Refuge du Goûter

France’s highest mountain shelter, the 3'835 m Refuge du Goûter on the route to the top of Mont Blanc most used by climbers who come from every corner of the globe to ascend to the roof of Europe, will soon be replaced by an innovative and environmentally-friendly building that can welcome up to 120 people at one time.

A real human and technical challenge, this project is under the supervision of the French Federation of Alpine and Mountain Clubs (FFCAM), project owner. Work got under way in the summer of 2010 and is due for completion in the summer of 2012.


Refuge du Goûter, a symbol of mountaineering
The history of this building is inseparable from the history of mountaineering and Mont-Blanc. The last shelter before the summit, the Refuge du Goûter is situated at an altitude of 3'835 m on the route most used by climbers from every corner of the world: the legendary “normal route”. The first structure – a simple hut – was built in 1854. Outdated and far from meeting modern environmental standards, the present shelter was erected in 1960. It will make way for the new building, which will be innovative and environmentally friendly and will be able to receive up to 120 people at one time. The existing annex will be preserved and transformed into a winter and back-up shelter.

An exceptional project and an architectural and human challenge
An egg-shaped construction designed to integrate technically and aesthetically into the constraints of a difficult setting where winds can reach 300 km/h, the Refuge du Goûter heralds a new generation of buildings. It is both an architectural and technical challenge because the task is to erect a four-storey building of light and resistant wood with exterior stainless steel paneling, using innovative technologies without forgetting the building’s prime function. The human challenge is for the construction workers on this extraordinary site at an altitude of 3'835 m right on the sheer Aiguille du Goûter cliff where the weather allows building activity for only 5 to 6 months a year.

The values of sustainable development at the top
Everything possible is being done to make this a low-carbon and environmentally pilot site:

All wood (spruce, white fir and larch) is being sourced from the French Alps, mainly from the Saint Gervais forests;
Wooden components will be prefabricated in the valley to limit helicopter traffic;
Renewable energy (solar, photovoltaic, biomass) will be used and innovative technologies will be put in place (remote electricity management, cogeneration, snow melting and wastewater treatment) which follow ecological norms and offer maximum autonomy for the supply of power, heating and water;
Educational visits for local schools are organized to show students how such low-carbon projects are set up.
Strong backing for a unique project
Initiated by the French Federation of Alpine and Mountain Clubs (FFCAM), the project is co-financed by FFCAM, institutional partners and government bodies in the region and beyond: the French State, the Rhône Alpes regional authority, the European Community, the Haute Savoie General Council, the Saint Gervais commune, ADEME and the Water Agency. In a spirit of shared governance, FFCAM wished also to open this emblematic project to sponsorship.

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Building Activity

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