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The legendary Haute Route: a top bucket list trek.

How scenic and hard is the Haute Route you ask? Hopefully my story and videos will help you decide.

By: Rob Feakins + Save to a List

The Haute Route.

It's probably on most people's Top Ten Treks or trekking bucket list.

Mostly because, well, it's legendary.

It has unreal scenery, extreme physical challenge, heights and the fear that goes with it, history and romance.

It simply has it all, everything a bucket list trek should have.

All you need to know: you hike from Chamonix to Zermatt.

As background, I had trekked to Everest Base Camp, trekked the Cordillera Blanca, Tour du Mont Blanc, Dolomites and the W Trek in Torres del Paine in Patagonia. And my top five trek list was pretty full.

But the Haute Route was something that had eluded me.

I first became interested when I was on the Tour du Mont Blanc and had asked my guide a "must trek" in the Alps. Her eyes got a bit misty (okay it was probably the wind) and then she said "the Haute Route."

I mean you hike from two amazing mountain capitals: Chamonix, France to Zermatt, Switzerland and between two legendary peaks, from Mont Blanc to the Matterhorn.

I mean how romantic is that?

The "Haute Route" translated from French means the "high route." It's a trek at elevation, promising just wonderful scenery and a true physical challenge.

The infamous ladders

In addition, there was that day with the infamous ladders, a day where to climb the Pas de Chevres you must climb several 20 foot ladders and make a traverse holding onto only a chain.

Having lunch before climbing the infamous ladders and Pas de Chevres.

I had climbed Piz Boe in the Dolomites with some via ferrata (iron rungs) so I wasn't too concerned but still 60 feet of ladders or so?

Well, no worries, the guides from Wilderness Travel, Killian and Heather, had it nailed and everyone made it easily.

But the ladders day is a day that does something every trek should do: create self pride and a bond between a group of strangers as strong as superglue.

And that's exactly what happened. Not that the group needed much bonding, from day one my buddy Andrew and I kept commenting on how great this group was.


Our lead guide, Killian, giving high fives to everyone who had just climbed the ladders at Pas de Chevres.

Wilderness and the Haute Route delivered on it all: great group, wonderful skilled guides, incredible scenery, wonderful experiences, real physical challenges and about ten minutes of mild terror (the ladders).

How hard? The average days has 3500 feet of elevation gain 

Like the Tour du Mont Blanc, most days on the Haute Route begin climbing (and I mean climbing, days averaged 3500 feet up), you then eat lunch somewhere below the mountain pass you just climbed and then a long descent to your hotel. And the guides made sure that everyone succeeded on the hike.

The hotels are beholden to the towns they are in, so there is great variety from a quasi hostel, to a four star hotel at the end of the trip in Zermatt with a view of the Matterhorn from your room. But food was very consistent and good.

But as a photographer and filmmaker, the most important thing for me is quite simply scenery.

I thought it would be hard to beat the Dolomites or the Cordillera Blanca in Peru much less the Himalayas for scenery, but the Haute Route delivers. Even the first day was amazing and sometimes the first day on treks isn't great, but after climbing all morning we came to a crest and could see back towards Chamonix, Mont Blanc and Les Aiguilles. I knew the rest of the trip would be great and it was. Every single day there was another spectacular pass and wonderful views on the way up and way down.

I would put the Haute Route in my list of Top Five Treks. And where does it rank in that top five? Well, you could make an argument for any single trek to be number one.

Suffice it to say, the Haute Route and Switzerland is simply stunning and a must-do trek.

A short video of the guides describing the Haute Route in all of its glory.

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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