To coincide with the launch of the Suunto Traverse we put our heads together to list some of the most epic traverses around the world, from Scotland to the Himalayas, from Patagonia to New Zealand. The list features hikes, race routes and one that you can do from the comfort of your armchair. Sit back and enjoy…
The Gillespie/Rabbit Pass, New Zealand
Why: It passes New Zealand’s finest mountain scenery
Length: 77 km with 2,705 m of ascent
It’s ranked as one of New Zealand’s hardest hikes, suitable only to those with mountaineering experience, but on the plus side, the Gillespie/Rabbit Pass ventures through epic scenery from rainforests to hanging glaciers. So stunning is the wilderness that it’s a World Heritage Area, home to peaks such as Mt Aspiring and cascading waterfalls. It’s also home to one of the greatest collections of alpine plants in the world and the Kea, the only alpine parrot on Earth.
© Wild Walks by Aspiring Guides
Ruta de los Volcanoes, La Palma
Why: This is part of the famous Transvulcania Ultramarathon
Length: 17.5 km with 1,207 m of ascent
The Transvulcania Ultramarathon is one of the toughest ultras around, packing steep ascents, scorching temperatures and soft sand underfoot. But you don’t have to sign up to a 75km race to enjoy the epic views and trails of this ridge line. The Ruta de los Volcanoes segment follows the spine of mountains across La Palma in the Canary Islands and offers incredible views across the Atlantic.
© Reinhard Kraasch
Aonach Eagach, Scotland
Why: Committing knife-edge ridge in heart of the Scottish Highlands
Length: 10 km
The first challenge of Aonach Eagach is to pronounce it! Although not long, it does require some scrambling ability, a head for heights and good mountaineering judgement. Once you’re on it, it’s very difficult to escape! It’s considered a classic of the Scottish Highlands. An east to west traverse is recommended so that you finish in Glencoe – that’s where the best pub is!
© McSporran Photography
The Haute Route
Why: The most famous crossing of the Alps
Length: 180 km / 10-12 days (hiking)
The Haute Route is probably best known as a high mountain ski tour. But it can be hiked in summer as well. It’s an epic and spectacular crossing of the Alps between the two iconic mountains of the range, Mt Blanc and the Matterhorn. The original Haute Route, or high level route, traverses below the summits of 10 out of the 12 of the highest peaks in the Alps and requires all the skills that go with that. But there is now also a non-technical walkers’ path, which while strenuous, avoids the technical sections.
Great Himalayan Trail
Why: It crosses the greatest mountain chain of the world. Need another reason?
Length: Only 4,500 km with just 150,000 m of ascent!
The great Himalayan trail is a network of loosely defined trails (some completely off the map) across Bhutan, Nepal, India, Pakistan and Tibet. Geographically, you’ll encounter everything from tropical to alpine zones. Don’t expect waymarked paths. Many of the trails were taken out by the Nepalese earthquake. But Robin Boustead has made it his life’s mission to map the entire route. Explore more here: greathimalayatrail.com
The Fitzroy Traverse
Why: Because it’s there
Length: 5 km, 4,000 m
Toughness: Off the scale
We don’t recommend you try this any time soon. In fact, the ‘Fitz Traverse’ is so extreme it remained out of the grasp of the world’s top climbers, until Tommy Caldwell and Alex Honnold came along in 2014, and their climb was a close-call. So why the mention? Well, they just turned it into a movie which is now touring with the Reel Rock tour. So it’s a traverse you can do from the comfort of your armchair. FInd it here: reelrocktour.com
Haute Randonnée Pyrénéenne
Why: Stunning wild mountain scenery
Length: 800 km, 42,000 m of ascent
The Pyrenees offer everything the aspiring high mountain trekker could wish for: both proximity and wildness. The trail is often unmarked, giving that feeling of remoteness but it’s not so high that you need technical equipment. The entire traverse takes about 45 days to complete. But if you’re Suunto ambassador Kilian Jornet, you can expect to do it in a little less. In 2010 he ran across in eight and a half days!
© Benh LIEU SONG
Main image: © Wild Walks by Aspiring Guides