Since the creation of the Rossland Range Recretion Site in January, the Friends of the Rossland Range Society has been hard at work replacing some of the old, debilitated huts with sturdy new cabins.
Berry Ridge was one of the huts replaced by a new cabin, located in Lepsoe Basin on the north side of Mount Lepsoe, between the mountain and Highway 3B.
Dave Watson was one of the Friends of the Rossland Range (FORR) members who spear- headed construction on the new cabin.
“We started talking about the project with planning meetings the end of January, and we evolved from that through design and fundraising well into February, March,” he said. “There was a major fundraising move in May where the Kootenay Mountaineering Club agreed to sponsor the entire project.”
The Kootenay Mountaineering Club put up a total of $11,000 to build the new cabin.
“After that we had money so then we proceeded with the procurement of the material, finalizing the design. Construction started the third week in June, and we finished … Friday, [Oct. 2],” said Watson.
Construction of the project went very smoothly. Watson and his partner in crime Bob McQueen both have project experience and tackled construction of the cabin accordingly.
The only real challenge was getting the materials to the cabin site.
They used an old logging road to get into Lepsoe Basin near the Seven Summits Trail, but then they still had a 300m slope to conquer.
“K2 Contracting in Rossland actually helped us by donating an excavator and a driver,” said Watson, “and he was up there for a day and a half I think, building a bit of an access track so we could get our four-wheel drives in, but even the four-wheel drives had a lot of difficulty getting in there.”
The site wasn’t far from the Big Sheep Creek fire, and Watson said there were lots of helicopters flying overhead during construction.
“We were so close that we got a little worried, because it wasn’t far over the ridge into Sheep Creek where the fire was, and there was another one out by Paulson,” said Watson. “Close enough that I contacted the wildfire service centre and told them where we were and what we were doing.”
Luckily neither the construction team nor the cabin were ever in any real danger.
The cabin is a timber frame that’s been doweled together—no nails needed.
The interior of the cabin will also feature a plaque marking the 50th anniversary of the Kootenay Mountaineering Club. The club also has the privilege of deciding on a name for the new structure.
Many of the people who worked on the cabin, including Watson and McQueen, also be- long to the Kootenay Mountaineering Club.
“There’s a few names being bandied about,” said Watson.
The FORR still have a number of other new cabins to build, but Watson says he’s done building them. He and McQueen will continue to help out with the maintenance of the new cabin, as they did when it was the Berry Ridge Hut.
“Bob McQueen and I have been at it for quite some time, in terms of maintenance, fix- ing them up, cleaning them up, putting in firewood that sort of thing,” said Watson. “Now that we’ve build a new one, I suspect we’ll continue helping out with [it].”