mont blanc hiking tour chamonix france

Lac Blanc, Chamonix, France

Shimmering Lac Blanc is set at the base of the spires of the Aiguille Route, near Mont Blanc. Our unique hiking journey crosses the Alps—and the borders of five countries: France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, and Austria.

Photo by Ben Ailes

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Great Alpine Traverse

Incredible Mountain Hikes through Five Countries

Great Alpine Traverse route-map

Trip Details at-a-Glance

Cost From: $7695  
Length: 15 days
Arrive: Chamonix, France
Depart: Salzburg, Austria
Lodging: 6 nights hotels, 5 nights charming inns, 3 nights alpine lodges with semi-private rooms, shared baths, and hot showers
Meals: All meals included except 2 lunches and 1 dinner
Activity: Hiking / Trekking, Cultural Adventures
Trip Level: 14 hiking days on moderate to steep trails, 5-8 hours a day, altitudes between 6,000-11,500 feet, van support (for luggage or tired feet), team of up to 3 Trip Leaders
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Highlights

  • The ultimate Alps trip, with a variety of great hikes, delicious cuisine, and Europe’s best mountain scenery—nobody else can offer this trip!
  • Experience the culture and cuisine of five alpine countries
  • Handpicked hotels include the Grand Hotel des Alpes (Chamonix) and Hotel Walther (Pontresina)


The Great Alpine Traverse was the best trip I've ever experienced! Everything was perfect—choice of hikes, food, hotels, sightseeing—you name it—it was great!!!Theresa L.—Denver, CO

Choosing the Right Trip

We work hard to help you choose the right trip for you, paying attention to your individual interests, abilities, and needs. If you have questions about the level of comfort or any of the activities described in this itinerary, please contact us.

References

We are proud to have an exceptionally high rate of repeat travelers. For more information, we would be happy to put you in touch with a client who has traveled with us.

Departure Notes

Once you have signed up on the trip, we send a complete packing list, relevant health information, and required travel documents.

Looking for the ultimate Alps odyssey? We’ve created a one-of-a-kind, five-country adventure that links the best trails of France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, and Austria, and crosses five international borders, all on foot! Our extraordinary hikes bring you below the peaks of Mont Blanc in France, to the Matterhorn from both the Italian and Swiss sides, and across the magnificent glacier-clad Tyrolean Alps of Germany and Austria—you’ll experience so much in just two weeks! We connect one glorious hiking realm to another with cog rails, cable cars, and Switzerland’s famed Glacier Express. This is a cultural journey, too, as you discover Europe’s ancient mountain hamlets and traditional cuisines. Our team of at least two and often three Trip Leaders brings style, camaraderie, and wonderful fun to this incredible experience of the Alps.

Itinerary at a Glance

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

Days 1-4
Chamonix, France / Aosta, Italy / Zermatt, Switzerland

Our journey begins in Chamonix, where a breathtaking gondola ride brings you across the Vallée Blanche Glacier for a close look at the icy flanks of Mont Blanc. Heading into Italy and on to Switzerland, a dazzling amphitheater of mountains surrounds you on hikes along the Grand Balconeta trail to Cervinia, right at the foot of the Matterhorn (14,688’), and down the Theodul Glacier for amazing views of this pyramidal peak.

Days 5-7
Upper Engadine

A spectacular rail journey on the Glacier Express carries you to St. Moritz in the Upper Engadine. After a hike along the mighty Morteratsch Glacier, take a cable car to our lodge for an overnight among the high peaks.

Days 8-15
Maria Alm, Austria / Karlingerhaus, Germany / Salzburg, Austria

Our hike along the Inn River leads among hamlets and forests, then crosses the remote Futschol Pass into Austria. From Maria Alm on the mountainous Austria-Germany border, hike into Germany to a lovely lakeside lodge surrounded by limestone towers. A descent through a glacier-carved landscape brings you to Königssee, encircled within near-vertical rock walls, and on to Salzburg. Depart on Day 15.

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

What the Trip is Like

This trip is Level 4+, Moderate to Strenuous. Most hiking is between 6,000 and 9,000 feet. However, at times we hike at higher elevations, with a maximum of 11,500 feet at the Theodul Pass on the Italian-Swiss border. On Day 2, we ascend by cable car to 12,678 feet at the top of the Aiguille du Midi above Chamonix. There is a good bit of up-and-down hiking (often 3,000- to 4,000-foot gain or loss in elevation per day) during the 5-8 hours on the trail each day. You’ll carry just a daypack on most days, but on two hiking days, when we are staying in a mountain refuge with no road access, you must be able to carry your overnight needs in your daypack. Most medium-sized daypacks have enough room for your overnight belongings (a toothbrush, soap, small towel, and a fresh t-shirt suffice for most people).

Altitude is not usually a problem for people on these trips. The itinerary is developed to take you gently to higher altitude, giving you plenty of time to acclimatize. However, some people still find they get a few problems when they first reach high altitude. Slight headache and sleeplessness in the refuges are the most common problems.

Getting in Shape
We strongly urge you to “train up” for your trip. The best training for hiking is hiking, especially over hills or rough terrain. Next best are running, swimming, bicycling or other sports exercise (stair-climbing machines are excellent preparation for hiking uphill). It’s important to take time to build up muscle and endurance prior to your trip. Try to incorporate exercise into your daily schedule at least a couple of months before departure. Your feet should also be well prepared—make sure your hiking boots are sturdy and thoroughly broken-in.

Accommodations
Most of the hotels we stay in are rustic, well located for hikers, and continuously busy in the summer hiking season. Please note these are hikers’ hotels, not five-star resorts. The rooms are clean and comfortable, but not always of uniform size or amenities. Other hotels are very nice. Our Trip Leaders try their best to assign rooms in a fair way so that all participants experience an equal advantage throughout the trip as a whole. Single rooms are offered when possible, but those who pay the Single Supplement may have to share a room for up to five nights during the trip.

On three nights (Day 7, Day 10, Day 13), we stay in mountain refuges with shared baths (no private baths). Hot water and showers are available in all three mountain refuges. Bunks, mattresses, and blankets are provided. The bedding at the refuges is quite clean, but there are no individual sheets, soap, or towels available. If you prefer to bring your own sleeping bag liner, you can carry it in your daypack on these overnights.

Life on the Trail in the Alps
All meals are included except one dinner and two lunches. Some lunches are picnics on the trail and others are in local restaurants or alpine huts. Most evenings we have dinner at our hotel—hearty alpine fare. Vegetarians please note that we will accommodate dietary needs as best as possible, but it is a good idea to bring along protein bars and other supplements.

We use many forms of transportation as we travel during the trip, so we ask that you restrict your luggage to one piece, plus your daypack/rucksack. A support vehicle will transport the group’s luggage each day, except for the night we stay in a mountain refuge with no road access.

Explanation of Trip Levels

 

Departures & Leaders

2014
Aug 26-Sep 9, 2014

2015
Jul 7-21, 2015  James Fuss
Jul 28-Aug 11, 2015
Aug 25-Sep 8, 2015  Mike Browder

Trip Cost

Prices are for 2015
$7695 (13-15 members)
$7995 (11-12 members)
$8395 (7-10 members)
Single supplement: $1060
Forced single supplement: $810
more on pricing

Trip Cost Includes:

  • Expert leadership of at least two Wilderness Travel Trip Leaders (and often three, depending on group size)
  • Accommodations in hotels and three non-consecutive nights in mountain refuges
  • All meals included except 2 lunches and 1 dinner
  • Airport transfer from Geneva to Chamonix
  • Glacier Express train excursion (including champagne picnic lunch)
  • Cable cars and telepheriques required to reach trailheads and overnight destinations

Trip Cost Does Not Include:

International airfare, any meals not specified after each itinerary day in the Full Trip Brochure, airport departure taxes, optional tipping or gratuities to leaders or staff, additional hotel nights that may be necessary due to airline schedule changes or other factors; pre-trip expenses of medical immunizations (if any), travel insurance, or passports and visas; and other expenses of a personal nature (alcoholic beverages, laundry, etc.).

Trip Payment Schedule

At time of reservation: $500
120 days prior to departure: 20%
60 days prior to departure: Balance

Cancellation and Transfer Fee Schedule

More than 90 days prior to departure: No charge!
46-90 days prior to departure: 25% of trip cost
45 days or less: 100% of trip cost

Grand Hotel des Alpes

Grand Hotel des Alpes

Day 1 (1 night), Chamonix, France

A truly wonderful hotel that WT groups have enjoyed for years, the elegant Grand Hotel is right in the center of Chamonix, set back on a lovely ...
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HB Aosta Hotel

HB Aosta Hotel

Day 2 (1 night), Aosta, Italy

The recently renovated HB Aosta enjoys a wonderful location, set at the beginning of the main pedestrian zone in Aosta's historic city center.
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Chalet Valdotain

Chalet Valdotain

Day 3 (1 night), Cervinia, Italy

This chalet-style hotel surrounded by larch forests has cozy wood-paneled rooms, a superb restaurant, and an indoor swimming pool with hydromassage. ...
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Hotel Alpenblick

Hotel Alpenblick

Day 4 (1 night), Zermatt, Switzerland

A small, comfortable, modern hotel, the Alpenblick has a peaceful and quiet location about a five-minute walk down to Zermatt’s main street. ...
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Hotel Walther

Hotel Walther

Days 5 to 6 (2 nights), Pontresina, Switzerland

There’s stellar service at this family-owned Relais & Chateaux property, along with beautifully appointed rooms, full spa services, and a ...
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Berghaus Diavolezza

Berghaus Diavolezza

Day 7 (1 night), Pontresina, Switzerland

Accessible only on foot or by ski lift, the Berghaus Diavolezza offers comfort in an absolutely spectacular location. More like a hotel than a ...
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Hotel Meisser

Hotel Meisser

Days 8 to 9 (2 nights), Guarda, Switzerland

In the gorgeous little mountain village of Guarda, the Meisser is a historic family-owned inn now run by the fifth generation of the same Swiss ...
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Jamtal Hutte

Jamtal Hutte

Day 10 (1 night), Galtur, Austria

With a commanding location at 5,000 feet at the junction of three alpine valleys, this simple hike-in lodge is very comfortable and recently ...
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Alpenland Sporthotel

Alpenland Sporthotel

Days 11 to 12 (2 nights), Maria Alm, Austria

The Alpenland is a modern resort hotel with excellent facilities, including a beautiful pool and sauna. It's in Maria Alm, a quaint village nestled ...
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Karlingerhaus Hutte

Karlingerhaus Hutte

Day 13 (1 night), Funtensee, Germany

A stone hike-in lodge open only in summer, Karlinger Haus is set on the shores of a small lake called the Funtensee. The lodge is very simple, with ...
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Salzburg Hotel

Day 14 (1 night), Salzburg, Austria

In Salzburg we stay at one of the following properties:

Note: Listed above are our signature accommodations for this trip. Although it is highly unlikely, we may make substitutions when necessary.

Our Trip Leaders

Here are the Trip Leaders scheduled for this journey (please note that leader assignments are subject to change).

Mike Browder

Departure Dates: August 25-September 8, 2015

Mike Browder has worked in outdoor settings all his life, from directing parks and recreation programs in Bend, Oregon, to mountain climbing in North America and Asia (including an ascent of Everest!) to coaching school ski programs. He spent much of the 1990s in Central Asia, guiding, teaching ...
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Laurence Frison

Departure Dates: August 26-September 9, 2014

Laurence Frison, of France, earned her diploma in graphic design but prefers the life of traveling, hiking, skiing, and guiding. She spent a decade exploring the world from Africa to Australia, including a three-month road trip from Vancouver to Los Angeles, and for the last two years she has ...
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James Fuss

Departure Dates: July 7-21, 2015

James Fuss is a trekking guide, photographer, cyclist, and chef extraordinaire. Born and raised in South Australia, James found his wanderlust early on family camping trips across Australia. His love of the culinary arts is deep-rooted as well, and as a young chef, he headed off to Europe to ...
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Annie Hawkins

Departure Dates: July 28-August 11, 2015

Annie Hawkins, born and raised in a small village in Burgundy, is a passionate world traveler and one of our most enchanting Trip Leaders. After studying art history in Provence, Annie moved to California, where she led adventure tours in the American Southwest and realized that leading adventure ...
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Sean Morrissey

Departure Dates: August 26-September 9, 2014

Sean Morrissey was born and raised in London but also spent time in Ireland with relatives while growing up (he holds both Irish and British passports). He moved to Australia at age 20, worked there for two years, then heeded the call of the mountains and became a professional guide, working in ...
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Hashmat Singh

Departure Dates: July 28-August 11, 2015

Hashmat Singh has led over 100 journeys on three continents for us since 1990. He holds a BA in History from Delhi University and is a noted photographer. His book, Trekking in the Himalaya (Roli Books), features photographic essays from Ladakh to Bhutan. Born an army brat, Hashmat traveled ...
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Stewart Wheelhouse

Departure Dates: August 26-September 9, 2014

Stewart Wheelhouse, a Welshman by birth, has spent the past 23 years leading adventures and expeditions throughout the world. He has traveled the length of Africa, written guidebooks on cycling through Europe, and led expeditions in Asia and Australia. A wonderful storyteller and traveling ...
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Client Comments

The Great Alpine Traverse was the best trip I've ever experienced! Everything was perfect—choice of hikes, food, hotels, sightseeing—you name it—it was great!!! Theresa L., Denver, CO This trip was over-the-top on hiking and luxury—you don’t often have both. The countries were glorious, the guides were tops. Teresa M., Parker, CO This is the best value for the money we have ever received for a tour. We will certainly be looking at WT in the future for other trips. Rich and Nancy G., Lester Prairie, Minnesota I would highly recommend this trip to anyone who wants an overview of these countries and who enjoys a good workout at the same time! It was physically challenging, but not overly so. The scenery was magnificent and the camaraderie was great. Joan P., South Deerfield, MA A spectacular trip! Great hiking every day, often at altitude and always beautiful, and everything perfectly planned and executed. This trip really delivered. I loved every minute! I have traveled extensively and this was one of my best trips ever! Nancy F., New York, NY A wonderful trip and terrific introduction to the local culture, history, and breathtaking natural beauty of the Alps! Paul P., South Deerfield, MA As my 21st WT trip, I rate this near the top of all time favorites (my favorite being the one where I met my husband!). It had it all—a variety of nice hiking trails, picturesque hamlets and villages scattered through five European countries, an assortment of activities, local cuisine, and nice provincial hotels with lots of character. The 'perfect' trip! Diane S., Vista, CA
The trip leaders, splendid hiking trails, fine choreography of the trip itinerary, regional cuisines, and mix of accommodations (from luxury hotels to spectacularly located mountain lodges) made for a wonderful travel experience. Barbara and Don T., Windsor, Ontario A fabulous trip. Amazing hikes, wonderful leaders. A really top notch trip! Victoria O., Boulder, CO Great group and excellent guides, incredible scenery and excellent weather. A recipe for an excellent trip. Robert M., Santa Paula, CA Excellent does not come close to describing my experiences on this trip. The Alps are truly spectacular, but seeing them and experiencing them with Mike and James and Tony made it an extraordinary trip for me.  It was the best time of my life! Susan I., Boulder, CO What a great itinerary! The scenery, sights, and diverse areas made it a fantastic trip. Lisa D., Long Beach, CA