Do you know which is the building located in highest altitude in Europe? I didn't before I tried once to reach it unsuccessfully. It is Margherita Hut located on Punta Gniffeti, at 4554m(14 941 ft) above sea level in the Italian Alps.
And this is how it looks. Mind-blowing, isn't it?
I spent one night there once, but actually I also see this beauty for the first time. Because most of the time the situation was like this:
Luckily we had a GPS.
The ascent to the hut takes two days, mainly because of the need of acclimatization and even with the fog it was an overwhelming adventure. This the first time that I am checking some photos of the views around the hut, for this post. I didn't want to feel sad because I was there and I missed it till now. But actually now I think it wouldn't change so much the experience. The energy of the mountain still can be felt, even when you can not see anything.
After a night spent in Gressoney, we started our ascent to the first hut - Gniffeti.
I have a post where I shared some photos from my first attempt to go to Margherita Hut, but then we could reach only Capanna Gniffeti. The previous time we were the only people in the hut and this time it was full. That was a good sign, because this hut is visited mainly by people who plan to continue to Margherita. Our trip was planned some time ago because we came from Bulgaria, so luck was an important part of it. You cannot control an ascent up high mountains, you can only plan it, want it, and then rely on the will of the wind, snow, and if it is necessary, to know when to give up.
The previous time I was quite worried about the food because I stick to a vegan diet and especially after visiting three restaurants in Gressoney and on our way to the resort, I was sure that I would have to stay hungry. The restaurants were a disaster for me, and I thought that since the situation is like that in the civilization, in such a high place it had to be even worse, these huts are supplied by helicopters only. This time I knew it is not the case. It seems that there are a lot of vegans among the mountaineers so it wasn't a problem at all.
We spent the day playing cards, reading and even working out :)
The next day we left and continue to Margherita Hut. The weather was not the best possible.
But we managed to reach the Hut. When I entered it I had to lie down on a bench near the entrance for several minutes. It was like I had a heavy hangover - the altitude sickness. It looked like the biggest challenge to go to our room on the second floor to leave my backpack there. Headache, dizziness, weakness and fatigue - these were the symptoms that I experienced.
One of my friends shared later with me that he thought he was going to die, he was also vomiting, couldn't sleep the whole night, it was far more bad for him.
We are the Suunto team. :D
There wasn't even a slight treat of all that gorgeousness, that you saw in the video.
One of the symptoms of the altitude sickness is loss of appetite. Not for me of course.
The stuff in the hut knew how bad we all feel and they were super nice and understanding. A lady even offered me a piece of her dessert (she was vegan and made it for herself).
A pull up bar.. I tried - it was at least 100 times harder in that altitude.
In the morning the weather was pretty bad, and I was sure that we would have to stay there. There was new snow, no path and zero visibility because of the fog. Our previous plan was to go to make a traverse through some peaks near the hut but it was impossible in these conditions. So the two more experienced guys from our group said it's better for us to evacuate immediately and we started our descent. The path had completely disappeared because of the snow, and with all this fog, we could rely only on a GPS. It was a little bit scary.
Luckily everything went ok, we managed to find the way back to Gnifetti and as we were descending, we were starting to feel better. The guy with the heavy symptoms of altitude sickness was quite happy and calm :).
We went to this hut to get used to the high altitude because our adventure was only in its beginning. We were about to climb Matterhorn.
Back in the civilization we roamed around the resort in searching of some food (hungry alpinistes) but it turned out that the restaurants in Italy have some really strange work time and the search was unsuccessful. At least I managed to capture some photos of this beautiful part of Italy. I like that flowers are everywhere :)
Switzerland - it is your turn.
While checking some info about the hut for the post I learned two interesting things. First - you can get married there! But you can't go with helicopter, it is not allowed, so the same trip like mine is inevitable.
"From summer 2017, the performance of civil marriage ceremonies within the Margherita Hut was authorised by the mayor of the nearest town, Alagna Valsesia." - wikipedia info
Cool place for a wedding, isn't it? (if the people have luck with the weather)
Also this hut has a lot of history - its construction started in 1889! It was pre-build in the valley, brought up there by mules and men and then assembled on this site. It was also an important research center for high-elevation medicine. Later - between 1977-1980 the original hut was dismantled and replaced by the current one.
Thanks for checking out my blog!