Earlier this year we reported that permission had been granted and funding received so huts could be built on the Spearhead Traverse. This month building began on the Kees and Claire Hut. Here’s an update with photos of the site.

After 10 years, thousands of hours of volunteer time and the generosity of hundreds of people, the first of the three huts in the Spearhead Huts system has received final approval from BC Parks and construction has begun.

The Spearhead Huts Society and the Alpine Club of Canada – Whistler Section officially broke ground this month at the Kees and Claire Hut site located at Russet Lake in Garibaldi Park. Excavation is underway to put in the foundations and if time permits, a grey water dispersion field this summer. Final construction of the hut structure will take place next summer, with the hut projected to open in January 2019. According to the organizers, the two-phase schedule will improve the construction team’s ability to react to changing weather conditions, snow pack variations, helicopter availability, and other variables.

Chris Britt photo

The first week of August saw volunteers and labourers excavate the full footprint of the hut and materials were stored around the perimeter. All the large rocks were separated into piles, the till was stockpiled, ready for backfill, and the organic topsoil was carefully set aside and tarped. It will be used to top-dress the area at the end.

A 1000-pound tamper was then helicoptered into the site and was used on the entire excavated footprint, leaving a clean, compacted surface. Architect Don Stuart visited the site because of bedrock that could act as an impediment and he and the team agrees to revise the positioning of the hut, rotating it slightly southwards to avoid most of the bedrock. However, some will still protrude into the hut basement so it may be drilled and split.

Matt Allard and Owen Perley from Bennett Land Surveying visited the site to layout the new position of the hut and then formwork began. The team accomplished a lot in just a few days. Then Ivan Chu, the geotechnical engineer from JECTH Consultants did a sub-grade inspection and gave final recommendations to the structural engineers at Equilibrium Consulting.

In the next few weeks forms will be finished and the first concrete pour for the footings will happen. Afterwards, the surveyors will return to lay out the walls on the footings. Then it’s on to forming the walls, using large Styrofoam blocks called insulated concrete forms (ICF). The associations involved are still looking for volunteers to help on site, preferably with experience in carpentry, placing rebar, pouring concrete, waterproofing walls, laying drainage. General labourers and carpenter’s helpers are very welcome too. If you have a few days available, consider viewing the volunteer schedule and signing up at www.spearheadhuts.org.