Archive:Brian Waddington Hut

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Current Issues


Many complaints have been lodged about the absence of a wood stove at the hut. MEC donated $3000 towards the cost of flying in the hut on the condition that there would be no wood stove. When we built the Hut, kerosene heaters were flown in along with 80 liters of kerosene. Here is our experience with burning kerosene:

  • The whole 80 liters of kerosene which we flew in when we built the Hut, were used up in the first winter.
  • Flying in more kerosene to the hut by helicopter is very expensive, around $3000, so this wasn't done.
  • Hut users started putting "mystery fuel" such as paint thinner or wood finish into the kerosene heaters.
  • They allowed the heaters to burn dry, destroyed their wicks.
  • The combustion products were not vented outside (the heaters have no chimney), so it smelled bad, and moisture from combustion encouraged mold to grow on the walls.

In February 2007 we carried out the kerosene heaters as by now they didn't work anyway, and brought in a Coleman catalytic heater, which burns white gas. As of 2014, there are no working catalytic heaters at the hut.

Don't bring kerosene to the Hut. There is nothing up there which burns kerosene

As of Dec 2014, there are two working Coleman lanterns at the Hut
The best way to have a cozy cabin is still to bring a lot of friends (25 should do) and everyone's body heat will warm up the hut quite effectively.
Unfortunately all the current heat producing devices vent their combustion products into the Hut, which tends to promote mold.

In 2011 we once again reviewed the lack of a vented heater, and discussed various alternatives.

A small, vented, oil-burning heater was investigated. Several advantages of an oil heater:
-- It was light weight so it could be carried in.
-- It was inexpensive (under $1k including chimney).

Disadvantages we could see:
-- Flying in barrels of heating oil would be very expensive, requiring that we raise the overnight fee, lock up the oil supply, something like the way the Whistler ACC operates the Marriott Hut.
-- Alternately, we didn't think that people would carry in several liters of heating oil, so the heater wouldn't do much.
-- Random people operating the heater could produce several types of disaster, including oil spills, or using random fuels. The heater manufacturer told us that burning naphtha or white gas in the heater would make it explode.

Propane heat, as at the Elfin Shelter was discussed. Disadvantages we could see included:
-- The need to fly in propane and fly out the empty cylinders.
-- We would need to have somebody competent to change cylinders.
-- We'd need to pay demurrage (the cost of renting the cylinders).
-- An intelligent regulator to keep the heat reasonable, and only when the Hut is occupied (and people are paying for heat), would likely be expensive.
-- Having the Hut fill with propane and explode, was another possibility we wanted to avoid.

Finally we discussed a wood heater
-- Fuel does not leak out or explode.
-- Rationing can be enforced by keeping the wood shed 100m away, and by supplying wood which needs to be cut up before it can be burned.

-- We'd have to make peace with MEC as we probably still have a restrictive covenant in place regarding burning wood up there.
-- To pay for flying in wood, assuming we collected wood from the logged-off road on the way in, would cost us around $3k per supply. We might make a supply last several years.
-- We would have to collect way more money for hut use and we felt that people would be reluctant to pay for the privilege of being warm.

The possibility of collecting avalanche-killed wood near the Hut was mentioned, but there was no consensus as to whether this would cause unacceptable damage to the meadows.

We concluded that we would not further investigate providing heat, for now, unless we could show that the hut mold is a health hazard or is likely to destroy the hut soon.

Hut and Trail Conditions

  • 2013/01/21 The Coleman white gas lantern no longer works, otherwise the hut is in fine shape. Spent 3 nights, beautiful weather and tough snow conditions, variable snow with hard crust mixed with softer sections and breakable crust. Lots of wind affected snow on Cabin Hill and other places that normally have powder stash :( Will need at least 1 m of snow to cover it up.
  • 2011/07/14 Big VOC trip to replace the four biggest windows ($1300) and do a little more work. Windows were carried in and replaced successfully and look good. They can be opened and closed to control humidity in the Hut, and being properly double glazed, should help to trap some of the negligible heat in the winter.
  • 2010/08/14 Big thanks to Jim's group for clearing the deadfall! Road was easily 4WD HC accesible. Found a dead mouse in the trap, removed and reset.
  • 2010/08/12 Large boulder has been rolled out of the way, but the slide is still only 4WD HC accessible. Jim's group has also cleared the deadfall all the way to the trailhead (Thanks!).
  • 2010/07/13 Tree down (2-3 foot diameter), blocking road a few minutes beyond slide area with large boulder.
  • 2010/02/08 Blackwater Road plowed and recently graded. Good coverage on logging road and trail. Soft snow to second bridge, but firmer above and through forest. Great snow quality and coverage on northern aspects. South facing aspects are tree bombed and crusty. Some minor natural activity related to cornice falls. Otherise very stable conditions. Ski out was fast (2 hours) and uneventful. New reflective blazes are well positioned and helpful. Perpetual slide at km 0.5 would make access for even HC 4x4 difficult in summer. Snowmobiles were having difficulty getting around it. Did not use any heaters (brought lots of friends) or stoves (brought our own). Coleman lantern needs new mantles. Left one lantern full of fuel (~1L). Temperatures relatively warm at -5C from Feb 5-8. No new snow during our stay. Sunny during the day and clear at night. Cleaned hut and took out garbage that others left behind. No water buckets, but one stainless pot and one kettle.
  • 2009/03/09 Blackwater Road plowed but sheer ice all the way through, graded but not sanded, don't brake! Ski in was fast, icy and hardpacked sections in the forest. Ski-out was via col between Peregrine and Frodo, a bit crusty below the col and powder afterwards, almost all the way to the clearcut. No water buckets in the cabin, used the large stainless steel pot (8 L) and 4 L milk jug instead. White gas supplies low, the newer larger heater is hard to get going, the old one is easier to light. The heater warmed the upstairs to about 11°C but it was back to 0°C by 4 AM. Warm sleeping bag definitely recommended. Skiing was awesome. Slideshow: Skiing at Phelix Creek -- runningclouds 18:01, 10 March 2009 (PST)
  • 2009/01/17 Blackwater Road plowed to end. Low snow year (approx 0.5m on logging road) with slide alder still poking through in places. Very tough, crusty conditions through the forest, but skiable all the way. Good skiing in the glades on cabin hill, and better stability than expected. Cabin in good condition. Supplies of "left over" white gas in the hut are very low; everyone is encouraged to leave left over fuel in the containers provided for refilling the lanterns etc, rather than carry it out, and maybe bring in a little extra. -- Matthew 16:28, 20 January 2009 (PST)
  • 2008/01/01 Road to trailhead was partially plowed. May have to park further back and prepare for a little extra distance. Lots of snow to cover 95% of the shrubbery on the trail. Snow bridges are stable across the creek crossings now. Conditions were powder at the time. There are snow mobiles using the logging roads portion of the trail. Cabin is in great shape except the water bucket became a puke bucket during the trip. Advised to give a good wash-down before future use. Notice one mouse scurrying at the bottom of the hut and climbed the ladder to the top. Traps were set and one mouse was caught. Ensure food is stored properly.
  • 2007/10/22 New west side trail is complete. Follow orange and pink flags. Ignore yellow flags
  • 2007/07/14 Road is as per below. Flagging is sparse on the summer route, especially near the top. Counted about 40 blowdowns from the clearcut to the lake, making progress slow. Be prepared for a "full body hike" and a few scratches! Creek crossings are a bit dicey as well... Still a metre of snow or so at the cabin, which is in fine shape save for a broken window frame on the south side. This could be mended with a screw driver and 1/2 hour.
  • 2007/06/24 Logging road is driveable by 4x4 to 300m (?) from the end where there are two blowdowns blocking progress. Lots of snow, starting not far beyond the end of the road. 1.5m snowpack still remains at the hut. Orange flags on the west side of phelix creek mark wet areas and creeks for future trail construction. Please do not remove these flags. Scott Nelson 10:08, 27 June 2007 (PDT)
  • 2007/02/23 to 2007/02/25 12 VOCers tested out the new flagged trail, and hauled in a catalytic heater as well as replacement globes and mantles for the lanterns. On the way in we met 2 non-VOC ladies who had been staying at the hut. Skiing conditions were truly phenomenal, lots and lots of fresh snow above the previous melt/freeze crust but bonding well. On the way out (a warm, sunny afternoon) we saw (and heard) recent avalanches on South facing slopes in the valleys above the logging roads. We forgot to take in the new hard-backed log book, and the guitar is missing a top E string (there are spares for most other strings). If the next party could take those in, that would be superb. -- Matthew 11:58, 26 February 2007 (PST)
  • 2007/01/28 Party of 4 flagged the west side ski route from the final clearcut to the lake by the hut with yellow flags. Hut is in good shape except for the lanters which need new mantels and glass. Good skiing conditions only in the narrow band between wind slab up high and melt/freeze crust down low. Contrary to the previous report, the Matterhorm puzzle seems to be ok. A previous party had assembled it on the table.
  • 2006/12/29 to 2007/01/02 circa 20 VOCers warmed up the Hut over New Years. The hut was found on the 29th with the N window wide open and snow drifts inside (the picture puzzle was one casualty of this). Windows are a little tough to shut. Several non-VOC groups also showed up.
  • 2005/11/13 We had a party of 10 in over the long weekend. Hut was cosy enough with 10 in it. The two vents and periodic door-opening sufficed for ventilation, we never cracked the windows. The south vent is letting water drip in along the cable from the solar panel to the LED battery. A bit of caulking could fix this, maybe. About 1m of snow at the cabin. One 4x4 made it to the second bridge, another one to the last creek crossing before the cut block.
  • 2005/10/22 We also managed to drive a HC 4x4 without difficulty to about 300 meters before the first cut block. Brought up a new log book but lo and behold there was one already there. The weather was very warm at the cabin (5-7°C). No snow. We ended up wading Phelix creek at both crossings; logs were too slippery and wet to cross safely. The creek seemed high. Saw Moose prints, and Grizzly dirt but not the animals. Watch the top rung on the outhouse ladder, looks like it is about to go. Cabin is in great shape, nice and clean inside though there were a few mice type rodents that kept us company over night. We didn't use the Kerosene heater. --Troy 11:06, 24 Oct 2005 (MST)
  • 2005/06/30 We drove a HC 4x4 without difficulty on the access road. M. Gunn's Scrambles book provides a good description of the drive up. The trail is also well described in the book, well marked and easy to follow. Just remember to go as far as possible to the (very very) end of the cut blocks before crossing east over Phelix Creek. if you cross early, you will bushwhack in Devils club. Unfortunately, we forgot a log book.