The Whistler section of the Alpine Club of Canada has officially submitted its Spearhead huts proposal to B.C. Parks for approval.
The three huts proposed to be run by the club and open the Spearhead traverse up for year round access is estimated to cost $1.7 million and take until July 2017 to complete.
The local ACC chair Rob Brusse and former chair Liz Scremin presented an update and overview of the project to the Resort Municipality of Whistler town council Tuesday (Aug. 21) at its committee of the whole meeting.
Brusse said by establishing and operating the huts the Alpine Club expects to reduce adverse environmental impacts currently seen in the park by people recreating in the area because of its accessibility.
“Part of the impetus for the Spearhead huts is to localize, manage and monitor the environmental impact of the number of people who go into that area,” he said adding there are concerns with waste management as a result of many informal bivouac areas along the traverse.
The traverse, located in Garibaldi Provincial Park, has been popular for ski touring since 1963 and that is 35-kilometres and typically done in three days.
The huts are proposed on Pattison, MacBeth and Russet with each custom designed for its site at a cost of $20 to $30 a night through an online reservation system.
With high quality and low cost accommodation in the huts, that are proposed to accommodate 30 to 40 people each and established bivouac sites adjacent to them operated by the Alpine Club, Brusse said environmental issues can be mitigated.
He said the club anticipates it will develop a comprehensive plan to address environmental concerns with waste along the traverse as it moves forward with the project.
“It is unique high altitude traverse over moderate terrain,” he said adding it is ideal for intermediate skiers. “One thing we see happening as a result of developing the Spearhead huts is the season of use will be extended at both ends.”
That extended season and the overall project includes a summer loop trail system connecting the three huts and opening up the terrain for backpackers with limited experience and training.
Scremin explained the Pattison hut is proposed to be the first completed in July 2015 followed by Macbeth in 2016 and Russet in 2017. With each phase, she said, the connecting trails are proposed to be completed at the same time.
“There is potential for future phases of other trail development in our project but has been discussed with B.C. Parks,” Scremin said adding that includes trails to Decker and Singing Pass. “With this complete system it would provide lots of options.”
Day-to-day hut management would be conducted by the ACC, which proposes to pay for the entire $1.7 million project through fundraising and volunteer contributions.
Councillor Jayson Faulkner, who is involved with the committed established in 2009 to move the project forward, said he expects the project to have significant impact for the resort community.
Faulkner said people coming from around the world to experience the huts will also want to stay in Whistler and experience the area’s other amenities.
“There is no question as an additional attraction for the destination this will generate additional room nights in the resort,” he said.
Faulkner said once approval from the provincial government is given the ACC can begin fundraising efforts.
“We have not really done a lot of fundraising in earnest yet until we have a green light from parks,” he said.
Go to www.spearheadhuts.org for more information.