Backcountry Hut Company: Architectural Design & Business Model
by Sam Demas, October 12, 2016; All photos courtesy Backcountry Hut Company
The Canadian company Backcountry Hut Company (BHC) has completed its design and has constructed a prototype for a pre-fabricated, modular hut system. The design is optimized for alpine and other outdoor clubs, lodge operators, and also private outdoor recreation enthusiasts. Based on a conversation with BHC’s Wilson Edgar, this post is a brief description of the design concept, business model, and rollout plans.
Vermont Huts Association Launched!
by Sam Demas, October 10, 2016
Vermont is now the second state in the USA to establish an association of hut owners. The mission of the Vermont Huts Association is:
“To enhance the backcountry experience in Vermont by connecting the year-round recreation community with the evolving network of hut, cabin, yurt and lodge operators.”
Congratulations! According to an article in the SkyHiDaily News, a major grant from private donors will help fund the second hut in The Grand Huts Association.
Their first hut (the Broome Hut pictured here), which took 15 years to get permitted and built, was completed in 2012 at a cost of $400,000. Located in a remote location with excellent back country skiing, materials were delivered to the site by helicopter. The hut is very popular and operates close to full capacity in winter and at about half-capacity in summer. Located on US Forest Service Land near Winter Park Colorado, the Grand Huts association hopes to eventually grow to 5-7 huts, creating a hut-to-hut system from Berthoud Pass to Grand Lake in Grand County.
The Byrne family has farmed in the Wicklow hills, along the Wicklow Way, for five generations. As a teen Sean helped out just down the road at a guest-house catering to hunters and fishermen on the beautiful Lough Dan. He also worked for his neighbors, the Guinness family, on their estate on the sublime Lough Tay. This farm boy gradually developed a gracious ease in working with people of all walks of life, a strong sense of the traditions of rural hospitality, deep knowledge of the land and the region, and a guiding commitment to preservation of the mountain uplands and way of life. Photo above of Sean and Theresa Byrne.
Oregon Bike Trail and Hut System in Planning Stages
Travel Oregon is in the conceptual stage of planning a hut-to-hut single track biking system that they hope will eventually go from the Oregon/California border to the Oregon/Washington border. The initial planning involves coordination with the US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and the International Mountain Biking Association, as well as a number of Oregon organizations and businesses. The proposed trail will not go through federally designated wilderness or tribal lands. I’ll report further on this project over time as the concept develops.
– Sam Demas
by Sam Demas
Creating more opportunities for people to use huts to support long distance hiking, biking, skiing is a complex undertaking. If not done well, the potential for doing environmental harm is as great as the potential for doing educational and recreational good.
Part 1 of this article outlined the potential benefits. Part 2 outlines the challenges in thoughtfully regulating, siting, creating, and operating hut systems. Future posts will provide greater detail in many of these areas, and the operational profiles on this site provide information on how specific hut systems handle these challenges. The audience for this piece is young people planning or dreaming of starting a hut system; it may also interest recreation planners and land managers.
A few people around the nation know a great deal about how hut systems operate. But in the U.S. there is very little written about how hut systems are designed, built, and operated. Almost nothing is known about the economics and demographics of hut systems. And, other than the Colorado Hut and Yurt Alliance, there are no formal mechanisms for information exchange among those who do know. This will need to change if we are to learn from each other, develop “best practices” and ensure that hut systems are operating optimally for their clients, for their owners, and for environmental protection.
h2h aims to stimulate activity in filling this gap in the nation’s knowledge base by publishing “operational profiles”. We are at the beginning of this process and have three so far:
Frederick “Fritz” Allen Benedict, 1914 – 1995, founded the 10th Mountain Division Hut in the early 1980’s. It has grown into the largest hut system in the USA. His vision, energy and experience were key ingredients in this remarkable story. It is in part a tale of a young man’s formative dreams coming after a lifetime of preparation.
[Louis Dawson has lived and studied the history of 10th Mountain Division and their website includes a history of the hut system and a separate history of the U.S. Army 10th Mountain Division (about which many books have been written). The following notes are intended to supplement Mr. Dawson’s history.]
Planning is underway for an integrated trails and lodging system in the nation’s largest park and largest state-level protected area . The Adirondack Community-based Trails and Lodging System (ACTLS) has received a $220,000 grant from the New York State Department of State, with funds provided under Title 11 of the Environmental Protection Fund Act. This grant will be matched by ACTLS’s. ALCTS home page states:
the unique assets and amenities of the Adirondack Park can be leveraged to attract a global marked of outdoor recreators and provide recreation opportunities that improve the quality of life for Adirondack residents. We hope you will join us in planning a world-class trail and lodging system.
Colorado is on a roll! With about 130 huts and yurts statewide, the owners formed an alliance (the first of its kind in the USA) in 2014 to exchange information and explore common cause. The alliance has developed a website and meets periodically to work towards increased visibility for the nation’s largest grouping of huts and yurts. The home page of the Colorado Hut and Yurt Alliance provides a summary statement of the two year old group’s purpose: