Alien Eggs Strewn across Alps

Cape Times (South Africa), November 23, 2010 | Go to article overview

Alien Eggs Strewn across Alps


BYLINE: Michael Day

An unwritten rule of the mountains states that anyone in need can take refuge in the solitary huts dotted across the world's higher peaks.

But lonely Alpine trekkers seeking to escape the bitter cold this winter might wonder if the mountain hut marked on their maps has not been replaced by something from outer space.

A new wave of gleaming, hi-tech refuges springing up across the Alps promises to bring an extra comfort and safety for weary travellers, while respecting the increasingly threatened mountain environment.

The trend was started in September with the opening of the Monte Rosa Hutte, perched 2 900m up in the mountains of the Swiss canton of Valese. With its angular, metallic walls scattering Alpine light in all directions, the energy-efficient lodge owned by the Swiss Alpine Ski Club is designed to resemble a giant crystal.

The latest addition to the futuristic line-up is the planned replacement for the old refuge on the Frebouze glacier on Mont Blanc, overlooking the east face of the Grandes Jorasses mountain.

The Giusto Gervasutti refuge, to be completed next summer, will resemble an aircraft fuselage poking out of a rocky outcrop more than 2 800m up Europe's highest peak. Stefano Testa, one of the architects responsible for the new structure, being built for the Alpine Club of Turin and the Sucai ski school, was keen to talk up the refuge's green credentials, because the environmental damage to the formerly pristine Alps is becoming a concern.

"It's a contemporary structure that will leave no trace of itself," he told La Stampa newspaper. "The idea is to use all available technology to avoid any pollution."

Four pre-assembled blocks will be flown to the site by helicopter.

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