Whether an experienced mountaineer or keen walker, you have not really experienced the Alps until you have stayed in one of the thousands of mountain refuges there. Some in the lowlands are easily accessed, even by car. However many ot them are high on the rocks, accessible only by walking in and out.
The facilities on offer vary greatly between countries and between the type of refuge. French alpine refuges at altitude tend to be more basic, with minimal facilities. Further east in Switzerland and Italy, these high refuges can often offer the home comforts of full sanitation, electricity and even hot water showers. Here are 5 reasons you should add one to your next itinerary in the A
1 – Seeing the mountains at dusk
Staying the night at altitude gives you plenty of chance to enjoy the twilight scenery. You’ll experience views that usually only mountaineers enjoy and will be able to take the most amazing photos. Pack warm clothes (including hat & gloves) to keep you warm whilst you are outside taking
2 – New routes and adventures
Many routes are only accessible after a ‘walk in’ to the mountain refuge and then walking/climbing/skiing on from there. You’ll discover the less-trodden paths of the mountains. There are many long distance routes that use mountain refuges, such as the classic Haute-Route from Chamonix to Zermatt, Le Tour de Mont Blanc and the Italian Dolomites Alta Vias.
Via Ferratas: See article on these hiking/climbing routes. Many accessible through mountain refuges.
3 – Switch off from life
After your day in the mountains, away from wifi and often away from mobile signal too, staying in a refuge can be the perfect place to relax and unwind. Most offer electricity and hot showers, but not all. You can look at your stay as an extended opportunity to reconnect with
4 – Enjoy the company
Whether it’s the people you are travelling with or other fellow travellers you meet, there’s plenty of time to catch-up. You’ll meet many different people from a variety of backgrounds and countries. These people can vary from small groups who are just in the mountains for a few a days to solitary walkers who may be walking a long-distance path over many months.
5 – The food and facilities are often very good
Check each refuge/chalet before you travel, most have nice hot showers, comfortable beds and can provide meals but it’s best to be prepared. Beds are usually in mixed dormitories and you will need to bring a sleeping bag liner. You pay extra for dinner which is a great way to experience local cooking, it is usually served at a particular time and everyone eats together. Breakfast is usually a very simple affair of bread, cheese and jam. Many
Please share below your favourite refuge experiences. Where would you recommend to go and why?