Where will the Spearhead Huts be located?
The huts will be located near Whistler, BC, along the popular Spearhead Traverse in Garibaldi Provincial Park. When complete, they will offer the first hut-to-hut experience on the West Coast. Three sites have been chosen, so that travel time between the huts is fairly equal and the huts are accessible without having to cross a glacier in summer. Each location will offer dramatic views and excellent recreation opportunities in both winter and summer.
Who is developing the Spearhead Huts?
The Spearhead Huts Committee has dozens of volunteers from five local non-profit groups:
- Alpine Club of Canada – Whistler Section
- Alpine Club of Canada – Vancouver Section
- British Columbia Mountaineering Club
- Kees and Claire Memorial Hut Society
- Brett Carlson Memorial Foundation
Who will operate the huts?
The not for profit, Spearhead Huts Society will operate the hut.
Who will provide authorization to construct the huts?
The Park Use Permit for 3 huts has been issued by BC Parks in spring of 2016.
When will the huts be built?
We hope to build the first hut at Russet Lake in the summer and fall of 2017. The huts at Mt. Pattison and Mt. Macbeth will follow in subsequent years, as funding allows.
Who can use the huts?
Everyone! Hikers, climbers, skiers, snowboarders, and snowshoers. The huts will be open to the public with a nightly fee.
How much will it cost to stay at a hut?
The nightly fees will be set to cover the annual operating costs, at a level similar to other Alpine Club of Canada huts. The goal is to keep the fees affordable. Discounted rates will be available for Alpine Club of Canada and BC Mountaineering Club members.
Will commercially guided groups fill up the hut?
Groups led by mountain guides will use the huts, as will other large groups (clubs, church groups, families). Booking policies will be established to ensure a balance between the number of bunks allocated for groups versus individuals, advance bookings versus last-minute bookings.
How can I access the huts? Do I have to purchase a backcountry pass from Whistler-Blackcomb?
Visitors can shorten the travel distance and time to access the huts by buying a backcountry pass from Whistler-Blackcomb. Taking the lift up Whistler and hiking or skiing over the Musical Bumps will bring visitors to the hut at Russet Lake. Taking the lift up Blackcomb and hiking or skiing eastward through the Spearhead Range will bring visitors to the hut on Mt. Pattison. However, the hut at Russet Lake will also be accessible without taking the lifts by travelling up the Singing Pass trail from Whistler Village. BC Parks is working to develop a new trailhead at Fitzsimmons Creek that will eventually shorten the travel distance. The Spearhead Huts Committee is supportive of new trail connections being developed. The third hut near Mt. Macbeth will be accessible from the first two huts.
Will the huts bring more visitors to the area?
The huts will draw people’s attention to the area, but the number of people hiking and skiing in Garibaldi Provincial Park has grown enormously in recent years, and will continue to grow with or without the huts. People in the Lower Mainland are searching for recreational opportunities, putting a strain on existing facilities. For example, Elfin Shelter at Diamond Head has bunks for 33 but regularly sleeps 50+ people. The Spearhead Huts will provide much needed alternative destinations. The current growth in recreation in the Spearhead area has meant uncontrolled environmental impact and human waste. With a booking system and proper outhouse facilities, the Spearhead Huts will provide a mechanism to manage the numbers and the impacts.
Will the huts be a draw for inexperienced people? Will there be more accidents?
The Spearhead Huts will provide greater safety and comfort for a wide range of people, including beginners, youth, families and seniors. To encourage safety, the hut reservations website will include a clear description of the huts, their access routes and the nature of the terrain. The website will advise people to choose the outing and hut most suitable for their skill level. The website will provide broad safety information and links to weather and avalanche bulletins. We anticipate having volunteer custodians at the huts during the peak seasons. The custodians will advise people on the use of the hut, and encourage safe travel choices.
Currently, a very low percentage of the total search and rescue call-outs handled by Whistler Search and Rescue occur in the backcountry of the Spearhead and Fitzsimmons Ranges. Of those call-outs, some are due to physical injuries, some are for people who are lost or overdue, and some are due to broken gear. We are working hard to develop a risk management plan that will protect the public. The plan is being developed in consultation with local public safety groups. Some incidents may be avoided, as the huts will provide a safe haven for people waiting out bad weather and poor visibility. Repair tools and spare parts at the huts may make the repair of broken bindings and other gear possible.
How can I book a hut?
There will be an online booking system, so you can make a reservation and payment. That way you can be assured of a bunk when you arrive at the hut.
How many people will each hut sleep?
The huts are still being designed, but we anticipate that each hut will have bunks for 30-40 people.
What services will the huts have?
The huts will have comfortable bunks and good storage areas for gear, dining areas with windows to the view and self-serve kitchens with propane cooktops. They will also have water systems, propane heat, solar power and composting toilets.
Will the huts damage or improve the local environment?
The huts will provide accommodation and toilet facilities, as an alternative to the wide spread tenting and uncontrolled human waste that occurs now. We are proposing to use vermi-culture composting toilets that will require very little maintenance and produce almost no waste material. Few helicopter flights will be required for these toilets, as compared to the many flights required for a fly-out barrel system. Septic fields will be engineered and developed to handle all waste water. The fields will be carefully located to avoid contamination of any water sources. Helicopter flights will be required to deliver propane twice a year, in spring and fall. Signage at the huts will inform visitors of local environmental issues, such as protection of the local marmot and goat populations.
Can I help build the huts?
Yes! We are eagerly recruiting volunteers to help on-site. Please send us your name, contact information and a brief description of your skills, and we can tell you more. We are also reaching out to manufacturers and suppliers of construction materials. Please contact us if you are able to offer in-kind donations or discounts. Many thanks in advance!
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