Are you eating lunch now while doing winter sports in Italy or Switzerland? Located in Zermatt/Breuil-Cervinia, Rifugio Guide del Cervino has been a mountain refuge that has been slowly moving from country to country since it opened in 1984. As the glacier melts, the border line between the two countries is gradually changing. The mountain hut is located exactly on this border, but changing the location of the hut has all sorts of consequences. Below you can read how this is possible and what needs to be changed.
The border line between Italy and Switzerland
The Alps naturally extend over different countries, and somewhere separation has to be determined somewhere. This is done using catchments. This determines by how the water ends (north or south) where the land ends and the next begins. In other words, where exactly is the border between the Alpine countries. However, due to the melting of the glaciers, these watersheds are in constant motion. This mobile boundary line is re-measured every few years. Treaties were drawn up between Austria, Italy and Switzerland to divide the border areas equitably every few years.
BErgohut Rifugio Guide del Cervino in Zermatt-Cervinia
The shifting boundary line has little effect in the Alps because not much is built on top of the peaks. This is just the case for Rifugio Guide del Cervino mountain hut, one of the highest mountain huts in the Alps. Rifugio is a restaurant and dormitory located at an altitude of 3480 meters on the Plateau Rosa in the Zermatt / Breuil-Cervinia ski area. Here lies precisely this line between Switzerland and Italy.
At this point, you can ski in both countries. On one side, you are from Switzerland, and on the other side you come down from the mountain in Italy. You can choose between the more challenging slopes in Zermatt and the friendliest slopes in Breuil-Cervinia. This winter, for the first time, the World Cup competitions will be held in the Swiss-Italian ski region. This cross-border World Cup match in Zermatt and Brill-Cervinia together will be the first!
Changing borders sparks debate
When The mountain hut was opened in 1984, the entire building was in Italy, but since recent years, two-thirds of the hut is now located in Switzerland. The reason for this is climate change, because the melting of the neighboring Theodol glacier causes changes in the previously mentioned watersheds. However, this has consequences for Guide to Refugio del Cervino. Once the cabin changes country, it will have to comply with all applicable laws and regulations in Switzerland. Even the currency has to be changed from Euro to Swiss Franc! This causes a debate between the two countries. Italians don’t agree…
This discussion has been going on since 2018 and since then Switzerland and Italy have been in talks to solve this problem. The two countries come to a decision in 2021, but it won’t be announced until 2023. So we have to wait and see the outcome…
Do you want to know more about the watershed in Zermatt-Cervinia? Watch the video below to illustrate the problem!
Climate change has more consequences
The Swiss islands of Zermatt are more affected by climate change. For example, the ski area recently announced that they are temporarily closing the summer ski area, which is great for the area. Here you can ski usually 365 days a year. This is due to a combination of extremely high temperatures and rain.
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