Heroes of the Haute Route

Meet the Hikers Who Do Amazing Things on the Haute Route

Alpenwild's Haute Route clients are some of the most amazing people you'll ever meet. Sharing the trail with them as we experience this classic trek is a highlight of our summer. We'd like to introduce you to some of these people and pay tribute to their talent, energy, and expertise.


George and Char Strate Haute Route

Oldest  Heroes  of the Haute Route

First, meet George and Charlene Strate from Vail, Colorado. George and Char are avid hikers, cyclists, and skiers. George is our oldest client to hike the Haute Route—He celebrated his 76th birthday hiking with us in the Alps—and energetic companion, Char, is our oldest female Haute Route hiker at age 75. Together, they are our oldest couple to hike the Haute Route.

But the story doesn't stop there. Following a surprise snow storm on September 12, 2012 the trail over the Col Termin was covered with snow. George led the way as we were breaking trail and doing a bit of routefinding. Both George and Char are fast hikers and led the way on most of the trek.  

McConnell, Youngest Haute Route Hikers

Youngest  Haute  Route  Hiker

That title goes to Tom McConnell, age 10, who with his older brothers Will (age 12) and Nick (age 14) hiked the Haute Route with their dad in the summer of 2011.
That commendable record was challenged in the summer of 2013 when a 7-year-old hiked nearly all of the Haute Route with the exception of a couple bad weather days. 
Suzi Heaton Vibram Five Finger Shoes

Minimalist FootwearSuzi Heaton five finger vibram shoes

Alpenwild's  Haute  Route  packing list talks about the importance of proper hiking footwear. So when Suzi Heaton called and asked if she could hike the  Haute Route  in her Vibram FiveFinger barefoot sports shoes, we  weren't  gushing in our support. But Suzi is a strong hiker and had a lot of previous hiking experience in her minimalist footwear. The outcome: She wore her FiveFingers every step of the way—even through a few long snowfields. The smile on her face says a lot.
Michael Crane did the trek on crutches

The Latest in Trekking Poles

When Mike Crane, age 70, booked his  Haute  Route  trip in the fall of 2011 he  didn't  know that he would be doing it on crutches. But when a turn of events made using forearm crutches a necessity, Mike decided to go forward with his Haute  Route  plans. He hiked every inch with crutches at his side and a smile on his face.
Matthew Weaver, fastest Augstbord Pass

Record time to the Augstbord Pass

The  Haute  Route  isn't  a race, but for those with a competitive spirit we offer a little challenge on the final pass of the route from Grüben to the Augstbordpass. Our hikers regularly beat the signposted time of 3 hours, but some can't be held back. Take Matthew Weaver, for example, a cross country runner at MIT. Matt made it from Grüben to the Augstbordpass in breathtaking time of just 1 hour and 16 minutes in the summer of 2011.
On the same day, and not far behind him, was Jordan Bryan from Los Angeles California who arrived at the pass in 1 hour 19 minutes.
Lac Louvie Swim Glacial Waters

Coldest Swim on the  Haute  Route

The glacial-fed waters of Lac de Louvie, set at 7260 feet elevation, are numbingly cold, even in summer. But that  didn't  keep  Haute  Route  hikers Will Miller, Emma Miller, Jordan Bryan, Matthew Weaver, Nate Weaver and Trip Leader Kate Lewis from braving the cold and swimming in the lake.

Who's next?

Are you one of our Haute Route Heroes in waiting? If so, send us your photo and story.