Refuges are nice, except that to take advantage of them, you often have to trudge a lot. At the same time, if there weren’t so much effort to be made, we wouldn’t call them “refuges”! Here are the 10 really unusual ones that fully deserve to inflict a few blisters during pretty hikes.
1. The Gervasutti bivouac refuge in the Italian Alps
This refuge looks like an airplane cabin abandoned on the mountainside. A survivalist trip at 2833 meters above sea level but with the comfort of an anything but ordinary refuge. This improbable place “designed” in 2011 with materials from the aeronautics industry has replaced the old bivouac in sheet metal and wood which dated from the post-war period. It has been home to around ten berths and is accessible to mountaineers from the hamlet of Frébouge (about a 4-hour walk) towards the Aiguille de Leschaux, Mont Gruetta and the southern slope of the Col des Hirondelles.
2. The Solvay Hut in Switzerland
This refuge located at an altitude of 4000 meters is only accessible after long hours of ascent reserved for experienced mountaineers. Despite its small size, it can accommodate a dozen guests for a short stopover. Indeed, it is impossible to spend the night there in order to guarantee its sole use as emergency shelter.
3. Winter Cabin Kanin in Slovenia
It looks like an external hard drive placed on the side of a mountain. However, this refuge made of solid pine covered with aluminum with an area of 9.7 m² is only able to store 9 climbers. The cabin stands vertically on a ridge of Mount Kanin, a Slovenian peak on the border with Italy. Incidentally, the site is particularly exposed to the winds. Guaranteed sensations!
4. The Refuge du Goûter in France
The highest guarded refuge in France, the Goûter refuge is perched at an altitude of 3835m on the ring road that leads to the summit of Mont Blanc. Suffice to say that the place sees the world, up to 120 customers every day. Dormitory atmosphere and virile but not always correct smell option on the program.
5. The Grands Mulets refuge in France
Open from the end of March to the end of July, the Grands Mulets refuge sits on its rocky islet at an altitude of 3051 meters located on the historic Mont Blanc route (18th century). It mainly attracts in the spring those who wish to make the ascent on skis. In recent years, global warming has made access more difficult, which has led the establishment to bring forward its closure to mid-summer, where in 1990 it remained open until October.
6. The Antoine refuge in Switzerland
The next time you stop mid-climb to piss against (or behind) a rock, check beforehand that it is not actually the refuge imagined by Swiss architects in honor of a character from a short story by Charles-Ferdinand Ramuz. The latter were inspired to create this atypical place in the history of Antoine Verbier, a shepherd who remained a prisoner for 7 weeks under a rockslide. This refuge designed for a single person is more a space of curiosity than a real place to live. Its access is free and it can be visited like a room in an art gallery.
7. Bivak II Na Jezerih in Slovenia
Located in the heart of the Triglav National Park in the Julian Alps, this wooden and aluminum hut can accommodate up to 6 visitors in Tetris mode. A solo or two-person trip should still be very nice. But you will only know that once there because no reservation is possible.
8. The Skuta Hut in the Kamnic Alps in Slovenia
Students from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design teamed up with an architectural and an engineering firm to build this shelter inspired by traditional Slovenian architecture. and consists of three modules that were built offsite and transported by helicopter. Special feature of this refuge: it is unheated but guarantees absolute comfort in terms of temperature. A feat when the thermometer can drop to -20 degrees in winter.
9. The Monte Rosa Hut in Switzerland
This refuge is located at the foot of Monte Rosa (2,883 m) ideal for welcoming skiers after their extreme descent. At its feet is the Gorner glacier, which you can still cross on foot accompanied by a mountain guide. This place can accommodate up to 120 guests and operates in almost energy autonomy (90%), both in terms of electricity and water management with a well that collects water from melting snow, as well as wastewater treatment by microfiltration.
10. The Vignettes hut in Switzerland
It sounds like a very cute place, but this hut is the beefy kind with no less than 120 beds available. It is located at the top of the Espace glacier on the Chamonix-Zermatt high road in the Valais Alps. In addition to lodging and board, this hut offers a spectacular view of the glaciers and seracs (large blocks of ice) of Pigne d’Arolla (3790m).