Switzerland

Beautiful Chamonix in France was the start of our 12-day Haute Route trek to Zermatt in Switzerland 🇨🇭👣

The first part of our journey took us to Trient. In these pictures is the Col de Balme – the border between Switzerland and France. It connects Trient on the Swiss side to Argentière in France. You can see Mont Blanc in some of the shots to the left.

With incredible views of the Rhône Valley and delightful mountain cafes with the yummiest apricot pie, the next leg in our journey took us from Trient to the lakeside village of Champex Lac.

The first three days into our Switzerland hiking trip had already seen us hiking 60km through alpine meadows, wooded forests and quaint Swiss villages. I was a few blisters in, had feet that burned as hot as Hades by the end of the day, and screaming muscles each night. I made sure to fully stock up on blister packs, and each day I slowly adapted to the terrain. The descents were equally as hard as the ascents. We hiked to a new location each day and each night was spent in new lodgings. The third day’s hike was slightly shorter than the last two days and we got to explore and enjoy the beautiful ski village of Verbier – the prettiest ski village I’ve ever seen. To get here we had to take a gondola ride up (my hike-weary legs were not complaining) where we were awarded with the most stunning views of Le Chable. I could easily have spent 2 more days here but we were off again the next day on a new adventure.

Day 4 was by far my favourite and the most scenic hike of the Haute Route (if that is even possible given how utterly picturesque Switzerland is). While also the mistiest (especially the early part of the journey from Verbier up over the mountain to Lac de Louvie), nothing beats this view. Cabane de Louvie (only accessible by helicopter) was our sleeping spot for the night part of our adventure (if you zoom in, you can see the refuge we stayed in at the top of the hill just past the lake).

Days 4 through 6 were the most challenging hiking days I’ve ever experienced. Three days of full hikes, staying in refuges that were only accessible by helicopter (hence places you could only hike to), climbing up the steepest mountains through boulders and ice, traversing through glaciers and hiking through some of the most desolate landscape I’ve ever seen. Some of the most incredible scenery I have ever seen too, but also days that took me out of my comfort zone on many occasions (including a rolled, swollen ankle – always a fun time for a hiker). But these pictures – I mean, damn! Switzerland – you’re a beauty.

Day 5’s hike felt like we were on another planet – the mist and sheer vastness of the landscape gave this hike a little bit of an eerie feel.

I loved staying at Hotel du Glacier in Arolla. It was the first hotel we stayed at after coming out of exile (me just being dramatic 😉, what I meant to say was it was the first hotel we lodged at after having slept in refuges the previous two nights) and the first hot shower and my own private bathroom in three days. It was heavenly! I swear I stood under that blazing water for an hour. I had the yummiest ham sandwich afterwards on the crustiest, freshest bread, overlooking the most magnificent mountain ranges. What a quaint, quintessentially Swiss hotel…and that view. It ain’t half bad either 😍

Blue blue lakes is what our hikes consisted of for the next two days. We hiked through the sweetest Swiss hamlets from Arolla to the next stop, Grimentz. We encountered the beautiful, aptly-named Lac Bleu where we were awed at how clear the water was 😍 The teal blue lake in the next set of pics is Lac de Moiry and above that is Moiry Glacier.

Our home for the next night was a quintessentially Swiss skiing town, Grimentz. Back in the day Grimentz was a medieval farming village – walking along the main street you can still see a lot of this in the architecture. What a wonderful surprise Grimentz was. Walking the streets of Grimentz was like stepping back through a moment in time.

It took us 8 hours to hike to Gruben, 4 of which were in the rain. Overlooking the small town of Zinal, was the start of our second to last hike on the Haute Route. Mount Corne de Sorebois can be seen in the distance. We stopped for lunch at the halfway point at a lovely little hotel in the mountains (the Weisshorn Hotel) where we had the yummiest pie bursting with blueberries 🥧 We were unaware we still had another 4 hours to go…and it chose that time to start raining 🌧 There’s something beautiful about quietly trudging along while the mist and rain swirls around you (even though I’m not the biggest fan of hiking in the rain). Getting to Gruben was a welcome relief.

The final hike of the Haute Route started from Gruben with the longest 3 hour ascent I have ever endured, made that much more difficult by the 8 hour hike the day before. The descent that followed was mostly through boulders, loose rocks and some ice, until we finally reached the beginning of the final descent, overlooking the town of St Niklaus. The hike down would have taken us a further 3 hours, and our only other option was taking a self-operated gondola down the mountain. By that point my feet had pretty much given up on me so the gondola it was. I’ve never been so terrified, sitting inside a swinging contraption being buffeted by the wind, looking at the sheer drop down the mountain. I have never felt so far from the ground as I did in that moment. Needless to say, I felt utter relief climbing out on the other side. I’m not even afraid of heights, but if I was, walking 3 hours down the mountain after a 6 hour hike would have been the only alternative 😉

After 12 days hiking the Haute Route, we finally made it to Zermatt! I had an awesome view of the Matterhorn from my hotel room 🤩 and walking the streets of Zermatt was so much fun! The cutest little cafes, restaurants and shops. There are no cars allowed on the main street in Zermatt. Only hotel shuttle buses, and sweet horse-drawn carriages. What an incredible end to the hiking trip of a lifetime.

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