2018 Alpine Club Capital Projects
Editor's note: Did you know the ACC operates the largest network of backcountry huts in North America? In 2017, the ACC facilities team completed a full assessment of all of our huts, incorporating new digital technologies to help manage hut inventory and keep on top of maintenance and capital projects needs.
Based on these assessments, a number of new hut projects and renovations are scheduled to be undertaken in 2018. We spoke with Rick Gardiner, Facilities Director for the ACC, to find out more about big plans for capital projects happening this year.
CAPITAL PROJECTS planned FOR 2018
As popularity and demand on the ACC's hut system grows, the need to keep our huts functioning — and even to add huts to our inventory — creates a unique set of backcountry construction challenges for our facilities and maintenance team.
"Thanks to a new digital inventory system that was put into action last year, 2017 was the first time we were able to build a full assessment of the inventory of our huts. This has been pivotal in helping facilitate longer-term capital projects and maintenance planning starting this year," says Rick Gardiner, Facilities Director for the ACC. He reports that the new digital record management system has already proven to be a useful and efficient way to keep track of hut needs the short term and he is eager to see how it can help in long-term planning for capital projects.
The ACC and our board worked together with our stakeholders to assess last year's inspections and determined the highest priority capital project needs for 2018.
"We're looking at some pretty exciting projects coming up," Rick says. "The facilities team is broadly experienced with carpentry and restoration, on-site management, outdoors and remote project work. We are feeling really prepared and excited to add some good value to the huts this year."
Read on for a list of the specific improvements that we're planning for eight of our huts in 2018.
The Glacier Circle Cabin, located in the Dawson Range of the Selkirks near Rogers pass, is one of the club's facilities that not a lot of people know much about. It's a Class II Heritage Canada building due in part to the fantastic mountaineering history of the hut and the area. There are a couple of courses of foundation logs that are in bad shape and need to be replaced to protect the integrity of the structure. We hope to fly in the spring and assess the work required to replace the bad logs.
If you've driven the Trans Canada Highway between Banff and Lake Louise you've passed right by the Castle Mountain Hut and maybe not even known it. The hut has been there for 50 years now and sees traffic every summer, mostly by rock climbers using it as a base for climbing routes on the upper walls of Castle. The hut is small and might be replaced some day, but for now plans are to rebuild the outhouse platform, remove the dehydrating toilet - which doesn't work that great in our climate - and install our typical barrel system.
Many of our huts are seeing increased traffic resulting in increased wood storage requirements. Last October we built an additional wood shed at the Stanley Mitchell Hut but unfortunately our team ran out of season and couldn't finish the job. We're going to tidy up the foundation work and get a couple of coats of paint on both sheds so that they're good for years to come.
For the huts we operate that are below treeline, the building is typically done with logs (compared to metal-clad structures in the alpine). These logs require a good couple coats of stain every five years or so to keep the wood from deteriorating. Outdoor staining of the Fryatt and Wates-Gibson Huts is scheduled for August.
The Guy Hut on the Wapta Icefields is the ACC's newest facility and is still in fantastic shape but there's one alterataion that we have planned that will make life easier for our guests and staff: we're going to change the location of the door to the outhouse barrel room door to make access easier in the heavy snow months.
Like the Stanley Mitchell and other huts, the Elk Lakes Cabin has seen increased demand in the past few years and the current woodshed is undersized. This is important because if we can't store enough wood for the full winter then we have to wait until the spring to reload and no one likes being in a backcountry cabin without enough firewood. Our plan is to double the size of the shed to accommodate a full winter's wood supply.
If you don't travel to (or live in) the Nelson area, you might not know of this gem of a hiking hut. The Woodbury Cabin has been part of the ACC hut network for about 15 years and we've always wanted to do a major overhaul of the facilities. The hut itself is a historic mining cabin repurposed for summer recreation use. This is one of our largest planned projects for 2018 as we prepare for fixing up a bunch of the exterior trim and renovating the entire interior. We're going to be leaning heavily on volunteer assistance on this project in the later summer/early fall and if you're skilled and keen to help out, feel free to drop an email to our Huts Maintenance Manager Bill Cardinal.
This is also a major undertaking for one of our most historic facilities and a Heritage Canada Class II Structure. The Wheeler Hut's construction dates back to just after the Second World War and, although it's been well maintained, some of the foundation logs are starting to rot and need to be repaired. We'll have to jack the hut up and assess and replace logs on site. We'll also address any drainage issues while we're at it.
hut work on the horizon...
In addition, plans for the next two years so far include a potential replacement of the Castle Mountain Hut, an expansion to the Abbot Pass Hut kitchen, and the enclosure of the front deck space at the Asulkan Cabin. There will be other projects as well and these projects will probably evolve somewhat in the coming months so don't hold us to the specifics.
As you can see, our facilities team will be busy this year keeping the hut system in tip top shape. If you see them out there doing their thing, throw them a high five.
Updates on our progress
Stay tuned to the Aspects blog for updates as these improvements are completed throughout the year.