Jim Haberl Outhouse Update: A project supported by the ACC Environment Fund


Editor’s Note - Increased ski traffic at the Jim Haberl Hut in the Tantalus Range above Squamish, BC has highlighted the problem of the outhouse being unsafe in winter conditions - it’s only a minor inconvenience to walk over to the outhouse in summer months, however in the winter the terrain can be a little dicey and the outhouse can sometimes be completely buried!

Increased outhouse inconvenience in the winter discourages proper waste disposal, and the ACC’s Environment Fund granted funds to help rectify the situation.

This past summer the ACC Vancouver Section upgraded and moved the outhouse and attached it to the hut to increase safety and help the local alpine environment. Read on to see how they made it happen! 

Do you have a project that will help preserve and maintain our outdoor space? Check out more info on the Environment Grant at the end of the article!

A far off (and sometimes buried) outhouse

The Jim Haberl Hut, high in the Tantalus Range above Squamish, BC, was built as a summer destination for mountaineering but in recent years with more adventurous skiing taking place, the Hut has also become a winter destination. 

It has become clear that the original location of the outhouse – located 30 metres away along a windy ridge – was not suited for winter occupancy. Clambering over rime-encrusted rocks and up a stairway, at times in storm conditions, to the outhouse was dangerous. In fact, some winters the entire outhouse structure was entirely buried and could only be located by probing. In those situations hut visitors had no choice but to dig a pit toilet in the snow. 

The Vancouver Section applied to the ACC Environment Fund for financial assistance in updating the outhouse and moving it and attaching it to the hut.

Due to the extreme mountain weather encountered at the elevation, 6,600 feet, and the exposed location of the Haberl Hut we had to modify our original plans for this project. We were however able to meet a number of our original objectives. The work undertaken has provided a much safer location for the outhouse by actually attaching it to the main hut structure.

proposed solution and adaptations

Our discussions focused on the new Tech Toilet system being installed by BC Parks in our area. (In August BC Parks installed one of these urine diverting toilets (UDT) adjacent to our Tantalus Hut at Lake Lovely Water.) Subsequent to submitting our Environment Fund application further discussions with Tech Toilet expert, Chris McCrum revealed that it was not recommended to install their UDT system in such an extreme cold/winter environment as the Haberl Hut and that the maintenance and functioning of the equipment at that elevation was unknown.

The Vancouver Section Huts Committee then approached engineer Peter Taylor who had been involved in the original design of the Jim Haberl Hut and the building of the standalone outhouse adjacent to the hut. Peter’s recommendation was to relocate the existing outhouse structure closer to the hut and convert it by installing a urinal to at least divert some urine from the barrel system. Under the direction of Anna Milino Huts Committee co-chair a team of volunteers was organized including professional engineer, Peter Taylor, Dundarave Construction builder, Don Jardine, professional roofer Dan Geddes and other volunteers.

Haul ‘er up and get ‘er done

July 6 – 8, 2018 - While there was still snow in the alpine we moved quickly to organize a weekend work party to relocate and lag the outhouse to the north-east corner of the hut and install a temporary set of stairs to provide access for hut guests over the summer months.

August 31 – September 3, 2018 – Don Jardine, Dan Geddes and a volunteer crew worked to finish the modification by re-orienting the entrance door (from facing to west to face east) and the toilet seat position, build a deck and re-clad the hut and outhouse structure (from materials on-site from the original hut build). A new door, which was purchased and professionally painted to withstand the elements, was flown to the hut and installed. A simple urinal was installed with and a urine take away line was installed and buried to disperse into the west facing rocky downslope away from the hut. It is now safe to walk from the hut entrance along the side of the hut to the outhouse.

Wrap up and clean up

We were able to leave the original site of the outhouse (2004) in pristine condition. Some remaining lag brackets and tie down cable hardware will be removed from the rock in summer 2019.

Removal of debris – a significant amount of building cladding had to be cut away from the original hut and outhouse walls, this material then had to be long-lined to the Squamish heliport in two flights and disposed of.

Have a project with environmental preservation in mind?

Wilderness is a diminishing and irreplaceable resource of great intrinsic value not only to those who recreate in its spaces, but to everyone on our planet. The focus of the Environment Grant is wilderness conservation rather than recreation enhancement. It is the ACC’s goal to be able to act quickly and decisively in order to protect our wild spaces from being lost.

The purpose of the grant is to provide support that contributes to the protection and preservation of mountain and climbing environments, including the preservation of alpine flora and fauna in their natural habitat.