In the third issue of Coast Mountain Culture we wrote about how the famous Spearhead Traverse could be the site of a hut system that would rival those found in Europe. Today it has been confirmed construction of the first hut will start in a year.

December 2016 Update: The Spearhead Huts Committee has started an Indiegogo campaign to raise $100,000 before February 2017 to help supplement the Brenninkmeyer donation and start building the huts. Your donation can go towards pre-booking spaces at the huts. This video explains it further:

June 2016 Announcement: The Spearhead Huts Committee recently received a donation from the Brenninkmeyer family for US$700,000 (Cdn$915,000), which was the catalyst needed to help start the construction of one of three huts planned for the traverse, which is located in British Columbia’s Garibaldi Provincial Park.

To learn more about the upcoming construction plan, we spoke with the founder of the Spearhead Huts Committee, Jayson Faulker, who we also interviewed for our article in 2012. Back then he said, “It will be unlike anything else in North America. The Spearhead connects the two mountains (Blackcomb and Whistler) which make up the best ski resort in North America, so you have all the amenities next to this stunning terrain.” Over the past four years his enthusiasm for the project hasn’t waned as the following discussion reveals.

SPEARHEAD_Kees and Claire Hut_West Entry in Summer_20160624
A rendering of the first hut to be built as part of the Spearhead Traverse. The architect is Don Stuart.

Hey Jayson, thanks so much for agreeing to talk to us. All this started about seven years ago – it’s been a long time in the making, eh?

(Laughs.) We never imagined it would take this long. A large part of the wait was the review process required by BC Parks. We wanted to make sure we got it right and that it would make sense for the community as well as future generations so we went through all the hoops. Then, last February we received the news that BC Parks approved our permit for all three huts.

So the permits were confirmed and then the donations followed?

We just received major funding for the first hut, which will be located at Russet Lake and things are looking good for further development after that. Primary funders have been the Brenninkmeyer family and the Resort Municipality of Whistler/Province of BC, which donated $150,000. We’ve also had many donations from numerous other individuals and companies that have supported this project for some years. (Ed note: The estimated retail cost of the first hut is 1.5 million while the three huts together will cost a total of about $5 million. The two others will be located at Mt. Pattinson and Mt. Macbeth.) Shelter 2

Tell us about the first hut that’s going to be built?

It will sleep 35 people and will feature running water and toilets. People will be able to use a reservation system to book and it will be managed by the Alpine Club of Canada Whistler Section and the ACC’s Vancouver Section.

And it’s location?

Russet lake is in an excellent location for both summer and winter use. In fact, the area is perfect for a hut because of the fragile meadows there – on any given summer weekend you can see a dozen tents there and people are squatting wherever they please. That’s why Parks are supporting this project – it’s a good way of managing impact.

It ain’t cheap to build a hut in the alpine, eh?

Yeah, the biggest cost is helicopter time. We couldn’t just throw up another cross-wedge shelter. You’re across from a world class resort so it has to be done with the understanding that a lot of people will want to use this for the next 100 years. So the quality of the build has to be very good. That said, we’re not building the Kokanee Glacier cabin but the amenities will be similar in quality to the Admiral Hut. Nice but not super fancy.

When’s the project going to start?

Construction will begin in the summer of 2017 and the plan is to have the hut open by January 2018.

Architect's rendering of the first hut.
Another rendering of the first hut by architect Don Stuart.

We’re going to continue following this story, Jayson, but huge kudos to you and the committee for making this happen.

Thanks. This is going to be one of the greatest ski traverses in North America. I mean, it already is but now the amenities are going to improve exponentially. And it’s all been done by volunteers, which is incredible. Literally thousands of hours have gone into making this happen. It’s a big project by any standard but it’s so worth it. 

To read our original story about the Spearhead Traverse that was written by Brigitte Mah for Coast Mountain Culture #3, click the spread below:

Gimme Shelter CMC Article