After 10 years of planning, permitting, and fundraising, the Spearhead huts project is finally under way. BC Parks gave its final approval to begin construction of a system of three backcountry huts along the popular Spearhead Traverse in British Columbia’s Garibaldi Provincial Park, and The Alpine Club of Canada and the Spearhead Huts Society officially broke ground last week on the Kees and Claire Hut at Russet Lake.
The foundation and, ideally, a grey water dispersion field, will be finished by the end of this summer, and the construction of the hut structure will happen next year, with plans to open the hut to the public in 2019. The unique challenges of construction in a remote and rugged environment call for the two-phase construction plan, which will better allow crews to adjust for weather and other variables.
The Spearhead Huts Society, a registered charity, is still seeking donations in order to completely fund the Kees and Claire Hut and volunteers to help with construction this summer. The project to build huts along the traverse has met with overwhelming community support from the outset, including a stamp of approval from the first-ever skiers to complete the winter traverse.
The proposed huts will be the first alpine hut-to-hut system on the West Coast. In addition to the Kees and Claire Hut, huts will be built near Macbeth Glacier and Mt. Pattison. The traverse commonly takes skiers four days, and the three new huts will streamline the journey, allowing skiers to travel with lighter packs thanks to existing amenities. In the summer, the 40-person huts will be available to hikers.
The Spearhead Huts Society’s mission—to make a well-traveled backcountry zone more hospitable—is an easy one to get behind. The area already sees a great deal of backcountry traffic, and the Spearhead Huts Society hope to mitigate overcrowding at existing facilities like the Elfin Shelter at Diamond Head, which regularly sleeps 50-plus people a night despite being built for 33, and to better control traffic through the traverse. The huts will also minimize the impact of so many campers on the natural environment, notably with environmentally-friendly vermiculture composting toilets that will help to eliminate widespread human waste in the area.
Photos courtesy of the Spearhead Huts Society