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Walter Bonatti Refuge (m 2025)

In Val Ferret, at the foot of Mont Blanc, remembering "the king of the Alps."

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Where is

Valle d'Aosta

Rifugio Bonatti, Lavachey, Courmayeur, Valle D'Aosta 11013, Italy (2,111m s.l.m.)

Directions
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What it is and where it is

It is a refuge opened in 1998 and dedicated to Walter Bonatti (1930-2011) from Bergamo, the world-renowned mountaineer and explorer nicknamed "the king of the Alps," who made historic ascents in the Mont Blanc range. The refuge is located in Val Ferret, at the foot of the southern slope of the massif, which in this section aligns the impressive granite peaks of the Grandes Jorasses, on the border line with France. To reach it, one travels halfway up the Ferret valley along one of the high branches of the Dora Baltea, then ascends its southern slope to the Malatrà valley. The refuge, open from mid-May to mid-October, sleeps 78 people in 13 rooms of different types (double room, six-room or dormitory). It offers traditional dishes and typical Aosta Valley wines.

Why it is special

Val Ferret is a sanctuary of alpine nature: virtually untouched, it has a repertoire of environments ranging from valley floor wetlands to only seemingly lifeless scree. As for flora and fauna, there is something for everyone: spectacular blooms and rarities; ibex and golden eagle among the easiest sightings. All against the backdrop of a truly unique setting of epic granite peaks. With the gusto of pointing binoculars toward the Boccalatte-Piolti refuge (2803 m) on the Grandes Jorasses, one of the first refuges on Mont Blanc, with a place of honor in the history of mountaineering.

Don't miss

In downtown Courmayeur, inescapable stop at the "Duca degli Abruzzi" Alpine Museum based in the House of the Guides, an expression of a society founded in 1850 specifically to accompany tourists in the high mountains. The exhibit traces the history of mountaineering with particular reference to the Mont Blanc epic. Among the remembered guides is Walter Bonatti, who in the 1950s and 1960s linked his name to some of the most daring climbing routes.

A bit of history

Walter Bonatti (1930-2011) was a legendary sportsman, first in top mountaineering, then in exploration. It was on Mont Blanc that he came to prominence with a climbing style destined to set the standard. In 1954 he participated in the controversial expedition to conquer K2. Retiring from mountaineering, he produced a series of geographical reportages, from Tierra del Fuego to New Guinea, often solo, for Epoca magazine. Parallel to this is literary production, with true genre best sellers, including "K2 The Truth - Story of a Case" (2003) and "The Glittering Mountain" (2018), published posthumously.

Trivia

Val Ferret is a naturalistic wonder. Suffice it to say that 68 species of diurnal butterflies have been surveyed there. One of the most striking species in terms of size and color is the apollo butterfly(Parnassius apollo), which in its scientific name brings together the Greek god of all the arts and the mythical Mount Parnassus, sacred to the nine muses that govern them. This butterfly has white livery with large, circular, red spots bordered with black, Beware, however, because if the white is particularly intense and the spotting more dense, it could be the much rarerphoebus butterfly(Parnassius phoebus), from the Greek phoibos (shining, bright), typical of wetlands.

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Francesco Soletti

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