The Monte Rosa hut
On seal skins
Opened in 2009 and virtually energy self-sufficient, the new Monte Rosa hut (CAS) turns heads with its revolutionary design. A superb ski-touring destination, it offers guests an unforgettable night’s stay.
Of all the Zermatt region’s many short ski touring trails, the one climbing up to the new Monte Rosa hut is in a league of its own. The route is not especially taxing and fairly accessible as a result, though if you are lacking in experience, you can always hire the services of a professional mountain guide. It winds its way through majestic scenery featuring many a glacier and legendary peak, and at the end of it stands a high-tech mountain hut. Built in 2009, it is a flagship of Alpine architecture.
More than just a mountain hut
It is not a route that you have to fight your way up. While the whole journey takes five hours from Zermatt via the Gornergletscher, it takes only four from Furi, two and half from the Rotenboden stop on the legendary Gornergrat Bahn and one and a half from the top station of the Stockhorn cable car.
Looming in the distance is the truly impressive eight-sided hut, situated at an altitude of 2,883 metres and magnificently encircled by a ring of around 20 four thousand-metre high peaks. Nicknamed the “rock crystal”, this architectural jewel is the result of a project launched in 2003 to mark the 150th anniversary of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich. Nestling at the foot of the Dufourspitze, it has been designed to withstand gusts of 200 km/h. Standing 18 metres high, it boasts an environmentally friendly, all-wooden structure that is Minergie-P-certified. Wrapped around it is an aluminium shell with windows and 180m2 of solar panelling, which makes the building 92% energy self-sufficient. More than a mountain hut for climbers and skiers, it is also a life-size research station for energy and building technology engineers.
Out on the terrace, where the sun seems only too happy to invite itself in, the gaze is drawn to Castor and Pollux, the Breithorn, the Matterhorn and the Gorner and Grenz glaciers. While some drop in for the day to feast their eyes on the views, others spend the night at the hut and push on the following day, up the long climb to the Dufourspitze, which overlooks Switzerland from a height of 4,634 metres.
It is best to book ahead to have the luxury of spending the night in one of the hut’s three-to-eight person bedrooms, which are equipped with comfortable mattresses measuring 75 cm wide. The Monte Rosa hut is only open from mid-March to mid-May and from July to mid-September and is hardly ever quiet. Light years away from the mountain huts of yesteryear, it even has hot showers and indoor toilets, which is the height of luxury in this mountainous part of the world.
For more details to plan this excursion and others:
map.geo.admin.ch (topographic maps)
www.slf.ch/fr (avalanche bulletins)