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Alpine Cosmology Workshop 2019


Welcome to the Alpine Cosmology Workshop website. Tervetuloa, grüß Gott!

This is an annual workshop organized since 2009. The conference is supported by the University of Helsinki, Max-Planck Institut fuer extraterrestrische Physik (MPE), Centre de Recherche Astrophysique de Lyon (CRAL), and Planetarium Südtirol/Alto Adige.

The concept of the workshop is to combine a scientific part, in which each participant delivers a review on their topic with a group wellbeing activity in which every participant is engaged. To this end we have selected to conduct the workshop at several huts located in the Alps, connected by hiking trails. Each day has approximately 6 hours of the workshop and 6 hours of hiking, during which the participants usually continue the discussion of the scientific topics and establish new collaborations. These unique attributes of the conference allow participants to concentrate entirely on the subject of the conference, which includes:

  • Theoretical and observational cosmology
  • Physics of galaxy clusters
  • Coevolution of galaxies and black holes
  • Environmental effects in galaxy formation
  • Gravitational waves
SOC:    A. Finoguenov, J. Comparat, J. Richard, V. Faraoni, W. Hellwing, N. Kaiser, J.-P. Kneib, J. Niemeyer, I. Mandel, C. Romero, T. Sawala, M. Donahue, K. Enqvist,  E. Komatsu, C. Sarazin, M. Voit
LOC:    A. Finoguenov, J. Comparat, J. RIchard, M. Bianconi, J. Chitham, V. Faraoni, F. Käfer

The full instructions regarding preparation is summarized on this page, as well as insurance coverage and risks associated with any such outdoor activity. For logistical reasons,  the participation at the conference is limited to 30 people.

The registration is closed. Here is a program of the workshop

The dates of the 2019 workshop are June 30 - July  5 2019. 

Registration deadline was May 20 2019. The registration is closed. The participants have been contacted with the practical details poll. If you are missing from the list, this is by mistake, please get back to us by email.

The 2019 route is located in the national parc of Les Ecrins, around the village La Berarde (France) and features 

  • a moderate main route with a weather-secure access to each hut and escape possibility on each day 
  • optional hikes on certain days with return to the same hut


The meeting starts on June 30 (2019) in La Berarde. We recommend coming by car. The nearest place that can be reached by public transportation is Bourg d'oisans. Here is a link to the bus schedule.  And you can plan your trip here.

The closest airport is located in Lyon or Geneva. Getting from Lyon airport to Grenoble is really easy by either train or bus and takes 1 hour.

Participants arriving earlier should arrange for their own accommodation. During June 30 - July 5 (2019) the accommodation is reserved by the LOC.


June 30 (Sunday):

July 1 (Monday):

  • Breakfast at the hut starting 7am.  La Berarde (1713m)
  • 7:00 One group leaves for via ferrata. Back at 11:00.
  • 4 hour hike to refuge du Chatelleret (2232m) and back, including cofee at the refuge du Chatelleret. Back at 11am.
  • lunch talk at La Berarde
  • 7h of talks at La Berarde
  • Dinner at La Berarde

July 2 (Tuesday):


July 3 (Wednesday)

  • dinner at the hut

July 4 (Thursday)

  • Breakfast according to the schedule of the subgroup 
  • Easiest option: relax in the morning; go back to la Berarde (1.5h) in the afternoon.
  • intermediate option: breakfast at 7am; 5h hike to Col de la Temple (3321m) and back; lunch at the hut;  1.5h hike to la Berarde in the afternoon.
  • advanced option: start hiking at 4am, climb Pic Coolidge (3775m), breakfast at the peak at 9am (take it with you), back to  refuge de Temple Ecrin at 12pm, lunch at the hut; 1.5h hike to la Berarde in the afternoon. We are strongly advised to go down from the Pic at 10am to avoid thunderstorms.
  • 3h of talks at la Berarde

July 5 (Friday)

  • 7am breakfast. 
  • transportation of participants to the bus stop at  le Bourg d'oisans. Two rides, one at 5am, and one at 9am.

Here is a link to the online trail map. We will provide a proper map on site.

Last minute changes dictated by the weather are often required. Typically, all the talks will be given, but not all the hikes can be done. We hike both as a group or by a few mini-groups (with 3 people or more), with control over the participants.


Alternatives include

  • Adjustment of hiking route based on the LOC evaluation of individual's experience. 
  • Cancel any part of the hike due to inclement weather. 
  • Use of the multiple access and escape points. 
  • Alpine rescue is covered by the provided insurance. Currently, there is an obligatory personal liability cost, which is introduced to preclude people from abusing the system (no free helicopter rides anymore - 700 Euro personal cost).

Practical details:

  • Huts provide both accommodation (only own sleeping sheet is required by the huts), showers (bring your own light-weight towel, soap and shampoo) and full meals including vegetarian option. We will order both the sleeping sheets and light-weight towels for interested participants as a part of the registration fee. Sleeping sheet weights 100g and has 7cmx15cm in size:
  • Backpack shall be 10% of your body weight. 50l backpack (with rain-proof cover) shall be enough. We can store your extra travel stuff in the cars. Here is an image of a 35l trekking backpack.
  • Water will be refilled at each hut (watch the signs - not every tap serves drinkable water). Bring a light water container like this:
  • You can line-dry (and eventually wash) your clothes.
  • Bring your talk on the USB key. LOC will carry a laptop and a projector. If you prefer to use chalk, we will find a rock for you.
  • Hiking shoes, breathable clothes. Nylon T-short and a rainproof softshell is a minimal functional combination.
    Here is how hiking shoes should look like:

    You need to have them in order to participate. This is strictly enforced for your own safety and comfort as well as the image of the group. The latter is important to get access to certain hikes from the rescue men (hut owners), who will first examine our boots before letting us go. The shoes should cover your ankle. We can provide advice on how to select them. 
  • Hiking poles (these help saving your knees)
  • flip-flops to walk inside the hut
  • sunglasses, sun protection, hat
  • hiking pants - long or at least covering the knees - some rain-proof protection is a great bonus.
  • personal medicine. If you like to hike alone - bring your own first aid kit. 
  • earplugs (for the night)
  • prepare for zero temperatures (Celsius or 30s F)  and snow on the route - in addition to the softshell take fleece, warm hat, gloves
  • plastic bandage for you feet, some people put it prior to hiking. And on the hike: if it hurts - stop and put it on.
  • light snacks for long hikes
  • hiking/skiing socks (and a change)
  • knee/ankle protection if you use it
  • Personal medical insurance valid in France is advised (we only cover the transport to the hospital).
  • Personal costs are ~400 Euro, covering meals and accommodation (receipts are given). Huts often do not accept cards. 
  • Participants are expected to bear the costs of travel to the first and from the last access points of the route.

The conference fee is 200 Euro and includes: obligatory Alpine insurance and Alpine membership, map of the area, reserved funds for fees related to unexpected changes of the route, coffee breaks. The fee is the same for every participant, no reduction is possible. The payment of the fee will be done in cash during the first day of the conference. Cancellation is subject to the already incurred costs. The registration fee with accommodation during the meeting included is 270 Euro.

Deadline for registration: May 20 2019, but is subject to the available space



Hiking is a potentially dangerous activity. The hike descriptions provided by the conference organizers are intended to help plan outings, but conference participants are wholly responsible for anticipating potential hazards and evaluating their physical ability to follow a particular hike. Hiking is a personal choice and requires personal responsibility. Hiking exposes you to risks. Risks are mitigated, but not eliminated by training and skill. Conference organizers, UoH, and MPE  assume absolutely no responsibility, including but not limited to injury and loss due to use of information, or participating in activities related to the Alpine Cosmology Workshop. 

Some readers of this disclaimer might consider participating at the conference as risky, while they go on similar routes in private. This disclaimer applies to any hiking activity! The worst risk is underestimating the danger! By participating in the conference you will improve your knowledge of the mountaineering and the relevant safety rules. 


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