Join North Cascades Mountain Guides, on what is surely a trip of a lifetime, the fabled European high route. This is undoubtedly one of the worlds most spectacular ski tours, and with the Support of the French and Swiss  Alpine club huts can be comfortably achieved by most advanced skiers. Starting in the birthplace of Alpine climbing, Chamonix, France, we will spend 8 days touring through the heart of the European Alps en route to Zermatt, skiing the shadow of the Matterhorn into this charming Swiss village.

We will begin the tour with a day trip of the incredible Vallee Blanche. After riding the telepherique to the top of the Auguille du Midi(12,600′) we descend a short, but steep snow ridge to the glacier. This 9000-foot descent back into Chamonix will give us a chance to warm up for the tour, discuss some of the ski mountaineering techniques we will be using, and get acclimatized to the altitude. The terrain allows us a number of different options for skiing down, and provides an excellent opportunity to shake down all of the equipment we will be using on the tour.

Day by day description of The Classic Haute Route

Skiing into Zermatt under the Matterhorn on the final day.

Skiing into Zermatt under the Matterhorn on the final day.

The next 7 days will be spent touring through some of the most spectacular scenery in all of the European Alps. The Tour takes us across more than 12 glaciers, over many high mountain cols and through some of the most rugged alpine terrain imaginable. By taking advantage of the staffed huts along the way we are able to undertake the tour carrying only daypacks. Huts provide hot meals and warm bunks to ease the body after each day of skiing. Each day’s lunch can be purchased in the huts as well allowing us to carry only the food we need for that day. There are numerous variations once on the Route. Everything from peak climbs with ski descents, to skiing down in to a village for lunch and riding a lift back up into the mountains to continue the tour, are possible. We will take current conditions and the groups abilities and desires into account when choosing the exact route each day.

We have decided to include an extra day in our itinerary. The tour can be done in as little as 5 days, though we feel it is useful to have an extra day to wait out bad weather, as well as a day to ski in Chamonix. If all goes well we are left with an extra day in Zermatt, which can be used for a number of excellent day touring options. These include extending the tour to the Swiss village of Saas Fee, which is the classic finish to the Haute route. Another great option is taking advantage of the lifts and skiing down into Italy, enjoying lunch in the ski town of Cervinia, then back again into Switzerland to finish the day.

Skills Required

Skiing Mount Velan on the Classic Haute Route

Skiing Mount Velan on the Classic Haute Route

On a tour like this to maximize your enjoyment, the most important skills are skiing skills. While most of the terrain is fairly moderate by resort standards, we typically encounter a wide range of snow conditions. It is important for skiers to be able to comfortably ski blue runs at a ski area in any conditions. Further you must be able to perform survival turns (hop turns, stem christie etc.) down steeper terrain and in very difficult snow conditions. Skiers should have some touring experience and be adept at using skins, performing kick turns and skiing with a small pack.

Previous Mountaineering experience is not required though will prove beneficial. We will cover skills such as the use of ski crampons, avalanche transceivers, boot crampons, and ice axes as well as traveling as a rope team. We have factored time into the tour to cover these skills thus insuring a high degree of safety and comfort for all members of the team.

This tour will also demand a high degree of fitness. Obviously you don’t need to be an Olympic athlete, as hundreds of people complete the tour every year, though the more fit you arrive, the more you will enjoy the tour. Not to mention having energy to ski an extra run after arriving at the destination hut for the day.

If you have any doubts or concerns about your abilities or skiing skills, please don’t hesitate to call and address them. We will gladly offer training advice or we can arrange for some pretrip training to insure your skills are up to speed before embarking on this trip of a lifetime.

NCMG highly recommends skiers purchase trip insurance through a reputable company such as Travelex, or AIG travelguard prior to the trip. This can be purchased directly from NCMG for this trip. Please let us know when you register if you would like to add this peace of mind. This will insure you receive a refund if you get injured, have a schedule conflict or for whatever reason, cannot make the trip.  Click here to get a free quote for this trip

Haute Route Guiding Fees

2016 – $2,950*  

*Includes extra day for weather.  Give yourself more flexibility with an extra weather day built in.  Over the years we have had many trips where this extra day was critical.  50 percent of our trips end up using this day to complete the route while other groups get shut down by weather and a lack of flexibility.  If we don’t use this day for weather we end up being able to ski the amazing terrain surrounding Zermatt.


2016 Dates

  • April  3 – 10, 2016 (meeting the evening of April 2nd in Chamonix) Full


Custom Dates Available mid-March to the end of April  – Contact the office soon to book your trip


Perfect powder on the way to the Valsorey Hut

Program Cost Inclusions

  • 2 Nights lodging in Chamonix
  • Hut lodging fees
  • Breakfasts and Dinners in huts
  • All lifts during trip
  • All ground transport during trip
  • Use of avalanche transciever
  • Luggage transfer from Chamonix to Zermatt
  • 8 days of guided skiing with IFMGA certified guides
  • Extra Weather Day built into itinerary, which can be used for extra day on the route or skiing Zermatt (lift tickets included)!

Program Cost Exclusions

Skiing Powder in the Alps

Skiing Powder in the Alps

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