The Spearhead Hut Society (SHS) was brought together by a passionate group of local skiers eager to create a valuable and lasting legacy to commemorate the lives of dear friends who’s lives were lost in the mountains, and share their passion with skiers for generations to come.
Acknowledging that the memorial legacy is only one component of this invaluable proposed hut system, the Kees and Claire Memorial Hut Society joined the Brett Carlson Memorial Fund, the BC Mountaineering Club, and the Alpine Club of Canada to ensure this memorial legacy addresses a wide range of backcountry users’ needs, mitigates environmental impact in the area, and increases the comfort and safety for backcountry travellers.
The SHS greatly looks forward to dedicating two of the proposed huts to the amazing people who inspired the project to get off the ground.
The Story of Kees and Claire
Cornelius ‘Kees’ Brenninkmeyer and Claire Dixon were the most caring, sharing, and energetic couple you could ever have the pleasure of knowing. Absolutely buzzing with excitement for life, they were always keen for a new adventure, new project, or new chapter of their lives.
While their last chapter came heartbreakingly to soon, it was one of the best, and all who knew them were lucky to share it with them. They found love in each other and enjoyed challenging themselves in this new phase of life. Kees was well en route to his dream of professional mountain guiding, and Claire had recently finished her Physiotherapy degree, keen to start her new career. As a couple they could now guide people to achieving their dreams in the mountains – then patch them up if dreams led astray, say a torn knee or shoulder.
In December of 2006, they eagerly embraced the challenge of volunteering as ACC hut custodians and set out for a bold mid-winter traverse of the Wapta Icefields.
Tragically, a mountaineering accident during the traverse took Kees and Claire’s lives when they built a snow cave for a night’s refuge between huts. They died on January 4, 2007 doing what they loved, at the pinnacle of a life few could imagine. They were “living the dream” – being together taking on challenges that made them fully alive.
Inspired by Kees and Claire’s larger-than-life thirst for adventure, a group of friends embarked on a bold journey to build a lasting legacy for Kees and Claire to continue inspiring generations of mountain enthusiasts.
Twelve years later, the dream became a reality with the new Kees and Claire Hut officially opening September 21, 2019. This dream was made possible thanks to the families, friends, the Kees Brenninkmeyer Foundation, numerous corporate, municipal, and private donors, and absolutely countless hard-working volunteers from mountain communities near and far. We thank you all.
In Honour of Brett Carlson
Brett Carlson had the kind of laugh that could jumpstart a ’72 Cutlass and the kind of smooth fluid skiing that made every run look amazing. In January of 2000 Brett, age 24, passed away while filming a road gap in Whistler. Reeling from the loss, his tribe banded together and began raising funds, with the idea of building a renegade hut “somewhere awesome.” Thankfully, Brett’s friends opted to join forces with the Spearhead Huts Committee in 2010 and as the fundraising and lobbying progressed, a unique idea began to form – The Brett Carlson Lounge – a warm haven of celebration, friendship and adventure to match the spirit of a skier taken far too soon. Situated on the south end of Kees and Claire Hut, Brett’s lounge features stunning views of Fissile, a mountain he ski a number of times and a pair of his skis – one that was that was previously mounted just metres away in the old Himmelsbach Hut after his passing, and its mate, a custom-made Brett Clarson shot-ski. Giv’r.
In Loving Memory of Barbara McGeough
Barbara McGeough grew up in Calgary, with six siblings. On the many family trips across the mountains of BC and Alberta, Barbara developed a timeless and effortless skiing technique that she never lost. After settling in Vancouver and meeting her future husband Colin, her love for the outdoors flourished. Barbara and Colin had two sons, and as a family skied, biked, and hiked as much as they possibly could.
Barbara completed the Spearhead Traverse in 2015 and was inspired by the natural beauty of the area. Alongside her husband, she supported the Spearhead Huts project for many years and helped manage many “Spearhead Soirees”, using her refined design sense to make these events successful and elegant.
Professionally, Barbara was an accomplished interior designer, specializing in hospitality spaces and restaurants. This experience, combined with her love of the outdoors, made her a master of gathering friends and family together in nature to share food and enjoy company. Not limited to the wilderness, Barbara’s home kitchen in East Vancouver was a hub for many, no matter the time of day or circumstance.
Barbara passed away suddenly on August 6, 2016. To honour her love for the outdoors and sharing moments with food, Barbara’sh husband and sons, Jacob and Kieran, worked with family and friends to establish the most appropriate legacy for her. While you’re up here, be sure to take the time to enjoy Barbara’s Kitchen – a welcoming place for all travellers to socialize, share good food, and relish your outdoor adventures past and future. That’s what Barbara would do.
The Spirit of Mischa Arnott
A much beloved young girl and old soul, Mischa Arnott was born and brought up in the mountains of British Columbia, and made a special connection with every person who walked alongside during her journey. After many years of illness, she passed away at age eleven after her beautiful heart and mind could no longer be carried by a broken body.
It was in these mountains – both literally and figuratively – that she found compassion, strength, and a positive bravery that knew no bounds. Her love for climbing and skiing from the age of 2, the freedom she found through art and music, and her astounding connection and concern for animals, particularly wildlife, reminded us all of her big beautiful open heart. She connected friends and strangers alike, as one felt drawn to her for her sky-high optimism in the face of such steep and insurmountable obstacles.
It was Mischa’s wish to one day return to these very mountains to climb and ski and watch Pikas scramble through the boulders. As such, this dedicated youth bunk room and mountain education project has been established in her name by her parents Doug and Renata, sister Esme, and many generous donors.
This legacy project welcomes youth to participate in the hut and surrounding environment, introducing and educating young people to the beauty of these mountains, and how these experiences can change lives forever. Mountain travel and safety, art, music, and naturalist camps, and even short respite stays for other youth on difficult life journeys are also envisioned, all to be based out of the Kees and Claire Hut.
We welcome all youth and families to participate in hut stays, youth programs, or to simply spend time in this wondrous environment in memory of Misha, who lived life full of hope and courage.
With love, no summit is too high.