Forum
Buying gear? Please use these links to help 14ers.com:

More info...

Other ways to help...

Swiss & French Huts

Discussion area for peaks outside of the USA.
User avatar
Posts: 14
Joined: Thu Aug 27, 2009 10:46 pm
Location: Denver

Swiss & French Huts

Postby Koy » Wed Nov 03, 2010 8:28 pm

Our 1st climbing trip to the Alps is a go. 1 week in Chamonix and 1 week in Switzlerland. Needless to say, we're psyched!! Having never been over there, what will we really need while we're staying in the huts? Is a sleeping bag necessary? Recommended? Are breakfast and dinner provided if you pay up or it? I think we've got the rest of it nailed down fairly well, but any insight on this would be appreciated.

User avatar
Posts: 2056
Joined: Thu Jul 14, 2005 8:30 pm
Location: Bellingham, Washington

Re: Swiss & French Huts

Postby Aubrey » Wed Nov 03, 2010 10:39 pm

I can only speak on my experience at a hut in Switzerland, which we booked online (via email). In-advance reservations weren't necessary but we wanted to be sure to have a spot. Had we not booked in advance, we probably would've still gotten a bunk (mainly because we hiked to it earlier than most), but it was nice to know we had something secured before hiking all the way up there.

Can't say what all huts provide, but the one in Switz where we stayed had foam mattresses ... albeit they smelled like piss. We just brought sleeping bags (and held our noses). And it was so warm in the hut that our 3-season bags were overly warm. Dinner and breakfast was included in the cheap overnight price, though it may be different hut to hut. Dinner was pasta with meat and bread. Breakfast was like a continental breakfast at an American hotel. We paid for beers, which were cheap, relatively speaking.

We both drank like fish, ate, and stayed the night, and I think our total bill was still less than $50.

User avatar
Posts: 1086
Joined: Mon May 24, 2010 12:57 pm
Location: Littleton, CO

Re: Swiss & French Huts

Postby climbing_rob » Thu Nov 04, 2010 6:43 am

I've stayed at three Alp huts in that area, the Cosmmique hut on Mont Blanc above Chamonix, the Hornli hut on the Matterhorn above Zermat and the hut on Monta Rosa, also above Zermat. All had comfy-padded bunks, but definitely bring a sleeping bag, lightweight seems good enough. All three huts had food and drink to purchase. All three of these huts were fairly expensive, especially the Cosmique in France. The Swiss franc and therefore those huts were a bit more reasonable.

Chamonix left me cold, though of course Mont Blanc was incredible. The Zermat area and the city itself was awesome, and those climbs were fantastic, especially Monta Rosa, the highest peak in Switzerland (we were stormed off the Matterhorn, alas).

User avatar
Posts: 367
Joined: Thu Aug 09, 2007 7:22 pm
Location: Aurora

Re: Swiss & French Huts

Postby Alby426 » Thu Nov 04, 2010 7:08 am

I have climbed many times in Chamomix and, it's one of my favorite places in the world.
As far as the Huts, make sure that you reserve a spot (Via phone: http://www.montagnes.com/alpinisme/refuge.asp)
They will provide dinner, if reserved and, it is not too cheap, but may be worth it. You can also bring your own food. I suggest that you, as you do in mountains here, bring plenty of calories for your trip.
You will not need sleeping bag as they have blankets. don't expect luxury accommodations, but you may be too tired to worry.
You will enjoy the outhouses. :D
Don't forget that the supplies are flown in by helicopter, that is why they are a bit more expensive.
Plan your trip well and, be safe.
If you have any more questions, please let me know, I would be happy to answer them.
We are also thinking of going back to Cham next year, so, maybe we'll see you there. :wink:
My duty, as a human, is not to take, but, to give!

Online
Posts: 1491
Joined: Wed Nov 21, 2007 11:14 am
Location: Englewood, CO

Re: Swiss & French Huts

Postby TomPierce » Thu Nov 04, 2010 7:27 am

Agree with what others have said. I've never brought a bag and did OK with the blankets, which are so-so clean. Food at dinner was pretty good. Breakfasts were lean and not so good (hard bread and cheese, weak coffee). Only other things I can think to bring are a headlamp (which you'll have anyway) to navigate to the bathroom, and a set of foam earplugs. The huts aren't always so quiet at night.
Good luck, enjoy!
-Tom

User avatar
Posts: 434
Joined: Mon Jul 21, 2008 9:36 pm
Location: Denver

Re: Swiss & French Huts

Postby BAUMGARA » Thu Nov 04, 2010 7:34 am

If you ever have the opportunity, take a trip to the Alps with Al Pizzato, (Alby426).

User avatar
Posts: 14
Joined: Thu Aug 27, 2009 10:46 pm
Location: Denver

Re: Swiss & French Huts

Postby Koy » Fri Feb 04, 2011 10:34 pm

Thanks very much to all who replied. We have our dates nailed down (August 27-Sept 10). Our 1st stop will be Zermatt, so when should I start thinking about making a reservation at the Hornli Hut? I think I read the Hut doesn't officially open for the summer season until June, so its not even possible to make a reservation until then, correct?

User avatar
Posts: 323
Joined: Tue Apr 21, 2009 2:06 pm
Location: Back in Ohio...West Soon?

Re: Swiss & French Huts

Postby JTOlson26 » Sat Feb 05, 2011 9:01 am

There is something i have always wondered: Is tent camping in the Alps, be it in France, Switzerland, Liechtenstein or wherever, frowned upon or even disallowed?

Posts: 395
Joined: Fri Nov 16, 2007 8:26 am

Re: Swiss & French Huts

Postby Gabriel » Sat Feb 05, 2011 12:28 pm

A bag is not necessary but you should take a light inner bag or alpine Schlafsac otherwise you get charged for sheets. Many huts won't allow you to sleep without some sort of light sac because they have no way to keep linens or blankets clean. Food varies from really great quality to very basic camping style food. I climb in the Alps most summers and bivy a lot. It's legal in all areas including national parks, but you need to break camp when you leave climb. If you are headed to Mont Blanc you can tent bivy just above the Gouitier hut, lower in a meadow by the tete rouse hut or on a flat plateau by the Vallot Hut. Actually you can bivy anywhere including on the summit. You can also bivy around the Hornli hut without getting hassled if you take your tent down while away. There are also bivy boxes on many of the more difficult routes in the Alps that are totally weather proof and allow you to go very light over difficult terrain.

In Chamonix your can stay in a Gite, which is a climbers hostel that has showers, basic accomodations and Ok food.

Have fun,

G

User avatar
Posts: 323
Joined: Tue Apr 21, 2009 2:06 pm
Location: Back in Ohio...West Soon?

Re: Swiss & French Huts

Postby JTOlson26 » Sun Feb 06, 2011 11:14 am

Thanks for the info, Gabriel. Good information to know once i have the means to someday make a trip over there!

User avatar
Posts: 108
Joined: Thu Aug 30, 2007 5:45 pm
Location: Woodland Park, CO

Re: Swiss & French Huts

Postby geoffirons » Sun Feb 06, 2011 12:41 pm

Like some of the others who have posted replies, I have spent many nights in huts in the Alps over the years. It has almost always been a wonderful experience, and certainly much easier than backpacking. I never had a need for a sleeping bag, but did always bring a liner; I prefer silk due to comfort of sleeping, lightweight, and small size, but synthetic and cotton are also available. Don't forget something to cover the pillow (gross!) if your liner is not big enough (could just use some extra clothing, but you'll want something). Dinner was always available (and almost always good). Breakfast was always available, and as Tom P described. Hut masters were good at providing breakfast even if we were departing on alpine starts, which meant the breakfast food was put out the night before (so the typical hard alpine bread was especially hard) :| . Note that what I've described here is for the "typical" hut. I have stayed in true alpine hotels (linens on the tables, indoor bathrooms, even hot showers) that were just as remote as huts. At the other end of the spectrum, as someone mentioned there are also "biwaks" in some places; these are unattended, very Spartan, and range in size from small quonset style to things resembling large metal coffins.

I have to share two hut stories (give you an idea of the hut scene):

First, one of my earliest hut trips was in the German Alps. We were there for a weeklong advanced rock climbing course (summer). The hut's beer was kept in a cold storage room in the back. We thought the temperature of the beer was just perfect right from the storage room. However, the locals would bring the beer into the much warmer hut, then place the bottles in a large pot of hot water on the stove... to get it to proper drinking temperature :-s . This hut had an interesting shower: out in front was a pole and shower head sticking up out of the rocks; if you looked carefully, you could follow the hose across the talus over to the nearby rock wall, where a very large funnel collected the water right off the melting snowfield above :shock: . Oh yeah, when we were hiking out at the end of the week (on the very rough climber's trail that led to this hut), we were really suprised to see two Germans climbing the trail with a long heavy wooden pole on their shoulders (one guy had each end). This is absolutely true: hanging from the pole between these guys was... A KEG OF BEER :D .

Second, one of my favorite huts was high above Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland. We went there each spring with the National Ski Patrol for our mountaineering training. We would make several lifts with a helicopter from town, to the glacier above the hut. Once we were all on the glacier, we would gather all the gear and food, and ski down to the hut. Since it was always early spring, we would be the first guests of the hut for the season, and the Hutmaster and his daughter would accompany us. The first order of business was to dig through the snow to get into the hut (the Hutmaster would sometimes climb up on the snow to the second floor window to access the hut and get things organized while we were still trying to get access to the door). The outhouse for this hut was interesting and worth mentioning (in case you experience a similar situation). It was literally perched on the edge of a very high cliff. This is not in keeping with proper LNT principles, but when you lifted the toilet lid, you could see where your deposits would end up on the glacier far below. As I stood there doing my thing, a gust of wind came up the valley, up the cliff face, and right up through the small toilet opening. I did not appreciate the "golden shower" at all, but it certainly amused the veteran patroller's waiting outside for me :oops: . (Tip: if you encounter a similar facility, the key is to pack a some snow in the opening to prevent the updrafts, then do your business on the snow; it will either melt out, or you can poke it out with a stick when done.).

I have lots of books for climbing in the Alps, if you need more information (although I guess everything is on the internet these days).

Have a great trip! You will have memories that will last your lifetime!

Geoff
Geoff Irons

User avatar
Posts: 27
Joined: Mon Jun 16, 2008 11:29 am
Location: North Carolina

Re: Swiss & French Huts

Postby quattordesch » Sun Feb 06, 2011 6:40 pm

Like others have said: definitely bring a silk or cotton liner bag. They cannot wash the sheets very easily... And ear plugs. There is a wide range of amenities (with or without running water, showers, type of toilet, quality food, etc). The hut keeper and/or guides are a good source for information on routes, current conditions, etc. The local "Verkehrsverein" (for Switzerland) is also a good place for info on logistics. They usually have English speaking staff, know about the huts, local transportation, hotels in town, etc

Have fun, the Alps are great!

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests