Brian Waddington Hut

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Help Save the Phelix Creek Area

The future of backcountry skiing in the Phelix Creek drainage - the area surrounding the Brian Waddington Memorial Hut - is at stake. The government has re-opened the Winter Backcounty Forum's recommendations for land use in the Lil'wat Nation region (including the area around Phelix Creek) and assigned a mediator to investigate. See the wiki page for more details.

Brian Waddington Hut
Brian Waddington Hut (August 2007).jpg
Brian Waddington Hut (August 2007)
Overnight Capacity 24
Elevation 1715m
Fee $5 / night (PAY ONLINE HERE)
Reservations No
Locked No
Built 1998
Caretaker Varsity Outdoor Club

Note: The Brian Waddington Hut is closed from August 15 - October 15 every year. See below for more details.

The Brian Waddington Hut was 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.

No reservations are taken, but please see the VOC Hut Registration page to help coordinate use.
For the most up to date information on the Hut see the Bulletins on the Hut Registration Page.

VOC huts are open to all non-motorized, non-commercial users. A $10 per person per night fee applies to pay for hut maintenance. The fee can be sent in to the VOC via our Showpass Donation Page or can be left at the hut in the blue drop box. If neither of these work, you can send it 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.


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 vapour barrier. This means that the upstairs windows must be opened to let moisture and stove fumes escape.

The following are provided for your enjoyment:

  • 2 Coleman double burner stoves, model 421-D
  • A percolator (for brewing coffee)
  • Several candles.
  • 2 Coleman lanterns (double mantle) model 288. There are two spare mantles in the cupboard to the right of the book shelf.
  • 1 Coleman catalytic heater, model 518E. This burns white gas, and white gas only. Do not use kerosene or any other fuel in it. 1 liter of white gas burns all night and part of the morning. Hanging the heater from one of the lamp hooks heats the upstairs sleeping area nicely. Remember to open the vents when the heater is in use, and close them before you leave.
  • A heavy fry pan, but no pots. Plan on bringing your own. There are a few spoons, knifes and forks.
  • Buckets for clean water and grey water. The larger blue bucket had mouse droppings in it Nov. 2005. It was scrubbed out with water and snow, but bringing a 250ml bottle of bleach in would be a good idea. The blue bucket had a dead mouse in it in May 2007.
  • Broken kerosene heaters - these have been ruined by misuse, especially by using the wrong kind of fuel in them. These were moved into the basement when the new catalytic heater was installed (February 2007) and should not be used.
  • Many decks of cards, at least one of which is complete.
  • Matterhorn puzzle
  • Solar powered LED lights that run off a battery in the loft. These were installed in 2004. The wires must be connected to the battery to run the lights. The LED lights only illuminate the vestibule, near the door, where boots are taken off and wet gear stored.

Note: On pain of death, only use white gas (naptha, Coleman Camp Fuel) in the stove, lanterns and heater. Kerosene won't burn in these appliances and it will clog the fuel lines. This shouldn't be an issue, since almost nobody uses kerosene in Canada, the supply in the hut has been exhausted.

A small library is provided for the enjoyment of hut users. At present this library contains mostly more recent editions of the VOC Journal.

There is an old guitar at the hut that was originally donated by Dan Perrakis.

Updated February 2007

Peak Names - Gandalf and Shadowfax

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 immedieately 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.


Avalanche serious.gif Avalanche Hazard
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.

Bunny Hill

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

Cabin Hill

Cabin Hill from the northwest

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 slopes facing the cabin are quite steep and open (and thus prone to avalanches), the northeast side offers gentler, safer gladed tree skiing. There is also good skiing in an open bowl off the back (southeast) side of Cabin Hill. Good tree skiing continues well down into the forest below the bowl, eventually linking up with the marked trail to the hut.

NW Knob

NW Knob from Cabin Hill

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.

Aragorn Glacier

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 east 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

"Return of the King" as seen from the base of Cabin Hill

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.

Copp Creek

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.

Sockeye Creek

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 becons 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 waterbars in the upper part of the Phelix road.


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.


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.


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 the 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. The 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 the Blackwater Road at the entrance to Birkenhead Lake Provincial Park. Just before the gate, turn right onto the Phelix Creek Road. There is a parking area about 200m further up the Phelix Creek Road. Driving time from Vancouver to the parking area at the bottom of the 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.

Google Map of directions from UBC

There is a recurring landslide on the road at km 0.5, which is presently 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.

To reach the start of the 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 clearcuts. Cross the two clearcuts 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 meticulously flagged, and permanent trail markers will be installed in spring 2008. The constructed trail ends at the east end of Long Lake. From there, the best route is to follow discontinuous trails around the south side of the lake to the cabin.

See Phelix Creek Trail Construction for more information about the building of the new trail

Bear Activity

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.


GPS track of the access trail and the waypoint for the hut are available here: File:Phelix trail.kml

<googlemap version="0.9" lat="50.600207" lon="-122.662008"> </googlemap>


The datum for all the waypoints below is NAD 27, to correspond with the NTS map of the area, 92 J/10.

Km UTM Elevation Type Direction Description
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) (524677, 5605305) (1170m) Spur Straight Phelix Creek West branch forks to the left; continue straight on main branch. Waypoint is approximate.
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
Km UTM Elevation Description
0.0 524481, 5606998 1280m Trailhead
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
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.

Current Issues

Commercial Snowmobiling

See the land use issues page for information about an application for commercial snowmobiling operations in Phelix Creek.


Many complaints have been lodged about the absence of a wood stove at the hut. MEC donated $3000 towards the installation of the hut on the condition that there would be no wood stove. Kerosene heaters were installed instead, however this resulted in the following problems:

  • In the first winter a lot of kerosene was used and the initial supply was exhausted after about 1 year
  • Flying in more kerosene to the hut by helicopter is very expensive
  • A lot of users don't pay the $5 per night user fee, so the VOC can't afford to fly in more kerosene
  • Hut users started putting white gas into the kerosene heaters which destroyed the wicks
  • One kerosene heater was repaired, but does not burn cleanly and thus fills the cabin up with dirty smoke

In February 2007 a Coleman catalytic heater was installed which burns white gas. Also the two double mantle Coleman lanterns provide a little heat as well as a lot of light. With 12 in the hut the first time the heater was used, it was -11 outside, +8 downstairs and even warmer upstairs. 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.


Comparing the hut log to the amount of hut fees actually received by the VOC shows that the number of people paying is very low. 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.


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

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

  • 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 cutblock.
  • 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 low 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 bushwack in Devils club. Unfortunately, we forgot a log book.

External links

Accident report from ACC of Brian Waddington's death