The West Coast’s Tantalizing Mountain Shelter
The Jim Haberl hut sits at 2,030 metres at the Serratus-Dione Col. The modest single-storey shelter has a wood frame, which is topped with a metal roof and cladding. There is a large kitchen and comfortable sitting room that offers stunning view to the south, west and north. The two sleeping rooms can sleep six people each. For those who arrive unplanned and can’t access the hut, there is an emergency vestibule to escape the weather in.
To access the remote hut is about a six-hour hike above Lake Lovely Water or a two-day 14- hour trip from the Squamish River. The hut was built in honour of Jim Haberl, who died in 1999 in an avalanche. In 2002, people who knew Jim helped create the Jim Haberl Hut Fund in hopes of raising enough interest to replace an older hut already at the site. One such message for support read, “Plans for fund-raising, designing and building the club’s new hut to replace the Red Tit Hut are underway. Our vision is to create a practical and welcoming hut with comfortable amenities in the Serratus-Dione Col that will serve the mountain community well and stand as a fitting memorial to mountaineer and guide Jim Haberl.” The hut was pieced together on site from the summer of 2005 to spring of 2006 by the acc and Haberl’s family and friends. The prefabrication of the frame was completed with the assistance of the 192nd Airfield Engineers during the summer of 2004.
More impressive than the hut is the man the hut in named after. Haberl, who was a mountain guide with the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides and the president of the West Coast section, lived in Whistler and died on April 29 while climbing Ultima Thule Peak in the St. Elias National Park, near the Alaska and B.C. border. While he was breaking trail up a 20- degree slope the snow fractured a ways above him. The slow avalanche trapped Haberl and carried him about 400 metres down the slope and over rock bands. He was a highly accomplished mountaineer, alpinist and skier. Along with Dan Culver in 1993, Haberl made the first Canadian ascent of K2 without supplemental oxygen. On the way down, Culver died. The climbing team was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal of the Order of Canada for their climb. Before he died, Haberl was one of the Canada’s leading guides and mentored a number of aspiring climbers. Having published two books, called and working on a third about Alaska at the time of his death.
The hut is located in the beautiful Tantalus Range, which is a subrange of the Pacific Ranges of the Coast Mountain. If you have ever driven the Sea to Sky Highway and looked west then you have seen the impressive glaciated peaks of the Tantalus. The range is only about 40 kilometres long and 15 kilometres wide. The highest peak is Mount Tantalus at 2,603 metres and like many of the other mountains of the range and the range itself, it got its name from Greek mythology. Legend has it a climber named the area Tantalus because he was tantalized, much like Tantalus was after he was banished to the underworld (Hades) and submerged in cold water with fruit so close it was tantalizing. And yes, tantalizing has its roots in the word Tantalus. Another legend has it the area got its name because the spires and summits are submerged in icy glaciers. To the local indigenous people of the area, the name of the Tantalus Range is
There are dozens of worthwhile routes in the Tantalus for intermediate and advanced alpine climbers. There is a variety of snow and rock routes of all grades. Tantalus was first climbed in 1911 directly from the Squamish River. A classic route on the peak is the north ridge. The nearby Mount Dione is 2,590 metres and has a number of moderate routes to the summit. Mount Alpha is 2,305 metres and has a route up its East Ridge with pitches up to 5.8. The shortest of the main peaks is Mount Serratus, which is 2,326 metres. Three well-travelled routes up Serratus are the icy North Face and ice and moderate routes up the East Ridge and West Face Couloir. The hut is conveniently located for climbers wanting to make the full traverse of the Tantalus Range. A highly recommended climb.–
he was Reservations are required at all ACC facilities. Reservations are made through the national office at the Canmore Clubhouse.
403 678 3200, extension 0