From left: Hans Michel

From left: Hans Michel

Boulder Mountain cabin officially opens after frenzy of work

How long does it take to build a wood-framed cabin on top of mountain in a spot with no road access? About 16 weeks if you’re the Revelstoke Snowmobile Club.

The club hosted the grand-opening of its brand new shelter on Boulder Mountain to a smaller-than-expected crowd due to avalanche closures on the Trans-Canada highway preventing many from attending.

Construction of the cabin was no easy feat due to the logistics of getting material to the site as well as battling Mother Nature along the way, said Greg Byman, who led the project for the Revelstoke Snowmobile Club.

The process officially began in October 2009 when the club decided it was time to build a new shelter. After a grant writing period led by Byman’s wife Barb, the club secured $340,000 in funding from the Columbia Basin Trust, the City of Revelstoke’s Tourism Infrastructure Fund, the Columbia-Shuswap Regional District’s Economic Opportunity Fund and money from the club itself.

The winter and spring of 2010 was spent doing the planning and working with the contractors, WP Builders and Mueller Contractors, and things were ready to go for the third week of June, except for the fact there was still eight feet of the snow on the ground.

“We did not break ground until the 20th of July,” said Byman. “After that it was full on.”

Part of the challenge was getting material to the site; the road only goes to with 2.5 kilometres of the cabin so ATVs had to be used to haul up smaller items and helicopters were brought in to bring in the concrete and roof trusses.

“I think the big thing is the logistics of it. It’s not as if we can just drive equipment up here,” said Byman. “Everything that was done was a logistical nightmare because you’re up here at almost 5,000 feet with no road access.”

Then the rain started and for most of September the workers trudged through knee-deep mud.

“The conditions were horrendous getting up here,” said Byman. “They fought the bugs up here in July and August and when the rain came it was literally waist-deep mud the contractors had to wade through.”

When the snows arrived, work was suspended for a few weeks until the contractors could sled up and finish up.

“For the most part the cabin was done in December,” said Byman, adding that exterior landscaping still needs to be done.

The cabin is about triple the size of the old one and has a 900 square-foot interior, 600 square-foot covered deck. For good measure, the club also built a two-stall outhouse that wasn’t part of the original plans.

The construction was done with all local labour and as much as the building material as possible was sourced locally, said Byman.

“The amount of volunteer help from the club, I can’t even guess,” he said. “Thousands of volunteers hours has gone into the project over the past 15 months.”

The construction of the new shelter also means that the club’s original, 40-year-old shelter, located just across the clearing, must be taken down – a source of some sadness to the some of the club’s long-time members.

Bill Gill, who’s name adorned the old cabin, shared several stories of building the old cabin and exploring Boulder Mountain in the late-60s and early-70s.

“I think I’m the very first person to have a machine pulled off the mountain by helicopter,” he joked. “There’s not too many of us around anymore. There’s a lot of stories.”