The air gets thinner, the places more remote; the distances seem greater and the route becomes more technically demanding. When you’re hiking above the 3000 meter mark, you experience amazing freedom. Up at those heights, though, it’s a thrill that doesn’t come without its fair share of risks. Is your endurance enough? Are your skills appropriately fine tuned? Will the weather hold up its end of the bargain? Do you have the right equipment? If the answer to any of these questions suddenly becomes a negative one while you are on the mountain, you’ll be glad to find an emergency shelter to surrender for awhile.
That’s what bivouacs are for. They’re built for protection and recovery, and to help bridge those moments when conditions become particularly harsh—and the nights particularly long. And in the case you’re forced to bivouac, it is always advisable to think of a little extra equipment: Even though most shelters offer the everything that’s necessary, extra food rations, etc. will prove to be a huge plus when times get tough. Today, bivouacs are often also planned for use during fixed stops along the way, especially when Tours are too long to stick to a fixed itinerary, or for climbers to get an early start on the walls. And admittedly, with the fantastic views and the wild-romantic solitude at these heights, staying in one overnight is certainly not without its charm.