Great Alpine Traverse

Five Countries—on foot!

Trip Level

This trip is rated a Level 4+ (Moderate to Strenuous) according to our trip grading system. You will need to be able to keep up with the moderate but steady hiking pace of the group; however, there are alternative hiking options available on some days.

Average Hiking Day
• 3-5 hours
• 5-8 miles
• 1,000-2,000 feet gain/loss
• Altitudes range from 4,500-11,500 feet

Challenge Days
• Day 9: approximately 9 miles, 6 hours, 2,700 feet gain/2,300 feet loss
• Day 11: approximately 9 miles, 7.5 hours, 3,250 feet gain/1,900 feet loss

How Tough is This Trip?
You need to be able to hike on uneven surfaces, occasionally downhill over loose scree. You must feel comfortable and confident on your feet for 7 hours a day, with recent experience hiking 8 miles in a day. This trip has several long, strenuous hiking days mixed in with some shorter, moderate hiking days and a couple days of minimal, easy hiking days.

Altitude is not usually a problem for people on this trip. The itinerary is developed to take you gently to higher altitudes, giving you plenty of time to acclimatize. However, some people may be affected when they first reach high altitude. Slight headaches and sleeplessness are the most common problems.

You’ll carry just a daypack on most days, but on two hiking days, when we are staying in a mountain lodge with no road access, you must be able to carry your own overnight items. Most medium-sized daypacks have enough room for the things you’ll need (a toothbrush, soap, small towel, and a fresh t-shirt suffice for most people).

Terrain

At lower elevations, the trails are usually packed dirt, but at higher elevations they are often much rockier, with occasional sections of glacial snow, loose scree, and large boulders. On some days, you will encounter sections of narrow, exposed trails. You will also occasionally need to use your hands to scramble over and between a jumble of boulders. Your experienced mountain guides are very safety conscious and are there to assist you if needed on the few tricky parts of the trail.

Weather

The months we visit the Alps are the optimal ones, but the weather can be fickle. It can range from blue skies with temperatures in the 60s°F and 70s°F to cloudy, wet, cold days on which rain gear and warm layers are necessary. There’s even a possibility of encountering snow on the trails. At night, the temperature will drop quite a bit, depending on the altitude. In a two-week period, you are likely to experience a full range of weather conditions.

Accommodations

Some of the lodges we stay in are rustic, well-located for hikers, and continuously busy in the summer hiking season. These are hikers’ inns, not 5-star resorts. The rooms are clean and comfortable, but not always of uniform size or amenities. Most of the other hotels are very nice. Our Trip Leaders do their best to assign rooms in a fair way so that all participants experience an equal advantage throughout the trip as a whole.

On two nights (Days 9 and 11), we stay in hike-in lodges with shared baths (no private baths). Hot water and showers are available. Bunks, mattresses, and blankets are provided. 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. Single rooms are provided when available, but those who pay the Single Supplement will still have to share a room for the two nights spent at the hike-in lodges.

Cuisine

Some lunches are picnics in a scenic spot on the trail, and others are in local restaurants or alpine lodges. Most evenings we have dinner at our hotel—hearty alpine fare. For dinners “on your own,” the Trip Leader will be happy to make recommendations for local restaurants.

Transporation

We use many forms of transportation as we travel during the trip (cable car, bus, train, van, and boat), so we ask that you restrict your luggage to one piece, plus your daypack. A support vehicle will transport the group’s luggage each day, except for the nights we stay in lodges with no road access.

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.

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