Sphinx Camp

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Rivalring Longhike in age, the Sphinx Camp is one of the oldest annual trip that VOC has been organizing over the years. Even before the construction of the Burton Hut, many VOCers went to Garibaldi lake just after exams to enjoy a month long skiing trip. Once the construction of Burton Hut was completed, the level of participation increased ever more: the hut was filled to capacity and a few VOCers had to camp outside.

As the years past, the numbers started to dwindle down to become a multiple-weekend trip over the month of April. Eventually, even this couldn't be sustained and finally, the last "official" trip was in '98.

With the recently "renaissance" movement occuring within the VOC, the Sphinx Camp may well be on its way back from oblivion...


Sphinx Camp is the annual VOC spring ski touring camp based out of the Burton Hut at the east end of Garibaldi Lake. It is traditionally held during and just after final exams (early April - early May) and is a great way to unwind at the end of your finals (maybe even during them).

The camp is designed for everyone, especially beginner skiers. The camp is fairly easy to get into. You use the Black Tusk trail to Garibaldi lake and its three flat miles due east to the hut. The trip takes about six hours from the parking lot, give or take.

What do I do there?

There are three main schools of thought:

  1. Get up early, climb to the top of something, ski down when the conditions are best, spend the rest of the day lying in the sun.
  2. Get up early, climb something really big or climb many things, ski down in the slush and gorp.
  3. Get up late, lie in the sun, dig snow caves, cook, go fishing, fly kites, etc.

Each day of the previous night, assorted trips are arranged as required, if you want to go to a more special area, just say so, and you usually find half a dozen other people for the same area. Most of the mountains nearby can be skied to near the summit, so it isn't all skilled climbing

What if I don't ski very well?

No problem!!! Uphill is OK. Downhill can be accomplished with the traverse and kick turn method if necessary; skiing down the summer trail can be accomplished by walking down the summer trail. If you are a really hopeless skier, you should at least be in fairly good shape. (snowshoes do work.)


The trips starts when enough people have finished exams to make it worth while. The trip ends when the last person leaves, usually about three to four weeks after the start. You can come and go at any time within this period if you can find a group to go with.

How much? Some History

Nowadays (2007) you bring your own food, share with your driver or significant other or friends. Expenses nowadays are mostly from becoming gear freaks; needing avalanche transcievers, $1k worth of goretex, another $1k worth of ski gear.

Back when we used to fly in food by helicopter (say 1970), a system of a few dollars per day was implemented to cover the expenses. About one dollar of this was used to pay for the flying in of the food, which is now illegal. The billing procedure was as follows:

  1. You signed for the days you intended to be at Sphinx and paid a ten dollar deposit.
  2. If you did not arrive/depart on the days you say you would, you pay half a day's cost for each day you are not there and said you would be, and you eat left overs on each day you are there and said you wouldn't be.
  3. Exact cost was calculated by dividing total cost by number of man-days. You would be billed half a day for the day you arrive and half a day for the day you leave; thus if you arrived May 2th and left May 5th, you would be charged for 3 days. The cost tended to be around $3/day, all inclusive. You would be billed or refunded the difference during the summer.

This system was used during the mid-60's to the late-80's when the trip was way bigger, helicopters were legal, and Whistler/Blackcomb was an expensive option. Now you could drive to Whistler, see all the awesome country, rent skis/boards, buy lunch, ski all day without much cardio workout, and return home about $100 lighter.

Facilities provided?

Main article: Burton_Hut#Facilities

The hut should hold twenty peoples (max!!); attempts to accommodate more would probably be less satisfactory than sleeping in tents. Whether you sleep in the hut or in tents will depend of personnal preference, experience, and humanitarian principles.

There will be one or two coleman stoves for cooking and a small assortmentof pots will (may) be provided. Water is obtained from Garibaldi Lake, about a hundred feet away. Food is generally of high quality; the food supply is subdivided into three orders so that the people who come last can also have food. Menus are provided at each supper, with the correct amount of each ingredient listed for the number of people to be fed. (If nine people are expected, there will be nine steaks, and if thirteen show up, the remainding four will have to open a can of corned beef or something.)

Again, due to the current reality, the meal system may be totally different from the one discribed above.

Barrier or Neve Route?

The two routes into Sphinx Camp are about equally long. The Neve route is more scenic. Because it is possible to be trapped on the Neve for several days by bad weather, it is necessary to carry more equipment when crossing the Neve, and this makes the Neve route more difficult.


Because we are operating on a limited budget and can not afford professional cooks or entertainers you will be required to provided this service. (Booze always helps...)