Matterhorn’s Carrel Hut to Close; Will Move to Safer Location

Climate change keeps affecting the Alps’ most popular routes. Now the Carrel hut, the only shelter on the Matterhorn’s Lion’s Ridge, will be dismantled in the next few days and rebuilt some distance away in a safer location. The Lion’s Ridge is the normal route up the Italian side of the famous peak.

Aosta Sera reported that falling rock has made the current location unsafe. The new hut will stand 10 meters away from the ridge. A small move, but the rehabilitation will cost $2 million. If all goes well, the new refuge will re-open next summer.

The hut on a shoulder of the steep, snow and ice plasterred rock face of Cervino.

The precarious Carrel Hut from above. Photo: Guide del Cervino


No more glue

In the last few years, the ice and frozen rocks that cement the fractured alpine faces together have largely disappeared. Constant rockfall now affects a number of high-mountain refuges. In the summer of 2022, the La Fourche refuge on Mont Blanc crumbled in a big rockfall. Luckily, the area had closed to climbers for safety reasons by then. That year, guides stopped working the Matterhorn altogether because the extreme heat and subsequent rockfall made climbing too dangerous.

For the Carrel refuge, permafrost was not the problem. Permafrost never glued the rocks around the hut.

“But climate change still causes the rock to crumble,” the Aosta council members explained. Poor rock and potential rockfall are serious challenges for anyone attempting the 4,477m Matterhorn.

The Lion's ridge route marked in red on a picture of Cervino/Matterhorn as seen from Italy.

Cresta del Leone (Lion’s Ridge) on the Italian side of the Matterhorn. The Carrel refuge sits on the lower part of the summit ridge, some pitches after the Colle del Leone. Photo:

A halfway house

The Lion’s Ridge, on the southwest side of the Matterhorn, is longer and slightly more technical than Switzerland’s Hornli Ridge but is not as crowded. It takes climbers roughly five hours from Breuil-Cervinia to the Carrel refuge and another five hours from there to the summit. Many sleep in the Carrel hut the night before their final push. It also gives shelter in case of trouble or bad weather.

A rustic, wooden interior with a small waater deposit, tables and benches.

The simple inside of the Carrel refuge. Photo: Guide del Cervino


Those considering the Lion’s Ridge in winter or planning for next year should ask the hut’s caretakers in advance for information. The popular hut is a small, basic shelter. It has no bar, no running water, and no trash removal. Since 2019, booking ahead has been mandatory. Check details at the Guides’ office.

The big, hotel-like shelter at the base of the peak, the Rifugio Duca degli Abruzzi, is closed for the winter and will only reopen on June 30, 2024.

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides graduated university in journalism and specializes in high-altitude mountaineering and expedition news. She has been writing about climbing and mountaineering, adventure and outdoor sports for 20+ years.

Prior to that, Angela Benavides spent time at/worked at a number of local and international media. She is also experienced in outdoor-sport consultancy for sponsoring corporations, press manager and communication executive, and a published author.