An extraordinary hut
AN INTERNATIONAL MOUNTAINEERING SYMBOL
THE GOUTER HUT
AN INTERNATIONAL SYMBOL OF MOUNTAINEERING
* From 1786 to 2009: More than two centuries of mountaineering ...
The highest-kept refuge in Europe, the Goûter refuge is located near the Aiguille of the same name, at 3,817 meters above sea level. The history of this building is inseparable from the history of the ascent of Mont Blanc. The Goûter refuge is in fact located on the most popular route to reach the summit of Mont Blanc: the legendary "normal route" (also known as the Cristalliers route, or even "Royal Route"). Leaving from Saint-Gervais, the latter brings mountaineers to take the Mont-Blanc Tramway to reach the Eagle's Nest. The ascent then begins towards the Tête Rousse refuge, then goes through the Goûter corridor before joining the Goûter refuge for the night. After a departure at two o'clock in the morning, the mountaineers will notably pass by the Dôme du Goûter, the ridge of the Bosses before seeing ... the summit.
* The first building - a “simple” hut - dates from 1854. Built on the initiative of Doctor Charles Loiseau, it meets an essential objective to which all subsequent buildings will aim: to allow mountaineers to sleep one night at the top of the mountain. 'Aiguille du Goûter before leaving the next morning at dawn to complete the ascent of the roof of Europe. Choosing the Goûter site also definitively established the ascent of Mont Blanc via the Goûter route.
* Over time, various versions of the Goûter refuge have been built, making it possible to accommodate in ever-improving comfort and safety conditions a growing number of mountaineers. After a wooden hut (with a capacity of four people), built in 1858, will indeed come the refuge of 1906 built by the French Alpine Club (seven places), the private refuge of thirty places erected in 1936 and, before- the last stage of these high altitude challenges, the current building, built from 1960 and put into service in 1962. A 40-seat annex was built in 1990 on the site of the initial hut of 1906.
* Refuge attendance
The refuge is kept for four months during the summer, from the end of May to the end of September (outside this guarding period, a winter room is available to mountaineers in the annex). The average attendance during this guarding period is 9000 overnight stays. The clientele is made up of 55% foreigners, coming mainly from Spain, the Anglo-Saxon world (Great Britain, United States, Ireland, Canada), Germany and Austria, but also Japan and central European countries. Half of the clients are accompanied by a high mountain guide.
THE NEW GOUTER HUT,
AN MODERNITY THAT RESPECTS THE ENVIRONMENT
* Description of the new refuge
Inaugurated in 2014, the new Goûter refuge is the result of cooperation between the state and departmental departments of Haute-Savoie, the town of Saint-Gervais, mountain professionals and the FFCAM. It consists of the construction of a new building with a capacity of 120 places, located about 200 meters southeast of the old ones, still on the rocky ridge of the Aiguille du Goûter.
* Forms adapted to the constraints of the environment ...
The building must adapt to a narrow rocky ridge swept by southwest winds - which bring snow - of up to 230 km per hour! Located at the edge of the ridge, on a stable site, oriented on the spur in the direction of the prevailing winds at the edge of a large corridor, the new refuge has a rounded ellipsoid compact shape. This in fact opposes a minimum of support to wind and snow. Objective: minimize snow accumulations in the downwind, behind the building. This refuge, with a total area of 684 m2, is designed on four levels staged in the slope.
* Constructive system and clothing: create a warm atmosphere.
The building is made in the image of a wooden mesh protected with metal. A metal platform supporting the refuge is anchored on the rocky ridge. The core of the refuge is also made of a wooden beam post structure. All of the elements of the building were prefabricated in the valley and mounted on the site like a mechanic. The outer covering of the refuge is made of stainless steel opposite to the inner covering, treated in wood to create a warm atmosphere, a mountain spirit.
* Energy and integration into the natural environment: soft and sustainable solutions.
The new refuge limits its visual impact on the landscape by embedding in a rocky spur on the southwest slope. Its distance from the end of the ridge to the south, combined with its proximity to the Aiguille de Bionnassay massif, make it a little less visible from the valley. The energy supply is partially ensured by a set of solar collectors - they notably allow the supply of security systems - as well as a cogeneration plant producing heat and electricity, fueled by gas.
* Environmental management and site protection: responsible treatment of waste and effluents.
- Part of the water resource is ensured by the installation of a snow melter integrated into the construction of the refuge. This solar powered system is autonomous.
- A system of dry toilets ensures the management of effluents without polluting impact on the environment.
- Selective sorting of all waste and their reduction is in place to limit congestion and the number of helicopter evacuations.
The total cost of this operation is more than seven million euros. The funding for this project - which is part of a public service logic and concerns the entire mountain community - was subsidized by the State, the Rhône-Alpes region and local authorities.