Sea-to-Sky corridor hiking trail linked by 6 alpine lodges envisioned (RENDERINGS)

Feb 13 2019, 9:47 pm

Backcountry hiking in BC exploded in popularity in recent years, but could this experience be further enhanced, particularly along the Sea-to-Sky Corridor?

Call this the Switzerland model.

Stephane Laroye, a Vancouver-based architect and urban planner, has created a high-level concept of a so-called High Alpine Hut Network (HAHN) along an extended route of the Howe Sound Crest Trail, which would begin at the Cypress Mountain parking lot in West Vancouver and end at the Sea to Sky Gondola near Squamish.

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Lodge-like, multi-storey huts — complete with amenities and operated by full-time staff — would be placed approximately every 15 kms. In his concept, there are a total of six huts, with most of the huts located on the northern half of the trail.

High Alpine Hut Network Sea To Sky Corridor

Artistic rendering of the lodges for the High Alpine Hut Network on the Sea-to-Sky Corridor. (Stephane Laroye Architects)

High Alpine Hut Network Sea To Sky Corridor

Map of the trail and lodges for the High Alpine Hut Network on the Sea-to-Sky Corridor. (Stephane Laroye Architects)

He says the idea is inspired by the lodges and huts along the trail networks of Switzerland.

“My wife and I have travelled to visit family in Switzerland many times and last summer, we did our first multi-day trek in the Canton of Berne, hiking two of the highest passes into Italy,” Laroye told Daily Hive.

“I was impressed how the locals and visitors were intimately familiar with the lodges, huts and trail networks which were all so well signed. It was easy to find your way and know how long the next stage of the hike would take. Each evening, we spent in a lodge or attended hut where we met fellow hikers which made our trip so enjoyable.”

Each mass timber hut uses a small foundation footprint of just 900-sq-ft, and the stacked form functions like a Jenga tower, with the height of the hut acting as a ‘lighthouse’ for hikers travelling in difficult weather conditions.

A minimalist and passive design to each hut limits its environmental footprint, including a roof shape that optimizes solar collection and allows for a solar water heating system. Other green building features consist of high insulation, large windows for daylight, optimal airflow ventilation, and composting, waterless toilets.

High Alpine Hut Network Sea To Sky Corridor

Diagram of the lodges for the High Alpine Hut Network on the Sea-to-Sky Corridor. (Stephane Laroye Architects)

High Alpine Hut Network Sea To Sky Corridor

Artistic rendering of the lodges for the High Alpine Hut Network on the Sea-to-Sky Corridor. (Stephane Laroye Architects)

An outdoor patio, reception space, and water and waste storage tanks are located on the first level. On the second level, there is a high-ceiling ‘great room’ with a dining area and shared kitchen.

Multi-use rooms, staff bedrooms and washrooms, guest washrooms, hot showers, and guest bedrooms are located on levels three to five. There would be enough space to accommodate 36 overnight visitors.

A sixth level contains a board game table room, yoga rooms, another staff bedroom, and a mechanical room.

During the winter months, the entrance into the hut would be relocated to the second level due to the expected snow depth.

High Alpine Hut Network Sea To Sky Corridor

Artistic rendering of the lodges for the High Alpine Hut Network on the Sea-to-Sky Corridor. (Stephane Laroye Architects)

High Alpine Hut Network Sea To Sky Corridor

Diagram of the lodges for the High Alpine Hut Network on the Sea-to-Sky Corridor. (Stephane Laroye Architects)

Up to six live-in employees would reside at each hut to maintain the facilities, welcome visitors, provide guidance, and even cook for guests. Currently, existing wilderness backcountry huts in BC provide only a barebone structure, nevermind staffing and amenity spaces.

“One goal of the HAHN is to make the backcountry more approachable and safer for novice and intermediate hikers, while providing support for experts,” said Laroye. “Hikers can enjoy a warm meal, warm bed and hot shower every night while hiking with a lighter pack.”

Laroye believes the concept, enabling safer access to the backcountry, could provide new international tourism and job opportunities for BC. It would also double as bases for search and rescue agencies.

At the moment, HAHN is purely conceptual, exploring possible ways to expand on BC’s reputation as a global destination for outdoor enthusiasts.

High Alpine Hut Network Sea To Sky Corridor

Artistic rendering of the lodges for the High Alpine Hut Network on the Sea-to-Sky Corridor. (Stephane Laroye Architects)

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