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My friend and I, being in the Swiss town of Zermatt, decided to fly by helicopter and shoot the Alps. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t good; there were low clouds, the Sun was hardly seen and a strong wind was blowing that hampered the helicopter’s maneuvers. For about an hour and a half we were in the air, at a height of 3-4 thousand meters, searching for unusual angles for our spherical panoramas. Finally we flew far away from the town and I couldn’t imagine where we were situated at that moment. It was really cold in the cabin, because the helicopter’s door was open and the pilot turned on the heating device which produced much noise and almost nothing could be heard even in a headset.
Then we were somewhere near Italian boarder, the Sun was going down and it was getting dark. The helicopter flew over the next peak. Their names had already become mixed up in my head. The pilot said: “Now we are in Italia. Well, enough, it’s time to go back.” And right there, on the peak of some range, I saw a completely surrealistic view:
among the 3 to 4-thousand-meter snow-capped mountains there was a big wooden building of a strange view. Then in a few seconds I could see that it even had several floors. It was so unexpected that I even rubbed my eyes open: is it a real thing?
We flew as close to the building as was possible. A strong gusty wind was going up along the slope of the mountain and it was dangerous to fly closer. We shot 3 panoramas at different heights but the most successful, in my opinion, is the first one. On the second panorama the helicopter was taken away aside by the wind gust and we couldn’t finish it. In order to shoot the third panorama we had to fly a little farther away because of the security measures, and it proved less interesting.
Being in a hurry I couldn’t ask the pilot about that building in the mountains. Perhaps he even told us something but I couldn’t hear anything because of the noise.
When I came home, with great difficulties in Google Earth, I could find out an approximate place where we might have flown. Oh, miracle, here it is, among hundreds of mountain peaks’ photos, by chance, I saw the picture of that particular building! The photo was titled as “Capanna Margherita”. Then on the Internet I found several photos and videos describing that place in detail.
The refuge-observatory Regina Margherita is situated on Punta Gnifetti at a height of 4,556 m on the Monte Rosa massif. Monte Rosa is the highest mountain of Switzerland. Also it is the second highest massif in Italy, although its main peak is located within Switzerland in the southeastern part of the canton of Valais. Capanna Margherita is clearly visible from the valley and catches the eye of all who look up towards the peaks. It is the highest refuge in Europe, houses an important physics and meteorological observatory and is dedicated to Queen Margaret of Savoy who stayed overnight in 1893, the year of its inauguration. With the support of Queen Margaret of Savoy, an Observatory for Scientific studies was built beside this hut in 1894. The scientific laboratories "Angelo Mosso" on Monte Rosa (mainly the Capanna Regina Margherita) is especially devoted to research regarding acute mountain sickness and the response to subacute hypoxia, whereas the latter is a unique facility for research responses to chronic hypoxia, the effect of exposure to very high altitude.
In the hut 70 people can be allocated in rooms with double beds and has a bar restaurant, communal bathrooms, electric lighting, 220V electric current, internet access and a library. Furthermore it also has a winter shelter (unmanaged), built for 19 people.
In 2002 Capanna Margherita obtained the UNI EN ISO 14001 Certification, proof of its minimal impact on the natural surrounding environment.