Dolomites, Mountain Hut ‘Refuge the Twelve’
During the Brenta Trekking in 2012, one place was strikingly beautiful. We crossed a pass, descended on the snow with beautiful rock formations, hallucinating views and at the end of the slope there was this mountain hut called refuge “the twelve.”
Mountain Hut surrounded by the most beautiful mountain passes of the Brenta Dolomites
I never forgot the name and the place, this beautifully situated mountain hut, surrounded by the most awesome passes of the Brenta Dolomites was on my wish list to publish at our vacation website. A coincidental encounter during a ski trip, with the manager of the hut, led to a collaboration and provided me access to the history of the refuge, a beautiful story that I translated for you.
Mountain Hut more than 100 years old
Refuge 12 Apostoli was built by the SAT (the Italian Alpine Association) with private money from the two brothers: Carlo and Giuseppe Garbari. The construction, at nearly 2.500 meters high, took a hundred years ago no less than two years. The refuge was finished in 1908 and experienced two wars. Without doubt it has been used during the wars as a defensive structure and shelter as well as many other refuges in this region.
Dolomites, Mountain Hut / Refuge the Twelve
The name ‘the Twelve’ refers to a Geographical Phenomenon
For their refuge (which literally means shelter), the brothers Garbari chose a beautiful place in the Brenta Dolomites, on a natural terrace of limestone at exactly 2489 meters high. The name ‘the twelve’ refers directly to a geographical phenomenon of a nearby eroded rock containing images of figures in prayer, known as the “twelve apostles.”
Alpinism and Tourism, the New Destination
The mountain hut survived the two wars, in 1948 it still existed. In that same year, a local family, the family Salvaterra, became the managemers of the hut. They believed in a new destination for the refuge, one of mountaineering and tourism. Their presence and hospitality at this isolated place, contributed to the transformation of the refuge into a welcoming mountain hut and an important meeting point for mountaineers.
A Chapel Commemorating all Victims of the Mountains
A few years later, in July 1950, a tragic accident happened near the refuge. Three young alpinists fell into a crevasse and died. The accident led to a common need to remember the boys and the idea was born to build a chapel close to the mountain hut. With dynamite space was created in the massive granite stone and a beautiful cross was carved. In 1952 the church was inaugurated and since then every year, during the last week of July, a ceremonial meeting is held to remember not only the three young alpinists but all victims of the mountains.
A Path of 200 meters, sawn in the Ice
Aldo and his partner Roberta are the current sympathetic managers of the refuge. The ceremony amongst others is possible thanks to Aldo. The entrance to the chapel is on the north, meaning that often there’s still snow when the ceremony takes place. This means that Aldo has to saw a path of 200 meters in the ice to create a safe access to the chapel. This is an incredibly tough job that lasts for two days.
The Summer Months in the Mountains
Every year Aldo and Roberta spend the summer months in the mountains. Next to running the refuge, Aldo is a certified Alpine Guide, a title which in Trentino is only given after a 3 year higher education. The “Twelve” is until now still a well-known and popular refuge amongst climbers and mountaineers. On the one hand because of its beautiful location and because it has the most beautiful and certainly the most symbolic mountain chapel in the Brenta Dolomites.