Editor’s Note: In the three days since this story was originally posted, BC Parks has announced that, “The Spearhead Huts Comittee (SHC) proposal has met all of the qualification criteria”. This means that as the sole qualified respondent, SHC have been given the green light to develop the permit required to build and operate the huts in the Spearhead Area of Garibaldi Park.
Long before the first ski lifts appeared on the slopes of Whistler and Blackcomb mountains in southwest British Columbia, skiers sought out the area’s now classic Spearhead Traverse, a u-shaped ski tour that follows the Fitzsimmons Range from the Whistler Mountain / Garibaldi Provincial Park boundary at Flute Mountain around to the Spearhead Range at the edge of the Blackcomb Mountain / Garibaldi Provincial Park Boundary at the East Col.
The 35-kilometer (21-mile) route crosses 13 glaciers as it winds through stunning alpine terrain with countless ski opportunities and mountaineering objectives along the way. Given the relatively easy access to such incredible terrain, the area sees plenty of skier traffic and the area is now being considered as the site for three new Alpine Club of Canada mountain huts.
A 2010 proposal by regional Vancouver and Whistler affiliates of the Alpine Club of Canada looking to build three huts along the classic Spearhead high-route has strong public support and was recently endorsed by BC Parks in a their new management plan for Garibaldi Provincial Park, where the huts would be located. As per BC Parks:
“Given widespread indications of support for the hut concept, the plan amendment provides clear direction to allow huts. This includes provisions to ensure the location and is carefully considered to minimize environmental footprint and avoid impacts, in particular impacts to Mountain Goats and their habitat. The management direction also includes conditions that will be used to assess hut proposals to ensure that the hut system is safe and affordable for a spectrum of park visitors.”
With the support of Parks, the proposal still faces environmental and public reviews, not to mention a significant fundraising campaign. On April 4, BC Parks took the next step, releasing a public Request for Qualifications (RFQ) and the the Spearhead Huts Committee responded witha Statement of Qualifications on April 30.
The project is still open to comment, but Spearhead Huts proponents are hopeful they could see approval to proceed with the project as early as the end of May, but could be subject to another round of comments and response delaying the process.
The plan calls for huts designed to comfortably accommodate 35-40 people and be available to the general public by reservation at a modest cost (approximately $20 – $30 per night). They will be built and operated using the best standards in the industry, minimizing environmental impacts in the area. The cost of building the three huts is estimated to run as high 1.6 million dollars. You can follow up on the latest status at www.spearheadhuts.org.