Video: World’s Most Famous Ski Tour - on a Mountain Bike.

Apr 8, 2013
by Filme von Draussen  
Life is like a mountain pass. Sometimes you have to suffer your way to the top. But once you get there, it’s worth all the effort. In August 2012, my friend Johannes Riebl and me set out to ride world’s most famous ski tour - on our mountain bikes. We came home with some incredible memories. And a film, to share our story.

Views: 33,058    Faves: 310    Comments: 32



From Mont Blanc to Matterhorn
The Haute Route is probably world’s most famous ski tour. The first to tackle it were British alpinists in the 19th century. They were obsessed with the idea of skiing from Mont Blanc to the Matterhorn. Many decades later, riders like Hans Rey and Holger Meyer followed in their tracks: not on skis, but on bikes. When I read about it for the first time in the Swiss “Ride Magazine”, I was thrilled. I am not a mountain biking superhero and I knew that this trip would be way beyond anything I had done on my bike so far. Luckily, my friend Johannes Riebl was crazy enough to join me. I won’t try to retell the story of our trip. That is what we shot the film for. But in the following, I would like to share some practical tips for all of the people who do not get deterred by our whining and who want to tackle the Haute Route as well.

From Verbier to Brig, as close as it gets to the glaciers.


We set a goal to ride from Verbier to Brig within five days, staying all the time as close to the glaciers as possible. In Valais, there are 41 mountains with peaks above 13,000 feet and it is a breathtaking place to ride - or carry, as it turned out. We had to cope with at least 6,500 vertical feet uphill each day. The trails are rough and for the most part, the bikes were on our shoulders. The thin air did not help either. But the rewards were enormous: Far off the highly frequented mountain bike routes, we found solitude, sublime beauty and some of the Alps finest singletracks. The descent from Augstbordpass, for example, is one of the longest in the Swiss Alps and it is reserved for people following our route, as its remoteness makes it nearly impossible to ride on a day trip

Johannes Riebl starting his descent from the Col de Torrent.


We decided to bring our mid-travel bikes: I took my Orbea Rallon, a 160mm trail bike and it was a great choice. Anything heavier than that would have been a serious handicap for the uphills, yet I was grateful for every millimeter of suspension on our way downhill. We also opted for tubeless tires and despite all the rocks and debris, we did not have to cope with a single flat tire. As both of us ride clipped in, we got ourselves some Shimano SH-MT91’s. This is more of a hiking boot than bike shoe, but we were more than happy with our choice. Bringing freeride sneakers or even race shoes on a high alpine trip would have been really risky. Another indispensable piece of equipment were our hardshells, which were provided by Vaude. Most of the time, we stayed between 6,000 and 9,000 feet and wind and harsh weather conditions can happen at any time, even in Summer.

The final downhill to Brig.


Important to know:
- When to go: The only time of the year it is possible to ride this route is summer, from July to September.
- Accommodation: Sadly, there are no real mountain huts along the route, therefore you have to spend the nights in the hotels in the valleys (Lac des Dix, Arolla, St. Luc, Stalden).
- Total distance: 111 miles
- Uphill: 31,217 vertical feet, Downhill: 42,355 vertical feet
- There are a couple of lifts along the way that you can use, but it's still a tough trip.
- Check out the map of the trip

Reduce to the max: We couldn't bring much filmmaking equipment.




57 Comments

  • + 49
 Everyone loves an adventure and you guys have just inspired a generation to pack their bags and live the dream. Good work..
  • + 13
 chop your toothbrush to half size so it will fit in with the masses of gopro mounts! Glad to see your priorities are the same as mine.
  • + 3
 Look at all those mammary cards!!!
  • + 6
 It's always great to see a video about riders who are grounded in a reality similar to the vast majority of us. Except that you had an opportunity to go on this epic ride. Well done and congratulations on parenthood. Hopefully you can share your passion for riding with your families someday.
  • + 8
 The amazing thing is that they took the time to setup the camera, film themselves riding and then go back to get the camera, great film!
  • + 5
 I want to do descents so long they are grueling. What a dream come true. Congrats on the new kids, by the way!
  • + 6
 Just the best, pure mountainbiking, awesome work guys...inspirational.
  • + 1
 Yeah as close to epic as you will ever find
  • + 1
 wow, really great movie! really shows what one is willing to do to enjoy mountain biking the way we want it. Some will do more though... Its really inspiring and makes one just want to get out into the mountains. Too bad its all flat round here :-/
  • + 4
 Sehr geil, sensationel! Smile
  • + 1
 All my respect to the guys who made it through but my best friend did this tour a few years back with a tent and no cosy hotel room. Roughing the nights out and actually really linked Verbier to Zermatt.
  • + 3
 That was awesome! What a great adventure. European riding is on the list. Thanks!
  • + 2
 Stunning! Reminds me of why I moved to the Alpes to live! Makes me wanna go ride but still to much snow at the moment!
  • + 1
 I'm with you there
  • + 3
 super Sache ... mit 100% Fernwehgarantie!!!
weiter so!
  • + 3
 The map link is broken, I'd love to check out the route details, thanks!
  • + 2
 Are you sure? Works for me...
  • + 0
 Hello,Thanks a lot for sharing, you knows it or to find the Trace GPS (*gpx....) of it Ride ?
  • + 3
 Inspirational...great efort and great video.
  • + 1
 Awsome! Just wondering, how did you filmed it? was there another person with you, or you would leave the camera, ride the shot, then go pick the camera and go on?
  • + 3
 This is it. What an effort, thanks for sharing it!
  • + 2
 dit is echt perfectieSmile
  • + 1
 Hi guys, I can't find the gpx any more??!?!? someone has it?? it disapperead form the dropbox...
  • + 2
 wow!!! never stop challenge~~~ ^^
  • + 1
 Can't wait to capture that adventure feeling this summer on some of those same trails! Thanks Tom!
  • + 1
 Hello,Thanks a lot for sharing, Just wondering.Somebody knows it or to find the Trace GPS (*gpx....) of it Ride ?
  • + 1
 Awesome , wish I had the resources to go big like this Congrats to both of you
  • + 3
 Core fitness is key.
  • + 1
 Speaking german alot of thoes translations were 'altered' good video thouugh!!
  • + 1
 really great video. and the story behind is really inspiring ! thanks for sharing and congrats for your babies Smile
  • + 1
 What a fantastic adventure...simply unbelievable!!! Guys...you're great!!! Smile
  • + 2
 Great work. Thanks a lot for sharing.
  • + 2
 Respect for managing the tour. Nice edit!
  • + 1
 so many stories of the alps... surely one of the best places to ride in the world. a good contender for VOY
  • + 2
 that is amazing! I love it.
  • + 1
 superb effort, awe inpsiring, the final downhill to Brig pic is scary and breathtaking......
  • + 2
 Really inspirational. This is what mountain biking is all about to me..
  • + 3
 Great video!
  • + 0
 It all looks worth it for that last descent if nothing else!
As for the new 'projects', you need to kit them out with full XTR first Wink
  • + 2
 Amazing in HD, quality video with so little filming equipment too Salute
  • + 2
 Yeah its amazing what can be done with pocket sized equipment nowadays
  • + 1
 Jungs, habt ihr sauber gemacht!
  • + 1
 One of my ultimate dreams. Thank you for sharing and giving us an idea.
  • + 1
 All round respect guys way to take it to the next level
  • + 1
 That was just amazing! Congratulations!
  • + 1
 That was an amazing watch..
  • + 1
 Must be really nice doing this
  • + 1
 good God get some knee pads!
  • + 1
 That looked incredible, I wish I could do something like this some day.
  • + 1
 The vertical feet is insane! Adventure of a lifetime.
  • + 1
 GREAT video! What a beautiful part of the world to ride mountain bikes...
  • + 1
 wooo love it , now your new papa it is more challenging
  • + 1
 That was sooo pleasant to watch
  • + 1
 One of the best videos I have seen on Pinkbike!
  • + 1
 You guys rock!!! Awesssooooome...
  • + 1
 wow, i am stoked!

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