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Kees and Claire Hut Trip Report and Hiking Guide

Sophie Anderson

Written by Sophie Anderson

A lifelong adventurer, Sophie has treaded every terrain from rocky cliffs to forest trails. She aims to spark a love for the outdoors in every reader.

This trip report was last updated on January 01, 2024.

Kees and Claire Hut
Kees and Claire hut in winter, with Fissile peak in the background

Kees and Claire hut is a large, modern backcountry hut, located just above Russet Lake in Garibaldi Park. It's popular with hikers and backpackers in the summer, and backcountry skiers in the winter. It offers access to several nearby mountains and a lot of beautiful backcountry terrain.

Quick Facts

  • Distance: 5.6 km via Musical Bumps, or 14 km via Singing Pass
  • Elevation: 330 meters of ascent via Musical Bumps, or 1450 meters of ascent via Singing Pass
  • Best Time of Year: The hut is open year round! If you want to scramble to some summits then July to September is best. If you want to go backcountry skiing, later in the season, from February onwards, is a safer bet.
  • Access: You'll start from Whistler village, so finding parking will be your biggest challenge.
  • Difficulty: 2/5. Getting to the hut is a straight-forward hike (or skin / snowshoe in the winter) no matter which route you take.

Essential Gear

  • 0 Degree Sleeping Bag: The sleeping area of the Kees and Claire hut is kept somewhere between 5 and 7 degrees Celsius even in the dead of winter, so a 0 degree sleeping bag is plenty to keep you warm all night. Leave your winter sleeping bag at home, you won't need it. In the summer, a light, summer weight sleeping bag should be plenty. The hut is also stocked with sleeping pads, so you won't need those either!
  • Fancy Food: Since you're leaving a lot of your camping equipment at home, that leaves room for something else in your bag: fancy food. The Kees and Claire kitchen is very well stocked (see the section below for a list of what's in the kitchen) so you have some options to really get gourmet for your dinners. Some ideas: pasta with all the trimmings, stir fry (the Kees and Claire kitchen has woks), ramen, steak or other protein with veggies.
  • Eye Mask and Ear Plugs: You're going to be sharing a room with 6 or so other people, and a hut with 37 other people. Even with everyone doing their best to be quiet, it's going to be a little noisy. There are also some dim lights in the hallways for navigating around at night if you have to get up, which adds to the ambient light. So if you're at all worried about getting a good night of sleep, definitely bring an eye mask and ear plugs.
  • Gear not to bring: One of the great things about staying at a hut like Kees and Claire is that you can leave a lot of gear at home. So, here's the list of things you shouldn't bring: Tent, and all the associated gear like tent pegs, tent footprint, etc. Backpacking stove, pots, pans, utensils, plates, bowls and mug. Coffee making gear, unless you want something beyond a french press and a moka pot. As mentioned above, you can leave your sleeping pad at home. Bringing a down jacket or fleece jacket isn't a bad idea, but you can probably leave your heavyweight long johns or down pants at home, unless you want them in your backpack for emergencies. You can leave your hut booties at home as the hut has plenty of crocs you can wear. Lastly, you can leave your bear canister and food hang systems at home, the bears don't have the code for the front door.

The Hut - Features and Amenities

Kees and Claire hut is by far the nicest backcountry hut in Southwest BC. There are a few other private huts around that offer even more luxurious experiences, but they come with a much, much higher price tag.

The hut has no shortage of wonderful features, including:

  • Heat: The hut is heated by propane. The upper level, where the kitchen and lounge areas are located, is kept at about 15 degrees in the winter, while the lower level where the beds are located is cooler (5 to 7 degrees Celsius). A zero degree sleeping bag will be plenty warm for most people.
  • Electricity: The propane is also used to power a generator, which provides electricity for the lights, as well as a charging station where you can charge a cellphone or other device. There are typically a random assortment of cords there, but you should probably bring your own.
  • Stove: There is a propane fueled stove in the main area of the hut, which is very cozy if you can snag a spot near it.
  • Kitchen: The kitchen is one of the highlights of the hut. It's fully stocked with a variety of pots, pans (including woks) and cooking utensils, as well as cutlery, plates and bowls. There are tea pots, french presses and moka pots. There are 4 cooking stations, each with 2 propane powered stove-top burners. For cleaning up there are 4 sinks. Note that YOU are responsible for cleaning up whatever mess you make in the kitchen. The kitchen should have soap, but it's not a bad idea to bring a little of your own, just in case.
  • Fridge: Not really, but there is a metal, critter proof box that sits on the deck, just outside the kitchen, that will do a great job of keeping food very cold in the winter months. If you want to bring things that are ideally kept refrigerated, you have the option.
  • Toilets: There are 4 foot pedal toilets. If you've never used one of these before they're pretty intuitive, but the basic idea is that you do your business, then pump the foot pedal a few times to do the 'flushing'.
  • Water: There is a planned integrated water system for the hut, but for now hut guests must fetch water themselves. In the winter this means collecting snow and melting it and treating it. In the summer, hut guests must use backpacks with large water jugs attached to gather water from Russet lake, then hike the water back up to the hut.
  • Gear Drying Room: There is a gear drying room for any wet gear. Make sure to take liners out of boots to get them as dry as possible. Hang skins from the racks on the ceiling, which are raised and lowered with a rope system.
  • Crocs: The Kees and Claire hut comes stocked with crocs! These are great to slip your feet in to after a long day of hiking or skiing. Definitely do bring a pair of clean socks to wear with the crocs.
Kees and Claire Hut
The interior of the Kees and Claire hut. You can see the dining area, as well as the sinks and propane stove burners in the kitchen.

The Sleeping Rooms

The hut sleeps 38 people, in 6 different rooms on the bottom floor of the hut. Each room has bunks on the left and right side, and each bunk has a top and bottom. There's a ladder to access the top bunk.

Many of the top bunks are made for a single person, while many of the bottom bunks are for multiple people to share. So if you want to have your own space, plan to get down to the bunks quickly and snag a top bunk.

Each room has some hooks for hanging gear, and there are cubbies in the hallway for your backpack and larger gear items.

If your group is the right size and you arrive early enough you may be able to get a room to yourself, but most people will end up sharing with another group, or part of another group. If your group is the last to arrive you might find yourself spread out over a few rooms. The lower floor is kept fairly cold (5 to 7 degrees Celsius), however, so most people are only sleeping downstairs.

The lower floor has some small amount of lighting in the hallway. Some people will probably be coming to bed late, and others will be getting up early for alpine starts, so it's highly recommended to bring earplugs and an eye mask if you want to get a good sleep.

Getting to the Hut

You have two options for getting to the Kees and Claire Hut. One is to hike there from Whistler Village via the Singing Pass trail. The other option is to take the gondola (and chairlift in winter) up Whistler mountain, then take the Musical Bumps trail.


No matter which trail you're taking, you will park in the Whistler Day Lot #4. As the name implies this is normally only for parking during the day and overnight parking is generally not allowed, but an exception is made for Kees and Claire guests. There are 4 reserved spots for Kees and Claire hut guests on the west side of Day Lot #4. If those are full you're free to park anywhere in the lot. Either way, you must display a printout of your Kees and Claire reservation on the dash of your vehicle, or risk getting towed. You also have to pay for your parking.

If you can find parking elsewhere in Whistler Village, you can skip the day lot, but for most, it is the best option.

Singing Pass Trail

The Singing Pass trailhead is just uphill from the day lots. Walk up from the day lots along the main road, and cross it when the road starts to curve. You'll walk underneath the Excalibur Gondola and go a little ways up the ski run, looking for the trailhead on your left. (Google maps link).

Once you're on the trail it's hard to get lost. It goes up the valley at a consistent grade, slowly gaining elevation until close to the hut, when the trail veers left, switch-backing up the side of the valley to the Kees and Claire hut.

Kees and Claire Hut
Hiking up the Singing Pass trail in an early Fall snowstorm

If you're heading up the Singing Pass trail in the winter, look out for skiers coming down.

There is also no cost to taking the Singing Pass trail, so if you don't want to pay for the Gondola, this is a good option.

Musical Bumps

To access the Musical Bumps trail, most people will take the gondola from Whistler Village up to Roundhouse Lodge on Whistler mountain. In the winter, you can purchase a backcountry pass at a reduced rate. The rate changes every year but is currently $45. (You can find out more about backcountry skiing on Whistler here). This will allow you to access the backcountry, but not ski the whole mountain. Note that you will need to prove to the ticket agent that you have the required safety gear for backcountry skiing (shovel, probe and functioning emergency beacon).

From the Roundhouse lodge in summer, there is a trail that will connect you to the Musical Bumps trail.

In the winter, you can ski down from Roundhouse Lodge to the Harmony Chair, then take the Harmony Chair and ski down to the bottom of Symphony Chair. From the top of Symphony Chair you ski down to the right, to a large wooden gate. From this gate you will transition to skinning, and skin up to the top of Flute Summit. From here you will ski off the back of Flute, away from the resort. This is the start of the Musical Bumps trail.

Kees and Claire Hut
Skinning the Musical Bumps trail with backcountry skis, on the way to Kees and Claire hut

The Musical Bumps trail continues up Oboe mountain, and down the other side. From here you'll join the Singing Pass trail, which goes up the side of the valley to Kees and Claire hut.

Note that you can't take snowshoes on chairlifts, so if you plan to snowshoe to Kees and Claire hut, you're better off taking the Singing Pass trail. The route described above is really only for backcountry skiers and snowboarders.


Reservations are required to stay at the Kees and Claire hut, and can be difficult to get, depending on when you're trying to book.

Reservations can be made 60 days in advance of the date you're trying to book. However, BCMC, ACC Whistler and ACC Vancouver members are allowed to book reservations 90 days in advance, so members of those organizations will tend to get the best spots. If you want to book a spot in the hut for a busy time of year, you may want to join one of those clubs.

Currently, reservations cost $50 per person per night, plus tax. BCMC and ACC members do get a $10 per night discount, which helps to cover some of the membership price costs.

Reservations can be made on the Spearhead Huts website.

The reservations open up at midnight (PST), and they will sometimes be booked up immediately at midnight. Other times, weekends in February and March will still have spots available a week after they become available.

Large groups and organizations will also sometimes book the entire hut, in advance. So if you stay up to midnight and never see any availability appear, that's probably what happened.

Reservation Cancellations

If you want to cancel your reservation, you must do so at least 30 days in advance.

The only exception to this is if, on the day prior to your leaving for the hut, the avalanche conditions in the Sea to Sky region are rated as High or Extreme on the days you are booked to be at the hut. If that's the case and you feel that you don't want to risk going, then you can get a full refund.

Nearby Mountains and Trails

Spearhead Traverse

The Kees and Claire hut is 1 hut of a planned 3, that will be spaced out along the Spearhead Traverse. This traverse goes from Whistler Mountain to Blackcomb Mountain (or the other way), following the ridge line in a horseshoe shape.

It's a very popular traverse. Fast backcountry skiers will be able to do it in a day, but many choose to space it out over multiple days, especially if you want to ski some of the excellent lines dotted along the traverse. 

Kees and Claire Hut
Map of the Spearhead Traverse on Gaia. The Kees and Claire hut is not shown, but is located near Cowboy Ridge, bottom center.

If you're interested in doing the full traverse, there is an excellent guide.

Fissile Peak

(500 meters of elevation gain from the Kees and Claire hut to the top of Fissile Peak)

Fissile Peak is an fun destination for hikers or skiers.

Kees and Claire Hut
Hiking up Fissile peak in the Fall

In the summer Fissile Peak makes a great scramble. There are a couple popular routes to get to the top, but both involve approaching the mountain from the West, and going either right or left around a pocket glacier that sits South-West of the peak.

In the winter there are a couple popular ski descents off of the North face of Fissile. You ascend the mountain again from the West, but only climb to the Western ridge that comes off the peak, then ski North off the ridge in to either of 2 couloirs. The most Western one is Banana Chute, a popular 40 degree chute. Further east is Northwest Face, which starts out steep at about 45 degrees but levels out to a more mild 35 degrees.

Kees and Claire Hut
Ascending Fissile peak to ski Banana Chute
Whirlwind Peak

(550 meters of elevation gain from Kees and Claire hut to the top of Whirlwind Peak)

Whirlwind Peak is another great destination in both summer and winter. You start out East from the hut and contour around the base of Fissile. In summer the best route is to head directly for the Western ridge of Whirlwind. Once on the ridge you can follow this to the peak. It's an easy ascent, mostly hiking with little or no scrambling. 

In the winter you instead ascend up the glacier that sits North-West of the summit, and follow this path to the peak. This same route also makes a good ski descent for the way back.

Kees and Claire Hut
Crossing the base of Fissile peak, heading to Whirlwind Peak, which is hidden in the clouds
Overlord Mountain

(850 meters of elevation gain from Kees and Claire hut to the top of Overlord mountain)

Overlord Mountain is the next peak in the chain from Whirlwind, and is typically accessed by first ascending Whirlwind.

In summer, from the peak of Whirlwind you descend North-East, then ascend up the next small peak (Refuse Pinnacle) and then follow the general direction of the ridge towards Overlord Mountain. There are a few straight-forward scrambling sections, but nothing too challenging. 

In winter the typical path to Overlord mountain involves avoiding the peak of Whirlwind and instead staying north of Whirlwind, on the Overlord glacier. You traverse across the top of the glacier, below the ridge between Whirlwind and Overlord. You then come all the way around Overlord mountain and ascend it from the East.

From here there is a great, gentle descent all the way down the Overlord glacier. From the bottom of the glacier you can skin back up to the Kees and Claire hut.

Kees and Claire Hut
The purple line shows the typical summer route from the Kees and Claire hut to Whirlwind peak and Overlord mountain. The light green tracks above it show the typical winter route, across the top of the glacier.

Avalanche Risk

There is a small amount of avalanche risk just before the hut. There is a knoll, and the skin track often traverses across the base of this knoll. The slope angle of the knoll is steep, however, and will avalanche if the conditions are right. You can mostly avoid this risk by cutting up and left before the knoll, and going over the back of it. This adds a bit of extra work, but if avalanche conditions are at all elevated, it's a good idea.

Kees and Claire Hut
You can see the red spot that the trail travels through, just before the hut. This is the main avalanche risk on the trail to Kees and Claire hut.


Can I bring my dog?

No, dogs are not allowed in Garibaldi park, and Kees and Claire hut is in Garibaldi park.

What is the best time of year to hike to Kees and Claire hut?

If you're wanting to just hike to the hut, then you can get there just about any time of year, either by hiking or snowshoeing. You will find the trail snow-free for most of the summer, from about June through to September. If you want to explore some of the mountains around the hut, then July to September would be the best time to go.

What is the best time of year to backcountry ski to Kees and Claire hut?

The snow pack will vary quite a bit from year to year, but February and March are generally reliable months. If it's a good snow year then January is definitely an option, and if you enjoy spring skiing, then April and even May can be great.  

Are there bears?

Bear sightings in Garibaldi park and the Whistler area are common, so there is definitely the possibility of seeing bears, though not in the winter. If you do see a bear it will almost certainly be a Black Bear, but Grizzlies are very infrequently spotted in Garibaldi park too.

Do I need to bring a sleeping pad?

When the hut first opened you did need to bring your own pad, but sleeping pads are now provided, so feel free to leave your sleeping pad at home.

Is there an employee or custodian at the hut?

There will usually be a custodian at the hut during busy times. So if you're going on a weekend expect there to be a custodian there. The custodians are volunteers, not paid employees. If you're interested in volunteering as a custodian, the Spearhead Huts website has all the info you need.

Is there a hut quiet time?

Yes, hut guests are expected to be quiet and minimize noise between 10 PM and 8 AM.

Can I show up without a reservation?

No, definitely do not show up without a reservation. There is no extra capacity at the hut and you need a keycode to access the hut.

Can I use the hut facilities if I'm camping nearby?

Generally no, but some people do. Keep in mind that to get in to the hut you need an access code which is only given to you when you make a reservation. You can however use the bathrooms without the access code, and if you're camping nearby it's a good idea to use the toilet at the hut.

Is there cell phone reception at Kees and Claire hut?

Yes, most people will be able to get decent cell reception at the hut.

Can you swim in Russet lake?

Yes! Swimming in the lake in the winter won't work because the lake ices over, but in the summer it's a great spot to take a dip.

Kees and Claire Hut
Russet lake, which is below Kees and Claire hut, is a great spot to take a dip in the warmer summer months
Can I have a campfire at Kees and Claire hut?

No, there are no campfires allowed any time of year in Garibaldi Park, so there are no campfires allowed at Kees and Claire hut or Russet Lake.

Gear Packing List

Sleeping + Shelter
  1. Sleeping bag
  2. Pillow
  3. Ear Plugs
  4. Eye Mask
Cooking + Eating
  1. Breakfast
  2. Lunch
  3. Dinner
  4. Snacks
  5. Coffee (or tea)
  6. Biodegradable soap (the Kees and Claire kitchen should have this, but it's a good idea to bring some of your own, just in case they're out)
  1. Water bottle
  2. Water filter (you should be able to get clean water from the hut, but if you want to refill your bottle while you're out away from the hut, you should have a filter or purification tablets)
  1. Backpack
  2. Backpack rain-cover (if the weather calls for it)
  3. Zip-locks and / or trash bag
  4. Food storage bag
  1. Boots or Shoes
  2. Socks
  1. Toilet paper (the hut should have this, but you might need some while you're out hiking or skiing)
  2. Toothbrush + toothpaste
  1. Underwear
  2. Long underwear
  3. Base layer
  4. Down jacket and / or fleece
  5. Shirts
  6. Shorts or Pants
  7. Rain jacket (if the weather calls for it)
  8. Rain pants (if the weather calls for it)
  9. Hat
Around Camp
  1. Headlamp (plus extra batteries)
  2. Knife
  1. Trekking poles
  2. Sunglasses
  3. Camera
  4. Cord or rope
  5. Bear spray
  6. First aid kit
  7. Mosquito spray
  8. Sunscreen
  9. Duct tape