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The Walker's Haute Route

The Walker's Haute Route

Excerpt:
When to go


Table of Contents | Introduction | When to go | Route options | Swiss food and drink | Sample route guide


It is possible to visit Switzerland year-round, although you will have a very different experience depending on the time of year.

If heading there with the intention of undertaking the Walker's Haute Route, remember that the trek is safe and passable during good weather but unpredictable or highly changeable weather can cause problems and make the track hazardous or even impassable.

Attempt the trek during the summer high season for the best chance of having clear weather and superb views, though do bear in mind that rain or even snow can fall at any time of year on the high parts of the route and consequently you need to be prepared for this eventuality.

Switzerland has two main high seasons, one in winter and one in summer.

The winter high season, which typically runs from just before Christmas until just after Easter, matches the ski season and is ideal for the classic Haute Route that requires good snow on the glaciers high above the Walker's Route. The Walker's Route itself is largely impassable at this time.

The summer high season typically lasts from July to September and is a good time to tackle the Walker's Haute Route.

Most of the cable cars and mountain huts are open by the middle of June and though there may still be snow on some of the high passes at this time, the route is still ‘doable’ and in fact can be very enjoyable as there tends to be far fewer people on the trails and the early blooms and Alpine meadows are simply stunning.

You are, however, better off starting a couple of weeks later, either right at the tail-end of the month or in early July, to improve your chances of not being caught out by the weather.

Similarly, in late September you may find that some of the cable cars stop running and the hut guardians pack up for the season. The first heavy rains and possibly even snowfall might affect your enjoyment of the trek at this time too.

Nevertheless, the Walker's Haute Route is still feasible at this time of year, since the winter rooms in all the huts are open and the bad weather is unlikely to have arrived.

In addition, the autumnal colours and attractive autumnal light make the mountains particularly scenic at this time.

Bearing these factors in mind, the perfect time for the trek is probably late August to mid September, when the combination of fine, dry weather, clear skies and fractionally fewer other walkers makes the trail a real pleasure.

The low season comprises April to mid June and October to mid December.

During these months many of the higher towns, huts and resorts shut down altogether, making the Walker's Haute Route a far trickier proposition unless you are an experienced, properly equipped walker who is prepared to trek unsupported, carrying all your own food and a tent.

The Walker's Haute Route

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