3rd October 2009
It may be a strange looking construction and perhaps out of place in the high Alps, but its green credentials can’t be faulted. Welcome to the new Monte Rosa mountain hut.
It has taken shape high above the Gorner glacier near Zermatt.
It produces 90% of its energy from solar panels with the remainder coming from rape seed oil. In the summer melt water from the glacier is collected and stored in a large reservoir 40m above the hut.
Inside its an all wooden affair.
A microfiltration system cleans all the waste water and this will then be re-used in the toilets and for washing and cooking.
It has a computerised energy management system which will be overseen by scientists based in Zurich who are closely involved and monitoring the project. All surplus energy produced will be stored for use at a later date.The refuge can accommodate up to 120 hikers and climbers.
Carbon emissions will be about a third of the existing hut which is 80m down the mountain.
The old stone hut was built in 1895 and was in need of substantial repairs so The Swiss Alpine Club decided to build a new one instead and will use it as a protype for creating other environmentally friendly buildings, both in the valleys and up in the mountains.
Back in 1895 mules were used to get the materials up; this time though 3,000 helicopter trips were used to transport the 35 workers and all the material up.
The total cost for the hut was 6.5m Swiss francs (£3.9m).
PlanetSKI has had an invitation to visit the hut and we hope to do so next year. It looks like quite a place.
For more pictures of the hut and its construction see this photo gallery on Swiss Info.
Here at PlanetSKI it has made us think about some of the huts we have stayed in while ski touring so take a look at our own photo gallery on the home page for some less hi-tech huts spread across the Alps.
Don’t forget to check out the latest blog from our content editor, James Cove, about off piste safety which has also appeared as part of his regular column for ‘In the Snow’ magazine.