Nestled on the foot of Switzerland’s highest peak at 2883m above sea level stands the Monte Rosa Hut, a high altitude lodging that’s home to a number of brilliant innovations that celebrate Swiss architectural ingenuity. Designed to replace the last of a legacy of mountain huts built on the same spot overlooking the Grenz Glacier and famous Matterhorn, its purpose is to provide shelter for alpine climbers. The hut is capable of generating 90% of its own energy making it the most energy efficient mountain hut in the world.
Designed in a collaboration between the Swiss Alpine Club (SAC) and Zurich University, the 6.5 million Swiss Franc building is an energy saving, energy creating masterpiece. First of all, the building’s exterior has been built without the use of a single right-angle, minimising the surface area of the building and therefore the overall heat loss. Electricity is generated by 120 square meters of exterior solar cells and panels that supply utilities in the communal dining room, kitchen and washing facilities. Water meanwhile is obtained from snowmelt and stored in a reservoir 40m uphill from the hut. Any excess electricity is stored in batteries while used water is purified and then re-used to flush the hut’s toilets. As part of an experiment in high altitude eco architecture, the energy flows around the hut are so complex that they have to be constantly regulated by a computer at Zurich University.
If anything the Monte Rosa Hut is more luxurious then other mountain huts in the Swiss Alpine Club’s collection. Sleeping quarters for up to 110 people are reached via a spiral stair case that offers panoramic views on the final ascent to bed – a nice touch at the laziest of times. The sleeping quarters themselves are ventilated to deal with climbers who have forgone the option of a shower for a small fee of 3 CHF.
The hut is open from June (opens 4th June 2011) and closes in autumn depending on how early colder weather comes in. Rates for non-SAC members start at 45 Swiss Francs for adults, 28 Francs for 7-18 year olds and 9 Francs for younger ones. The hut is very popular so visitors must book well in advance.
Getting there responsibly
From London follow the greentraveller journey plan to get you as far as Geneva. At Geneva hop on a train to Visp and wait for the connecting mountain train to Zermatt. Buy tickets for train travel in Switzerland before you go.
From Zermatt the easiest and least technical way to get to the hut is to take the Gornergrat Mountain Railway to Rotenboden, followed by a 2 to 3 hour trek across the Grenz glacier. The route is usually well marked and may not require crampons although all glacier equipment is advised. Other more technical routes include a steep climb from Gonergrat (the next station on the line), or via Furi and a traverse of the entire Gorner Glacier (4hrs).
It should be noted that the regular Rotenboden train costs 78 Swiss Francs for an adult return ticket. If you’re looking to save, take on the 5-6 hr trek from Zermatt for a great opportunity to acclimatise.
Zermatt’s tourism office recommend using a guide if you aren’t confident of the terrain.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Booking and Availability details
- Other Swiss Alpine Club huts
- See the hut in 3D
- Project update from the Holcim Awards