26 Jun How to pack for a mountain refuge when hiking in the Alps
Hiking in the Alps, the highs and sunny skies
What an incredible high altitude summer we are having hiking in the Alps. We have the privilege of soaking up nature’s drama with the most wonderful guests. If you’re planning on hiking soon, here are a few of our tips to make your trip more comfortable.
Be well kitted out
A big part of being comfortable is having the right kit. Shoes or boots are probably the hardest things to get right but a comfortable backpack, the right socks, rain gear and appropriate jacket and trousers are key for hiking in the Alps. Read more about your choice of equipment in our blog: How to choose boots for hiking in the Alps.
How to pack for a refuge
A night in a refuge is an experience not to be missed while hiking in the Alps but packing for it can be tricky. Everything needs to be carried on your back and each extra kilo can drain your energy when hiking. Less is more, and a small backpack or the discipline to not fill a larger one is essential. Miniatures are ideal, such as a mini toothbrush, travel-size toothpaste and trial sizes of sunscreen. But remember: the essentials go into the back pack first, including crampons, a harness and, depending on your hike, perhaps an ice axe. These can weigh you down to start with, not to mention the water you’ll need. At SwisSkiSafari we are happy to help you with all of this.
Etiquette for a Refuge
Make a reservation at your refuge before your departure. Arrival time can be difficult to determine. Alert the guardian if you think that you will arrive late. When hiking in the Alps you normally have cell phone coverage, but not always. So keep that in mind and anticipate if you need to make a call. At the refuge you will be expected to take off your shoes and leave your technical gear at the entrance, which is why there is usually a space allocated for your shoes and kit. Refuges have a pair of crocs or slippers to wear inside the hut, so there is no need to carry indoor shoes with you. Upon arrival, be sure to announce yourself to the guardian. Guardians check to see who has arrived and who has not. He will indicate where you are allocated to sleep and what time dinner will be served.
Organise yourself for the night
Find your headlamp and your bed liner to put by your bed, we generally supply silk bed liners for our guests. Lights will go out at a pre-arranged time, so ask your guardian when that is. Alpinists, there to summit the neighboring mountains, will be up earlier than those who are hiking the Alps. Your guardian will ask you which breakfast time you prefer. If you are leaving very early it is best to settle your bill before going to bed, this will help save time before your departure the next morning. Some huts are departure points for very famous summits so serious alpinists will be up very early. It is nice to be organized so that everyone can get a good night’s sleep.
Adventure before dementia
A mature couple that recently hiked in the Alps with us used this motto: adventure before dementia. They gracefully transitioned from a luxury hotel to a mountain refuge, having waited for this experience with anticipation. A pleasure to be with, never giving up or complaining, they took time to appreciate the magnificent panoramas surrounding them. Impressively, they could keep up with any strong hiker. They were a true inspiration and a good reminder as to why we love to plan hiking trips in the Alps for people of all ages.
If you would like to hike in the Alps and staying a mountain refuge is on your bucket list, get in touch and join us in the Alps for an unforgettable trip