A couple weeks ago we took a look at how the UBC Varsity Outdoor Club built their cabin in Whistler before it was taken over by the AMS. We’re continuing our look at the VOC this week with the construction of the Brew Huts.
Following the student referendum in 1980 that awarded the UBC-VOC $30,000 for the materials used to construct the Club Cabin, the VOC decided to purchase two pre-fabricated Gothic arch huts built by a construction company in Richmond.
After two years of negotiations with the Provincial Government, the VOC was granted permission to build a hut on Mount Brew. The Club decided to use the first of the pre-fabricated huts they had purchased on this site. The hut was built over two weekends in September 1982.
Jay Page, a former president of the VOC, wrote, “Up on the mountain a lean-to shelter is nailed together as it begins to rain and storm. The cabin site is picked out by flashlight that night amid the piles of lumber.”
After the fanfare of the construction of the Brew Hut, Club members neglected to visit the hut for a few months. Upon a visit in late February 1983, Club members noted that the hut was located in a high snow accumulation zone. This raised alarm bells within the VOC as the last hut they had built on the Garibaldi Neve Traverse (named the Neve Hilton) had been completely destroyed by snow creep and accumulation.
Over the next few months and into May 1983, members of the Club returned almost weekly to keep the Brew Hut structure free of the heavy wet snow customarily found in the Coast Mountains. Each time they returned they found more snow had fallen than in the months previous. The hut structure had sustained damage and the wood was beginning to crack.
Members of the VOC decided the solution would be to move the hut to a new location via a large helicopter. By the time this solution had been arranged, however, snow had begun to fall. The Club decided to dismantle the hut and build it in a new location the following year.
In the fall of 1984 a new site was chosen for the hut on a ridgeline to the west of the old Brew Hut location. The hut was rebuilt with a few modifications. One of the changes was to make the hut smaller as some of the arches had been damaged by the weight of the snow the previous year. This helped the hut retain more heat. Snow fell again, disrupting the completion of the hut until the following year. The Brew Hut in its new location opened in 1985 and was renamed Brew Hut II.
Stay tuned next week for more on the challenges face by Brew Hut II.