Brew Hut III nearing completion
|Fee||$10 / night|
|Caretaker||Varsity Outdoor Club|
The (2005) Brew Hut is located at a high col just south of Mt. Brew (as the name appears on NTS mapsheets). It sleeps about 12 people comfortably, but has been known to sleep up to 19 if you get really cozy. The hut is very well insulated and has a wood stove. Please use firewood very sparingly. In 2014 we spent about $6500 to helicopter wood in.
VOC huts are open to all non-motorized users. A $10 per person per night fee applies to pay for hut maintenance. The fee can be left at the hut in the blue drop box or sent in to the VOC by mail.
VOC trips have priority during fall and winter holidays (New Years, Reading Week, Easter) so please contact the VOC before planning a trip during this time. Commercial groups are requested to contact the VOC before using any of the huts. There is a lost and found page for items in and around the VOC huts.
No reservations are taken, but please see the VOC Hut Registration page to help coordinate use.
- 1 Facilities
- 2 Skiing
- 3 Hiking
- 4 Swimming
- 5 Access, maps, waypoints
- 6 History
- 7 Pictures
- 8 Hut and Trail Conditions
- 9 Further Information
The upstairs loft sleeps about 10 comfortably (16 maximum), and 3 more can sleep on the extra wide bench downstairs. There is one Coleman lantern for light. There is a two burner Coleman Stove which will leak gas, so don't use it. These appliances use white gas only, and VOC does not supply white gas.
A newly installed solar light should hold around 30 hours of charge, if it is charging in the sun - which it probably is not. Turn it on for an hour with the black button, and turn it off manually with the red button.
There is a wood stove provided, for winter use only. Please be conservative, as the supply must last the winter. In the summer, spring and fall, the Coleman lantern and cooking stoves provide more than enough heat, as the entire hut is insulated with R20 fiberglass. Firewood is stacked in the wood shed outside. Don't cut down any live trees for firewood; they are very slow growing and don't burn well either. Ashes from the stove go in the metal paint can with no label.
Please use firewood sparingly. VOC just (summer 2014) spent about $7K to fly in firewood that may, if we are careful, last five years. This is not the place to make campfires. Unless the wind is howling, the snow is flying, and you are cold, don't light the wood burning heater. There is plenty of dead trees firewood source in the adjacent area if you wish to have campfires.
In high snow years the woodshed can be hard to find as it gets buried in a massive snow wall. Starting from the mid point between the two windows on your right as you enter the hut, take the perpendicular for ~4.5m (you can use your probe to measure). This should get you to the closest corner of the shed. Now use your probe to probe for the hut - try probing a bit farther than that so that you don't miss it.
The Outhouse is located just NE of the hut.
There are seasonal ponds E and W of the hut: please only get drinking water from the pond that is on the west side, since the outhouse is on the east side. The west pond also tends to hold its water later into the year because of a large snow drift above it. In heavy snow years, this snow drift can cover the pond completely well into late summer or fall. In winter please keep the snow on the west side clean for drinking water and dispose of grey water to the east side of the hut towards the outhouse. This will keep the drinking water supply as clean as possible for all guests year round. Note in early October 2011 the west pond was still frozen and had ~ 2m of snow atop the ice. But you can always find snow to melt for water.
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|The route and terrain described here is capable of producing avalanches. Safe travel requires the skills and equipment to assess and mitigate avalanche hazards. A professionally taught training course is highly recommended.|
The area around Mount Brew receives huge amounts of snow in the winter - perhaps as much as 50% more than nearby Whistler mountain. This makes it an excellent destination when fresh snow is scarce, and a good place to stay away from during poor weather. If the Whistler / Squamish weather forecast is for a few flurries, the weather at Brew will probably be a whiteout with constant snow and wind.
There are some good ski slopes nearby, varying from mellow to death defying. A high alpine ridge connects this area to Cypress Peak and Mount Fee to the west.
Around Brew Lake
There are big open mellow slopes on the North and West sides of Brew Lake. West of the lake is very mellow, a good area for beginner skiers.
The north end of the lake has some moderately steep south facing slopes with sparse trees that are a good place to ski in bad weather. Usually this area is reached by skiing back along the usual route from Brew Lake. There are also some steep chutes that drop directly into this area from the hut.
There are two bowls on the west side of the ridge that divides Roe Creek from Brew Lake. Westside Bowl faces W and has some nice moderate runs with just enough trees to keep the visibility in check in poor weather. Sunflower bowl is a bit further north, and faces generally SW. The gladed south facing slopes on the skier's right side of the bowl are a nice place to hang out on a cold day. Getting into sunflower bowl can be tricky due to cornices at the top on the skier's left side. The easiest approach is from the bottom of westside bowl, or from the col with Brandywine Creek.
Into Brandywine Creek
An 1100ft ski run drops NW from the door of the hut down to a small lake in Brandywine Creek. This is an awesome run when it's in condition, but it is threatened by very steep slopes off the skiers left side that avalanche frequently. There are good safe zones to stop partway down the run, but the bottom of the run is an avalanche runout zone. The best climb back up is a longer loop around to the west that uses a natural bench system to avoid exposure to steep avalanche start zones. This run can be a bit of a wind funnel, even down low where it seems to be protected.
The bowl to the west of the cabin (Brandywine Bowl) has some very nice lines that go down into brandywine creek and hit the bench mentioned above. There's a lot of skiing in this bowl on N, NE and E aspects. The run off the top of the 1800m summit on the west side of the bowl is particularly good. Be mindful of the big cornices and wind loading when skiing here. This area is a bit more protected from wind and less committing than the front door run, but is still very much avalanche prone.
East of the Hut
A short run east from the hut goes down to yet another small lake. Continuing down east of the lake there is good tree skiing run (Shady Trees) down to a flat bench at 1300m, which makes for a nice long run with views of the valley. Be careful not to get sucked into a big gully on skier's left. From the bench, climb back up the tree run or make a rising traverse south to reach the eastern edge of Brew Lake.
With good stability, climb the peak East of Mt. Brew where there is good skiing on the north side. The usual route to this peak requires crossing some steep slopes above the "gully of death," and is only recommended with good stability. The southeast side of this peak has tree skiing the goes down into the same area as the the Shady Trees run mentioned above.
Powder Mountain Catskiing
Powder Mountain Catskiing operates a cat skiing operation out of chance creek on the south side of Tricouni. They now also have a tenure for driving their cats up the Roe Creek logging road and skiing off the slopes east of Cypress Peak. These slopes are only a few kilometers from the Brew Hut. PMC has agreed to take their clients elsewhere while parties are at the Brew hut (and during the 5 previous days) given 2 weeks advance notice. Be sure to give them a call before going to the Brew Hut in winter to make sure they don't bother you. Also, if skiing in to the hut via the Roe Creek route, PMC may have plowed the Chance Creek FSR, or compressed the snow so much that it's driveable - be sure to ask them about parking and snow conditions. Powder Mountain Catskiing has agreed to allow a limited number of non-motorized parties to park behind their gate at their base area (1.6 km from the highway). Contact them in advance to get the combination to the key lockbox on the gate. Contact information is provided below.
- Email: [email protected]
The area around Brew Lake has some beautiful heather meadows. An alpine ridge connects the Mt. Brew area with the Squamish-Cheakamus divide to the west. The divide can be traversed south towards Tricouni Meadows or north past Mt. Fee to Brandywine Mountain and Brandywine Meadows (otherwise known as the Alcoholic Traverse)
Brew Lake is very shallow, and the shoreline is mostly very muddy. The best spot for swimming is where the summer hiking trail comes up from Brandywine Falls, just east of the outlet. The lake is a lot deeper here, and there are some rocks that make getting in and out more pleasant
Access, maps, waypoints
By any access route, the final alpine section before reaching Brew Hut is an off trail hike (or ski). Whiteouts conditions are common above Brew Lake, making good navigation skills necessary to reach the hut. A map (92 J/3) and compass are essential to have along. For GPS waypoints along the various access routes, see the Brew waypoints page.
The following topographical map shows the Roe Creek access trail with logging roads current to October 2013:
Brew Lake Trail
The Brew Lake Trail is only practical when snow free, and it requires trespassing on the BC Rail right of way. Park at Brandywine falls parking lot and walk the railroad tracks south. After a prominent bend right, and then back left, you will find the trailhead on the right side marked by flagging tape inserted in a small rock cairn. This cairn is about 30 minutes walking on the railroad from the Brandywine parking lot. The trail climbs steeply from here to Brew Lake and takes about 3 hours with day pack. Despite streams crossing the trail on the map, there is no access to water along this trail until you reach Brew Lake. Ensure adequate drinking water supply. The section from the lake to the hut is above treeline, has no trail and must be navigated on your own. There are a few cairns here and there, but they are not continuous. Once at the lake, don't make the mistake of trying to beeline it for the hut because of cliffs in between. Instead, stick to the mellower terrain in the basin west (left) of brew lake and then climb up to the col just south of Mt. Brew, where the hut is located.
If you don't have a car, Greyhound offers bus service (pick up and drop off) to Pinecrest Village, 2km south of the trailhead. Call to make arrangements for pickup in advance as this is not a regular stop. Find the railway tracks behind the residential area and walk north to the trailhead.
Western Forest Products has logged a short section of the Brew Lake Trail, about 200m long. There are several large yellow squares and flagging tape marking a route that climbs steeply up the left side of the cutblock. The trail here is still intermittent, but is improving as vegetation gets trampled down. The trail crosses a logging road and continues straight up, eventually joining back up with the old trail just beyond the clearcut. Note that the junction with the old trail just beyond the top of the clearcut is easy to miss when coming downhill - make sure to note it's appearance on the way up.
Warning: Parties parking overnight at the Brandywine Falls parking lot have been ticketed for doing so. This can happen even if you buy enough day pass tickets for the number of days you will be parked and leave a note on the windshield
Roe Creek Ski Route
This is the longest access route, but provides the safest way to access the hut in winter.
The Roe Creek Ski Route, a new route from Roe Creek FSR up to the Brew Lake has been marked and cleared for easier skiing. This route starts on a branch R-200 of Roe Creek FSR and wraps around the broad ridge running south from Mt. Brew on a bench, connecting with a meadow system just south of Brew Lake. From Brew Lake to the hut there are no flags or markers but navigation is straightforward in good weather. This route offers a mellow ski most of the way, and has very little exposure to avalanche slopes. It is is slightly longer than the historic route from Roe Creek, but is much less steep and does not necesitate crossing an avalanche slope. Also, this route can be descended from the hut all the way to Roe creek without putting on climbing skins.
The historic route from Roe Creek is to go up the Roe Creek logging road branch R-200 to it's end, and then climb up onto the top of the ridge that runs south from Mt. Brew. The ridge can be followed up to the alpine west of Brew Lake, and there are several places to drop off the east side of the ridge towards Brew Lake.
If necessary, parking for non-motorized parties can be arranged with Powder Mountain Catskiing at their base (1.6 km from the highway). Contact them in advance to get the combination to the key lockbox. Contact info is above.
The route from Brandywine FSR to the Brew Hut is now heavily overgrown with alder and is not maintained. This access was once the shortest route in summer, and was used as the main winter access to the area. There can be considerable avalanche hazard on this route if conditions are not stable. The route involves a lot of travel along deactivated and resloped logging roads that are overgrown with alder, and considerable bushwhacking up steep terrain.
Drive / ski Brandywine FSR to a 3 way junction at 800m elevation about 5km from highway 99. Here, take the leftmost fork which crosses brandywine creek and continuous up towards Mt. Brew of the other side. This fork is narrow at first, and then becomes impassible to vehicles beyond the bridge, but there is an overgrown footpath through the alder and willow. a couple hundre meters beyond the bridge, take a left fork which switchbacks twices and climbs around to the north side of Mt. Brew. This section is steeply sidehilled, and can present considerable avalanche hazard in winter. The road ends at the far side of a clearcut, which must be climbed to the top, and then continue climbing up into the forest, heading right to a subalpine bowl at 1500m. There is no trail for this section, but look for metal markers in the trees, especially higher up. The subalpine bowl should be crossed to reach a shoulder above The Gully of Death. Cross through the col at the top of The Gully of Death and you will find yourself at a nice little lake. The new hut is above the lake to the right (west) and out of sight.
The first incarnation, Brew Hut 1, was built by the Varsity Outdoor Club in 1982 at the outlet of a small lake. This location was unsuitable, and the hut was destroyed by snow creep the first year. It was taken apart and helicoptered to its second location and rebuilt in 1984, atop a ridge above the lake. Some pieces were damaged, so Brew Hut II was slightly shorter than the original. It was expected that the ridge location would protect the Hut from snow damage but snow accumulated at the new location to an alarming degree because of a line of trees acting as a snow fence beside the hut. The exact location of Brew Hut 2 was 486784E 5542749N (UTM Zone 10N, NAD27) at 1650m elevation.
Brew 2 was rumoured to be lost for a number of years. Nobody seemed to know exactly where it was. Winter ski trips to the area were not able to find the hut. Heavy snow burying the hut and confusing terrain in the area are the suspected causes. It was only the rise of GPS technology that really allowed Brew Hut 2 to become accessible again.
Brew 2 was damaged during the winter of 1998-1999. In the Spring of 1999 (the high-snow year) snow depth was two metres over the roof top, and though the hut was found, it was too much work to dig down to use it. When it finally melted out it was found to be a bit crushed by the snow, but still useable. A new location with much less snow accumulation was identified later that summer, a few hundred meters west of the present hut. Snow depths at this new location have been monitored over a few winters and it has been shown to accumulate much less snow.
In the fall of 2002 (?) a work party went in with the intention of dismantling the hut, but ended up just making modifications, reinforcing some of the cracked beams on the upper floor. Some scrap material from around the hut was moved to the new hut site, and a small structure was erected to further test the effect a structure would have on wind transport at this site. This structure was named micro-brew in light of its diminutive size and the popularity of Granville Island Pale Ale among the builders.
In april 2003, a party visited the area, finding the brew hut buried up to the top of the roof. The hut was located only by the 2x4 pole sticking out of the snow. Nearby, the micro-brew structure was relatively snow free, and still easily visible despite being only 1/4 as tall as the Brew Hut.
In the spring and summer of 2005, Brew Hut 3 was constructed. Foundation work started in May, and construction carried on through the summer and into the fall. Brew 2 was dismantled in September 2005 for firewood after the new hut was finished. In late summer and early fall 2006, the outhouse was erected and a woodshed was constructed from the remains of Brew Hut 2. See the Brew Hut Rebuild page for more details.
Note: Topo Map shows the location of the new hut.
Hut and Trail Conditions
March 2, 2014
Lots of fresh snow! Vehicles with 4WD or AWD were able to get to the snowcat base (1.7km up Chance Creek FSR). Due to snow, the road is impassable to most vehicles beyond this point. There is a new clearcut (2013) just past the "old" trailhead on R200 that can make route-finding challenging when fresh snow covers any previous tracks. Recommended approach: Bring GPS waypoints if possible but otherwise from the "old" trailhead you can follow the new road R230 originally heading east for about half km and then climbing north between two small hills, skirting the edge of a band of trees through the clearcut. Look for orange markers at the base of the first rock bluff about 1km from the "old" trailhead. From the base of the rock bluff the route is well marked by orange markers all the way to Brew Lake. From Brew Lake to Brew Hut there are no markers but the route is fairly straight forward. Head WNW over mostly open slopes with sparse trees for about 1km before turning north to ascend a col just west of the hut. Brew Hut is in good shape. The lantern and stove are both working well and there is ample firewood in the wood shed. The outhouse is accessible (but quite full).
Road in good shape to the trailhead. Blueberry bushes are quite dense, but once through them, the trail in the forest is pretty good. Some chainsawing of stumps, to improve the skiing, was done this summer. Unfortunately the trail permit is for a "winter ski trail", and that's what we built. We are not improving the trail to summer standards, partially because that's not what the permit is for, and partially because of the amount of work involved.
June 14-15, 2008
The road was drivable all the way to the trailhead. No seasonal water bars were put in on the road. Bushwhacking through the clear cut then spring snow conditions on most of the trail, with about 20% of the below treeline trail melted out (mostly in the open boulder field sections). Still lots of snow in the alpine. Minor repairs needed to the seal around the bottom of the hut door.
January 19-20, 2008
Vehicles with 4WD or AWD were able to get up to the snowcat base and other cars were stopped at the highway. The road up Roe Creek was packed down by snowcat. Tons of snow at Brew, fantastic powder, and not too much to not have a hard time making tracks. The wood stove chimney was plug by snow, but we manage to dig a big chunk out. The evening/night was then nice and warm.
December 27-31, 2006
Vehicles with 4WD or AWD were able to get up to the snowcat base at 1.7km of Chance Creek FSR, other cars were stopped by the highway. 2wd and chains might do the trick as well but nobody tried that. The road up Roe Creek is now packed down by snowcat, and all cross ditches on Roe Creek mainline and on the R200 branch are filled in. Snow depth estimated to be about 3.5 or 4m around Brew Lake. The chimney for the lantern is broken but it still works, and the pumps on both the lantern and the stove needed a lot of oiling during our stay.
November 25-26, 2006
Chance Creek FSR plowed for heli logging, but Roe Creek road was completely snowed in. Trail breaking from the start of Roe Creek road to the hut took 7 hours, arriving just before dark. A half dozen or so open water bars on the road, but most will be completely covered over soon. Trail is in great shape, with over 1m of snow at the start and lots more at brew lake. Snow depth was 2.5m in the meadows just below the hut. South and West side windows are frozen closed but the north side ones work and so does the door. Outhouse was not buried, but wind seems to be blowing the door inwards, and it's supposed to open out. The old Coleman stove was replaced with a different old Coleman stove that does not suffer from the problem of the air intake catching on fire.
November 12, 2006
Did the inaugural boot pack in. Broke trail from the Roe Creek bridge at 11am. Only had made it to ther 2nd rock outcropping by 3:45. Very slow going. Decided to turn around and made it back to the car in about 90 min. Under the cover of trees, snow was appx knee deep with snowshoes on. In the boulder gardens/clearings snow was up to waist deep or higher at times. Trail well marked up to our turnaround point.
October 14-15, 2006
Cleared out ski trail from Roe Creek - much easier travelling now. Brew Hut boasts a new fire extinguisher and a new hatchet.
July 22-23, 2006
Brew Lake trail is snow free, and there are only a few snow patches left above Brew Lake. There is still plenty of snow around the hut for drinking water. The outhouse has now been installed just NE of the hut.
- Caltopo Map of the Winter Route based on waypoints from VOC Wiki, information from ClubTread and recorded GPS data from a 2013 Trip