During the first week of September 2021, the highest door-handles in Europe will be substituted at 4,554 metres altitude. The handles are installed at the Capanna Regina Margherita mountain refuge, which sits on the Gnifetti Peak in the Monte Rosa massif, near the Swiss-Italian border. The replacement operation is made possible thanks to a donation from Olivari, a leading Italian manufacturer of door-handles, to the benefit of the Club Alpino Italiano, the governing organisation for Italian mountain climbers. The current Olivari handles will be replaced by another extraordinary Olivari product.
The Olivaris are a family of skiing enthusiasts and mountain lovers that has always had a special bond with Monte Rosa. In 1977, the Varallo section of the Club Alpino Italiano (CAI) fully renewed the Margherita refuge that had been constructed in 1893. The new structure was inaugurated on 30 August 1980. Back then, Olivari contributed the Cusio handles. Now, 40 years later, the company is reiterating the gesture.
Cusio handle, Gino Anselmi, 1973
Beta handle, Joe Colombo, 1973
The initiative originates in stewardship values shared by the CAI and Olivari for the conservation and appreciation of national heritage, here represented by the Margherita mountain refuge.
Located on top of the tallest peak in the Valsesia area of the Piedmont region, the Capanna Regina Margherita is the highest mountain refuge in Europe.
It is also one of the most important bases run by the Club Alpino Italiano – a long-standing departure point for expeditions to the Monte Rosa massif. It is equipped with a major weather station, a laboratory affiliated with the University of Turin, and other laboratories for medical and scientific research.
The story of the Capanna Margherita began on 14 July 1889, when an assembly of CAI delegates approved the plan to build a refuge at over 4,500 metres to “offer mountaineers and scientists greater ease in their endeavours by constructing a high-altitude refuge”. In 1890, the Gnifetti Peak was chosen as the location. Materials for the structure were transported by mules and then carried on the shoulders of men. The refuge, with an impressive drop-off toward the valley, was mounted on the peak under an enormous assembly-line effort, and inaugurated on 4 September 1893. The month before, from 18 to 19 August, Queen Margherita of Italy spent the night at the refuge named after her. In 1899, a small tower was added for the weather station.
Today, the building offers sleeping rooms with bunk beds for 70 guests; a common room with bar and restaurant; communal bathrooms; electric lighting,; 220-volt power; Internet connection; scientific laboratories; and a library. In 2002, the Capanna Regina Margherita obtained UNI EN ISO 14001 certification for its minimal impact on the environment.