Image: Courtesy of Switzerland Tourism
This self-guided trek links the villages of the Mont Blanc region and the western Swiss Valais, crossing through the highest mountain range in western Europe, the Pennine Alps. You will hike through two distinct cultural regions, the French speaking and German speaking Alps. Starting in the bustling alpine center of Chamonix, France beneath the dramatic flanks of Europe's highest summit, Mont Blanc, and its spectacular Aiguilles, you will hike eastward into Switzerland and cross the Valais by a number of high passes that connect a number of small villages with their blackened timber houses and slate roofs. Finish in the incomparable Zermatt set beneath the soaring pyramidal flanks of the Matterhorn. This dramatic and often remote hiking tour sees surprisingly little traffic, and you will enjoy the most spectacular views of the western hemisphere from quiet footpaths between Chamonix and Zermatt. Because luggage transfers between countries are expensive and inconvenient, hikers should be prepared to carry up to three days' changes of clothing at a time.
Day 1 Travel by rail to Chamonix, France. Overnight in an old world, first class hotel with superb French cuisine.
Day 2 Start with a lift ride and enjoy a moderate introductory hike with spectacular views over the Mont Blanc range. Overnight in a comfortable French country inn.
Day 3 Hike from Argentiere to the village of Trient, Switzerland with spectacular views of the Aiguilles or needles of Chamonix, its glaciers and Mt. Blanc. Overnight in a simple hiker's hostelry.
Day 4 A challenging and dramatic hike climbs along the Glacier du Trient to a high and beautiful pass with views of the Trient Glacier and the Swiss Val Ferret. Overnight in a charming three star, chalet style inn in the lakeside village of Champex.
Day 5 Transfer to Arolla and an atmospheric old turn of the century hotel.*
Day 6 A spectacular hike lies ahead with views of Mont Collon. L'Eveque, the Pigne D'Arolla, the Aiguilles Rouges and the Val D'Herens. Overnight in a simple inn in the traditional village of Les Hauderes.
Day 7 Ascend through pastures (one often sees the women raking hay in traditional costume here) with views back to the Aiguilles Rouges, the Grand Combin and the Alps in France. Transfer to St. Luc and a charming old world inn.
Day 8 Cross a pass with views back to the Aiguilles Rouges and the Dent D'Herens, and forward to the peaks above Zermatt: the Matterhorn, OberGabelhorn, Dent Blanche and Weisshorn. Overnight in a simple hostelry in the remote Turtmanntal.
Day 9 Another pass lies ahead, this one along a medieval trading route with views of the Mischabel range separating Zermatt from Saas Fee and the peaks of the Oberland to the northeast. Transfer to Zermatt and a charming country inn with superb cuisine and every comfort and amenity.**
Day 10 Depart.
* It is possible to add a two day extension to the tour by transferring from Champex to Verbier for an overnight in a country inn then hiking through high altitude terrain with some routefinding challenges to an alpine club hut before continuing over a high pass and descending on foot to Arolla. The additional supplement is $295 per person based on double occupancy.
**The tour may be further extended beyond Zermatt with a three day extension to Saas Fee with one night in a simple inn, one night in a four star inn and one night in a refuge for an additonal supplement. To substitute a night in a gourmet retreat in Saas Fee for the simple inn, add an additional $185 per person.
Click here to request an expanded itinerary (including distance and elevation gains).