What is a Mountain Shelter?

There are many names for places of refuge in the mountains. You may have come across the terms bothy, bivouac, mountain hut, mountain refuge or mountain shelter.

The main differences between all of these terms is the level of infrastructure available. A bivouac is generally the most basic and can be anything from a pile of rocks forming a shelter to a building with beds in it. A bothy is a unique Scottish term and refers to a very basic cabin, often with just the walls and maybe a table and bench. A mountain shelter tends to be a more robust structure with walls, beds with mattresses and often blankets, a cooking area which is sometimes equipped with a wood burner or gas stove and some cooking utensils, a table and benches or chairs. Some of these have running water but most are positioned near a spring where you can collect water yourself.

A mountain hut or mountain refuge generally refers to the network of mountain refuges all over Europe which are manned either all year or for particular seasons by a team of people who cook and clean the refuges. Most of these have electricity (often solar powered so not to be abused), running hot and cold water, though some just have cold water, and toilets, either dry toilets or flushable. These are bookable on a half board basis. Each country has their own way of managing these.

What Happens on a Night in a Mountain Shelter?

A night in a mountain shelter will be staying in an un-manned refuge where you and your guide will cook and survive the night under your own steam and resources. This is a fabulous wild experience in an often remote location that you will have all to yourselves. 

In general it involves a walk in and you will need to carry your own equipment and food. Our local teams and your guide will let you know what facilities are available in the mountain shelter you will be staying in and what you will need to carry in. In general all technical equipment will be provided but some may have to be carried in between you so you need to be prepared for a reasonably heavy rucksack!

Once you are at the refuge, you will prepare it for the night collecting water and wood before going off for a stroll to explore your new surroundings for the night. As evening sets in you will cook together and eat before snuggling into your sleeping bag!

No electricity, no wifi, no phone signal - just you, your friends and the natural world for a night!