Skiing the Chamonix-Zermatt Haute Route in 24 Hours, Solo

Summer or winter, the Haute Route offers one of the most iconic routes in the Alps.

This trail, with several variations, winds its way from Chamonix in the west to Zermatt in the east. Hikers and skiers of the route find themselves on a 100+km journey between Western Europe’s two most iconic mountains, Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn. Every kilometer is beautiful.

For hikers, a longer version of this trail — with an exhausting 15,200m of elevation gain — typically takes about two weeks. Winter tourers often accomplish the shorter  ski route in about six days.

Then there’s young Welsh upstart Calum Muskett, who has skied the route, solo and unsupported, in a blistering 24 hours and 30 minutes.

“It was one of the most challenging trips I’ve ever completed psychologically, not to mention physically,” Muskett wrote.


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Una publicación compartida por Calum Muskett (@calummuskett)

Not solo by choice

It’s likely a new record for a solo winter completion of the route. In 2021, Aaron Rolfe ski the route alone in just under 35 hours. As for group records, a ski team led by Laurent Fabre in 2010 completed the Haute Route in just 20 hours and 28 minutes.

Regardless, Muskett’s achievement ranks in the elite category of ski mountaineering.

An accomplished athlete and IFMGA mountain guide, Muskett carried all his own food and drank from streams along the way.

He would have preferred to “share the experience,” he wrote, but a good weather window and excellent conditions didn’t overlap with his likely accomplices. So he decided to go solo, just hoping to finish rather than aim for a record time.

The trip turned colder than he expected. Above 3,500m, temperatures dropped to -18˚C. He experienced “awful hotaches” in his hands and toes, and wanted to quit at one point. However, “there weren’t many escape options available at 2:30 am,” he wrote.

“The remainder was tortuously slow, especially on the final ascent to Col de Valpelline in the sun and there was no sprint finish through town to get to the church!” he concluded. “I’m really happy with completing this trip and found it extremely tough mentally through the night to keep my motivation up and not drop out.”

Andrew McLemore

An award-winning journalist and photographer, Andrew McLemore brings more than 14 years of experience to his position as Associate News Editor for Lola Digital Media. Andrew is also a musician, climber and traveler who currently lives in Medellin, Colombia. When he’s not writing, playing gigs or exploring the outdoors, he’s hanging out with his dog Campana.