B.C. Parks is preparing to solicit proposals that will likely see overnight huts erected in the Spearhead Area of Garibaldi Provincial Park.
On February 21, B.C. Parks approved a management plan amendment for the increasingly popular area, which includes the Spearhead and Fitzsimmons ranges, southeast of the Whistler Blackcomb ski resort.
According to the plan, any alpine huts will be “modest facilities to support self-sufficient and self-propelled users”. B.C. Parks is likely to look more favourably on proposals involving “lower overnight accommodation fees”.
“Huts will be located and designed to accommodate winter ski-touring and may require the development of summer hiking trails connecting to the huts,” the plan states.
The solicitation of hut proposals is designated as a high priority in the plan.
Another high priority is the development of a new vehicle-accessible trailhead on the north side of Fitzsimmons Creek. This will provide summer access to the Singing Pass Trail, replacing the old trailhead, which was blocked by a slope failure.
B.C. Parks says it will look at establishing a “route from the new trailhead to connect with trails in the park on the Blackcomb side”.
The plan backs a Whistler Blackcomb proposal to build a trail linking Flute Summit and the Singing Pass Trail. B.C. Parks will also work with Whistler Blackcomb to designate “summer and winter public access rights-of-way through the Controlled Recreation Area” occupied by the ski resort.
While it confirms support for a loop trail connecting Russet Lake and Adit Lake, the plan rules out a trail from Cheakamus Lake to Singing Pass because this would be “challenging and very costly to develop”.
In May 2012, a group called the Spearhead Huts Committee—whose members represent the Alpine Club of Canada, B.C. Mountaineering Club, Brett Carlson Memorial Foundation, and Kees and Claire Memorial Hut Society—submitted to B.C. Parks a proposal for the construction of three huts along the Spearhead Traverse, a 40-kilometre horseshoe route behind Whistler Blackcomb.
Many members of the public who provided input during consultations supported B.C. Parks’ proposal to not expand mountain biking in the Spearhead Area.
“With the planned improvements to hiking trails and the possible addition of backcountry huts, BC Parks anticipates that hiking use in the study area, in particular the Singing Pass, will increase over the coming years. To allow a new activity into the area could result in overcrowding and an overall diminishment of the park visitor experience,” the plan states.
“Many of the public responded that what they value most about the Spearhead Area of Garibaldi Park is that it is a place where they can readily connect with a sense of wilderness. Allowing mountain biking - an activity that is likely to be associated with high levels of use which would require further trail development - may detract from the wilderness experience which is of value to visitors of Garibaldi Park.”
According to B.C. Parks, the public expressed a “strong preference” for phasing out heli-skiing in the park. B.C. Parks has committed to making a recommendation on “continuing, adjusting, or eliminating” heli-skiing by 2026.
The Spearhead Area lies in the territories of the Lil’wat Nation and Squamish Nation. Accordingly, B.C. Parks has committed to working with these First Nations to inform the public about their history, place names, and traditional uses in the area.