While the alpine site of the Spearhead Traverse’s Kees and Claire Hut may be hidden for the winter under a thick blanket of snow, that doesn’t mean work has stopped for the group building it.
The volunteer team behind the Spearhead Huts initiative is inviting the community to an apres social fundraiser in celebration the progress made at the Russet Lake site this summer, where they’re sure to hear, “lots of fun stories and thanks yous and announcements from lots of the different mountain community folk who are involved,” explained Jamie Bond of the Spearhead Huts Society.
Set to take place on Sunday (Nov. 26) from 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., the event will be the project’s first fundraiser of its kind to take place in Whistler, as well as organizers’ last chance to raise money for the first building in the planned hut-to-hut system ahead of its completion next year.
“We’ve done a few soirees and fundraisers like this in Vancouver in recent years, but we’ve been wanting to do one in Whistler, and somewhere along the path Mark James from The Brewhouse reach out to us and offered to host,” Bond explained.
While the funding necessary to complete a functionable hut has already been collected, the organization is hoping the event can put a dent in the approximately $300,000 they’re aiming to raise between now and the spring “to make the hut what it should be,” Bond said.
“What we had to do was demonstrate (to BC Parks) that we could build a safe and operable hut with the funds that we had raised so far, in order to get started… but I think with the amount of traffic it’s going to receive in the next couple of years, it deserves another couple hundred thousand dollars worth of systems,” Bond explained.
A chunk of that might just come from the late Claire Dixon’s parents, for whom the hut has been named. They’ve generously offered to match any donations made at the event up to $10,000, Bond explained. Several other big announcements will be on tap at the fundraiser, including the handover of a $23,000 donation to the project from The Brett Carlson Memorial Foundation.
To that end, the hut’s common area will be dubbed “Brett’s Lounge” after the late freeride skier. The kitchen will also carry a community connection: it’s set to be named in honour of Barbara McGeough, a longtime Spearhead supporter who passed away suddenly in 2016. “Her husband, who’s also helping on the project, managed to rally a bunch of friends and family donations and they’ve raised upwards of $50,000 to donate to the kitchen,” Bond explained.
“You can only name the hut once, so we’re looking for creative ways to add some of the legacies in there,” he said.
The fundraiser will also feature a silent auction table stocked with nearly $30,000 worth of donated goods. While the project has always been a community driven effort, Bond said the support has only skyrocketed since the construction on the first hut began last summer.
So far, the hut’s foundation has been completed and winterized, with significant work done on the grey water dispersion fields.
“It’s like a light switched on for everyone… You can only go so far when you’re not sure that you can proceed with the hut,” he said.
“We had various stages of approval to go through so it was likely, but certainly once we received the final permits from BC Parks in the summer and started building, then it became a reality and definitely some people have come out of the woodwork to help.”
The event’s silent auction won’t just be open to those in attendance, either. The auction will be live online for a week leading up to the event, at 32auctions.com/spearheadhutsauction.
Tickets cost $75, and include two drinks, tapas, and a few gifts from event sponsors along with entry. For more information or to purchase a ticket, go to spearheadhuts.org/apres2017/.