Marriott Basin + gossip

Mountain Forecast claimed that while it would be overcast in the Duffey area, Mt Marriott was tall enough that it would be poking out of the clouds on Saturday. Birgit Rogalla, Tereza Jarnikova and I left Vancouver at 5:30 AM, dropped our stuff off at the Wendy Thompson Hut beside the massive luxurious outhouse the ACC is constructing. This thing is a MONSTER. It has two levels. It has its own covered bridge from the top floor of the hut. It’s probably half the size of Brew. Wow. We could learn a thing or two. If the VOC had an outhouse that big it would sleep 12.

We also heard an interesting bit of local gossip from the ACCers. Apparently, the water treatment system on the new Spearhead hut wasn’t finished in time for the grand opening, so in the interim they’re flying in potable water by helicopter! Even though the hut’s right beside a big lake! 100,000 people march against climate change in Vancouver, and yet…

The clouds start to clear. Photo Birgit.

The clouds start to clear. Photo Birgit.

Tereza was sick, so she napped in the hut while Birgit and I wandered off into the fog with a map and competing memories of Matt Gunn’s route description. We started off wrong and arrived at the wrong lake. Luckily it was connected to the right drainage, and we followed the creek up the valley with surprising difficulty: plenty of microterrain that was confusing in the fog. Map in hand, we walked a few unnecessary circles over massive boulders, traversed a hard steep snow slope, then scrambled up onto the ridge and out of the clouds. From there we followed roughly the height of land to the summit and had good views of Cayoosh, Joffre, and Matier poking up into the sun.

Final trip for my beloved hiking pants? Photo Birgit.

Final trip for my beloved hiking pants? Photo Birgit.

Descending back into the valley, it cleared a little and it was obvious how much we’d gone off route. It turns out that the route described in Matt Gunn’s scrambles book is wrong (or at least, unnecessarily difficult and indirect). He describes walking up the “mini valley” and the crossing a snow slope to gain the ridge by scrambling up climber’s left at the valley’s head. In fact, it’s much better to avoid the snow slope and scramble up the center of the valley along an easy leftward-trending bench under the cliffs (If you’re interested in a GPS track let me know, or look on Bivouac).

The summit! Photo Birgit.

The summit!

The way down was much faster because we were able to avoid the big boulderfields and walk across the heather instead. We followed the recommended route from the recommended lake back to the hut and arrived just as the sun set. I had trouble getting into the hut to meet Tereza because one of the outhouse-builders was very insistent that no non-ACCers were allowed inside. Luckily Tereza rescued me.

Photo Birgit.

Photo Birgit.

We talked with a very friendly outhouse-builder for a while—Bryce—then headed off into the rain to cook and sleep. In the morning Birgit and I dropped in on a beginner-friendly VOC trip at a nearby lake. They were a bit cold and a bit damp but still cheery (I heard someone slept in their rain gear because their sleeping bag was so wet?!). Before walking out to the cars, we examined the old outhouse, which had a very simple liquid-solid separation system: Two seats! One for pooing, one for peeing, each clearly labelled.

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One Response to Marriott Basin + gossip

  1. Roland Burton says:

    I had the good fortune to be taken up to the Wendy Thompson Chalet this summer, and I couldn’t help but notice the outhouse, as I was “outhouse person” for several years before I decided to let others learn this valuable skill. When I heard that Nick might be building a new outhouse for Phelix (maybe next summer as it turns out) I sent him this
    Here’s some historical perspective. When the Workman’s Compensation Board supplied us with the hut, they mentioned that furniture and an outhouse were not included. Mark Grist decided a composting outhouse would be good and his dad provided some money for a solar panel, batteries, and a fan because any good outhouse needs these things, right? I built the outhouse with dimensions that would hold the composting part and would stick out of the snow and would be multiples of four feet because plywood (actually Crezon) comes in 4 x 8 ft sheets. The composting design was based on a booklet from Australia where they never have snow, summers are crazy hot, outhouses are all fed regularly by families of 3 1/2 people who are vegetarians. Needless to say, no composting occurred so after a couple of years we dug a big hole and dumped the goodies into the hole. The solar panel (22W) has been re-purposed as part of the “Solar Air Heater”. It could become part of the “solar lighting” if a big enough battery that didn’t mind the cold was available.

    We built a 45 degree roof but found to our amazement one year that the roof was not on the outhouse but beside it and we decided that asymmetrical snow loading had ripped it off so I made a steeper (60 degree) roof which makes the snow slide off apparently. I don’t think a translucent roof would be good. Maybe ample side windows made out of the lexan which is now part of the present outhouse, would be good. Unless you are shy. Painting it white inside was an attempt to make it clean and provide some light so we could see if other users had missed the hole.

    Moving it less often: Make a bigger hole. Make a really big hole. Line it with bad wood so it doesn’t cave in. Try not to hit the water table because of annoying splash.

    Don’t bother trying to separate out the pee, it just soaks into the ground. Guys don’t usually intentionally pee at the outhouse, they’d rather kill the tree behind the hut.

    Don’t bother burning toilet paper. If you weigh the average poop you will find that even an aggressive wiper will not add 5% to the material deposited, so you move the outhouse every 19 years instead of every 20 years, right? Some have suggested that TP aids the composting, but we’re not sure that composting happens. A TP-burning heater installed in the outhouse is a sign of over-design. But it must have a chimney. The chimney must stick out of the outhouse and must not interfere with snow sliding off the roof. See what I mean. A complicated solution to a non-problem, designed by university students. I think that burning TP is contributing to global warming. You will be sorry when there’s no snow up there.

    Wrapping the whole thing in 1/4 inch stucco mesh will be a good shit-beaver (marmot) deterrent.

    If you want to propose a really complicated over-thought solution that will prevent the problem from being solved, I have seen in Tibet where they dry Yak shit on their stone fences, then use it as fuel. This would mean we wouldn’t need to fly in so much fuel and that would save the trees, and might be good for global warming. We’d have to fly in the stones to make the fences. Might only work with vegetarians.

    Of course what you decide is your problem. Maybe they will name it after you. I’m out of the out-house business, I think. I might have some crude outhouse drawings if you need, but going up there and seeing what’s there would be more useful.

    This just in.

    According to google, the average person puts out 400g of poop per day. Westerners tend to put out less because a fast food diet is low in fibre.

    I just weighed 20 squares of toilet paper which is a generous wipe and it weighed 8g, so toilet paper should occupy only 8/400 or 2% of the total which is what I’d expect from my other research. So if it takes 50 years to fill the hole with just poop, then the outhouse will have to be moved in 49 years if we throw the TP down the hole.

    At the Wendy Thompson hut there is a sign requesting that “feminine sanitary supplies” not be put down the hole, but rather, carried out (they don’t burn very well either).

    The secret to handling poop is to not handle it.

    Of course the ACC helicopters the poop so they don’t want to fly out pee as well. I suppose I’ll have to go up there again to see what they built this time.

    I was at Brew last weekend and the $7k outhouse up there seems to be working very well. There’s a lot of complicated instructions up there about stepping on the pedal three times and indeed there was what looked like a bike pedal on the floor, but stepping on it didn’t do anything. There was a perfectly lovely cooking pot nearly full of charred toilet paper and kaakaa but I figured it was related to the pedal somehow. And a cute little washbasin and a bar of soap, but the water was frozen.

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