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Spearhead Huts Society to host fundraiser July 11 for Kees and Claire Hut

Alpine Club of Canada announces $120,000 in matching funds for project

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The Spearhead Huts Society (SHS) is hosting a fundraiser on Wednesday, July 11 for the first of three huts it will build along the iconic Spearhead Traverse in Garibaldi Provincial Park.

The goal is to have a fun event to raise awareness and money for this summer's build, explained Jayson Faulkner, chairman of the SHS.

"This is a project for the Whistler community," said Faulkner. "It's important to constantly engage with the community so they know what's happening."

When complete, the route will provide one of the first alpine hut-to-hut experiences on the West Coast, with each hut offering dramatic views and recreation opportunities in both winter and summer.

Modelled on similar hut-to-hut routes in Europe, the Spearhead system will offer accommodation and toilet facilities, providing an alternative to tenting that is friendlier to the natural environment.

The project received a major boost last fall, when Brian and Andrea Thomas Hill donated $1.5 million towards the second of the huts.

At its forthcoming July 11 fundraiser, the SHS will officially announce a new major donation from the national branch of the Alpine Club of Canada (ACC).

A major backer of the SHS, the ACC is committing to matching donations—up to $120,000 worth—for the huts, the first of which is under construction and slated to open by the end of September.

The first hut will be called the Kees and Claire Hut, in honour of Cornelius "Kees" Brenninkmeyer and Claire Dixon, a couple that passed away in a tragic mountaineering accident in 2007.

For Faulkner, the ACC donation represents a major commitment to the hut-to-hut system.

"It gives us the opportunity to leverage (the donation) into $240,000, so our challenge is to try to get as many people to donate as we can," said Faulkner.

The public can "double the money if they donate—plus they get a tax receipt," he explained.

The SHS has also received $20,000 from Whistler Blackcomb (WB) for the Kees and Claire Hut.

Learning of the donation "was really lovely because it was spearheaded by Rob McSkimming (vice president of business development at Whistler Blackcomb)," said Faulkner.

In addition to the monetary commitment, WB has provided some advice on building in the mountains and is also allowing the SHS team to operate helicopters from the base of Harmony chair, something that cuts down on expensive helicopter operating costs.

The donations for the Kees and Claire Hut are needed for "non-essentials," said Faulkner, explaining that the money will go towards a water system and furniture.

Interested parties can still sign up for a work weekend online, and while the SHS is looking for all sorts of volunteers, they're especially seeking out people with construction experience.

"Say, you had a bit of experience putting in windows, with a bit of direction, you'd then be able to advise and direct other people," said Faulkner.

"There is still a tremendous amount to be done. We have two additional huts to be built. This is just the first."

The event, Spearhead Huts Society: First Stop Celebration, costs $35 to attend and includes a drink and a burger. All the funds raised through a silent auction and 50/50 raffle will support the SHS.

The event will be held at the Longhorn, with doors open at 6 p.m.

Tickets can be purchased at eventbrite.com/e/spearhead-huts-society-first-stop-celebration-tickets-47125527722.

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