Haute Route, Winter

Ice Cave above very cool.


The Haute Route is a unique experience. It is a summer hiking or a ski mountaineering route taking one from Chamoix to Zermatt.  Chamonix is a popular resort town in France and is the highest European mountain west of Russia.

Mont Blanc holds a special allure for mountain climbers and skiers because it is a base for almost all types of extreme sports like ice and rock climbing, extreme skiing, paragliding and rafting.  Chamonix is famous for its spectacular  lift up to the Midi (3842 m). Constructed in 1955, it was then the highest cable car in the world. I took the car both in summer to hike and in winter to ski.

There are few places in the world where skiers can travel unencumbered, in the heart of the mountains, over high cols, steep pitches, hidden valleys, and immense glaciers, believe me it has it all and it comes with risk- people die each year some falling into the crevases. A boy had died last year directly where I was standing when he fell through the glacier.

There is also a complex system of huts in the Alps that permitted us to enjoy the skiing in the back country –we carried everything except for food. And the Haute Route, with its logical start and finish gives us an impressive goal to follow. I can say I was continually fascinated by its endless variation of weather and scenery . The changing snow, sky, and the company of new friends brought a freshness to each passage both in the summer and winter – I did both

The Haute Route via Verbier is by far the most popular version of the Haute Route, The skiing is excellent, with every day offering at least a few good opportunities for some fun downhill. Though there is some technical terrain, particularly on the first day at the Col du Chardonnet, and later on the ascent of the Sepentine most of the Haute route was a long slog –this was fun. Our tour began with a spectacular 9000 foot descent of the Vallée Blanche. For the next 7 days we skiied hut to hut beginning in France, passing into Italy and then soon passing into Switzerland through the heart of the Alps.

We cross into Switzerland, arriving at the Trient hut on our first day of touring. The Trient hut is a mountain hut, near the Swiss town of Martigny. The hut sits at an altitude of 3,170 m (10,400 ft), on a rock perched above the Trient Glacier.

The hut is run by the Swiss Alpine Club and has about 100 beds.  On day 3 we arrive at Verbier.  Verbier’s ski domain ranges from 1500m (the town itself) to 3330m and stayed in the Mont Fort, Our rooms were incredible and the food was spectacular and the beer European wow. From its sunny plateau, Verbier offers some amazing views. In the shadow of Mont Blanc and the Grand Combin, it is located at the heart of one of the biggest ski areas in the Alps: Les 4 Vallées. A freeriding paradise, Verbier is the perfect winter sports destination, from the very first snow falls.

The resort offers a wide range of accommodation in a protected setting, with all the charm of a traditional village and its wooden chalets. An international programme of events will add a whole new dimension to your stay. We stayed in an amazing hotel right in the town for the summer hike and had some great downhill runs here from our hut in the winter.

Fine dining enthusiasts can choose from a wide range of options, including award-winning restaurants and we had some of the best food anywhere.

Verbier is an unforgettable stage in a skier’s lifeWe continued to the Prafleuri, Dix and Vignettes huts on days 3, 4 and 5. The Vignettes hut was smoking cool located on a cliff.  In the morning when we started for Zermatt it was snowing and our GPS system broke so we almost had to go back but it all worked out.  On that last day we enjoy the great final descent into Zermatt. WOW

On the Italian border of the canton of Valais in the west of Switzerland, at the end of the 30 km-long Nikolaital, lies Zermatt, the village at the foot of the Matterhorn, the most photographed mountain in the world.  Zermatt epitomises their image of Switzerland: high-alpine, awe-inspiring and original. Almost one-third of the 4,000-metre mountains in the Alps are grouped around this word-famous health resort, which has been visited by mountaineers from all around the world since the first successful ascent of the Matterhorn in 1865. I have skied here in the winter, Ski mountainerred and hiked in as well.  Zermattt is truly amazing.

The hotels and restaurants are world-class, and the ski area is not only the highest in the Alps – it is also one of the best developed and most convenient in the world, ensuring thrilling sporting experiences on the steepest slopes in the world – and that 365 days a year. The climate is of an excellent quality: with 300 sunny days a year, there is less rainfall than anywhere else in Switzerland. The air in Zermatt is clear, dry and clean, because, since 1947, only electric cars without a combustion engine are allowed to operate in the village- this was very nice. Things are a little different in Zermatt. Zermatt – A world of its own. Skiing and snowboarding the whole year round, with 365 days of snow – you can only find this in Zermatt. As the highest altitude, largest and most efficiently developed snow sport location in the Alps, Zermatt offers an absolute snow guarantee. In winter, 350 km of off piste attracts skiers of all levels. Unlimited skiing and snowboarding between Switzerland and Italy – no other destination can offer this. And in the summer? Enjoy the 20 km of pistes on the Zermatt Theodul Glacier. Carve and relax alongside national ski teams from the whole of Europe. With the Matterhorn always in sight.

We visited Switzerland and skiied: Chamoinix, Verbier, Zermatt and Bad Schouls.  First time there was back in 1969 and we had a great week of skiing on the Austrian border.  Zermatt was skied with our Baltimore ski Club Friends and then we did the Haute route see under activities Ski Mountineering.  Zermatt and chamonix are special towns.  Love traveling on the trains.  The towns f Geneva and lacarno are great to visit and taking a boat is real fun.  Montrose’s castle is spectatcular