The Great Cairn Hut

Great Cairn Mountaineering Trip

July 24-31, 1999

The Hut

"Look up the word "remote" in the dictionary, and you'll find a picture of the Great Cairn Hut. A trip to this hut seldom puts you in contact with other human beings.

The Great Cairn-Benjamin Ferris Hut is one of the most attractive huts the Alpine Club of Canada (ACC) operates, as well as one of the most spectacularly positioned. The hut has a mouse-proof wooden food locker and a small table with stools. There is a small wood burning stove for heat, but firewood is not supplied by the ACC. In summer wood can be cut from avalanche debris nearby. In winter wood is available on the densely treed ridge below Azimuth and across Silvertip Creek. (This is much easier to reach in winter than in summer.) A saw is kept in the hut (or has been in the past anyway).

In 1953 a Harvard group built a 20-ft high cairn on a rainy day, which became known as Great Cairn. In 1963 Bill Putnam and Ben Ferris visited the area and began plans to construct the hut It was built over the next two years, financed by Bill Putnam and the ACC. It was built from the stones of the Great Cairn.

The hut is located on a red bedrock bench, 4 km NNW of Mt. Sir Sanford in the heart of the Northern Selkirk Mountains of B.C. On map 82N/12 (Mount Sir Sandford) it is at approximately 392268. The elevation is approx 6200 ft or 1890 m.

There are a couple of two-burner white gas stove for cooking and a white gas lantern. Because it is remote many people bring dishes. There are various tools including a saw for cutting wood. There are plenty of dishes and cookware. Foam pads are also at the hut. People leave food and kitchen supplies behind so there is a real abundance of dish soap there.

"Access to the Great Cairn-Ben Ferris hut is either very expensive or very difficult." It is via one of several long overland routes involving extensive glacier travel or via helicopter from Golden, B.C. Groups who have flown in and expected others to arrive overland have sometimes never seen their partners arrive. One group which decided to exit via Palmer Creek reportedly took four days. See info on the hike out.

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