Vertigo sufferers beware: These mountain shelters offer spectacular birds-eye views for those who are brave—and skilled—enough to visit. If daunting alpine excursions aren't your cup of tea, just sit back and enjoy them vicariously. Read on for 10 hillside retreats that'll have you on the edge of your seat.
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Italian architects Roberto Dini and Stefano Girodo designed this tiny bivouac structure in the Italian Alps to help encourage exploration of the remote location. Perched on the side of a mountain at an altitude of 10,794 feet, the structure was commissioned by the family of Luca Pasqualetti, a mountaineer who tragically passed away in the Alps. The installation was an exercise in well-planned logistics: The architects collaborated with the Italian prefab company LEAPfactory to assemble the unit in an off-site workshop, and the prefab pieces were lifted into place via helicopter and installed in a single day.
Designed by OFIS Arhitekti, the Kanin Winter Cabin is a compact wooden volume with three platforms extending out over the valley. A large, glazed panoramic window provides breathtaking views of the surrounding Kanin Mountains.
Designed by AKT II, Harvard GSD Students, and OFIS Architects in 2015, this bivouac in Slovenia's Skuta, the third-highest peak in the Kamnik Alps, was informed by traditional alpine structures and the challenge of building for extreme mountain weather conditions.
Italian prefab company LEAPfactory built this alpine shelter off-site and had it flown in via helicopter. Cantilevered off the edge of a mountain, the structure features a living room, a dine-in kitchen, bunk beds, storage closets, and an integrated computer to keep mountaineers and climbers up-to-date on the weather conditions.
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Located at 9,459 feet in elevation and run by the Swiss Alpine Club, the Monte Rosa Hut has been a popular destination at the Gorner Glacier since 2009. Designed by Bearth & Deplazes Architekten and dubbed the "rock crystal" because of its striking, ultra-modern design, the innovative structure is also virtually self-sufficient.
The Gouter Refuge is located at 12,582 feet in elevation (about 3,280 feet below the summit of Mont Blanc) along the Gouter route. The four-story, rounded structure juts out over a 4,921-foot drop, and it's the last stop before the final climb to the summit of Mont Blanc. Commissioned by the French Alpine Club and designed by Swiss architect Hervé Dessimoz, the wooden structure is clad in stainless steel and took five years to design and three years to build.
Skylodge Adventure Suites are luxury dwellings affixed to the mountainside in Peru's Sacred Valley, approximately nine miles north of Cusco. Visitors interested in staying at Skylodge must climb a quarter of a mile of protected trails and fly through the sky on zip lines.
Designed by Bureau A, Antoine is a bivouac in Les Ruinettes, Switzerland that closely resembles a rock in the snow. The shelter is named after the main character Charles-Ferdinand Ramuz's novel, Derborence. In the story, Antoine survives seven weeks under the rocks before he manages to return to his village and life.
Designed by Savioz Fabrizzi Architects, the Tracuit Hut is a mountain shelter run by the Swiss Alpine Club. The shelter is located above Zinal in the canton of Valais, at an elevation of 10,780 feet. It's named after the Tracuit Pass in which it is located.
Designed by Giovanni Pesamosca Architetto, this shelter in the Italian Alps fits nine beds within its triangular A-frame structure. Situated along the Ceria-Merlone trail at an altitude of 8,303 meters, the shelter is a memorial to Luca Vuerich, a well-known mountain guide who was killed by an avalanche while climbing an iced waterfall in the mountains near Tarvisio.
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