What's so great about the Monte Rosa Hütte that makes it a travel destination in and of itself?
For one thing, the hut began merely as a project proposal to commemorate the 150th anniversary of ETH (Zürich's Federal Institute of Technology) in 2005. On the lookout for forward-thinking projects, an ETH professor approached SAC (the Swiss Alpine Club). The original Monte Rosa Hut was in need of major refurbishing, and so the idea for a sustainable alpine hut was born. Students from ETH collaborated with SAC and other experts for four semesters to create the plans for this hut, all the while not knowing if it would ever come to fruition. In the summer of 2008, the plans became reality, and after one year of construction the new Monte Rosa Hut celebrated its inauguration.
In addition, this eco-friendly hut is 90% self-sufficient. PV panels on the outside of the hut collect solar energy, which is used to heat and and power the hut. Batteries store any surplus energy the PV panels collect, and if necessary, a rapeseed oil-powered generator is available for backup. Water comes from the melting snow and nearby glacier. A special filtration system cleans waste water that is then reused to flush the toilets, which is probably why the toilet water is a funky orange color. (Please note, the water in the sinks are not potable, so visitors should bring plenty of water or be prepared to pay 10 CHF for a liter of bottled water.) ETH even has computer systems set in place to remotely control how much energy the hut uses based on need (i.e. the number of guests). Scientists even expect that the amount of carbon emissions the new Monte Rosa hut releases will equal one-third of those the old hut used to leave behind.
Furthermore, the hut's futuristic design offers a refreshing detour from the austere architecture of most mountain huts. And yet, despite its shimmering appearance, the hut somehow manages to fit harmoniously with the surrounding nature. Its foundation is made of stainless steel, the outer shell is made of aluminum and the interior is made of wood. Even the wooden details in the dining room are futuristic: the swirly carvings on the beams are machine-designed!
(By the way, the hut cost $6.3 million to build!)
If you missed my post about our journey to the Monte Rosa Hütte, click here.
Sources for background information on the hut: May 2010 issue of Swiss News and this article from Swiss Info.
|Here's a view of the Matterhorn and the Gorner Glacier from one of the windows in our dormitory.|
|Staircase to the Dormitories|