The classic Haute Route is a premiere ski touring journey and a must-do for all backcountry skiers. Travel through the high alpine in the scenic European Alps for 6 days and spend each night at a classic European hut situated high in the mountains. Not only is this one of the most memorable ski experiences you will ever have, but a cultural experience that cannot be matched by anywhere else in the world.
There are two main routes to choose from, the Verbier Route and the Classic, both are around 180km long, some of this is covered by ski lift, some by descending, some by ascending and some by shuttle. We take the Verbier route for less technical, but still challenging, touring and for the fact that there is more descending than climbing. Most of the travel days also allow for plenty of time to enjoy the skiing and snowboarding around the hut. The skinning is fun, but the riding is what we really go for.
Trip Plan and Itinerary
For this Haute Route traverse, we will have the ability to carry day packs as the huts we will be staying at are fully serviced. No need for a sleeping bag, sleeping pad or backpacking pillow. That being said though, as with any multi-day trek or tour a goal to keep in mind is to pack as light as possible! A 30-45 litre pack should be sufficient for carrying all your gear for the traverse. Also, make sure to bring a pack that can carry your skis or snowboard (we recommend that you test the best way to carry your skis or splitboard on your backpack at home with all your gear packed). Your clothing needs to be suitable for skinning uphill on a hot and sunny glacier and skiing downhill on a cold and windy face. A layering system will be the best way to pack and make sure to include several options for each accessory ie, glove liners & shells, a snapback & a beanie, goggles & sunglasses, and so on. Before we depart Chamonix, we will do a group gear pack where we can help distribute some of the gear throughout the team, such as emergency supplies, repair kits, and first aid.
It is also important that you carry cash for any alcohol or additional purchases while on the traverse. Try to pull some cash out during out stop in Verbier as the Swiss Franc will give you a much better exchange rate than using Euros in Switzerland.
We will meet at Hotel Gustavia in Chamonix, April 10, a day before the trip begins, to meet and go over our gear for the week. Having some extra time at the beginning of the trip will give you time to purchase any gear you might have forgotten and have some time to take in the sites of Chamonix. Lodging is not included this evening.
Before we head out for the traverse we will take a day to ride the Aiguille du Midi and ski the massive Vallée Blanche. We’ll enjoy our time in Chamonix and get ready to head into the heart of the mountains.
We will head out in the morning and travel up the Grands Montets to then descend the Argentiere glacier. From there we will put on our skins and climb to Col du Chardonnet, with the help of your certified Haute Route guides, we will take some ropes down into the next valley. We will pass through 2 more cols, the lowest point of a mountain between 2 peaks, and end at the Trient Hut. Our first night in Switzerland!
Wake up and enjoy an amazing breakfast at the hut. Get ready for a downhill section and enjoy your turns! From there we will skin up the Col des Ecandies where we will transition and enjoy a long ski down to the base of the valley, where we will meet our van to Verbier. We’ll enjoy a wonderful lunch (or coffee and pastries) in Champex or Verbier and grab the lifts back to the Alpine. From the top of the lift we’ll skin out to our hut for the evening.
Today we will put in some mileage and feel the movement that is a staple of the Haute route! If the weather holds we will be able to continue our tour to the summit of Rosa Blanche and enjoy spectacular panorama views. From there, it’s all downhill (reward for a long day on the skintrack) to our next home for the night, Cabane de Prafleuri. Depending on what time we arrive, enjoy apres or head out for some touring around the hut!
We will make our way to Cabane de Dix. Passing through the expanse of Lac de Dix, we will continue up, pass the edge of a massive glacier and end at Dix hut. After a long day of touring there is nothing like digging into some rosti, a Swiss fritter made of potato.
We will continue on our way for a day of epic views, big mountains, and jagged peaks. We’ll stop for lunch after we have arrived on a high alpine plateau with sweeping vistas. We’ll summit Pigna d’Arolla for more views and an epic ski down to our hut.
The grand finale! Today we will cover some more serious mileage and pass through valley to valley. As we near Zermatt the views of the Matterhorn grow larger and larger. Finally, we will drop in and ski its north face into the city. We will celebrate our successful traverse and have the option to stay in Zermatt or if you’re tight on time take the train back to Chamonix. Lodging is not included this night, but Whitecap can help you arrange your lodging depending on where you would like to spend the evening.
Extra day for weather and travel if schedule allows.
*Custom trips and dates may be available. Please email email@example.com for more information.
Epic peaks, remote huts, and refined Swiss/French mountain culture – the ultimate backcountry bucket lister.
Skiing/Snowboarding skills – You should feel confident skiing/riding a variety of conditions, including deep powder, ice, breakable crust and deep and sometimes sticky slush. You should be able to sideslip both forward and backward on up to 45º terrain as well as skate on flat ground.
Touring skills- You should have some level of touring on a variety of terrain and snow conditions under your belt before beginning this traverse. You should be fairly versed in transitioning from uphill to downhill and walking with skis on your back.
Mountaineering skills – it is ok if you are new to crampons, ice axe and glacier travel, your guides will be able to instruct you through some of these aspects if they are new to you. If you have the above skiing and touring skills you should be able to learn how to use these additional tools. Of course, if you have mountaineering experience that is ideal!
We will generally travel at a moderate pace, we won’t be going too fast on our traverse but keep in mind that we do have time restrictions (such as daylight hours) and a plan to keep for the group. We will cover about 3-4k of vertical gain each day and will be moving for about 4-6 hours. We recommend going on multiple long ski tours over the course of the winter before going on the Haute Route.
Trip Package Includes
A certified UIAGM/ACMG Mountain Guide to lead your traverse
All lodging while on the traverse
All food while on the traverse
Lift Tickets in Chamonix
Transportation while on the traverse
Round trip airfare to from Geneva International Airport
Accommodation in Chamonix and Zermatt, while not on traverse. Please let us know your travel plans and we can help you with booking
Food while not on the traverse (any meals in Chamonix, Zermatt or extra food if we stop in Champex or Verbier)
Alcohol (will be available for purchase at the huts)
Alpine touring/ mountaineering gear (Please inquire for rental availability and cost)
Spare transceiver batteries (purchase new ones & check for correct size)
Insulated water bottle (Camelback or other hydration system)
Small thermos (optional)
All-weather ski pants (Schoeller type fabric)
Long underwear, shirt and bottoms (poly-pro/wool blends)
Fleece tops and bottoms (wind-stopper)
Warm socks (3 Pair)
Ski gloves / Mitts / Waterproof Outers (2 pair)
Gore-tex outer jacket / parka (with hood)
Gore-tex over pants
Down/Synthetic jacket (warm, “puffy” type jacket)
Toque (ski hat)
Sun hat (baseball cap or sombrero) & bandana
Other Important Stuff
Personal first-Aid & blister Kit (second skin, compeed, athletic tape, personal medications, Ibuprofen, etc…)
Sun block (high SPF rated or zinc-type ointment)
Camera & film (spare camera batteries and/or charger for digital cameras, plus USB connector)
Repairs & spares kit (for own model of A/T, telemark, or snowboard binding Systems)
Personal liquor supply, wine preferably in boxes (due to weight restrictions, beer is available at Lodge)
Headlamp or flashlight
Reading materials, notebook, pencil, map of Area (small one provided for use)
sleeping sack or light sleeping bag
The Group will meet at Hotel Gustavia in Chamonix on April 10. Lodging for this night is not included. If you have other travel plans or time restrictions please let us know upon booking.
We recommend that everyone arrive in Chamonix by April 10th, 2022.
The goal is to have a group meet and greet that evening (Location and time TBD based on flight plans).
On April 11th we will spend the day acclimatizing to the altitude on the Aiguille du Midi. It is beautiful and an important opportunity to make sure all your gear is in working order and to warm up your ski legs.
The Haute Route begins on April 12th and lasts 5 nights.
On April 17th the group will arrive in Zermatt. We encourage everyone to spend the night in Zermatt before parting ways on April 18th.
Whitecap has booked accommodation for everyone for the five nights while on the Haute Route. We will be staying in epic mountain refuges (cabins) with 4 or more guests per room.
The refuges are very comfortable with extensive wine lists and additional snacks/drinks available for purchase. They are fully serviced so there is no need to carry any extra gear. Beds with warm sheets and pillows will be standard. Swiss Alpine Club huts require users to have their own light sleeping sacks. Usually these are very light simple silk bags or very light sleeping bags.. *It is also important that you carry cash for any alcohol or additional purchases while on the traverse.
For any nights spent in Chamonix and Zermatt please book your own accommodation to suit your timeline and comfort level. These nights are not included in the trip.
If budget is not a huge concern then there are infinite nice hotels to be found online. If you like the Après Ski scene, and the associated noise, the Hotel Gustavia is nice, close to the train station, and you will be near the party. They also have one of the better plat du jour lunch specials in Chamonix.
Zermatt wrote the book on hospitality and there is lodging for all budgets, as long as they are all large budgets. One notable exception is a place called the Hotel Bahnhof in Zermatt. They have private rooms for 4 with shower, private rooms for 2 with a shower down the hall, and dorm rooms for up to 8 for about 30 CHF per night. The kitchen is nicer than our home kitchen and
the place is clean, very well run, and has secure lockers.
In short, no. Because of the hut accommodations most/all accommodations on the tour will be bunk rooms. If you book as a group of 4 or more you may be able to get your own 4 person room. Please let us know if this is the case.
Whitecap and Whitecap International cannot make exceptions to the cancellation policy for any reason, including personal emergencies and weather.
All cancellations must be received in writing. If we receive your cancellation more than 10 weeks prior to the start of your trip, you have two options:
a) We are happy to rebook your reservation if you find an alternative date of the same season at Whitecap and McGillivray Pass Lodge, or Whitecap International.
b) We provide a full refund, less a $550 booking fee per space booked
If notice is received less than 10 weeks prior to the starting date, no money will be refunded.
For more information about our cancellation policy, please contact us by calling toll-free at 1.604.862.9757 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
We strongly recommend that all guests purchase trip cancellation insurance and most importantly trip medical and evacuation insurance.
The specific is evacuation and repatriation insurance coverage, most travel policies do not cover this, please check with your provider to see if you are covered.
We recommend that everyone become a patron of Rega Medical Evacuation in Switzerland in addition to standard trip/medical coverage by their insurance provider. This can be done easily online by clicking the link provided. Rega’s medical consultants will advise and assist you if you experience medical problems while on the Haute Route. Rega can also waive all or part of the mission costs provided that they are not covered by your health or other insurance policy to get you from the traverse to a higher level of care. For example, helicopter evacuation.
The food prepared at the huts is typical of the region and generally guests are blown away by the delicious meals. It is super important for us to have advance notice of any dietary restrictions so we can inform the hut custodians. Vegetarian options can be accommodated, however, some intolerances may not be catered to.
Dinner, breakfast, and a packed lunch are included in each night/following day while on the traverse.
Dinner: A variety of soups, stews, and pasta dishes e.g. beef bourguignon
Breakfast: European in style: meat, cheese, bread, jam crepes, etc.
Packed Lunch: Meat and cheese sandwiches, usually with an apple and extra cheese! These are worth supplementing with your favorite touring snacks from home
*other snacks and food are available at the huts: rostie, pies, baked goods, chips, chocolate bars, beer, winter, etc.
All other meals while in Chamonix and Zermatt are up to each guest to organise and pay for. Please note that some meals may be included by your accommodation provider (typically breakfast).
Whitecap are happy to arrange group bookings for lunch on the Zermatt ski day and for evening meals on April 11th and 18th if there is interest to all dine together.
There is a maximum of 6 guests per trip. Due to the flexible nature of the groups please check with us to see what dates are available.
No, there is a minimum number of guests required to run this trip. Please double check us to confirm your departure before you book airfare.
Whitecap will arrange for one duffle bag per person (max 50lbs) to be shipped from Chamonix to Zermatt while we are out on the traverse. Extra bags can be shipped as long as notice is given. A surcharge will apply for extra bags.
Whitecap will cover the cost of any lift tickets required while with the guide on the trip.
The simple option is to jump on a train and head back to Chamonix that day. It takes about 4 hours and if you are ready to go by 4 or 5 pm you can make it all the way back to Chamonix. If you are not planning to go back to Chamonix you can have your luggage shipped from Chamonix to Zermatt for about 250 Euros. If you plan things well you can often share the cost
with other skiers coming from Chamonix. Our reputable taxi-luggage shipper is Taxi Verbier whom we have used for years. I will assist in arranging if this is something you would like.