The Solvay Hut may be quite humble in its construction, but the view it offers its residents is priceless. This tiny hut is perched right on the narrow north-eastern ridge of Matterhorn, in the Canton of Valais, Switzerland. It is the highest mountain hut in the region, at over 13,000 foot above ground level.
The emergency refuge is owned by the Swiss Alpine club, and is intended to provide food and shelter to mountaineers, hikers and climbers. At about 1,500 foot below the summit and two-thirds up the mountain, it provides respite to many Matterhorn climbers and rewards them with the breathtaking view of all the Monte Rosa summits. It is only meant to be used during emergencies, but climbers do stop there to rest and click photographs.
The hut, which can accommodate about 10 people, is not a recent construction. It was actually built way back in 1915 and took only five days to complete. All the building materials were brought up to Hornli Hut, just 2,500 foot below, with the help of animals. A small temp cable car was used to haul up the materials from there. It was rebuilt in 1966 and an emergency telephone was installed in 1976.
Solvay Hut is named after Ernest Solvay, a mountaineer, inventor and businessman from Belgium. The hut was actually donated by him, as a symbol of gratitude for the countless hours he spent on the mountains. He recognized the need for a place like this after sudden thunderstorms led to tragic deaths.
I suppose the chance to visit places like the Solvay Hut is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing. Of course, mountain climbers might get to hang out there all the time, but the rest of us can make-do with these beautiful photographs.