Packing Essentials for the Haute Route Ski Tour

Skier with the Matterhorn in the background

When you pack for the Haute Route Ski Tour you want to have all the necessary equipment and also travel as lightly as possible. The excellent huts mean that you don’t need any camping essentials, although if you are a self-guided group you should consider bringing along emergency equipment for your group (a stove, bivy sacks, etc). With the hut system you also do not need to worry about breakfasts and dinners!

You can break down the equipment needed into 3 categories: 1) technical equipment, 2) clothing and 3) other essentials.

1. Technical Equipment

Some Basic Equipment for the Haute Route Ski Tour

For technical equipment you’ll want a standard backcountry skiing kit plus glacier gear. Ideally you’ll want randonn√©e / AT ski equipment, but you can complete the tour with Telemark gear. Here’s what you need:

  • AT skis and boots with touring bindings and skins – a light set up is recommended! Be sure to use true AT boots that are comfortable for walking and that are crampon compatible.
  • Ski crampons that are compatible with your bindings.
  • Adjustable ski poles.
  • A repair kit for your bindings.
  • Ski straps (such as the rubber Voile brand) to hold skis together and to use in an emergency to keep skins on your skis.
  • A beacon, probe and snow shovel. A good metal shovel is highly recommended.
  • Crampons and an ice axe.
  • A harness and proper crevasse gear (carabiners, cordelettes). A belay device for rappels. A rope if you are self-guided.
  • A helmet (recommended, not required).
  • A 40 to 45 liter backpack for your gear – having a little extra room doesn’t hurt! Make sure you can attach your skis to your pack for portage and climbing.

2. Clothing

  • Hardshell pants and jacket (goretex or similar).
  • Proper under layers.
  • 2 or 3 pairs of socks.
  • 2 pairs of gloves.
  • Warm hat and balaclava.
  • Sleep sack/ sleeping bag liner. The huts have blankets – all you need is a light weight sleep sack.
  • Extra underwear and t-shirt for sleeping.

3. Other Essentials

SwissTopo Maps and a Guide Book

  • Navigation: maps, compass, altimeter and an optional GPS.
  • Water bottles: be sure to pack a thermos! Most huts include hot tea for your thermos in the mornings.
  • Food for snack and lunches. You can purchase some food in the huts.
  • Money. Bring cash in Euros and Swiss Francs.
  • Sun screen and toiletries.
  • Glacier glasses and goggles.
  • Emergency equipment: be prepared to make a sled for evacuation or to spend the night outside. Bivy sacks and/or the ability to build a snow cave are essential! If you are on a guided expedition your guide will take care of this equipment.
  • A cellphone or radio. A list of phone numbers for emergencies (mountain rescue, REGA). A list of phone numbers for your huts in case you are late or need to cancel. If you are on a guided expedition your guide will take care of this equipment.
  • Mountain rescue insurance! Don’t travel in the mountains without it! An evacuation usually costs over $10,000 – in Swiss and French law a victim is responsible for all costs and you will be billed.

Note: if you are unfamiliar with glacier travel we highly recommend hiring a guide or joining a guided group departure. Contact us for advice!

To learn more about a guided Haute Route ski tour, which runs every March through early May, visit our website:

Winter Haute Route Overview & Itinerary

Skier Along the Haute Route with a Typical Pack

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