Aesthetic Survival
[Project overview]
Want to camp out on the mountain top with style, stunning views and amenities? Bivouacs are the answer.

We came a long way from the origins of this concept. Starting out as encampment of soldiers who stayed up all night on guard duties in the open air, dressed and armed, the word itself is said to be derived from the Thirty Years' War, ultimately having its origin from Swiss/Alsatian "biwacht" – night guard, modern bivouacs often are elaborately and elegantly designed hard structures, placed atop the mountain peaks, where backpackers and mountaineers can take shelter overnight.
A fun trivia piece is that Count Henry Russell-Killough, known as the "hermit of the Pyrenees", is usually credited with the invention of the bivouac, closer to its modern interpretation. He would bivouac in the open, creating a blanket of rocks and earth or using a simple bag.

In today's mountaineering the nature of the bivouac shelter mostly depends on the level of preparedness of a user, in particular whether existing gear may be incorporated into the structure itself.

A bivouac shelter is colloquially known as a bivvy (also spelled bivy or bivvi or bivi).

While sometimes It may refer to sleeping in the open with a bivouac sack, today we are going to focus on the more permanent and comfortable buildings.
Those buildings often serve as a design study for their creators, progressive architecture blended into the mountainous landscape of the wild. This results in a wide ranging variety of extremely well thought out and no less pretty shelters that are criminally underappreciated due to the nature of their placement.
To shed some light on this, unbeknownst to many, part of modern culture and to challenge themselves, Aurora Realini and HARTCOPY's Sam Le Roy embarked on an adventure across Slovenia, Italy and Switzerland. Their goal is to climb to and stay in in 20 of Europe's headlining bivouacs in a 2 month window, to complete this project in "one season".
Sam Le Roy [HARTCOPY, creative lead]
HARTCOPY, founded in 2020, delivers content centred around footwear, collectibles, and design. Project adopted the art of traditional magazines and translated it to the social space for easy consumption and shareability.
Sam Le Roy [HARTCOPY, creative lead]
HARTCOPY, founded in 2020, delivers content centred around footwear, collectibles, and design. Project adopted the art of traditional magazines and translated it to the social space for easy consumption and shareability.
[A piece of kit you regret lugging with you up the mountains?]
I'd have to say a drone - despite being a brilliant bit of kit, we (I) managed to send it off the side of Grintovec to a nasty death. Jokes aside, it's very easy to overpack. If we know that the bivouac we're visiting is nice on the interior, I usually go without recovery shoes, or if we're not fussed about a hot dinner, forgoing a stove and all the silverware saves space and weight. The best of all is hiking for just one day, when you can cut out sleeping bags, stoves, and all of that faff. It makes the day very hard, ascending and descending in one go, but you feel light as a feather. Less is more, as they say, and shedding the little things makes a big difference overall.
[Most meaningful thought that you got on any hike?]
This whole journey has been eye opening for me. England, at least the East, is renowned for being flat, so to be thrown into the Alps was a big change. I've gone through all kinds of emotions, from despair on the first couple of hikes to complete elation when we've finally reached our respective destinations. Mountaineering is a real rollercoaster that I've come to respect far more now I've been a part of this. Not to cheat the question, but, the most meaningful "thought" has been a distinct lack of thought. When I'm on a crest, or hiking up a valley, trying to keep up with Aurora, the only thought is where I'll be stepping next. It's a full disconnect from reality, and for that to have been my reality for the past month, and for the next month, is really quite amazing. Going from 7 days a week of computer screens and footwear to this has made me grow as a person massively.
[Meal of the season?]
If we're talking best quality, Auri can throw together an aperitivo like nobody else. The most memorable, however, was on our very first night, where we ended up hiking for 12 hours across some dodgy Slovenian trails to get to Alpine Shelter Skuta. Arriving at 9pm, with no sunlight, a solitary candle in the window of the bivouac - miraculously lit by two Czechian guests on the inside - was the only thing to show us our destination, and once we got inside, we cracked open a bottle of red and cooked up about a kilo of the most basic pasta con pomodoro with grana on top. Not the most elaborate of meals, but this was well and truly a life saver, reviving both of us. We ate in total silence, and it took us three or four pans of water to cook all of the pasta because there was so much of it.
Aurora Realini [independent creator]
Through her own pursuit to connect with nature, Aurora has built a dedicated community around herself, inspiring people to seek this connection and enjoy the world around oneself.
Aurora Realini [independent creator]
Through her own pursuit to connect with nature, Aurora has built a dedicated community around herself, inspiring people to seek this connection and enjoy the world around oneself.
[One place you would love to keep for yourself and the one you really want people to see?]
If I have to be super honest, I'm really protective of every single place I visit just because I usually do a ton of research to find the best spot or, in this case, the best bivouacs to document. But, the other part of me really loves the idea of giving people new places and new inspirations. Anyway, Kotovo Sedlo in Slovenia definitely has my heart. That place, surrounded by white rocks is like heaven for myself but all mountaineers will know that every single hike takes out a different part of yourself and this makes it so hard to name just one. I'd love to see people visiting bivouacs we're going to, so I'd probably say Catullo Detassis. It's a good start for people who want to approach the mountain and a fun hike for people who already know what they're doing. Last but not least, you can eat the best canederli in the refuge next to it.
[Piece of equipment that's the most useful on this project?]
Up until this project I used to shoot all of my content with my iPhone, then I bought my gopro and a world opened up to me. 90% of my video content is taken with it and you can do really good stuff. On Running socks is the go-to, probably the best and coolest socks in the world and obviously, having a pair of Oakleys for every hike is a luxury. Apart from being beautiful as an accessory, I've found them really functional. Mountains test you, you can't say "I can do without this or that". For sure, poles and a good pair of shoes can change your hike.
[Your go to mountaineering shoes these days?]
On Running and La Sportiva. When the terrain is difficult, I usually walk with La Sportiva, but I've been using On's CloudTrax and CloudVenture Waterproof, both of which are lighter in weight but still perform well. For the easier hikes, they're pretty perfect.
But, what's this all for? Well... let's see.
Pair aims to create a multimedia campaign documenting their experiences, examining the culture, design, comfort and breathtaking views of the outdoors around the bivouacs they have selected. This and much more is set to be encapsulated in a print publication in the form of a large, hardcover, premium book that will include a detailed guide of each structure with their photography, trivia, thoughts, infographics and much more.

Check out both social media accounts over at @hartcopy and @aurorarealini and stay tuned for a planned release later this year. Certainly a book you would not want to miss out on.

Words, questions: Ivan Dzhatiev [TECHUNTER, creative director].
Answers: Sam Le Roy [HARTCOPY, creative lead], Aurora Realini [independent creator].
Edit: Ivan Dzhatiev [THM].
Layout, images edit: Alex Zabelin [THM].
Images: Sam Le Roy, Aurora Realini.

Give our favorite adventurers a follow for your daily bivouac fix, and In the meantime, check our other related materials via the links below.