Grand Opening Was a Huge Success

On the beautiful late summer morning of September 21st, 2019, surrounded by an amazing group of friends, family and community, we brought out the giant scissors and cut the ribbon to officially open the brand new Kees and Claire Hut at Russet Lake. 

After more than a decade of planning and 3 seasons of building, the Spearhead Huts Society is absolutely thrilled to open the Kees and Claire Hut to the public, to share this beautiful new legacy with the mountain community for years to come. 

On Friday night the hut was filled with revelry as families and friends close to the project shared memories of the loved ones who have been memorialized in the hut. 

Heading down Oboe enroute to the hut. Photo by Jamie Bond.

Kees’ sister Julie Brenninkmeyer enjoying a rest with her daughter before the final push up Cowboy Ridge to the hut. Photo by Jamie Bond.

Jill Dunnigan of Extremely Canadian and Doug Arnott (Mischa Arnott’s father) en route to the hut. Photo by Jamie Bond.

A packed hut with friends and family. Photo by Jamie Bond.

The next generation enjoying Brett’s Lounge, sitting right next to the late Brett Carlson’s legendary Bandit ski that have been recently upgraded to a shot ski. Photo by Jamie Bond.

Claire Dixon’s brother Paul taking in the sunset on the eve of the Grand Opening. Photo by Jamie Bond.

Brett’s shot ski in action with Julie Brenninkmeyer and her husband John Hartley, Peter Smart from Extremely Canadian, and Brett’s father Murray Carlson.

Ribbon Cutting

On Saturday morning, 60+ hikers met at the HandleBar, fuelled up with Mount Currie Coffee and Clif Bars, then rallied for a full day trip in and out of the hut to celebrate the Grand Opening and participate in the Ribbon Cutting. Whistler Blackcomb was incredibly accommodating by opening the Peak to Peak early (a first!) to get everyone up to the hut in time. 

The crew. Photo by Andrea Helleman / Maven Studios.

We were thrilled to share the special event with Spearhead Traverse pioneers Karl Ricker, Bert Port, and Werner Himmelsbach, as well as the hard-working crew at Coast Essential Construction who put 3 years of blood, sweat and tears into building this amazing new hut. And of course the ceremony was made complete by having such a strong representation from the memorial families; the Brenninkmeyers, Dixons, Carlsons, Arnotts, and Boyd/McGeoughs. 

Spearhead Huts pioneers Karl Ricker, Werner Himmelsbach and Bert Port. Photo by Andrea Helleman / Maven Studios.

After an emotional and inspiring round of speeches and thank you’s from SHS Chair Jayson Faulkner and members of each of the families, many of the hikers headed back down to the valley for the evening celebration and fundraiser at the Whistler Conference Centre. 

Julie Brenninkmeyer and Paul Dixon cutting the ribbon. Screengrab from Adam Smythe.

The new hut in its perch. Photo by Jamie Bond.

Some of the crew rushing back down singing pass for the fundraiser event. This motley crew includes some of the hard-working pros at Coast Essential Construction who literally built this hut with blood, sweat and tears, as well as Don Stuart the architect, Andre Charland (SHS director) and friends. Photo by Jamie Bond.

Celebration + Fundraiser

The house was packed! With several hundred supporters in attendance, the celebration event was absolutely buzzing. Mike Douglas hosted the night and DJ Foxy Moron kept the music going. Councilor Maxine Joseph-Bruce, Councillor Lois Joseph and her daughter Emhaolen Nelson of the Lil’Wat Nation performed a blessing, and Arc’teryx premiered their epic new ‘Spearhead’ short film, and the silent auction was hugely successful. 

Photo by Andrea Helleman / Maven Studios.

Photo by Andrea Helleman / Maven Studios.

You Can Still Donate

If you missed the event or were inspired to contribute further, please don’t hesitate to DONATE TODAY. We are getting ever closer to project completion! 

Thank You For Your Support

With everyone’s help we raised almost $30,000 towards final completion of the Kees and Claire Hut! With that $30,000 in the bank we only have $170,000 to go. These funds will allow us to install the water and solar systems as well as complete some construction items. That $30,000 includes ticket proceeds (thanks for coming), silent auction bids (thanks for bidding), a generous additional $5000 donation from the Dixon family, and even $1000 in change from a young and eager local girl Brooke Bessie. Brooke and her friends raised the funds through bake sales and other initiatives, which is an inspiring example of how every bit counts!

The list of people to thank is absolutely endless, but here’s a start…

Huge thank you to Arc’teryx for sharing such an inspiring film, drawing a huge crowd, hosting the Audio Visual, and donating to the silent auction, all above and beyond the substantial donations they’ve made for several years running. The 17 minute ‘Spearhead’ film produced by Origin and directed by Seth Gillis celebrated the Spearhead Traverse past, present and future, and was such a fitting addition to our event. 

Thank you to locals Andrea Helleman of Maven Studios and Sarah Frood for organizing such an amazing event, along with support from Teri Kydd-Wade, Jamie Bond, Andre Charland, Laurie Block, Evan Stevens, Linsey Stevenson, Tara Wolters and Adam Smythe. 

Thank you to the many generous auction donors…

Surefoot Whistler // Coastal Mountain Excavation // 4Frnt Skis // HEAD Skis // Extremely Canadian // Scandinave Spa Whistler // Arc’teryx // Blake Jorgensen // Outdoor Adventures Whistler // Dr. Dominique Vallee // Marie Soleil – Body Elements Whistler // Bliss Event + Design // 21 Steps // Patagonia Store Whistler // Maven Studios // Sushi Village // Biking in Squamish // Profile Tuning // Altus Mountain Guides // KORE Brands Inc // Tommy’s // Shala Yoga // Bn3th // Arbutus Route // Ziptrek // Kylie Millar // Sharon Audley // Escape Room Whistler // Clif Bar // Delta Village Suites // Fanatyco // Hitcase // Alta Bistro // Hy’s Steak House // Dollhouse Agency / Dakine / Jones Snowboard // Whistler.com // Splitz Grill // Coast Mountain Brewing // And probably more to be listed soon

And There’s More of You

That’s just the thank you’s for this past weekend. We’re only just beginning to thank the thousands of brilliant, generous, hard-working, inspiring mountain folks who have supported this project over the past 12 years.

The  community strength, love, passion and teamwork that went into this project is absolutely unparalleled. The Kees and Claire Hut is a product of 3 different unrelated mountain clubs, 5+ different memorial groups, countless hard-working volunteers, generous donors, a wide array of construction professionals, and a tight-knit community of dreamers and doers who are inspired by a common love for sharing experiences in the mountains. Thank you, all of you. 

Good Times Ahead

The goal of the Spearhead Hut System is to bring people out of the cold, protecting and inspiring future backcountry shredders, hikers and mountaineers for the next hundred years. The mountains give and take, but the lost live forever in the stories we tell. Part of the magic of the Kees and Claire Hut is not just how it will tell the story of two true mountain spirits, but how it will allow so many others to more safely craft stories of their own.

The new Kees and Claire Hut. Photo by Martin Knowles.

Paul Dixon relishes the sunset with his son on the eve of the Grand Opening. Photo by Jamie Bond.