Running Mountain Huts
Luca Barletta’s mountain paradise
No, it isn’t in Verbier, Zermatt, Nendaz, Chamonix or even St Moritz! It is a mountain refuge with accommodation for hikers tucked away above a jade green reservoir near Sondrio, Italy.
We spent last weekend there and loved it (as did our 10 year old)! After crossing over into Italy and passing by the shores of Lake Como, we wound up a tiny mountain road, and left the car at Diga di Campo Moro (near Sondrio). We then hiked for about 1 hour up to the refuge, not too steep and with fabulous views of the reservoir and valley.
Running Mountain Huts
It is named for Roberto Bignami, a climber from Milan who lost his life in the Himalayas in 1954. His mother was unable to bring his body back and built the refuge in her son’s memory. She then donated it to the Milan Alpine Club, who have owned it since.
The team at the refuge look after over 100 hikers some lunchtimes and it sleeps about 50 people. We had a comfortable bunk room sleeping 4 overlooking the reservoir.
After dropping off our backpacks, we met Luca and John Petterson (another Verbier instructor who has been helping Luca to keep things running smoothly at the refuge this summer). They have had a long and busy summer season, as the cabin is open from June until mid September.
All supplies are produced locally or have to be taken up to the cabin by helicopter, and the chef, Rocco, produces really amazing food with his team. Bread is baked fresh each morning. The cheeses are made by a family of farmers who live just nearby, also at 2400 metres, from their very friendly herd of cows and goats grazing on the alpine pastures outside the cabin.
The cabin has solar panels and is energy self-sufficient. It has its own water source and hikers are able to take a hot shower with water heated by the solar panels.
In the morning we hiked up to the glaciers above the hut, and searched for crystals on the way. Luca forages for crystals in his spare time and has a collection of his finds at the refuge. There are many different walks and mountain streams above the hut, and a spectacular glacier lake (also jade green).
You can either take a single day walk from the Diga di Campo Moro, or weekend, staying over at the refuge, as we did. Or there are multi day treks around the Bernina Massif, staying in different mountain refuges on the way.
Normally Luca also opens the refuge for the ski touring season in April, and you can also take a helicopter from the refuge to ski different off piste routes. This winter however it wasn’t possible to open the refuge for the touring season, as there was too much snow! It is a problem we are hoping to have again this winter… Luca can be found in the winter working in our Verbier school.