“The beauty of adventure is dreaming it, giving air to the imagination - only then can one attempt to realise one’s dreams.”
“The beauty of adventure is dreaming it, giving air to the imagination – only then can one attempt to realise one’s dreams.”
TO PERCEIVE BEYOND A DREAM
RIFUGIO BONATTI, TO PERCEIVE BEYOND A DREAM WAITING TO BE SHARED BORN FROM FRIENDSHIP, PASSION AND GRATITUDE TOWARDS THE MOUNTAINS
The founding of Rifugio Bonatti was an adventure studded with passion for the mountains, friendships, dreams to be fulfilled, projects to be shared. The idea of setting up a hut was the fruit of a friendship formed between Pierre Sicouri, Sergio Favre and Flavio Guichardaz.
Pierre was a successful businessman and explorer of both seas and mountains – particular the peaks of the Aosta Valley. Sergio was the alpine guide who had accompanied Pierre on his numerous ascents of the Mont Blanc Massif faces and ridges (for further details refer to the Biblioteca section), not only was he an architect but a great traveller. These two were soon joined by Flavio, a chartered surveyor and local entrepreneur brimming with both enthusiasm and a thorough knowledge of these places.
“Pierre had a great wish: to return something crucial to those mountains that they had given him over time – recounts his wife Paola – he felt indebted. He liked the idea of creating an easily accessible and beautiful place, making the mountains approachable to those who would not normally go there.
Together with Pierre, we scoured these valleys and mountains far and wide. Val Veny was always our base, first we rented an old house belonging to Renzino Cosson, then we moved to Villa MacKenzie (a listed building built by Lord Evan Mackenzie in 1917 – a successful Scottish businessman and passionate mountaineer. The villa nestles amongst the larch woodlands of the Val Veny)”.
“Initially Pierre, Sergio and Flavio’s idea was to build a high altitude hut on the Malatrà plateau – Paola continues – but, after carefully evaluating and inspecting various sites, they eventually chose where the hut stands today, in a more suitable and convenient position.”
Its position was chosen after consulting the Department of Environment as regards the hut’s environmental impact, this included reducing its visual impact, protecting the building from natural disasters, guaranteeing sufficient time for families and children to reach it and, above all, locating it along the TMB route, thus valorising the vista over the Mont Blanc chain.
WAY BACK IN 1996
work began on the hut
After clearing up and general preparation of the site, building work began in July 1996. By 1997 the hut structure and roof were completed, then plastering began. The final jobs were completed in spring 1998. Great attention was paid to detail – from the choice of materials, which had to both reflect and blend in harmoniously with the landscape, to the interior design, which had to create an alpine ambience eager to welcome mountain lovers and excursionists.
The hut was ready in the summer of 1998 and officially opened on 1st of August. The conclusion to this dream and lengthy commitment naturally took place in the presence of the man whose name lay behind the dream: Walter Bonatti!
Over the years Pierre Sicouri and Walter Bonatti had forged a strong friendship that culminated in the idea of building a hut. They had met in Courmayeur through mutual friends and, getting to know one another, discovered they shared many aspects, views and passions. Gradually spending more time together, their friendship grew: Walter Bonatti was frequently a guest of Pierre’s at Villa MacKenzie in Val Veny for varying lengths of time. These occasions were full of tale-telling, forethought, socialising and long hikes together.
When the idea of naming the hut was put forward to Walter Bonatti, he agreed with enthusiasm. This was the first hut in Italy to take his name and, in the early years, in expression of gratitude for Walter’s authorisation and approval, a part of the hut was reserved for him dubbed “la maison de Walter”.
The key players involved in the construction of Rifugio Bonatti enjoy reminiscing about this period, recalling memories that are emotionally charged, full of moments uniting their friendship and passions. Recollection such as when, in the freezing winter’s cold Pierre, Sergio and Flavio, would climb on skins to what was then only the skeleton of a hut surrounded by snow-clad panoramas, warm themselves beside weak fires and listen to the crackle of firewood. The hut bears witness to a profound love for these places where you inhale an undivided respect for the mountains and for a dream now become reality and reference point for excursionists, walkers, runners, snowshoers and ski tourers alike… A small corner of the world with a profound spirit.