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Walkers Haute Route advice?

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Walkers Haute Route advice?

Postby Jon Frohlich » Sat Jan 08, 2011 6:40 pm

I saw this recently written up in the CMC magazine and thought it looked like it might be a fun option for an international trip this year. I've found a fair bit of information on the internet but one thing that seems lacking is information on booking places to stay along the route. Most of the info I can find is in French or German. There is apparently a good book on the route that I'll look into getting but wanted to see if anyone had personal experience doing this.

Can you just go and find a place every night without making arrangements ahead or is that a bad idea? I've found a bunch of guided trips but that seems kind of silly for this. There are also some companies that will arrange everything ahead and you can do the hike itself unguided. Still seems expensive booking ahead (then again this is Europe). This may be a solo venture unless I can find a partner. I could take take a tent but from the sound of it there isn't much point along this route except for perhaps 1 or 2 nights.

Just looking for any thoughts if anyone has done this. Any tips would be appreciated.

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Re: Walkers Haute Route advice?

Postby Bullwinkle » Sun Jan 09, 2011 1:43 pm

If you are referring to the Haute Savoie region, I may be able to help. I used to live, ski and hike in that area. Please provide more details on your intended journey.

For many places in Europe, camping is an option, but not necessary. The are plenty of huts, auberges and inns enroute.
As a mountain more fully reveals itself to a man, so the true nature of the man will be more fully revealed

Re: Walkers Haute Route advice?

Postby Jon Frohlich » Sun Jan 09, 2011 2:18 pm

I'm referring to the hiking route from Chamonix to Zermatt. I found this after I made my initial post:

http://www.summitpost.org/walker-s-haute-route/470406

Still not sure on the lodging. I might be thinking it sounds more complicated than it is in reality.

Re: Walkers Haute Route advice?

Postby Nelson » Sun Jan 09, 2011 6:24 pm

I've ski toured the Haute Route and I can tell you that you definitely need reservations in the Spring touring season or you will be sleeping on the floor.

In general in the Alps in the summer you should book for week ends and holidays but you can usually get away with showing up during the week.

Nelson

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Re: Walkers Haute Route advice?

Postby Bullwinkle » Sun Jan 09, 2011 9:36 pm

There are some previous posts on this forum that can be found with key word search. Here are a few links that are indicative of itinerary. The air distance from Chamonix to Zermatt is over 60km, and there will be considerable elevation gain and loss in between. The genteel hikes average 6 to 8 hours of hiking per day. Vertical gain per day runs 3-4,000', with the highest gain at 4,500' and the greatest loss at 5'800'.

http://www.jpmountainguide.com/hikechamonix.html

http://www.swissmountainguide.com/chamonixzermatttrekitinerary.html
As a mountain more fully reveals itself to a man, so the true nature of the man will be more fully revealed

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Re: Walkers Haute Route advice?

Postby Jeff in Oregon » Tue Jan 11, 2011 11:36 am

Jon Frohlich wrote:I saw this recently written up in the CMC magazine and thought it looked like it might be a fun option for an international trip this year. I've found a fair bit of information on the internet but one thing that seems lacking is information on booking places to stay along the route. Most of the info I can find is in French or German. There is apparently a good book on the route that I'll look into getting but wanted to see if anyone had personal experience doing this.

Can you just go and find a place every night without making arrangements ahead or is that a bad idea? I've found a bunch of guided trips but that seems kind of silly for this. There are also some companies that will arrange everything ahead and you can do the hike itself unguided. Still seems expensive booking ahead (then again this is Europe). This may be a solo venture unless I can find a partner. I could take take a tent but from the sound of it there isn't much point along this route except for perhaps 1 or 2 nights.

Just looking for any thoughts if anyone has done this. Any tips would be appreciated.


There are two books -
Chamonix-Zermatt by Kev Reynolds ISBN 1 85284 327 6
The Walker's Haute Route by Alexander Stewart ISBN 978-1-905864-08-9

The Reynolds book is the classic. The Stewart is newer and has additional contact and background information. You may want to get both.

There are two dedicated maps by Swisstopo - 5028 T and 5027 T
They can be ordered directly from www.swisstopo.ch and they will mail them to you for reasonable cost. They're expensive but their quality is exceptional, as you would expect.

Camping is technically illegal in Switzerland (the books will describe the situation). You can bring traditional camping gear and either camp on the sly, request permission from land owners, or use sites belongeing to other types of accomodations though.
Very few people do that however. A big draw of this trek is the ability to travel so far while carrying only one's personal gear. Each night is spent in a village or mountain hut. The extreme amount of vertical movement also makes a lighter load very attractive.

Planning ahead is critical in some locations and not so much in others. Some locations will have only one or two lodgings, others have dozens. You'll need to pre-book your accomodations in Chamonix and Zermatt.

Consider your timing carefully. Attempting too early or late a trek can easily turn into a physical impossability.

I'm planning on doing this trek this year, probably starting the last week of August. Let me know if you are interesting in joining me. I also have an itineraries in excel format both for my plan and from someone else who did the trip a few years ago. Send me an email if you're interested in seeing them.

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Re: Walkers Haute Route advice?

Postby maledeel » Tue Jan 11, 2011 8:50 pm

We did this trek for our honeymoon in the first two weeks of July, 2002. Amazing place. Including Chamonix and Zermatt, we didn't have any lodging reservations with the exception of two isolated huts (Mont-Fort and Prafleuri) that we reserved the night before. We used the Kev Reynolds book and bought topo maps once we got there. Except for the two huts, we didn't know where we were staying each night until we walked up to the front door. Maybe we were lucky. We never had to do this, but as a backup in some cases you can just walk down the road (or trail) to the next town or catch a post-bus to a nearby larger town in a pinch. If you're especially lucky, a nice lady will pull up alongside the road in the pouring rain as you are approaching town and offer to drive you to her nearby (mostly empty) hotel and cook you a nice hot meal.

We ran into one guided trip that helped us find our way across the Grand Desert (snowfield) in a snowstorm but I would consider having a guide for this trip to be very unnecessary.

Have fun!

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Re: Walkers Haute Route advice?

Postby SteveBonowski » Thu Jan 13, 2011 11:35 am

Hi Jon; long time no see. I led the Walkers' Haute Route for CMC in 2002. Slightly dated now; but I'm happy to loan you my trip folder. I used a Chamonix based guide who had worked a lot with CMC groups in prior years. She made the lodging reservations. But, I have a listing of all the hotels I used; plus one mountain hut. I also have the Kev Reynolds guide book and may have some of the maps.

E-mail me off line and we can arrange a transfer place and time; maybe the CMC office? You may also want to contact Marilyn Choske. She was on the 2002 trip and led it herself in 2005. She used the same guide. Steve

Re: Walkers Haute Route advice?

Postby Jon Frohlich » Thu Jan 13, 2011 1:12 pm

Steve, that would be great. Thanks for the offer. I'll get in touch next week when I'm back in town.

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