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18 The Alpine Club of Canada | Gazette | Spring 2019 5040 Peak Hut: Building a Community ED—Have you ever started to build something only to find your creation evolving and going in directions you could never have anticipated? The Vancouver Island Section set out to build a hut—and they did that— but also ended up building a community in the process. by Chris Jensen T he history of our section's efforts to acquire a hut on Vancouver Island go back as far as the 1930's. The ACC VI Section has looked into build‑ ing huts or taking over existing structures from Strathcona Park to Mt. Washington to Forbidden Plateau. For various reasons none of these projects have ever panned out. However, in 2015 the section landed on the idea of a hut on 5040 Peak near Port Alberni. This is the story of how a community took an idea for a hut and made it a reality. Why a hut? And why here? Building a hut is a huge undertaking— logistically, physically, financially, and in just about every other way imaginable. You need good motivation to undertake such a challenging project, if for no other reason than to attract good people to work on the project while keeping their atten‑ tion and passion. There are many reasons why we wanted an alpine hut on the Island, including the ability to stay and play on the Island year‑round. An Island hut would mean no more racing back for the last ferry after enjoying the huts on the mainland. But the strongest reasons all have to do with our community: the fact that we've never lost the dream of having a gathering place in the alpine for ourselves and for our friends. What we didn't realize when we started is how many different communities would be involved, and how many friends we would make. The why of the location is a bit easier to pin down. 5040 Peak is a scenic location with great skiing and hiking, is on non‑ park crown land and is accessible by Island standards. The hut provides strategic access to high ridges that can be used to access other attractive peaks in the heart of Vancouver Island. The view from the front deck of the hut takes in dozens of peaks, including the stunning Triple Peak directly across the valley. The wildflowers in summer are sublime—the skiing in winter is exquisite. Many hands made light work When ACC Executive Director Lawrence White, who grew up on the Island, first heard of the project he described it as the perfect combination of solitude and community. And the story of the building of the hut is actually a story about those communities, both on Vancouver Island and beyond. We had people come from the United States specifically to help us with the pro‑ ject—the second they learned of the project they signed up to help. Similarly, inter‑ national travelers joined in when they got word. People from Austria, the Caribbean and Germany made the trip just to help. We learned we weren't alone, people far and wide really love alpine huts! The 5040 Peak Hut project was over‑ seen by a hut committee who remained committed from beginning to completion over a span of nearly four years. Hut com‑ mittee members included: Chris Ruttan – Construction Lead; Rick Hudson – Fundraising; Martin Hofmann – Technical Guru; Lindsay Elms – Historian; and Chris Jensen ‑ Project Lead. Additional key members included: Colleen Kasting – Financial Manager; Nadja Steiner ‑ Volunteer Coordinator; and Catrin Brown who was the Chair of the VI Section for

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