Construction of Neve Hilton

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Vista-file-manager.png VOC Journal Article
The following text is transcribed from VOC Journal 13. In the spirit of preserving the original author's work, please do not edit it except to correct copy mistakes.

The grant

Let me set the scene: some nebulous time early in the year, at a Mountain Access Committee meeting attended by Roland Burton and Jim Tupper (Alpine Club Member), Secretary-Treasurer Mary Wells explains to the committee that the government has supplied them with a grant to further their cause (and to help the government's public image), and asks if anyone had any ideas for worthwhile projects. Roland and Jim confer, decide that if the government is giving away money, then why shouldn't the clubs try to get some

JIM: "The Varsity Outdoor Club and the Alpine Club would like to build a public shelter on Pringle's Ridge."
MARY: "Okay...Everybody agreed...One thousand dollars enough?...Will somebody move that one thousand dollars be allocated to the V.O.C. and A.C.C. for purpose of construction of a hut on Pringle's Ridge..."

So the VOC - ACC, (hereafter referred to as the VOC plus one, or simply the VOC) found itself with money to build a hut and now had to build one.

Working in the Physics Department, I was able to supply shop facilities as Pat Powell had done the previous year for the Burton (Sphinx) hut. Techniques and information gathered the year before were immediately applied and early in July the first laminated beam came off the press.

Negotiations with the government for permission to place a hut in Garibaldi Park went ahead, and two trips went to Pringle's Ridge to select and prepare the site. The government came through and again agreed to buck the chopper costs. Back in S.U.B. materials gathered, and by the end of August prefabrication was completed. At this point Roland, Dave Rosenbluth, Ellen Woodd, Wynne Gorman, and myself vanished into the Fitzsimmons-Cheakamus boondocks for a week. (See McBridge Exp.). When we returned Mike Miles had also returned from Inuvik, and pro expeditor that he is, he agreed to con the army into supplying transportation for the lumber from the Student Union Building to Diamond Head.

Friday, September 11

Mission accomplished, as an emergency vehicule, command car and volkswagon bearing two lieutenants, three privates and five VOC'ers headed for Diamond Head.

Saturday, September 12

The lumber is unloaded at Diamond Head Chalet, we stop for coffee, and the army takes its leave. The sky is crystal clear, blown clear by strong gusting west winds. The helicopter arrives at one o'clock and ferries Roland and myself to Pringle's Ridge. We establish radio contact with Diamond Head Base. Twenty minutes later we are joined by Mike Miles and the first load of plywood.

Another strong load, and then a long wait - without radio contact. Finally we hear Jim Tupper who explains that the chopper dropped a load, and calms us by telling us that he still has the beams.

The chopper brings one more light load - the remainder of the small goods then ferries Bill Prescott to the site. Because of other obligations, the chopper won't return on Sunday.

The four of us confer, trying to figure out exactly what is lost. We set up the McKinley tent. Strong winds. Very cold. We eat, then turn in.

Sunday, September 13

Up early. Radio contact appears impossible -- high powered fishermen are drowning the band. Eat cardboard mush, then break camp. Finally radio contact; John Frizwell is at Diamond Head. We agree to rendezvous at Opal Cone to start a search for the lost lumber. We set out across the Neve, travelling leisurely, observing the geology, wandering through icefalls. At two o-clock we locate the lumber on the flank of a prominent westeral morraine on the east bank of the Ring Creek. Nothing salvage. Mike Miles decides to take a piece home (See Broken Board Award). We return to base, meet Jim Tupper, and head to Vancouver.

Monday, September 14

First day of classes. Replacement lumber for that which was lost, is bought in Squamish and trucked to Diamond Head Base Camp. Peter Tchir and I head up to base camp, rendezvous with Emil Brandvoldt, bundle up the lumber and load it into his truck. Then up to Whistler Mtn. and spend the night in the VOC Cabin

Tuesday, September 15

Up early. Morning warmup by pushing the non-functional fuel pump car, one-quarter mile to the gondola. Over to the helicopter. A different pilot this time, it's Clarke - the experience regular. The air is misty, warm and still. Nine-thirty lift-off and we fly towards Mt. Garibaldi, arc around the Black Tusk, skim Helm Glacier, Lake Garibaldi, the Table, Warren Glacier, and finally Pringle's Ridge. Moving the lumber is uneventful; everything is accounted for. Peter and I are picked up and we return to Whistler (by a different route; I only used up four rolls of film). Back to thinking about the fuel pump; but the pilot used to own an M.G. Ten minutes later we are free-wheeling down the highway, mission successful.

Saturday, September 19

Final assembly. Twenty V.O.C.'ers and Jim Tupper assemble very early at Diamond Head Base Camp. The weather is terrible. Some had come up the night before and camped in the parking lot. They are miserable. The Brandvoldts arrive and pick us up in two trucks. 7:30 A.M. we start walking. Very cold and damp. Whiteout conditions on the glacier. We don ropes and crampons, travel by compass. Accidentally we choose the ideal route to the site. Bad weather and the prospect of sleeping with insufficient tents prompts immediate action. The hut goes together as planned. Floor, walls and roof are completed by nightfall and most of the builders spend the first night in it.

Sunday, September 20

The weather has improved. Sunlight warms us. The hut is finished and camp is gradually broken. By early afternoon the last of the builders are leaving for the Diamond Head Chalet where we all congratulate each other and accept a ride down to the cars, the hut now being completed.

- By Barry Narod, Hut Building 1970: Neve Hilton, VOCJ13, 1970-1971, pp. 66 - 70