Haute Route planning help needed

Old Dec 31st, 2017, 04:31 PM
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Haute Route planning help needed

Hi there Fodorites,

My partner and I are hoping to do a Europe trip this year, mid June to late July, and would like to do a trek towards the start of the trip. We are currently thinking the Haute Route, from Chamonix to Zermatt, would be ideal. We don't want to use a tour company and would ideally not plan the whole thing - ie only book a couple of nights ahead at a time, because that way if we end up taking less or more time than we think we can be flexible, but we have some questions about how to wing it.

Hopefully there are some local or well-Alps-travelled experts on here!

Could you please tell us if it is possible to do the whole trek by booking only a day or two ahead,at at time, starting late June?

Can you do the trek without taking your own sleeping gear? i.e do the huts on the route have bedding supplied? It seems that you can't do the whole journey staying only in hotels or auberges, but it would be a shame to have to bring bedding for just a couple of nights where the huts seem necessary ...

Having said that, would it be better to stay in huts if huts are possible the whole journey? We don't mind roughing it a bit, but it is really just that we don't want more weight on our backs than we need. We are both very fit but we don't have alps down here in Australia and my back doesn't love a lot of load anyway!

Does anyone have experience of booking the whole thing themselves and can offer any guidance?

Many thanks in advance.

RT
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Old Jan 2nd, 2018, 08:52 AM
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Weather is always unpredictable in the Alps. If you really want to enjoy your hike, you should do it when the weather is fine.
Local people plan their trips a day or 2 ahead, according to the weather forecast.
You can follow slavishly the so called "Walkers Haute Route Trail" (the only long itinerary where you have a chance to find crowds in late June/early July), ignoring the other more than fifty thousand kms of well signarked Swiss hiking trails, or you can compose your itinerary according to weather and available accommodation.
I've done the whole trail (more than once), but I never used huts as I cannot sleep in dormitories and snore seminars.
I just used some of the hotels at Chamonix, Le Buet, Montroc, Le Tour, Col de la Forclaz, Lac Champex, Orsieres, Sembrancher, Le Chable, Barrage de la Grande Dixence, Arolla, Les Hauderes, La Sage, Grimentz, St. Luc, Chandolin, Gruben, St. Niklaus, Graechen, Randa, Taesch, Zermatt.

and I walked in variants, like
Planpraz - Col du Lac Cornu - L'Index - Lac Blanc - Argentiere,
Montroc - Le Buet - Lac 'Emosson - Les Marecottes - Martigny,
Martigny - Col des Planches - Bisse de Saxon - La Tzoumaz,
La Tzoumaz - Bisse de Saxon - Siviez,
Verbier - Lac des Vaux - Tracouet - Haute Nendaz - Siviez - Les Collons - Grande Dixence,
Le Hauderes - Villa - Eison - Grimentz,
Grimentz - Ayer - Tignousa - Bella Tola - Oberems,
Oberems - Gruben - Augstbordpass - Moosalp - Törbel,
etc.
There are buses or cableways into the valleys from all legs. The longest leg between 2 public transport stops is that from Col des Gentianes cableway station via Col de la Chaux - Col de Louvie - Col de Prafleuri to Le Chargeur bus station. The Col des Genianes cableway will run from July 7th onwards only, however. The Gde Dixence bus will start to run 2 weeks earlier.

Theoretically, you can stay at 3 places or so and reach the trail every morning by public transport, for example:
Martigny dp 7.46 - Montroc ar 8.49 - Argentiere ar 8.54 - Chamonix ar 9.12; Chamonix dp pour Martigny every hr until 19.54
Martigny dp 7.55 - Col de la Forclaz ar 8.28, dp 18.10 - Martigny ar 18.42
Martigny dp 7.17, 8.17 - Lac Champex ar 50 min later; Lac Champex dp 17.18, 18.18, 19.18
Martigny dp 7.17, 8.17 - Verbier ar 1 hr later;
Gde Dixence dp 16.55 - Sion ar 17.55 - Martigny ar 18.15.
etc. etc.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2018, 05:55 PM
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Thanks neckervd.

I suspect the reason that most follow the Walkers High Route path is because if you're not from France or Switzerland - or Europe at all - and don't speak French or German it could be a rather overwhelming or confusing prospect.

Looking at your ideas makes no sense to my poor little brain because I haven't been to the area before. In terms of planning a few days out, that makes complete sense and I do the same here in my own backyard (we just walked the Great Ocean Walk in Australia, which starts less than two hours from my house) but when the flight is 24 hours long and the cost quite expensive, it is less easy to decide to do things at the last minute. I guess we could always go and walk something else, but we still need to decide where to fly into and when etc ...

Thank you for your time in suggesting these plans in any case.

Much appreciated.

RT
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Old Jan 3rd, 2018, 08:27 AM
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Thanks for your feedback.
I suppose qou cannot imagine how easy it is to hike in the Chamonix - Switzerland area:
tons of well signmarked trails,
signposts with hiking times to different points every few miles,
restaurants, huts, hotels, cableway and bus stops every few hrs of walk,
many other hikers en route, most of them speaking (at least some) English,
excellent hiking maps (can be loaded down for free, BTW)....
http://map.geo.admin.ch/?lang=en
The only real problem is the weather.

I suppose you will have to plan in alternatives anyway. Or what will you do if there is rain and snowfall along your trail?
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Old Jan 3rd, 2018, 12:36 PM
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Thanks neckervd, you've been very helpful. I think the good thing will be that we won't have anything booked (aside from return tickets home) after the hike, so if we needed to put it off a week or so then we could. This is why I am reluctant to book accommodation along the trail too close to the time, and hopefully that won't be a problem late June. We could still fly to Geneva and then head to the Italian coastline/or lakes, or a French wine region, instead of the alps if it is going to be bad weather there and then come back when it is nicer - hopefully. We plan to have six weeks away all up.

RT
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Old Jan 4th, 2018, 09:02 AM
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Don't worry! Accommodation will not be a problem in June. You can just phone to huts or hotels a few days ahead. And if one of them should really be fully occupied (I don't hink so, however), there would always be alternative solutions (walk a bit more or a bit less, take a bus or a gondola, etc.).
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Old Jan 4th, 2018, 01:41 PM
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That's great to know neckervd. We really want to do this unguided and with as much flexibility as possible to account for weather etc and just to be out in the wide open spaces not worrying about schedules the way we have to at home all the time!
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