Dotted all over the Swiss mountains in sometimes the most incredibly scenic and seemingly inaccessible places, the Swiss Alpine Club’s (SAC) network of 152 cabins is a proud testament to Switzerland’s love of alpinism and unbelievable engineering skills.
If you’ve never visited one, this weekend is the perfect time (weather permitting) as 70 of SAC’s cabins throw open their doors for an open weekend.
When and how were they built? How do they get supplies delivered? How do they generate electricity? How, exactly, do hut-keepers manage to rustle up three course meals for hungry hikers day after day in such remote places? These questions and more will be answered in a series of films, talks and guided tours by SAC members and hut-keepers during the weekend.
Here are just a few of the cabins taking part – you can search for others at www.sac-cas.ch.
If you decide to visit a cabin, always plan your hike carefully beforehand, take the right equipment and know your limits – some are much more arduous to get to than others. If you're staying at a cabin overnight, most require advanced booking.
It’s a steep 3hr30 trek up to this cabin from the campground at La Fouly in the Valais. But you’re rewarded at the top with a superb view of two glaciers and Mont Dolent. This weekend you can join a guide who will tell you about the cabin’s history and inner workings as you hike up to the hut. You’ll be welcomed on to the terrace with a free apéro. aneuve.ch
Starting at Saas-Fee, a demanding hike leads you up to this cabin overlooking the Hohlaub glacier. This weekend there will be talks on the history of the cabin and its technical capabilities, plus a special lunch on the Sunday.
There are two ways to reach this cabin above Champex-Lac in the Valais. Either walk for four hours from Champex itself, or cut out part of the ascent by taking the cable car to La Breya and walking for two hours from there, a more manageable hike which adventurous kids can tackle too. This weekend there’ll be a free apéro for hikers and a sunrise gathering on the Saturday. cabanedorny.ch/
Peek into the life of a hut-keeper and find out how this cabin was built on a visit to the Gleckstein, accessible via a challenging and sometimes exposed hike from the Hotel Wetterhorn above Grindelwald in the Bernese Oberland. gleckstein.ch
Good for family hiking, this cabin is located at 2,000m above Lauenen lake in the Gstaad region. This weekend the hut-keepers will give you a guided tour of the cabin to show you its inner workings, including the power turbine, the cellar and the water supply. geltenhuette.ch
Ogle Mont Blanc from this gloriously located cabin accessible via a demanding hike from Bourg St Pierre, a village on the way to the Grand St Bernard pass. If you ever wondered how the hut-keepers spend their days, a film will be shown to cabin-dwellers this weekend. valsorey.ch
Competitions, talks and tours will be on offer at this hut at 2,793m above the Rawill lake in the Simmental area. Like many of the cabins, its history dates back to the early 20th century.