Summer adventures have looked quite different since the pandemic, but we have still found ways to experience the natural world that are far from the crowds and in small group settings. One of our travelers recently returned from our Hiking the Haute Route journey, an active 8-day trip that follows portions of the “high route” across the French and Swiss Alps. Take a look at his beautiful photos.
For many travelers, the pandemic has required adjustment after adjustment in plans. After postponing a trip to Africa in August 2021, I turned to Wilderness Travel for an alternative and joined their Hiking the Haute Route adventure. The trip turned out to be a great choice! I flew into Geneva via Amsterdam without any hassle and took a prearranged transfer to Chamonix, France.
I arrived before the trip began and took the cable car from the town center up to Aiguille du Midi. The close-up views of Mont Blanc and nearby peaks are spectacular. My previous treks include Everest Base Camp and Annapurna in Nepal and Cordillera Huayhuash in Peru, and the mountain scenery around Aiguille du Midi is just as satisfying.
Atop Aiguille du Midi, optional activities include a guided glacier hike, but remember to reserve your space ahead of time.
Leaving Chamonix, our route overlapped with the classic Tour du Mont Blanc. Which should you choose: Haute Route or TMB? The best answer is both! In fact, one traveler in our group did both trips back to back!
A typical day during the trip involved hiking up to a mountain pass, stopping for lunch at a scenic spot (nice motivation), hiking down to the next valley, and celebrating with a refreshing beverage (nicer motivation).
During our hike, we came across lots of cattle. Cow fights are a popular spectator sport in the Valais region. Fights within the species are instinctual, serving to establish a social hierarchy.
This photo was taken from the porch of Cabine d’Orny, which our group reached after a long morning hike. For lunch, most of the group ordered the local favorite, rosti, with hot chocolate served in a large bowl.
The most strenuous day involved traversing a boulder field and climbing a ladder to reach Pas de Chevres (9,368 feet).
After retiring from the corporate world, Michael climbs a new ladder of success.
A key ingredient for a successful group adventure is to be with excellent participants such as Rachel and Kelly.
Nearing a lunch stop, Adam energetically takes the lead.
After a brief rest, Alexis looks good and ready for our descent to St. Niklaus and Zermatt.
A clear advantage of this itinerary is the inclusion of both Chamonix and Mont Blanc in France as well as Zermatt and the Matterhorn in Switzerland.
From Zermatt, there are many optional extensions. Before my flight home, I spent a week in Interlaken, hiking in and around Lauterbrunnen Valley, and Lucerne, attending live performances at the summer music festival. It added up to my best trip since the beginning of the pandemic, and in many ways felt like everything was back to normal.
—Text and photos by four-time WT adventurer William Waller, Hiking the Haute Route.