For hikers, mountaineers, snowmobilers, and backcountry recreationalists, the huts located throughout the Columbia Valley are important to their continued enjoyment of the alpine potential of the area.
The Columbia Valley Hut Society has maintained five of these huts since the 1980s, and as the group’s Annual General Meeting approaches, President Ryan Bavin said he is hoping for a good turnout of people interested in helping out.
The group maintains five cabins in the area, said Mr. Bavin, spanning from the Jumbo area in the south to the approximately 100-year-old mining cabin called McMurdo in the north.
“They’re all hike-in huts,” Mr. Bavin said. “Some you can drive to within a few kilometres, but others you have to cross glaciers to get to. People go to the huts for all kinds of recreational activities.”
The five huts the group maintains are Jumbo, Olive (located on Catamount Glacier), David White (Forster Creek drainage), Kingsbury (in International Basin), and McMurdo.
In the winter months, the huts are used as base camps for skiing expeditions and warm-up areas for snowmobilers. In the summer, they are used by hikers and mountaineers as starting points on their expeditions.
Mr. Bavin said that useage has been steady lately, and includes a good mix of locals and out-of-towners.
“I grew up going to these places, and there are a lot of locals and Calgary locals who use the huts regularly. We also see a number of users from further away. It’s spreading out in terms of the usership. More and more people seem to be getting interested in backcountry stuff.”
To book a cabin, users go online to www.cvhsinfo.org, choose the dates they are interested in and pay the fee. The fees are then used to do regular maintenance on the huts and bring in supplies like firewood. In some areas, the firewood has to be flown in due to the sensitive alpine ecosystem they are located in.
The society is non-profit, said Mr. Bavin, and therefore runs on volunteer power, so he is hoping to attract some more members for the June 7th AGM.
“We want to build a bit more of a foundation, especially the younger people who want to get out and around,” he said. “There have been a few younger members, but in the past year or two people have been getting pretty busy so we want to broaden the membership base so that if someone is busy then we have other people who can fill in.”
Currently the society has about 24 members, but Mr. Bavin would like to see that number increase so there are more hands to help in keeping the huts in top shape.
“We’re looking for anyone who has an interest in the backcountry and is not too scared to get their hands dirty. The work we do includes cutting or stacking firewood, loading up slings with supplies and regular maintenance work on the huts themselves.”
For more information on the society or if you would like to help out in any way, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, or come out to the AGM in the upstairs of Angus McToogles restaurant at 7 p.m. on June 7th.