One of the highest emergency huts in the world has been waiting almost a century to give imperiled climbers a place to lie down.
Built in just five days by the Swiss Alpine Club, The Solvay Hut sits empty on the Matterhorn, simply waiting for climbers who have run into trouble.
A number of emergency huts have been placed along popular but treacherous mountain paths, many by the Swiss Alpine Club. Designed to provide a shelter for climbers in the case of storms, avalanches, or similar acts of God that might lead to an untimely death on a lonely peak. At an elevation above 13,000 feet the Solvay Hut is the Club’s highest and most remote of these lifesaving structures. The hut is a simple affair, containing 10 beds and a telephone, but on the side of a mountain it could mean life or death.
Constructed in 1915, the materials were packed in to a similar shelter a ways down the mountain and a crude cable car system was temporarily installed to ferry the parts up to the building site. The hut was then rebuilt in the 60’s and a more technologically viable phone was installed in the 70’s, but the purpose of the hut has remained the same.
While many climbers still take on the Matterhorn each year, the Solvay Hut is not meant as a destination to be used lightly. It is a quickly constructed shelter for emergencies that spring up just as fast.
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