Almost heaven. Cabane de Tracuit, Zinal
The Tracuit SAC hut is situated at 3,256 metres above sea level. Anne-Lise Bourgeois has been hut warden for seven years. As well as catering for 120 people, her role here requires her to master some extraordinary challenges.
The manager at Tracuit
Before taking on the role of hut warden, Anne-Lise Bourgeois was a director of tourism and a mountain guide for 11 years. Now she manages the Cabane de Tracuit, heading up and co-ordinating the team to ensure that everything runs smoothly.
Within touching distance of the sky
Planned down to the last detail
For a hut warden, the period before the start of the season is the busiest. Everything has to be prepared and planned down to the last detail as the supply helicopter only comes twice a season, each time delivering nine nets of goods, each weighing 600kg. When ordering goods, nothing can be forgotten. “Even more important than fresh water is cold beer,” says Anne-Lise Bourgeois with a smile. “I have to ensure that I always have enough of everything”.
If something does run out or gets forgotten, Anne-Lise knows enough people down in the valley who can source individual products. And if all else fails, the team simply changes their plans. As Anne-Lise says, up here you have nothing and yet you have everything.
In spring, it is mainly experienced mountain climbers and visitors on guided tours who come through the doors of the Cabane de Tracuit. As spring then turns to summer, Anne-Lise sees less experienced mountain climbers arriving at Tracuit.
Many of these are on the brink of exhaustion. With a total ascent of 1,600m, the demands of the trail will take their toll on any climber. “Last year, one lady went into shock from exhaustion,” Anne-Lise recalls. “She was shivering for hours. I took her to my room, put her in my bed, and hugged her until she stopped shaking.” The other guests had to wait. This is what the hut is all about: offering a place of safety on the way up the Bishorn or Weisshorn – and that sometimes means saving a life.
From 4 a.m. to 10 p.m.
During peak season, working days can be as long as 18 hours. Breakfast is served at 5 a.m., so that means getting up at 4:15 a.m. After breakfast, the team clear away, clean the rooms and get cooking. There is also office work to do, such as writing invoices and taking bookings. Sometimes there is a moment in the afternoon to take a breather, then the day continues as new guests arrive. 10 p.m. is lights out and quiet finally descends on the Cabane de Tracuit.
- 120 guests When fully booked, there are 120 guests to cater for at the Cabane de Tracuit.
- 3,256m above sea level The ascent from Zinal to the Cabane de Tracuit takes five hours, with a total climb of 1,600 metres.
- 10 p.m. As per the rules of the Swiss Alpine Club, it’s lights out for all guests by 10 p.m. at the latest.