The Spearhead Traverse in British Columbia’s Garibaldi Provincial Park is a true classic, potentially right up there with the Alps’ famed Haute Route. It travels across some of the most incredible backcountry BC has to offer, in the mountains extending beyond Whistler/Blackcomb ski areas. Skiers take off from the top of Blackcomb, tour over Spearhead Pass, and cross four of the Spearhead Range’s glaciers before entering the Fitzsimmons range, where they cross three more glaciers and eventually come back to Whistler.
The popular journey can be done in a day (by the super-fit, that is) but often calls for up to three nights in the backcountry. However, at the moment, just one tiny hut sits along the route, meaning the typical skier has to contend with a huge pack full of winter camping supplies as well as the trials of winter camping itself, from drying out damp gear in your sleeping bag to melting snow for water.
That’s where the Spearhead Huts Society comes in. They’ve proposed the construction, beginning this summer, of three modern alpine huts along the route: one at Russet lake, one on Macbeth Glacier, and one on Mt. Pattison. However, they’re still about $100,000 short on funds.
Available year-round, each hut will accommodate 40 people with basic cooking facilities and eco-friendly toilets, and all will be built sustainably in both design and construction as well as materials. Together, they’ll make up the first alpine hut-to-hut system on the West Coast.
While this might sound like a good way to bring too-heavy traffic to an already-popular backcountry zone, the response to the hut project has been mostly positive. In fact, one of the first skiers to complete the traverse, Karl Ricker, told Pique News that he’s “elated” about the project and that it is “long-overdue.”
The first hut to be constructed will be the Russet Lake Hut, nestled among peaceful high-alpine meadows near the original Himmelsbach hut, built in the late 1960s.
Photo by Jordan Manley.