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Spearhead Hut Fundraiser

Nov. 25, 2010, 10:28 a.m.
Posts: 0
Joined: Jan. 15, 2010

For all you back-country enthusiasts, thought you might be interested in the Spearhead Hut proposal. The idea is to have several back-country huts along the Spearhead Traverse route, similar to the Wapta route.

I heard whispers about it last season and now there's a concept plan in place. Details can be found on the Whistler ACC site.

On Friday, November 26 the Whistler ACC Section will be co-hosting an evening at the Longhorn with Mountain Life Magazine to introduce a campaign launch for the construction of the Spearhead Hut System. There will be a short presentation, music by the White Crows, a screening of the ski film "Out of the Shadows" and a silent auction. The evening's events will begin at 8pm. Admission is $5.

While Spearhead-in-a-day is on my list for this season, I think it would be great to be able to spend a few days out there exploring and skiing and not have to lug a tent and cooking gear.

"I'm not an ambi-turner. I can't turn left."

Nov. 25, 2010, 10:39 a.m.
Posts: 2201
Joined: Feb. 4, 2007

Cool While they are at it they should have a hut system in place from Joffre to Whistler then Whistler to Elfin. This would be the coolest backcountry touring route. They should also have 1 or two roads build into Garibaldi Park(improve roads that are there) that are plowed and have parking lots for all backcountry skiers and snowshoers to drive up to pay to park and ski tour, backcountry ski and snow shoe.

:woot:

@davenorona

@Dave Norona

Nov. 25, 2010, 10:42 a.m.
Posts: 4297
Joined: June 1, 2009

Im looking forward to this shin dig.

Nov. 25, 2010, 2:32 p.m.
Posts: 1150
Joined: Oct. 31, 2006

I'm not totally in love with this idea. While I agree that access to all is an interesting concept, this is significantly avalanche and glacier terrain. This is not Himmelsbach Hut from Whistler terrain. I am most troubled by the first 2 proposed huts from the Blackcomb Side - Circle Lake and Decker/Trorey.

Circle Lake is significantly closer to in-bounds terrain that Himmelsbach, with a pretty straight-forward approach. A quick skier could be there in as little as an hour. I don't understand why a hut would be located this close to civilisation? No one on the Spearhead would use this for a first or last night. It would also be fairly easy to view for individuals without any real avalanche/glacier/backcountry experience, and seem sort of "in-bounds", despite the fact this is very "real" terrain. This is already a problem area for skiers with no experience and no gear leaving the boundary due to accessibility… a hut might even load more of these issues on this piece of terrain. The attached scorecard is problematic, as "access" for this high would score very high, perhaps misleading part of the scoring. Access is not necessarily a positive experience element.

I have similar arguements for the Decker/Trorey location. While this might make sense from a distance perspective for a slow group, it's still within the 'too close' range. Also, you are now moving into more glaciated terrain and some more complex slopes. Huts tend to lead the inexperienced to believe their is safety, particularly if the hut is relatively accessible. The terrain from Blackcomb to Circle and to Decker and Trorey is NOT the same as the terrain to Himmelsbach. The Flute, Oboe, low roll around Cowboy is a "relatively" safer route with no glaciation and a rather non-avy prone route if the low angle route is taken compared with ANYTHING coming out of the Blackcomb side. Not that joe gaper should be going out to Himmelsbach, but the mass pilgrimage it receives would not be a happy companion to the Blackcomb side.

From a selfish perspective, the Decker/Trorey location would be a great one or two night home base for pegging lines around Decker and Pattison, however, much as Himmelsbach is used for Fissile.

The next hut over (Trorey Pattison) would be more acceptable for the standard 3 night Spearhead experience. Also, to me, this is where the Spearhead gets 'real'. Coming off the Trorey and the climb up to the ridge below Pattison is the first 'test-piece' and the look off the other side makes you know this is a very big place. People reaching this hut can collect themselves and decide if the Spearhead is going to go or not.

Finally, I worry about volume of people on these first two huts and the potential conflict with commercial trips and customer expectations. If folks know there are huts, they will more likley go. Commercial clients might expect to use these huts as well. It just sort of concerns me when it's that easy. Once past Pattison, or even Trorey, I like the idea. 3 or 4 stategic huts would be good fun.

Nov. 25, 2010, 3:57 p.m.
Posts: 5731
Joined: June 24, 2003

Is Elfin at the end of Paul Ridge? I've been there many times but I can't remember the name. Is the Himmelsbach the one just over Cowboy Ridge under Fissile? I always knew that as Russet lake. been there more than once too.

I think a series of huts along that route is a neat idea and would encourage me to actually tour a bit more, but one that close to Blackcomb does seem misplaced[HTML_REMOVED] I wonder what the thinking is for that placement.

Debate? Bikes are made for riding not pushing.

Nov. 25, 2010, 4:20 p.m.
Posts: 4297
Joined: June 1, 2009

but one that close to Blackcomb does seem misplaced[HTML_REMOVED] I wonder what the thinking is for that placement.

If you read the comments in the working google map, it actually says that maybe its too close, but that itd be a good summer location…

Nov. 25, 2010, 5:13 p.m.
Posts: 136
Joined: Nov. 19, 2002

If you read the comments in the working google map, it actually says that maybe its too close, but that itd be a good summer location…

yup, the plan is for a summer route too…

Nov. 25, 2010, 5:16 p.m.
Posts: 1
Joined: Nov. 25, 2010

Cool While they are at it they should have a hut system in place from Joffre to Whistler then Whistler to Elfin. This would be the coolest backcountry touring route. They should also have 1 or two roads build into Garibaldi Park(improve roads that are there) that are plowed and have parking lots for all backcountry skiers and snowshoers to drive up to pay to park and ski tour, backcountry ski and snow shoe.

Seriously? This is a park, no?

Do we really want this sort of development in Garibaldi Park? Whistler-Blackcomb already encroaches quite heavily in the area.

I'd like to echo Whitehonky's points about commercial users and ease of access for inexperienced people. Then there's the concentration of users that huts encourage, especially ones that are this easily accessible.

I'm also not a fan of the ACC hut model of hut operation - plush but pricy, locked doors, etc.

Although I could be convinced, right now I'm not sure this is good for the area.

Jeh

Nov. 25, 2010, 6:09 p.m.
Posts: 2201
Joined: Feb. 4, 2007

Seriously? This is a park, no?

Do we really want this sort of development in Garibaldi Park? Whistler-Blackcomb already encroaches quite heavily in the area.

I'd like to echo Whitehonky's points about commercial users and ease of access for inexperienced people. Then there's the concentration of users that huts encourage, especially ones that are this easily accessible.

I'm also not a fan of the ACC hut model of hut operation - plush but pricy, locked doors, etc.

Although I could be convinced, right now I'm not sure this is good for the area.

Jeh

So you don't want to ski where sleds go? Heli's fly or Cat Skiing operations are, but yet you also don't want to use the park? What is it you want…look beyond the spearhead, beyond garibaldi, there is so much park terrain that you could not use it all in a life time…skirting the edge is no big deal in my opinion and it would save all backcountry users driving to pemberton every weekend.

I am sick of hearing all the whining by human powered backcountry skiers that sleds, heli's and cats take up all the areas. The truth is backcountry users can not access most terrain as they would have to hike from the highway…by the time they get to 6000 feet their day is done. If backcountry users want a place to go free of motorized sled, heli/skiing, and cat skiing then they need to start working towards a place that they can enjoy their activity. The park is the perfect place.

Some backcountry skiers, snowshoers etc. don't mind seeing sleds or hearing helicopters, for those who do then instead of fighting for those other users to go away, work on areas to go. Yes it is a park use it…

Human Powered backcountry users have the largest area to play in the sea 2 sky corridor…most just can not access it other than whistler, and joffre. If they build a hut system and access roads then human powered bc users could access the terrain they want to ski in. Big deal it is a park and meant to be used..there is absolutely no way that the coast range will be come europe…if you really want to get lost and be out there then you have every possible way of doing that in our back yards….

Yes more users will use them but since it is hike in only access then it limits it to a small percentage, yes more than now and the way to improve backcountry safety is not limiting backcountry usage, but rather education…people are not stopping backcountry skiing in fact more people are doing it….build some places where people can go…

If they built a hut system like I have stated then most if not all user conflicts would go away.

:woot:

@davenorona

@Dave Norona

Nov. 25, 2010, 6:42 p.m.
Posts: 0
Joined: March 29, 2005

I'm with you on that one. Garibaldi Park is huge, with an unbelievable amount of ski terrain. It is also very inaccessible. A road or two that at least got close to the skiable snowline and a few huts would open up vast skiable terrain. The middle of the park is quite a difficult place to get to and is in no danger of being overrun. I've been there a few times and have never see a trace of a human let alone a live one.

Nov. 25, 2010, 7:27 p.m.
Posts: 6328
Joined: Nov. 19, 2002

See you guys at the fundraiser!

Lee and I are involved with this project and see it as a great opportunity to get more people into the backcountry in a concentrated area and allow for further access into the spearhead.

The closest hut on the blackcomb side is proposed to be Decker/Trorey or Decker/Pattison.

Also this system is to also accommodate summer use.

Will it bring more inexperience people into this area? For sure. Is this a bad thing? Maybe. But the more people out and enjoying it the more potential we'll have for more systems like this.

BTW, there were 20 people in the Russet Hut on the first weekend of Oct.

This will increase traffic in the area.

Yes OF- Russet hut= himmelsbach hut. The idea is to upgrade this hut to accommodate more people, and move the current hut deeper into the spearhead.

Oh and as for charging for the huts use as per ACC model. Someone has to pay for the upkeep…

As for commercial conflict. This proposal will coincide with W/B reducing their heli use in the Spearhead.

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Nov. 26, 2010, 9:33 a.m.
Posts: 5731
Joined: June 24, 2003

I have always thought a hut system around the Spearhead was a no brainer. There is so much backcountry in BC it is easy to avoid the motorized users if that bothers you. I have only ever toured in winter where there were cabins. No interest in skiing with huge pack and camping in a tent in winter. I did that as a geologist (with heat and insulated tents) at -49C and I don't really enjoy that. I am sure I am not alone in liking this idea.

I suppose a counter argument to the close in hut is that if the inexperienced go there it is close to "civilization" and help should they require it. It is much less daunting to go, just over there.

Debate? Bikes are made for riding not pushing.

Nov. 26, 2010, 9:52 a.m.
Posts: 1150
Joined: Oct. 31, 2006

Sharon's post makes sense and is a logical point to start discourse. I think there is room for a larger Himmelsbach for sure. I think it's a good location to concentrate backcountry users, and as noted, is a 'safer' (in big quotations), location than most on the Blackcomb side. It is more calming when reading deeper, to realise the Circle location is unlikely. Whew. Decker/Trorey is still a bit tight in my opinion, and still represents a moderately exposed journet in complex terrain.

I don't have anywhere near the experience of Sharon or LeeL, so it's great people like this are "spearheading" this discussion with the ACC. I agree that there needs to be some user-pay if you want a quality overnight location, not some grotto. As it currently stands, there's times when a tent is a better choice than the Himmelsbach… but that's what you get on the low $$$ donation scale of accommodation.

As for Norona, I want to be clear, that I haven't complained about motorised use in my comments. I find it no problem to get away from motorised use if I want to. I'm NOT for sleds as a mode of access because of environmental reasons and I personally think it degrades the experience, but this has nothing to do with a Spearhead conversation. As for heli's, I have found the pilots to be rather considerate when I've been back in that area and they've respected our obvious targets and chosen other lines. And really, anyone out in the Decker, Trorey, Fissile, Oboe areas for the day are clearly people who got there by a mechanised means to start with!

I don't necessarily agree with the comment that "it's a park and it's meant to be used." It's about protection and then balance. I don't think these huts would offset the 'balance' in a meanginful way, I'm more concerned about the more front-side location of the first few huts. The other ones' make sense to me.

BC Parks Mission and Mandate
Mission Statement
As a public trust, BC Parks' mission is to protect representative and special natural places within the province's Protected Areas System for world-class conservation, outdoor recreation, education and scientific study.

BC Parks is committed to serving British Columbians and their visitors by:

protecting and managing for future generations a wide variety of outstanding park lands which represent the best natural features and diverse wilderness environments of the province.
providing province-wide opportunities for a diversity of high quality and safe outdoor recreation that is compatible with protecting the natural environment.
Inherent in this mandate is the requirement to maintain a balance between BC Parks' goals for protecting natural environments and outdoor recreation.

BC Parks is also responsible for the management of the provincial system of ecological reserves, established under the authority of the Ecological Reserve Act. The purpose of the Ecological Reserves System is to:

maintain British Columbia's ecological diversity through the preservation of representative, and special natural ecosystems, plant and animal species, features and phenomena.
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Nov. 26, 2010, 3:35 p.m.
Posts: 66
Joined: Aug. 30, 2004

This sounds great to me. Good luck with the event.

I'm also not a fan of the ACC hut model of hut operation - plush but pricy, locked doors, etc.

With the exception of Kootenay Glacer, all the ACC huts I've been to are pretty basic and decent value. A middle ground between free iceboxes like Russet Lake/Sapphire Col and private lodge plushness. BC Parks isn't about to get into the hut business a-la NZ's awesome Dept of Conservation hut network, so like Sharon says, someone has to do the maintenance.

Nov. 26, 2010, 4:50 p.m.
Posts: 0
Joined: Jan. 15, 2010

I should state that I have no affiliation with this project - since that seems to be important in some threads :) Yes, I've been a member of the Whistler ACC for the past 2 years, as a way to gain some touring experience and meet people. I was simply passing on some info I received that I thought others may be interested in.

I also questioned the proximity to Blackcomb of the first two proposed huts (Circle and Decker). I guess one way to look at it is that some groups could start their tour late in day and spend the first night there. It may spread out traffic along the first few glaciers for the overnight groups. I mean who hasn't skinned up with 50 of their closest friends :rolleyes:

But I don't think fear of it luring more "inexperienced" people to the area should be a reason not to build a hut system. Why punish the intended users? With a reservation system in place, there is an opportunity to provide some information or warning about the complexity of the terrain to the users. As it's been said, education is key.

Personally, I'd like to see more of the regulated, maintained, user-fee huts in the Sea to Sky area. I'm not sure if I find the "secret trail" or the "secret hut" elitists more annoying. I got chewed out for mentioning the Steep Creek hut on Telemark Tips last year (oops I did it again) nevermind that BikeCo had a whole blog post about it.

In terms of protecting the area - one way to look at is is the Spearhead route is already heavily used. At least with huts things like human waste can be mainly contained in a few areas and properly disposed of. Is it better or worse than groups being spread all over the range leaving their impact? I don't know. I want to believe that everyone that travels out there is responsible, packs out everything, and leaves no trace, but I'm sure that's not the case. Maybe a hut system is the most responsible way to balance protection and enjoyment.

I'm still in favour of the project, mostly because I am stoked to do the Spearhead again, and not have to carry a tent!

"I'm not an ambi-turner. I can't turn left."

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