After a long, tiring, period of trekking in the mountains, is there a finer sight than a mountain hut? We’d argue that there isn’t. Mountain huts, you see, are a vision of shelter. They hit us right on one of our most primal sweet spots. They’re a chance to rest up and recuperate, a chance to reset ourselves before we head off back into the hills to do it all again. They’re a home away from home.
The Valais region, in south-west Switzerland, is home to some of the greatest mountain huts you could ever hope to see. Each one is wildly different in appearance, and each one has a soul entirely of its own.
Monte Rosa Hut – Zermatt
Of all the mountain huts in Valais, the Monte Rosa Hut near Zermatt is probably the one that looks most like an alien spaceship. Don’t get us wrong, it looks picture perfect on the mountain. It’s just that it also wouldn’t look out of place floating above earth’s orbit, making radio contact with NASA.
Because of its weird shape and aluminium cladding, the Monte Rosa refuge is easily one of the most original in the Valais Alps. Its south-facing facade, covered with photovoltaic panels installed by the technology institute ETH Zurich, means this place covers more than 90% of its energy requirements with reusable energy. It’s got a cool exterior, and is eco-friendly. Win.
Anenhütte – Lötschental
Halfway between a bunker and the kind of structure you might see on Channel Four’s ‘Grand Designs’, there’s something about the Anenhütte, located in the Lötschental valley, that just really appeals to us. We can’t quite place our finger on what it is, but it’s got it (whatever ‘it’ is).
Situated at an altitude of 2,358 metres, this refuge is self-sufficient when it comes to drinking water and electricity. Developed by the engineer Peter Tscherrig, it was designed with a ‘respect the environment but also take modern needs into account’ philosophy. Lovely hut, this.
Britannia Hut – Saas-Fee
Cast your minds all the way back to 1912 for this one, as that’s the year the Britannia Hut, located between the Chessjen and Hohlaub glaciers, was put up. Built as a monument to British-Swiss friendship, the Association of British Members of the Swiss Alpine Club constructed it to thank the people of Switzerland for welcoming them into their mountains.
The installment of the hut’s washroom with running water feature was, believe it or not, a pretty groundbreaking addition at the time. Boy, they really knew how to live back then.
FXB-Panossière – Verbier
Right in the heart of the Combins massif, at an altitude of 2,641 metres, is the Cabane FXB Panossière. Named after the legendary helicopter pilot, and founder of Air-Glaciers, François-Xavier Bagnoud, the refuge serves up the mother of all panoramic stops on the Tour des Combins, the Tour du Val de Bagnes, and the Chemin des cols alpins. Bring a camera.
Finsteraarhornhütte – Aletsch Arena
Down at the foot of the towering Finsteraahorn, an intimidating beast with a summit altitude of 4,274 metres, the Finsteraarhornhütte offers all the modern comforts you could hope for. During the summer, the venue is supplied with running water and offers guests a large, sunny terrance to chill out on. Looks like a big wooden barn that’s got out of hand, this one. We’re into it.
Cabane de Tracuit – Zinal
If you’re climbing the popular Bishorn, one of the easier plus 4,000 metre mountains, the Cabane de Tracuit will be your key stopover. Given a massive overhaul in 2013, this environmentally friendly refuge now offers 116 dormitory beds. As epic places to spend the night go, this place is probably pretty hard to beat. Beats a B and B in Scarborough anyway.
Cabane Bertol – Arolla
Cabane Bertol is on the Haute Route between Chamonix and Zermatt, at an altitude of 3,311 metres in the Val d’Hérens. The iconic Patrouille des Glaciers ski mountaineering race leads past its front door.
Cabane d’Orny – Champex-Lac
Patricia and her husband Raymond, a mountain guide, have been looking after Cabane d’Orny for over 30 years now. A warm and friendly welcome meets idyllic scenery at 2,831 metres. Yes, please.
Binntalhütte – Goms
When it comes to the Binntalhütte, the juice is most definitely worth the squeeze. Offering up some beautiful views of the Bietschhorn and Nesthorn when you get there, the long and winding path that leads to the Binntal refuge is epic in that way Switzerland so often is. The route there is an ancient mule trail that links the Binn valley with the Val d’Ossola in Italy.
Cabane Rambert – Overonnaz
At the base of the Grand Muveran, at an altitude of 2,580 metres, sits the Cabane Rambert. Rebuilt in 1952 and completely renovated in 2015, this place looks a bit like a big grandma bungalow. Just like your nan’s place of residence, the Cabane Rambert is cosy, welcoming, and a nice spot for a hot drink.
Cabane De Susanfe – Champéry
Extremely popular with the inhabitants of Region Dents Du Midi, the unforgettable Tour des Dents du Midi route takes you across 57 km of varied landscape and 3700m of vertical gain. Nestled in the middle of all this is the picturesque Susanfe hut, right in the heart of the famous Dents du Midi mountain range. Get it on your list.