Love backpacking or ski touring but not so keen on camping? The Kees and Claire hut just above Russet Lake in Whistler could be the perfect option for you. This Whistler backcountry hut offers a warm and dry place to sleep, cooking facilities and one hell of a view!
About the Kees and Claire Memorial Hut
The Kees and Claire hut was built as part of the Spearhead Huts Project. The project looks to build 3 backcountry huts along the Spearhead Traverse backcountry ski route that takes a U-shaped route from Blackcomb Glacier to Whistler Village.
At present, this is the only backcountry hut that’s currently in operation.
The hut is named as a memorial to two members of the community who were unfortunately involved in a mountaineering accident. You can learn more about their story here. There’s also more information about them and others that are remembered as part of this memorial hut.
The hut can be used by adventure lovers year-round and is popular for people doing snowshoe and ski touring trips in the winter or hiking in the summer.
It sits above Russet Lake and so is a great alternative if you don’t want to camp at the Russet Lake campground.
How to Get to Kees & Claire Hut
Routes to the Kees and Claire hut vary depending on which season you’re visiting.
Winter route to Kees and Claire Hut
Both snowshoe-ers and skiers stay at the Kees and Claire hut during winter.
If you’re skiing there are a few routes you can take. They include:
- Skinning up Singing Pass from Whistler Village and then up to the hut.
- Taking the Musical Bumps trail from Whistler Mountain. You can buy a backcountry ticket for Whistler Blackcomb instead of a full-day ticket. This costs around $60-70. You’ll need to show your avalanche gear to the ticket agent. Takes the Harmony or Peak Chairs then ski to the Flute Bowl backcountry access area.
- OR, as the last night on your trip of the Spearhead Traverse having come from Blackcomb
Snowshoers staying at Kees and Claire will need to go up Singing Pass. Keep eyes and ears open for skiers coming down Singing Pass. You cannot snowshoe in-bounds so Singing Pass is your only option.
A note about Singing Pass Uphill: You will need to follow Whistler Blackcomb’s uphill skiing policy to access Kees and Claire hut from Singing Pass.
If the avalanche risk is high, Whistler Blackcomb Patrol will close some routes to the backcountry. This is normally the standard Musical Bumps route from Whistler mountain. Please respect these closures.
Summer route to Kees and Claire Hut
There are three routes to Kees and Claire in the summer.
- Musical Bumps: Follow the Musical Bumps trail either from the top of the Peak Express Chair or from Roundhouse Lodge at the top of the Whistler gondola. You’ll need to purchase a sightseeing lift ticket for the day to be able to access the lifts. Musical Bumps is about a 9.5km hike each way from the peak and 10.5km from Roundhouse lodge.
- Singing Pass Trail: This trail starts from Whistler Village and as such has a lot more elevation to tackle than the above option. This hike is around 14km and 1450m elevation.
Kees and Claire Hut Booking
Reservations are required for the Kees and Claire hut. You can book the Kees and Claire hut on the Spearhead Huts website. Reservations cost $50 + GST and PST per person night.
If you are a member of the ACC Whistler or Vancouver (& probably Squamish ACC too), or the BCMC, you’ll get a $10 discount.
Spaces at Kees and Claire book up quickly, especially at weekends so book in advance and keep your eye open for cancellations if you’re hoping to stay but find it’s full.
What’s Inside the Hut?
Unlike other backcountry huts, the Kees and Claire hut is pretty luxurious. It’s set over two storeys with sleeping quarters on the lower storey and a kitchen, dining and seating area upstairs. There’s also a boot and equipment room to dry things off and 3 composting toilets.
In the kitchen area, you’ll find four stoves as well as all the cookware and dining equipment you need (cafetieres, bowls, plates, cutlery etc). There are also some separate stoves and pans for melting snow in the winter season since there’s no drinking water available.
In the sleeping area, the bunks are split out into separate rooms (without doors). Some rooms sleep 4 and others sleep 6 with two double bunks and 2 single bunks. There are cubby holes to store your gear in too.
Since you must take your ski boots or hiking boots off before entering the dining and sleeping areas, there are also crocs available for use in the hut.
What to Pack for Kees & Claire Hut
For the Kees and Claire hut you must pack:
- A sleeping bag (3-season recommended, sleeping area kept to 5-7C in winter)
- A sleeping mat. There were some available, but don’t rely on them being there.
- Other equipment depending on whether you’re in need of a ski touring packing list or backpacking list. You won’t need cooking equipment.
Water at Kees and Claire Hut
Water isn’t currently available on tap at the hut but this is something that’s planned for the future. For now, you must collect water from Russet Lake in the summer months or take part in melting snow in the winter. It’s the responsibility of all guests to get involved in this.