BACK­COUN­TRY BOOM

Whistler Traveller Magazine - - LOCAL VIBE -

The past few years have seen a huge in­crease in the pop­u­lar­ity of hik­ing and back­coun­try ski­ing. In an age when peo­ple are more plugged-in than ever be­fore, there is an in­creas­ing de­sire to be dis­con­nected from de­vices and more con­nected with na­ture, said Jayson Faulkner, me­dia lia­son for a project that aims to help more peo­ple make an au­then­tic con­nec­tion with Whistler’s back­coun­try. The Spear­head Tra­verse, a pop­u­lar hik­ing and back­coun­try ski­ing route in Garibaldi Pro­vin­cial Park, is un­der­go­ing a con­struc­tion boom of sorts. Last sum­mer, snow clear­ing and build­ing for the first of three planned back­coun­try huts — the first at Rus­set Lake — got un­der­way, and it’s ex­pected to be sub­stan­tially com­plete in time for the 2018-’19 ski sea­son. Once com­pleted, the Kees and Claire Hut — named for Cor­nelius (Kees) Bren­ninkmeyer and Claire Dixon, who per­ished when their snow shel­ter col­lapsed dur­ing a back­coun­try ski out­ing in 2007 — will have space for 40 back­coun­try en­thu­si­asts. A project of the non-profit Spear­head Huts So­ci­ety, it’s be­ing built through do­na­tions from a va­ri­ety of sources in­clud­ing the U.S.-based Kees Bren­ninkmeyer Foun­da­tion, which do­nated $900,000 Cdn. The Kees and Claire Hut is be­ing built with Pas­sive House tech­niques, which is more ex­pen­sive to build but, be­cause of its high in­su­la­tion rat­ings, much less ex­pen­sive to op­er­ate. Plan­ning is un­der­way for the sec­ond of the three Spear­head huts: Mount Mac­beth. Con­struc­tion on the hut, which is to be built en­tirely through a $1.5 mil­lion do­na­tion from Brian and An­drea Hill of the women’s cloth­ing re­tailer Aritzia, is ex­pected to be­gin in sum­mer 2019. Fundrais­ing is on­go­ing for the third Spear­head hut at Mount Pat­ti­son. B.C. Parks has been ex­tremely sup­port­ive, com­mit­ting money to im­proved camp­ing fa­cil­i­ties and more rangers in Garibaldi Park and else­where. “They rec­og­nize it’s a huge ad­di­tion to Garibaldi Park and they re­al­ize they need to step up from their side of it on trails and in­fra­struc­ture,” said Faulkner. The so­ci­ety is al­ways look­ing for vol­un­teers, both skilled and un­skilled, to help with con­struc­tion. For in­for­ma­tion, visit spear­head­huts.org.

KEES AND CLAIRE HUT / IM­AGE COUR­TESY SPEAR­HEAD HUT PROJECT

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