lightweight Waterproof/Breathable Jacket
o            Lightweight Rainpant
o            Warm Hat - should cover ears
o            Sun Hat - baseball type or visor
o            Lightweight Gloves - wind block or fleece/wool type
o            Warm Gloves
o           Gaiters - low top
•            INSULATION
o            Lightweight Down or Synthetic Jacket
o            Day Pack - 35 Liter (2200 cu in.) 
o            Sturdy Hiking Boot (i.e. Scarpa Kailash) or light Mountaineering Boot - leather or synthetic, crampon compatible
o            Headlamp – lightweight LED recommended w/ extra batteries
o            Water Bottles - 1 or 2 liters, wide mouth
o            Small Knife
o            Glacier Glasses
o            Sunscreen - SPF 25+, waterproof
o            Lip Balm - SPF 15+
o            Personal Toiletries - toothbrush, toothpaste, etc.
              waterless hand cleaner (wet wipes) - there is no running water in the huts
o            Small Personal 1st Aid Kit - blister repair, aspirin, ibuprofen, etc.
o            Sleeping bag liner – they can also be purchased in the huts
o            Ear Plugs - essential for sound sleep
o            Ice Axe - 55-70 cm length, light weight aluminum axes are fine
o            Crampons – 10 point steep crampon is ideal, needs to be compatible with boot 
o            Lightweight Alpine Climbing Harness
o            Adjustable Trekking Pole(s) - nice to have for approach
o            Locking Biners (2) - (1) large HMS style and (1) regular locker
o            Sewn Slings (2) - 1 single length (60 cm), 1 double length (120 cm)
OPTIONAL ITEMS *We highly recommend these items, but do not require them to participate.
o            Camera - we’d like some shots for the PGS website!
o            Thermos - vacuum type
o            Altimeter - Suunto watch works well
o            Warm Socks - to sleep in
o            Foot Powder
o            Cash - to purchase water and food in the huts
GROUP GEAR PROVIDED BY PGS *Please contact the guiding office if you prefer to bring your own gear in place of any of our group gear.
o            Ropes
o            Technical Group Gear (crevasse rescue kit), VHF radio
o            Group 1st Aid Kit
Pro Ski Service Logo

Sign up for a course or a trip and receive a 10% discount on purchases and a 20% discount on gear rental.

Pro Ski and Mountain Service is our retail specialty store. It has been located in North Bend, WA since 1999. The past trips and courses have had a large influence on what we sell. Many of our Pro Guiding customers come on trips and courses with gear they purchased from our store. Not only do we want our clients to have the right gear for the job; we also receive direct feedback from them while they are using it in the field. Trust us - if the gear does not work - we won't sell it.

What is the easiest way to get to Chamonix: The best way to get to Chamonix is via bus from the Geneva Airport. There are several private companies that provide transportation from the Geneva airport to Chamonix. Here are couple of links:; or 

WHEN DO WE MEET? We will come and meet you at your hotel in the later afternoon of Sunday before the trip start. We will conduct a quick equipment check and get you fully briefed for the next day. These buses or minivans leave from right outside the baggage claim area. 

SHOULD I CHANGE DOLLARS INTO EUROS IN GENEVA? It is better to wait until you get to Chamonix. That way you pay the change rate only once (as opposed to from dollars to Swiss Francs then to Euros). So wait until you are in France to change Dollars into Euros, but we recommend changing dollars into Swiss Francs in Geneva, as the majority of the trip actually takes place in Switzerland. In fact all the huts we are staying in, are Swiss huts. If you do not want to change too much money into Swiss Francs right away, you can also get more money in Verbier on the second day of the trip. 

HOW MUCH "POCKET MONEY" DO I NEED" It is extremely important that you stay properly hydrated and fluids are not cheap in high alpine huts. Count on spending about sfr. 15 to 20 per day on tea, water, beer and wine for sure. Of course there are other things that will tempt you such as chocolate, cakes, sandwiches, and the undeniable Rosti. All things added up, sfr. 200 for the week should probably do it. 

DO I HAVE TO CARRY ALL THE LUNCH FOR THE ENTIRE WEEK? You have options. You can carry all your lunch food (as it is not included in the trip cost), but hardly anyone does it. Most people buy some bread, cheese, dried meat, sausage, chocolate, trailmix etc. in Chamonix that will last for a couple of days. Then they repeat this in Verbier and end up supplementing it with some items they buy at the huts later in the week. You can also have the hutkeeper prepare a lunch packet. They are good, but pretty pricey at about $12 per lunch. 

HOW DO WE GET THE EXTRA LUGGAGE TO ZERMATT? This will be organized by Pro Guiding Service and is included in the trip. Please make sure that your extra luggage consists of one manageable piece.

DO YOU SPEAK THE LOCAL LANGUAGE? Yes, we speak French, German and Italian. Speaking the right language or even better the right dialect does not only simplify logistics, but it opens a lot of doors to extra favors.


Included in the trip cost: Guide fees, insurance, communication devices, hut fees with breakfast and dinners, hotel night before the trip start, taxi transfer, luggage transfer to Zermatt. 

Not included in the trip cost: all personal gear, trip cancellation insurance, rescue insurance, transport from the airport to Chamonix and from Zermatt to the airport, hotel night at the end of the trip in Zermatt; any taxi, bus or train rides due to poor weather and or snow conditions.


How is water handled? For the most part you have to buy the water in the huts and it is not cheap (about sfr10 for a big bottle). In the morning they will fill up your water bottle with tea or water. There will be water along the way, but you might have to purify it. There are some pretty cool products ranging from tablets to filters.

How much do we carry? About 2 liters per day on the traiL.

How do we replenish? As mentioned, most of the time, you just replenish at the hut. You do pass through a few towns and water is very cheap there in grocery stores. 

Do you provide filtration or water tablets? No, that is up to you. 

We assume you provide all meals during the Route. is this correct? We provide breakfast and dinner, but not the lunches. You can buy some lunch food in Chamonix and then compliment it with food from the hut. They also provide trail lunches for about sfr10. This is not included in the trip cost. Drinks at dinner are also not included. 

Should we bring energy bars, shot blocks etc? A lot of people do, but you can also buy a lot of those things in Chamonix. 

What is the temperature range during the course of the week? This is hard to say, but it could range between 80 F and freezing depending on conditions, time of day and elevation of the trip. You are moving between 5000 and 11000 feet, so it is safe to say that there might be quite a range. If you pack according the packing list, you should be fine

What is the projected pack weight we will be carrying? About 20 to 25 pounds max.

Can I do the Summer Haute Route in a sturdy trail running shoe? 

We strongly advise agains this, since our Summer Haute Route still travels over several glaciers along the way. Some of these glaciers are crevassed and located over 10000 feet of elevation. Chances that you will be wearing crampons at times are very good, so a sturdy hiking boot or light mountaineering boot is recommended. 

DO I HAVE TO MAKE TRAIN RESERVATIONS FOR THE TRAIN RIDE BACK TO THE AIRPORT AT THE END OF THE TRIP? There is no need for that. You will be able to buy a ticket at the counter in Zermatt and just walk onto the train. The travel time from Zermatt to Geneva is about 3.5 hours. 

If you intend to do further travel in Switzerland , you might consider purchasing the Halfprice Pass from the Swiss Railway System. Check it out at:

The cost of a one month pass is roughly Sfr. 125, but once you have the pass, all public transportation is - well -  half price. You could start saving money very quickly. 


The trip cost does not include trip cancellation insurance or rescue insurance. We highly recommend that you get trip cancellation insurance. Rescue insurance is also not included, because it is relatively complicated to insure a person for the three countries we are travelling in. Some people have rescue insurance already, so it does not make sense for us to include it in the trip cost. 

We recommend the rescue insurance from the American Alpine Club With a rescue insurance from the AAC, your coverage is worldwide. 

REGA of Switzerland is a good alternative at a very reasonable price, but REGA insurance covers on Swiss Citizens world wide. This type of insurance works very well for Amerians who intend to spend all their time in Switzerland. REGA members who are not Swiss Citizens are covered for rescues within Switzerland only. In case of the Haute Route, this would therefore not include the first half day of the trip.  For more information please check out:

Some medical insurances appear to include resuce insurance, but they have high deductibles for these services. The average helicopter rescue in Switzerland costs between sfr 2500 and 4000. 


SHOULD I TIP MY GUIDE? AND HOW MUCH SHOULD I TIP THEM? Although tipping is not a requirement it is considered standard practice in the guiding industry and is appreciated by our guides. We generally recommend roughly 10%-15% of your course or trip cost or flat price tip that you are comfortable with.