Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Envers des Aiguilles

"Unsettled" and "chance of storm" means "don't stay in a tent" - well, for us anyway!

And this being the Alps, there is no shortage of refuges and huts where you can stay inside, warm and dry, whilst someone else cooks you dinner. There's usually a few games and packs of cards lying around to while away an evening, as well as maps and local guidebooks to suss out routes (if you haven't done so already). Oh, and a large number of other climbers to chat to, too! So it all sounds pretty good to us.

This is all budget dependant of course, as they're not cheap - if you ever wondered if the membership of your local alpine club was useful, here's your answer: affiliated clubs get you a fat discount.

But huts and their wardens differ dramatically. We've heard stories of places that charge E50 a night, and then even more for food. Of hut wardens being fired for not letting people sit and shelter from a storm in the main living area (well, not without buying something - apparently these ain't a community service!). And if the hut is anywhere near a popular, easy alpine ascent - be prepared to be woken up at 1:30am as everyone else in the room noisily gears up to start their uphill trudging.

However, Envers des Aiguilles gets the thumbs up from us. It's not just the chic Club Alpine Francais tableware, the helpful wardenesses and the aloof resident cat - it's the fact you can cook inside if you're staying there (a bargain for members at E11.50 a night without food).

And for us, we love it most of all due to the massive skillet of crispy skinned chicken - served when we came in cold and hungry, after having a bitch of a time with ropes getting jammed on rappel. Thanks girls!

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