Since 1970 the Galassi hut has been home to over 100 volunteers, who take turns during the season in weekly shifts to manage the hut itself and ensure hospitality and a warm welcome to the mountaineers who ascend towards the Antelao, in the Belluno Dolomites in Northern Italy. We talked to two of the volunteers who chose to dedicate their holidays to the mountain and to the Galassi hut: this is their story.
At 17, in the mountains
What drives a 17-year-old boy to give up classic holidays in the company of friends in favor of spending a week in the mountains, at an altitude of over 2000 meters, working in a mountain hut? For Giovanni it was the desire to put himself to the test, to have a little experience and to learn more about the mountain he has been going to since he was a child. Too bad that as a minor it is not easy to find a job: despite having contacted all the huts of Cadore, the answer was always negative. With the exception of Galassi, which welcomed with open arms this boy with a lot of desire to get involved. Filippo, on the other hand, was involved through his father, who is on the board of directors of the hut. But it was definitely not a forced decision, given his desire to stay in the mountains.
Different beginnings, same outcome: after a few years of volunteering, both found themselves in charge of a management committee, in addition to having become great friends in the meantime. They say that it often happens, among those who choose to volunteer at the Galassi hut: it seems that long lasting friendships are born there - and also love stories. And, above all, relationships that do not know age: both speak enthusiastically of Franco, one of the managers of the hut, who at 73 years of age is a volcano of energy, able to drag and motivate everyone in the common work. It is precisely this that unites and binds the volunteers of the Galassi hut: a harmony that comes from a shared goal, that is to offer the best possible welcome to those who climb up there, on the slopes of the Antelao.
Working (seriously) in a mountain hut
But even if the atmosphere is good-natured and the synergies are evident, the volunteers know that they are there to work. And this is certainly no joke! The actual work begins on the Saturday, the day the team arrives, with the organization of supplies. Food and fuel must be picked up and brought to the hut with the cableway, optimizing each trip. Then, once up, tasks are assigned: there are cooks, waiters and bartenders and those are in charge of controlling and keeping the systems at their best. But everyone has a common role: they are at the disposal of the hikers, to whom they provide information on routes and paths around the hut.
Different kinds of people arrive at the Galassi hut: from school or parish groups who choose it for its size, to day hikers, from mountaineers who head for the summit of Antelao to those who walk the Alta Via number 4 and number 5, or the Marmarole Runde, a recent route that embraces the Marmarole group. Everyone finds in the hut an irreplaceable resting point.
Galassi, like at home
If you ask Giovanni and Filippo what makes the Galassi mountain hut so special, the answer is that it feels like home. Being together, at ease, feeling a sense of belonging and serenity, aware of living a great experience of volunteering, which leads everyone to give their own contribution. Which is not just a physical and concrete contribution in terms of working hours but, as Giovanni points out, also a sharing of ideas. For example, the idea of renovating and making some of the rooms more comfortable came from the suggestion of some volunteers. Or again, someone proposed eliminating single-use items such as placemats but also some foods: a choice that will also be evaluated based on health regulations, but that goes in the direction of an eco-friendly future. Galassi has already installed new solar panels to reduce the use of diesel fuel and therefore the environmental impact at altitude (as well as the considerable costs and the efforts to bring the tanks to the hut) and the goal for next year is to become a plastic-free structure.
"Can you imagine how many ideas come from 100 heads who think of the same goal?" The strength of Galassi is here: in the 100 volunteers who put heart and body at the disposal of the hut and the mountain.
The Pietro Galassi mountain hut is located at the Forcella Piccola dell'Antelao, in the municipality of Calalzo di Cadore (BL). It is managed by the CAI Section of Mestre, which ensures its opening with the self-management system every year from June to September. Anyone wishing to meet Giovanni, Filippo and the other volunteers can refer to the web site of the hut, where directions to reach the hut as well as event information is also available.
Garmont supports the Galassi mountain hut by supplying some footwear and offering all volunteers a special discount on the purchase of new shoes: a contribution to the 100 and more volunteers that offer their time to ensure the management of the hut and a warm welcome to mountain lovers.