Brian Waddington Hut
|Brian Waddington Hut|
Brian Waddington Hut (August 2007)
|Fee||$10 / night|
|Caretaker||Varsity Outdoor Club|
The Brian Waddington Hut (commonly referred to as Phelix Hut) erected in the Summer of 1998. You'll find it in Phelix Creek on the shores of Long Lake, near the peaks of Mt. Aragorn, Shadowfax, Gandalf and Peregrine. Access via Pemberton, is a 10km hike with 1,000m of elevation gain.
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 Fees
- 2 Access
- 3 Facilities
- 4 Activities
- 5 Current Issues
- 6 History
- 7 Hut and Trail Conditions
- 8 External links
- Note: Use of the Brian Waddington Hut is discouraged from August 15 - October 15 every year. See below for more details.
We expect to collect $10 per person per night for use of the Hut, and this, in addition to our naturally frugal nature, partially pays for periodic maintenance. There is a steel lock box in the hut so that visitors can leave a cash or cheque payment, instead of taking home an envelope and then losing it and not paying.
- Brian Waddington Hut Access Map (2012) (created by Matt Parisien)
GPS track of the access trail and the waypoint for the hut are available here: media:Phelix_trail.kml
- A note on wrong peak names on maps
Mt Gandalf, Shadowfax and Aragorn were first climbed by some VOCers in 1972 (see VOCJ15 1972). They named all 3 peaks, but something got messed up and the names on the maps don't match the given names - Gandalf and Shadowfax are reversed! The names used herein are the names given by the FA party, which do not match the names on the map. These are the names generally used by the mountaineering community, and by other guidebooks (Bruce Fairley, Matt Gunn) as well:
- Aragorn is mapped correctly
- Gandalf is the peak immediately south of Aragorn
- Shadowfax is to the East of the other 2.
Since then, the name Peregrine has been applied to the peak immediately south of the cabin. It is not an official name. The name Frodo has been used to refer to the summit on the ridge between Peregrine and Gandalf.
Drive Highway 99 north to Mt. Currie, passing through Squamish, Whistler and Pemberton. Drive through Mt. Currie and continue north, following signs towards the town of D'Arcy. You need to take Blackwater Road on the left, just before reaching D'Arcy itself. This turnoff is signed for Birkenhead Lake Provincial Park. If you hit the town of D'arcy, you've gone a bit too far. Blackwater Road is gravel, but is well maintained and any car can handle it. It's plowed semi-regularly in the winter, but often has compact snow. The road isn't very steep, but 4wd or tire chains are recommended in winter because it's usually covered in snow and it's a long way out if you get stuck or snowed in. At about 13km from the highway, there is a gate on Blackwater Road at the entrance to Birkenhead Lake Provincial Park. Just before the gate, turn right onto Phelix Creek Road. There is a parking area about 200m further up Phelix Creek Road. Driving time from Vancouver to the parking area at the bottom of Phelix Creek Road is usually 3 to 4 hours each way, depending on traffic and weather. If you have a 4x4 vehicle, you may be able to drive up the road in the summertime when it's free of snow; otherwise park here.
There is a recurring landslide on the road at km 0.5, which is often but not always passable by high clearance 4x4. The rest of the road can be driven to the very end, although it is a bit overgrown in places. The roughest part is the final 1km or so, starting after the second bridge. Less capable 4x4s such as Subaru Foresters, CR-Vs, etc may be able to make it this far if they can get through the slide.
The access to the hut is comprised of the logging road (which is usually hiked and seldom driven, see above) and the trail itself. To reach the start of the post-logging road trail, go up the road, crossing Phelix Creek once, then keep left at a fork and cross the creek again. Just above the second bridge is another fork - go right this time. The road ends after several huge cross ditches where it reaches two clear cuts. Cross the two clear cuts without gaining or loosing any elevation. Find 2 huge white boulders at the far end of the second clearcut which is where the trail begins at a huge tree, heading north and slightly uphill across the first avalanche path.
The new trail stays on the west side of the creek, more or less following the traditional winter route. The new trail is suitable for travel in both summer and winter - but it's a moderately difficult ski due to the steep forested terrain. Skiing the trail is approximately the same difficulty as a gladed black diamond tree run. The trail has been marked with retro reflective marker diamonds, but some sections are still a little sparse. The constructed trail ends at the east end of Long Lake. From there, the best route is to follow trails around either side of the lake to the cabin.
This is Roland's GPX file for finding Phelix Hut File:2014Phelix.gpx
The datum for all the waypoints below is NAD 27, to correspond with the NTS map of the area, 92 J/10.
|0.0||524791, 5601770||700m||Blackwater Rd||Right||Turn right off Blackwater Road.|
|0.2||524726, 5601986||710m||Parking area||Straight||Summer parking for 2WD Vehicles.|
|0.6||524923, 5602246||750m||First landslide||Straight||Passable by 4WD HC in summer; maybe necessary to roll rocks off the road|
|0.8||525071, 5602334||750m||Second landslide||Straight||-|
|1.8||525250, 5603350||950m||Switchback||Straight||Road switchbacks left then right, passing a huge boulder partially on the road|
|3.1||525069, 5604244||1070m||First Bridge||Straight||Road turns right over the bridge, then left up the West side of Phelix Creek|
|4.2||524905, 5605088||1140m||Spur||Left||Phelix Creek East branch continues straight; turn left towards second bridge|
|4.4||524821, 5605155||1150m||Second Bridge||Straight||Main branch crosses back over to the East side of Phelix Creek|
|4.7||524700, 5605282||1170m||Spur||Straight||Phelix Creek West branch forks to the left; continue straight on main branch.|
|5.1||524570, 5605678||1210m||Stream||Straight||Huge ditch as a tributary crosses the road. Maybe impassable if water level is high. A fallen tree to the right creates a bridge to cross in winter.|
|5.9||524605, 5606348||1230m||End of Road||Straight||Parking for 4WD HC; continue straight across two clearcuts.|
|6.6||524481, 5606998||1280m||Trailhead||Follow flagging||A large tree 700m North of the end of the road marks the start of the flagged trail to the Hut|
- NOTE: The trail head is hard to reach by car, even in good conditions and if you have a four-wheel drive. You will most likely have to hike up the entire logging road as well.
|0.0||524481, 5606998||1280m||Trail head|
|1.4||524108, 5608170||1420m||Trail crosses a small stream; there is a log bridge for summer use|
|2.0||523860, 5608318||1590m||Above a large boulder field|
|2.5||523595, 5608576||1680m||Top of steep section of trail, terrain mellows towards lake|
|2.8||523368, 5608675||1705m||Outlet of Long Lake, bridge to trail on North side.|
|3.4 **||522738, 5608593||1715m||Brian Waddington Hut|
** Winter distance when crossing straight over the frozen lake. In summer this is slightly longer, unless you swim.
The Brian Waddington Hut sleeps 24 people in relative comfort in the loft, and more in a pinch. There is an outhouse not far off behind the hut. Water can be collected from a nearby stream, even in winter. Unlike most huts in the coast mountains, this one is insulated and has a vapor barrier. This means that the upstairs windows may need to be opened to let moisture and stove fumes escape.
The following are provided for your enjoyment:
- As of July 2016 we have 1 Coleman propane stove, which uses one pound propane cylinder which you must provide. Previously we had 2 ea Coleman double burner stoves, model 421-D Both worked, but were somewhat fussy, as of October 2014.
- 2 Coleman lanterns, as of December 2014. Will probably be replaced soon (with propane?)
- WARNING - DO NOT USE - Creates toxic fumes - A Coleman catalytic heater, model 518E, 3000 BTU, gives off toxic fumes and should be hauled out, as of October 2014.
We are gradually replacing all our white gas burners with propane burners, as they are simpler to use and less likely to cause hut fires and deplete our fire extinguishers. WE do not supply fuel; you will have to haul in your own fuel.
- Solar powered air heater, designed to reduce humidity in the Hut. Runs when the sun shines. Please don't mess with it.
- stovetop espresso maker, 4-6 cups
- A percolator? (for brewing coffee)
- Several candles.
- A heavy fry pan, and one big pot. Plan on bringing your own. There are a few spoons, knives and forks.
- Buckets for "clean" water and grey water. We do not guarantee that you won't get deathly ill if you use these buckets for drinking water. The blue bucket had a dead mouse in it in May 2007.
- Many decks of cards, at least one of which is complete.
- Matterhorn puzzle, some pieces missing
- there are mice, so hang up your food or use the cupboards.
- Two fire extinguisher(s), replaced October 2011, look OK 2014, replaced Fall 2015
- broom, flat blade shovel, various tools for repair.
- There is an old steel string guitar at the hut that was originally donated by Dan Perrakis.
Heating and Lighting
The Brian Waddington Hut does not have any heating, and does not expect to have any soon. This issue has been brought up repeatedly but various reasons speak against the installation of some kind of heater (the archive discusses this in detail). 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.
As of Dec 2014, there are two working Coleman lanterns at the Hut, but they will probably be replaced soon (July 2016) with propane.
A small library is provided for the enjoyment of hut users. As of Oct 2014 this library contains mostly more recent editions of the VOC Journal.
- VOCJ 2012-2013, VOCJ 2003-2004, VOCJ 2000-2001, VOCJ 1998-99 (damaged), VOCJ 1997, VOCJ 1996-1997, VOCJ 1994-1995, VOCJ 1992
- Lord of the Rings (3 volumes)
- VOC Songbook (3 new, 1 old)
- Without Feathers by Woody Allen
- Heavenly Breakfast by Samuel R Delany
- The Cave by Jose Saramagio
- Various printouts and photocopies of info on peaks in the area, from Bivouac, Fairley and Matt Gunn guidebooks.
Phelix offers activities for all seasons. Please note the use of the Brian Waddington Hut is discouraged from August 15 - October 15 every year, since there is bear activity at that time of the year.
There are few developed hiking trails nearby, but the high alpine country makes for excellent off trail hiking. Beautiful meadows fill the small hanging valley around the cabin, and unmarked high routes go east towards McGillivray Pass and west towards Tenquille Lake.
|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 Brian Waddington Hut is on the eastern (interior) side of the Coast Range, and consequently snow quality is usually very good. The hut is a great base for yo-yoing and touring, surrounded by good slopes on all aspects. There is excellent tree skiing nearby as well, so bad weather won't mean you have to sit around in the hut all day. The skiing is not beginner friendly. This is not the place to learn. At the very least, you should be comfortable with blue runs and powder snow to get the most enjoyment out of the terrain in the area.
Across the creek to the SW of the hut is gentle area with nice easy meadows for skiing. However the runs are very short. Don't go too far south or you end up in serious avalanche terrain in the bowl below Return of the King
The low knoll (1938m) above the SE end of the lake arguably offers some of the best bad weather skiing around the hut. While the northwest slopes facing the cabin are quite steep and open (and thus prone to avalanches), the northeast side offers gentler, safer gladed tree skiing. For the same reasons, the northeast side is also the preferred line of ascent. There is also very good skiing in the large bowl off the back (southeast) side of Cabin Hill. Skier's left side of this bowl (close to Cabin Hill) is steep trees whereas the skier's right side is wide open. Good tree skiing continues well down into the forest below the bowl, eventually linking up with the marked trail to the hut.
The 2050m summit immediately above the cabin has some amazing steep tree skiing on south facing slopes. The best route up is to climb west towards Mt. Gandalf until you break out of the trees, then turn back east through meadows to reach the top of the knob. This route shares much of the uptrack with the usual approach to the Aragorn Glacier (see below). Climbing the knob directly from the hut is possible, but is not recommended. The recommended route is much faster as it does not demand as many tedious switchbacks up through steep trees, and it breaks into the alpine at a lower elevation. Be careful skiing off the top of the knob, as the side that faces the cabin has a large cliff just below the top. There are good options on both the east and southwest sides.
This is the premiere intermediate glacier run accessible from the cabin. Although not a long run, it can be counted on for dry, light snow. The best way over is to go 500m west up the valley from the cabin before climbing up past the impressive east face of Mt. Gandalf, and then skiing along a moraine ridge and contouring around to the north side of Mt. Aragorn. A short run brings you to a small lake below the foot of the glacier. There are some crevasses to be aware of near the top of the glacier. The summit of Aragorn is an easy ski ascent by this route.
Peregrine - West Col
Peregrine peak is the summit immediately south of the cabin. The col to the west of this peak is a worthwhile destination, with good ski runs on both sides. The col is accessed from the upper lake that is about 500m west of the hut. There is a lot of good ski terrain in the bowl south of the lake, plus some steep runs down the back side of the col. If visibility is poor, keep to the treed ridge on the climber's left side of the bowl.
Gandalf - South Col
This is the col just south of Gandalf peak. There is some nice skiing in the bowl below the col, but there are a lot of boulders that need to be covered up first.
Return of the King
This run takes you from the upper lake back to the Bring Waddington Hut. Climb up to the ridge on the far left side of the bowl south of the upper lake. Aim for the prominent shoulder of the ridge (approx. 2010m elevation), and then ski down the back (northeast) side. The top part of the ski run is a wind loaded avalanche gully, so only attempt it in appropriate conditions. Be careful of the convex roll near the top on the skiers right side. The lower 1/3rd of the run is another narrow gully that drops into the bowl behind the Bunny Hill.
A long run descends from the rocky ridge north of the Aragorn Glacier 2000ft. down into Copp Creek. The left side of the drainage is best higher up, but the right side offers better skiing towards the bottom. This is a committing ski run with potentially dangerous avalanche terrain. One narrow slope in particular, about 600ft long at about 32+ degrees feeds down into a terrain trap (gully). There is a good safe spot to stop on the left side at the bottom, but there is no way to avoid skiing directly above the terrain trap. On the return from Copp creek, it is likely safest to cross the lower col (swing around cliffs on climber's left) into the Cadwallader creek headwaters and then continue out past Mt. Shadowfax. Another exit (the one I did), climbs snowslopes on the climber's right side of the drainage, but presents avalanche hazard crossing steep slopes above cliffs.
A loop over to Sockeye creek, via the col south of Gandalf and the col west of Peregrine makes a nice tour.
Phelix Creek East Side
Mt. Taillefer with it's 2500ft ski run beckons across the valley. Although a worthwhile destination, the ski run isn't as good as it looks. It's rocky up high, and steep with gullies and gnarly, scrubby trees down lower. It's also capable of class 4 avalanches; the last big one seems to have run up the other side of the valley a good 30m. Another option is to descend the southeast face of Mt. Taillefer. This is an enjoyable outing in the right conditions, and it is possible to ski down the east branch of Phelix to the main branch without putting skins on. Be prepared for snowmobiles in the lower parts of the valley. Exiting the hut via this route, while longer, allows you to avoid the large water bars in the upper part of the Phelix road.
Gandalf, Shadowfax and Aragorn are three nearby peaks composed of nice, clean granite. There are only a handful of routes so far, and many unclimbed, unexplored faces. Check the hut log book for the most up to date info.
The true summits of Mt. Gandalf and Mt. Aragorn are difficult boulder problems. Aragorn can be easily surmounted with a shoulder stand move - so don't go it alone. Gandalf is not quite so easy.
There are a number of excellent scrambling routes on all the peaks:
- South ridge of Mt. Gandalf from Phelix - Sockeye col (easy scramble), and continue along the ridge to Mt. Aragorn
- SW face of Mt. Shadowfax (easy scramble across ledges)
- NW ridge of Mt. Shadowfax (class 3-4)
- E ridge of Mt. Aragorn (class 3, very exposed)
- NE ridge of Peregrine (mostly Class 2, one half pitch of Class 4-5 near summit avoidable on left)
- W ridge of Peregrine (mostly a ridge walk with a few easy scrambling moves. The full traverse of the ridge from the Phelix - Sockeye col is recommended, or take a shorter variation from the col halfway along this ridge).
More technical routes have been climbed on the peaks as well. The known routes to date include:
- East face of Gandalf, Wizard of Choss 5-6 pitches to 5.7.
- Southeast buttress of Gandalf, 5 pitches to mid-5th class.
- North face of Aragorn, 6 pitches to 5.10a, highly recommended.
- Northeast face of Aragorn, attempted, 5.11 A2 to highpoint.
- Southeast face of Aragorn, Flareathon, 4 pitches, 5.10b, wide and thrutchy.
On the advice of a local biologist, this area is prime feeding for grizzly and black bears during the late summer - August 15th through October 15th. Although use is not prohibited during this time, it is discouraged as it may be a disruption to the bear feeding activities.
From Blair Hammond, one of the VOCers who got the hut project started in the first place:
The impetus for the voluntary closure is that the area has traditionally been important for grizzly and that there had been some history of conflicts with grizzly in the area (involving back-country recreationists). Members of the hut committee did not want to be complicit in facilitating bear-human conflicts or in displacing grizzly from habitat important to them. MOF, who approved the huts location, were quite pleased at the time that we would be giving this kind of consideration, and whilst it was not a condition of the permit, it was appreciated and a good way to build the relationship.
See the land use issues page for information about an application for commercial snowmobiling operations in Phelix Creek.
The hut was erected in the Summer of 1998. The structure was donated by the worker's compensation board as part of their retraining program for injured workers. The VOC paid helicopter costs to fly the cabin in to the site. The frame of the cabin was prebuilt, flown in 3 pieces and then assembled on site. A detailed account of the building of the hut can be found in the cabin logbook, and in the VOC Journal 1998.
The Brian Waddington Hut is within the LRMP special zoning, RA1-A (non-motorized, with air access), the VOC would have preferred RA1 (no air access), given that a fit party can easily reach the hut on skis in 1 day with enough time left over to still get a few runs. A (reasonably) detailed map of the area showing zoning can be found here. Further details can be found as part of the Winter Recreation zoning near VOC huts.
In 2007, a new trail was built up the west side of Phelix Creek. This new trail eliminated the two creek crossings and combined the winter and summer access routes into a single trail. Unlike the previous trail, this one is formally approved by the provincial government.
Hut and Trail Conditions
- 2014/Oct/11 Road, including slide, is in good condition. Stucco mesh on "one log bridge" needs to be replaced and nailed down, as it is a hazard at present. Solar air heater still works. Two Coleman stoves are fussy, but work. No Coleman lantern up there. Coleman catalytic heater shoud not be used as it is damaged and gives off poisonous fumes. Outhouse works, but deposits a stream of runny shit on the trail to the outhouse, and is not up to Canadian standards. And marmots are eating the outhouse.
- 2015/Feb/15 Road conditions: Road is okay until landslide. Landslide itself has worsened since Oct, and large (30cm diameter) tree crosses road about .5km above (with cut in it possibly allowing snowmobile access, NOT wide enough for passenger vehicles). Intermittent deep snow and bare road. All small creek/drainage crossings exposed. Attempting to ski in would be about equal mix of skinning and boot-packing (at best).
- Trail conditions: Once in the trees and up through the switchbacks, discontinuous snow coverage mixed with patches of dirt and ice. Best for high-traction snowshoes, okay for boot-packing, terrible for skis/skins (in my opinion). A few cm of new snow would make a huge difference.
- Above tree-line (at lake/hut/above): Snow base on average about 40-50cm along N. facing aspects. Breakable crust conditions when we were there, but it had just re-frozen after long warm period.
- Hut: 2 white gas Coleman lanterns exist- one works well for sure (bring stick matches to light). Solar air fan operates when in the sun. The mice didn't hibernate. Open fresh water accessible just looker's left of hut. Outhouse works- aforementioned "stream of runny shit" must be conveniently frozen and buried with snow.
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