Haute Route, which means ‘high route’ when translated from French, is a renowned high-altitude mountaineering and trekking route with different variants traversing the French and Swiss Alps from Chamonix to Zermatt.
The route is specific to this Alpine region of Europe, and it is one of the most emblematic and challenging trekking itineraries in the Alps. Over time, it has also become a popular destination for ski touring and, more recently, e-biking.
The dramatic scenery of the Alps, with vast valleys and towering peaks, is the perfect backdrop for this demanding route that spans over 180 km, crossing 11 mountain passes and ten of the twelve highest summits in the Alps, including the iconic Mont Blanc in Chamonix, France, and Matterhorn in Switzerland. Unsurprisingly, it is an all-time favorite destination for mountain lovers (by foot, skis, or e-MTB).
While these rugged giants have firmly stood the passage of time, they have witnessed the grit, determination and courage of countless individuals who have dared to traverse them and the evolution of mountain sports up to the advent of electric mountain bikes.
Since this mythical Haute Route is an iconic destination for mountain enthusiasts (and at the heart of e-Alps's guided e-bike tours), it seems fitting that we go over its origins and evolution – from a mountaineering route to an e-MTB itinerary.
The Haute Route was first completed in the 19th century by British mountaineers looking for alternatives to the most well-known Alpine routes of the time. The original route started in Chamonix, France, traversing to Courmayeur, Italy, then crossing over the Grand Saint Bernard Pass in Switzerland and ending in the renowned mountain village of Zermatt at the foot of the iconic Matterhorn.
The route was initially used for mountaineering but became a popular trekking and ski-touring destination in the early 20th century.
The first ski crossing of the Haute Route on record dates to the early 1900s. Since then, the route has become a popular ski touring itinerary. In recent years, the route has gained traction with mountain bikers, thanks in no small part to the popularity of electric bikes, which have made it more accessible to MTB enthusiasts wishing to tackle the challenge but not necessarily spend weeks on end doing so.
E-MTBs Redefining the Haute Route
E-bikes have revolutionised high-alpine adventures, making them more accessible to everyone (not just highly experienced mountaineers), and redefined the meaning of the Haute Route.
With the highest point above 2,900 meters, the Haute Route is a physically demanding itinerary that requires experience, skill and preparation (regardless of the means chosen to traverse it). Typically, it takes six to twelve days to complete the Haute Route by foot or skis. By electric MTB, on average, it takes seven to eight days.
But why do the Haute Route by e-MTB, you may ask? One of the advantages of traversing the Haute Route by e-bike is that you can cover more ground in less time and take in more of the stunning Alpine environment.
The Haute Route is known for its long, steep climbs. However, with an e-mountain bike, you get a higher return on investment on those lung-busting climbs up mountain passes.
Another advantage of completing the Haute Route by e-MTB is that you can enjoy the journey without the physical strain and time constraints of completing it by foot or traditional bike.
What to expect
While it is less time-consuming and challenging to complete the Haute Route by e-bike than by other means, it is still a challenging adventure requiring good physical fitness and advanced technical riding skills.
Experience riding an e-bike (and being comfortable with its weight) is a must for this itinerary, especially considering that some steep assents may require pushing, and technical descents will demand absolute control and precision.
Riders should be prepared for long days on the saddle, with steep climbs, technically challenging descents and the occasional vertiginous passage (plus unpredictable mountain weather). They should also be equipped with a spare battery and plan carefully to ensure they can charge the batteries.
That said, the reward of completing the Haute Route by e-MTB is unparalleled – immersing in stunning landscapes with shimmering glaciers and lush valleys, conquering challenging terrain, and embracing a sense of accomplishment from completing one of the most iconic routes in the Alps.
Whether you are looking for your next challenge or things to do around Mont Blanc, Zermatt or anywhere in between, this could be an epic adventure to add to your bucket list.
As part of the three main routes of the Alpine Circle, there are a variety of experiences to choose from to explore some of the highlights of this incredible itinerary. For mountain bike lovers, the Alpine Circle offers two multi-day e-bike tours in partnership with e-Alps: The Alpine Circle Ruta Ost and the Alpine Circle Ruta Vest.
Mountains are home to us and ingrained in our identity, like our genetic makeup. Our love for the Swiss Alps, its sinuous rivers, deep valleys, rugged summits, and rich culture, has been passed down to us through generations. It fuelled the creation of e-Alps and now permeates every aspect of our guided, e-bike tours.