Walker's Haute Route July 2019 Trail Update and Conditions

By choosing to hike the Haute Route in early June, you are at the mercy of mother nature. Some years you’ll come across minimal snow, however, in others you’d be better on skis. Choosing to start the Walker’s Haute Route trail in late June is usually a safe bet though as enough snow has melted to make all the sections passable. Unfortunately, 2019 is the year you’d lose that bet!

After a modest snowfall across the Alps in winter, a very cold Spring set in which also delivered lots of new snow. The last major snowfall on the trail of more than a foot was on the 21st of May, pushing the snow pack level at 2,500m (8,200ft) to over 3m (10ft)…and even more on the higher sections of trail. This is when some warmer Spring weather finally appeared to start melting the snow. While most of the snow has melted, there is still some on the high passes, over parts of the Chelion glacier and covering the Grand Desert. This has made the hiking conditions more challenging than the last couple of years for those that have been on the trail from mid June.

With the snow still persisting in the second week of July, I still recommend having microspikes and hiking poles to help with crossings. While you may read some reports from hikers saying it is soft and easy to cross, you should be conscious that snow conditions can change on a daily basis. The soft snow someone experienced 3 days ago may be firm on the cold morning that you meet it so I think it is best to have this equipment until it has all cleared from the trail.

Walker’s Haute Route Updates by section

The following trail updates comes from my first journey along the Haute Route this year, notifications from hut guardians in the last few days and other early season hikers/guides that have asked for and/or passed on updates to help other following after them. GPS Offline Mobile Map references are for our Haute Route Hiking customers only - you’re welcome to become one at anytime :)

Four seasons in one trail:  June 2019 on the Haute Route

Four seasons in one trail: June 2019 on the Haute Route

Chamonix to Le Tour

Trail Update

No Snow! A couple of very minor detours to note;

(1) There is some council work being completed in Chamonix near the Avenue du Mont-Blanc bridge. You can easily go around this by going either left or right around it to rejoin the marked trail.

Minor detour in Chamonix:  Council work blocked marked trail - easy to navigate around

Minor detour in Chamonix: Council work blocked marked trail - easy to navigate around

(2) Just after Argentiere, the marked trail leads you down the lane 'Çhemin des Biens'. Although the passage is likely allowed and not completely blocked off, it does go through someone's garden who would probably prefer you went around around. Instead of turning down Chemin des Biens, I'd recommend going an extra couple of hundred feet along Chemin du Vieux Four where you will see a trail junction and can rejoin the trail in the forest.

Minor detour after Argentiere:  Go around the garden by continuing a hundred feet further to the trail junction

Minor detour after Argentiere: Go around the garden by continuing a hundred feet further to the trail junction


Le Tour to Trient

The French section of the Haute Route trail is now clear of snow.

The French section of the Haute Route trail is now clear of snow.

Trail Update

No snow on the France side and only some small patches on the Le Peuty side of Col de Balme that are easy to cross. Other developments include;

(1) Refuge Col de Blame is reopening this season under new management. Dorm beds are available and it is expected they will be selling simple food and refreshments as they've done in previous years.

For reservations: contact Henri - henri.lapeyrere@gmail.com

Refuge Col de Blame:  Hard at work with repairs and renovations before the hungry hikers arrive for the 2019 season.

Refuge Col de Blame: Hard at work with repairs and renovations before the hungry hikers arrive for the 2019 season.

(2) Christine and Bernard have been appointed as the guardians of Refuge Les Grands for the 2019 season. They have asked for booking requests to be submitted to bernardetchristine@yahoo.com

(3) The trail crosses a stream just before Le Peuty which has risen due to the current snowmelt. You will see an alternative path that leads down to the road and crosses a bridge which will allow you to easily detour around this.


Trient to Champex-Lac

Trail Update: Fentre d'Arpette

Lots of hikers are crossing Fentre d'Arpette in both directions now. There is still some snow patches but not on steep sections and they can mostly be avoided by some rock scrambling/boulder hopping just off the trail. The snow has been soft lately which has allowed hikers to kick in good footholds and use poles for support but no mountaineering equipment is required.

This is still a challenging route so hikers should be confident on steep trail that has some exposure if planning to take this path.

Fentre d‘Arpette:  Photo from the 30th of June when experienced hikers were taking this route.

Fentre d‘Arpette: Photo from the 30th of June when experienced hikers were taking this route.

Trail Update: Bovine Route

This is the easier route to reach Champex-Lac and only has a small patch of snow remaining in the gully which is easy to cross.

The Bovine Route may be easier than Fentre but still rewards hikers with incredible views

The Bovine Route may be easier than Fentre but still rewards hikers with incredible views

When you are leaving Alp Bovine (the lunchtime restaurant on this route), there is an option to either take the lower or upper path to the valley below. it has been easier to cross the stream in then gully by taking the lower path during June so I would suggest taking this trail rather than the upper path that is marked on the map. Given the huge number of Tour du Mont Blane hikers coming towards you on this section of trail, check with them at Alp Bovine what the conditions were like on the path they took to help make your decision.

Minor detour option after Alp Bovine:  Ask TMB hikers coming toward you what the latest conditions are like to make your decision.

Minor detour option after Alp Bovine: Ask TMB hikers coming toward you what the latest conditions are like to make your decision.


Champex-Lac to Le Chable

Trail Update

No snow and generally an easy day. A farmer had put a temporary electric fence across the trail at one point. This won't be the first one you'll need to cross as the trail system passes through a lot of farmland...but there will typically be a temporary gate installed across the trail to make the crossing easier.


Le Chable to Cabane du Mont Fort

No snow:  While there is still come snow in the ski area at the start of July, you can reach Cabane du Mont Fort without crossing any.

No snow: While there is still come snow in the ski area at the start of July, you can reach Cabane du Mont Fort without crossing any.

Trail Update

No snow. A couple of items to note;

(1) Anyone that has reserved to stay at Cabane du Mont Fort needs to call then (+41 27 778 13 84 ) three days before their arrival to confirm they will be open. This is their policy and they occasionally close during storms.

(2) Coming out of Verbier, the trail aims to avoid the downhill mountain bike area as it climbs to Les Ruinettes. The marked trail calls to go around Clambin, however, it is not possible to pass this way anymore so a minor detour is required for hikers to go through Clambin and then take the left on Chemin du Hattey to rejoin the markers.

Minor detour in at Clambin:  Marked trail is not possible so going through Clambin and taking Chemin du Hattey is required.

Minor detour in at Clambin: Marked trail is not possible so going through Clambin and taking Chemin du Hattey is required.


Cabane du Mont Fort to Cabane de Louvie

Trail Update: Sentier Trail / Col Termin

As of July 6th, there were two patches of snow across the balcony trail on the way to Col Termin that hikers need to cross. On the way down from Col Termin to Cabane de Louvie, there is one steep, short snowfield to cross that has some exposure. Experienced hikers with the right equipment (microspikes/poles) have started to pass this way. Update and photos from Ella who is guiding a group on the Haute Route at the moment (Follow her @patagoniatiptop or visit website here)

Snow across balcony:  Only experienced hikers with the right equipment should consider this section while there is snow on then trial

Snow across balcony: Only experienced hikers with the right equipment should consider this section while there is snow on then trial

Snow crossing:  Hikers attempting this section should be prepared for snow crossings.

Snow crossing: Hikers attempting this section should be prepared for snow crossings.

Trail Update: Col de la Chaux

As of last week, hikers have started to pass this way and it is the easiest path to reach Cabane de Louvie at the moment if you choose not to take the detour.

Please note: I plan to complete this section at the end of the week and will send out photos and a trail update to those on our email list on Friday (12th July)

Detour Advice: If you are advised by the cabane guardians to detour around these sections or would prefer to avoid the snow crossings, it is still possible to reach Cabane de Louvie via an alternative route.

To reach Cabane de Louvie, head back down to Le Chable (via bus and/or Gondola) and catch a bus up the valley to Fionnay then follow the trail up to the cabane. This is a stunning trail with similar views of the Grand Combine massif to the Sentier trail, however, it also goes through a protected wildlife area which has roaming herds of Ibex.

Wildlife Reserve:  Wild Ibex on the trail between Fionnay and Cabane de Louvie

Wildlife Reserve: Wild Ibex on the trail between Fionnay and Cabane de Louvie

If you’d like a free bus ticket, present your Cabane de Louvie booking confirmation to the Le Chable or Verbier tourism office and receive a VIP pass (free Gondola/public transport card). This pass is also available to those staying in Le Chable and Verbier.


Col/Cabane de Louvie to Cabane de Prafleuri

Trail Update

As of last week, hikers have started to pass this way. Claudia, the Cabane de Louvie guardian, recommends that only those with good equipment and a lot of courage attempt this route at the moment.

The latest second hand reports have been that there is still a lot of snow with some steep sections to cross. It is taking most people who attempt this section much longer than it usually would hiking on a clear trail which is obvious but make sure you give yourself more time if attempting.

Please note: I plan to complete this section at the end of the week and will send out photos and a trail update to those on our email list on Friday (12th July)

Detour Advice: If you are advised by the cabane guardians to detour around these sections or would prefer to avoid crossing snow, it is still possible to reach Cabane de Prafleuri via an alternative route.

To reach Cabane de Prafleuri, catch the train from Le Chable to Martigny then Sion. At Sion, catch the bus to Dixence, Le Chargeur (Lac Des Dix) then hike up to the Cabane on a trail that has minimal snow. Use the SBB (Swiss Public Transport) app to select and buy your ticket. If you are coming from Cabane de Louvie, you’ll need to catch the bus from Fionnay back to Le Chable first.

The dam wall holding Lac Des Dix:  This is where the bus will drop you off from Sion.

The dam wall holding Lac Des Dix: This is where the bus will drop you off from Sion.

If you’d prefer a private van transfer to Dixence, it will cost about CHF 300 which would be cheaper (and much quicker) than public transport if you can round up 7 or 8 fellow Haute Route hikers to split the cost! The Cabane guardians can help you arrange a private transfer from a local company.

Remember that just because the main Haute Route trail may not be clear of snow, the cabanes are expecting your visit. If you decide to change your plans and not stay there, please let them know as soon as possible and be prepared to pay the cancellation fee if 24-48 hours before your stay.


Cabane de Prafleuri to Arolla

Trail Update

Hikers are now completing the section between Lac Des Dix and Pas de Chevres.

The section from the Col Des Roux (just above Cabane de Prafleuri) to the end of Lac Des Dix is clear of snow

Refuge la Barma:  Col Des Roux can be seen in the low point of the mountain range in the background

Refuge la Barma: Col Des Roux can be seen in the low point of the mountain range in the background

Most are going direct rather than via Cabane Des Dix as it is the easiest route by avoiding some steeper snow & the Chelion Glacier which still has some parts covered by snow. While there are snow patches to cross on the direct route, no one has reported needing anything more than poles (and in some cases microspikes for added confidence) in order to reach Pas de Chevres.

Val Des Dix:  Some snow patches but it has been reported as easy to cross (photo courtesy of  @raimondsbricis  who is currently completing the Walker’s Haute Route)

Val Des Dix: Some snow patches but it has been reported as easy to cross (photo courtesy of @raimondsbricis who is currently completing the Walker’s Haute Route)

The rock scramble to the ladders on Pas de Chevres has been reported as very challenging but achievable if you follow the marks. Every year, new rocks come down as the winter snow thaws so the path always has small changes.

Pas de Chevres:  The rock scramble to reach the ladders is challenging (photo courtesy of  @raimondsbricis  who is currently completing the Walker’s Haute Route)

Pas de Chevres: The rock scramble to reach the ladders is challenging (photo courtesy of @raimondsbricis who is currently completing the Walker’s Haute Route)

Pas de Chevres:  A group guided by Ella starting to make their way through the rocks (Photos courtesy of  @patagoniatiptop )

Pas de Chevres: A group guided by Ella starting to make their way through the rocks (Photos courtesy of @patagoniatiptop)

Pas de Chevres:  Follow the red and white markers to find your way through the rocks (Photos courtesy of  @patagoniatiptop )

Pas de Chevres: Follow the red and white markers to find your way through the rocks (Photos courtesy of @patagoniatiptop)

If you want the latest conditions in the area and/or plan to stay at Cabane Des Dix, it is recommended you call the Cabane on +41272811523. If the glacier is still covered in snow, you should avoid it unless you have the equipment, knowledge and skills to cross it safely. Conditions are changing quickly so it shouldn't be much longer before the glacier becomes dry and the snow on steep sections has melted. Best thing to do is check the latest conditions of the glacier once you arrive at Cabane Des Dix. If they advise it is not safe, go back to the junction near Lac Des Dix and take the direct route to Pas de Chevres.

There is a small amount of snow melting quickly on the Arolla side of the pass, however, it is easy to cross. Rest assured that once you reach Pas de Chevres, the most challenging part of your day is done!

Please note: I plan to complete this section at the end of the week and will send out photos and a trail update to those on our email list on Friday (12th July)


Arolla to La Sage

Trail Update

No snow and no update :)

Les Hauderes:  Enjoy the snow free hiking trails from Arolla to La Sage

Les Hauderes: Enjoy the snow free hiking trails from Arolla to La Sage


La Sage to Zinal

Trail Update: Col Tsate /Col de Torrent

Both have some snow patches on the Moiry side of the passes but they are melting fast and can mostly be avoided. Many have crossed this section of trail now so there is a well worn track.

Trail Update: Cabane de Moiry

The small snow patches on the steep ascent to Cabane de Moiry can easily be navigated after lots of hiking traffic has carved out the path since their opening on the 15th of June.

They offer all guests a free public transit card that can be used to reach Zinal from the bus stops next to Lac de Moiry and a free Gondola pass that you can also use to reach Zinal from Sorebois (and save your knees some pain!)

Moiry Glacier:  Can you spot the cabane on the left hand side of the glacier?

Moiry Glacier: Can you spot the cabane on the left hand side of the glacier?

Trail Update: Col de Sorebois

Other than a very small patch at the top at the top of Sorebois, the trail from Moiry lake to Zinal is now snow free.


Zinal to Gruben

Hotel Weisshorn:  Stop for morning tea or lunch on your way to Medipass

Hotel Weisshorn: Stop for morning tea or lunch on your way to Medipass

trail Update: Forcletta

A steep snow patch on the Gruben side of the pass. It has been soft but microspikes would be necessary if crossing it on a colder day when it is firm. The rest of the trail is clear or can be avoided

Trail Update: Medipass

The longer traverse along the Zinal side of the range is all snow free and passes Hotel Weisshorn where you can stop in for a taste of Alpine luxury. On the Gruben side, there is some snow patches but easily passable.

Above St Luc:  Starting point for the ascent to Medipass

Above St Luc: Starting point for the ascent to Medipass


Gruben to St Niklaus/Grachen

Trail Update

Augstbordpass has snow patches on the St Niklaus side which have been soft and easy to get a foot hold in but once again, microspikes would be beneficial if you arrive to find it has become firm. After you cross this section, you’ll be snow free all the way to the finish line!

Mattertal Valley:  Once of the best spots for a picnic and a photo on the trail

Mattertal Valley: Once of the best spots for a picnic and a photo on the trail


St Niklaus/Grachen to Europahütte

Trail UpdatE

There is a closed section of trail between Grat and Galenburg. 4 detour options are outlined in this blog post.

Closed Trail:  Despite the section from Riedbach Junction to Grat being unaffected, it has been taped off.

Closed Trail: Despite the section from Riedbach Junction to Grat being unaffected, it has been taped off.

The latest update is that the higher route may never be reopened due to ongoing safety concerns and therefore the detour route will become the new Europaweg Trail.

If you’re using detour option 1or 2, the signs at Herbriggen list the hamlet of Geisstrift (rather than Galenburg). If you're using my mobile maps for this detour route, you should be aware that maps.me doesn't have the underlying trail (or the stream you will cross/can fill up water from!) for this section in their database. Although I've added extra trail markers here, I would also recommend you download the free 'Swiss Map' app (Andriod, Apple) which has all the topographic maps for Switzerland so you can see the underlying trail. Although it doesn't put your location on the map with a big arrow like maps.me, however, you can click the target button to have it highlight your location on the map.

Detour option 1:  The climb from Herbriggen to Galenburg is tough, however, the Europaweg Trail delivers a fun balconyt trail and rewarding views

Detour option 1: The climb from Herbriggen to Galenburg is tough, however, the Europaweg Trail delivers a fun balconyt trail and rewarding views


Europahütte to Zermatt

Trail UpdatE

The Charles Kuonen suspension bridge is open.

Europahütte and the Suspension Bridge:  Open for the 2019 season

Europahütte and the Suspension Bridge: Open for the 2019 season

There was recently a rockslide about 200m past the Zermatt side that suspension bridge that brought down two big boulders into the trees near the trail. The rock slide area has settled down and local authorities have commenced work to install new barriers near the origination area. During this time, despite the trails below not being blocked, they have temporarily closed them in case the work above causes anything new to come down. The completion date of the new barriers has not been confirmed so it is recommended to check with the Europahütte guardian when you arrive whether it has been reopened and what the alternative options are.

New temporary closure:  Check with the Europahütte guardian whether this section has been reopened and what the detour options are. (photo curtousey of  @aslinskan  who completed the trail in late Jun-19)

New temporary closure: Check with the Europahütte guardian whether this section has been reopened and what the detour options are. (photo curtousey of @aslinskan who completed the trail in late Jun-19)

Final Word

Thank you to the following hikers for sending in updates to help those coming after you;

@Pez39 @jb0071030 @raimondsbricis @junzidong @kat_the_lizard_queen @zacottoson @fergusring @aslinskan @annualadventure @patagoniatiptop @jeff.schwarz, Kristina J and Bart B

Much more than you see above or on our Instagram and Facebook has been passed on freely to help others navigate the trail challenges during June/early July.

The conditions are improving so quickly that this update will only be relevant for the next couple of weeks. By that point, all sections should be open for Haute Route hikers to complete the entire epic journey from Mont Blanc to the Matterhorn!

If you’d like a GPS mobile map to navigate the Haute Route, see what we can create for you here;

Stay safe and enjoy the adventure!

Brendan