Abbot Hut was built by hand in 1922 by Swiss mountain guides using locally quarried, hand-cut stone and supplies ferried by boat, carried on horseback and on foot to the 2,925-metre col. The stone hut blended with the background and had withstood a century of snowstorms and gale force winds.
The connection to the golden age of Canadian mountaineering made it a national historic site. A number of famous alpine rock and ice climbs were accessed from the hut.
The Alpine Club of Canada (ACC), which ran and operated the hut, has announced that it will be removed due to extreme erosion. The following a press release from the ACC.
Abbot Hut Removal
Like a number of historic places, the Abbot Pass Refuge Cabin Historic Site (Abbot Pass Hut) has been negatively impacted by the effects of climate change. Slope erosion and glacial recession have caused structural damage to the hut despite extensive stabilization efforts and interventions made to preserve the refuge in its location. As a result, Parks Canada has made the difficult decision to dismantle and substantially remove the Abbot Pass Hut in spring 2022. This action is necessary to mitigate a significant visitor safety risk posed by the current condition of the site.
Following reports of rockfall and erosion in fall 2016, Parks Canada conducted geotechnical assessments and monitored the slope beneath the hut for stability. Significant slope stabilization work was completed in 2018, including the installation of rock anchors to better support the hut. Geotechnical assessments conducted in 2021 found higher levels of slope erosion and new evidence, including cracks in the masonry, that reveal the entire hut has been impacted.
Visitor safety is a top priority for Parks Canada and an area closure remains in place for Abbot Pass and the Abbot Pass Hut. Based on expert assessments, additional slope stabilization work is unlikely to be successful in preventing further erosion. Parks Canada has explored a number of conservation options, but it has become clear that the Abbot Pass Hut cannot be conserved in its current location and cannot be effectively moved.
Parks Canada recognizes the importance of Abbot Hut to many Canadians, particularly those in the climbing and alpine communities. We offer special thanks to them and to Alpine Club of Canada for operating the hut from 1985 until its closure in 2016.
Consultations with Indigenous groups, stakeholders and the public are planned for 2022 to help identify options for continuing to commemorate the story of the Abbot Pass Hut and its importance to the history of architecture and mountaineering in Canada.
Climate change and other environmental forces are challenging the integrity of ecosystems and the condition of the natural and cultural resources administered by Parks Canada. Parks Canada is continuing work to understand the impacts of climate change and to explore adaptation and mitigation strategies.
Timeline of Abbot Hut
1922: Abbot Pass Refuge Cabin (Abbot Pass Hut) constructed
1968: Dominion Parks Branch (known today as Parks Canada) acquires the hut
1973: Abbot Pass Refuge Cabin is restored
1985: Alpine Club of Canada assumes operation of the hut
1992: Abbot Pass Refuge Cabin is designated as a national historic site
2012: Parks Canada completes roof and drainage upgrades
2014: Parks Canada completes stone masonry restoration
2016: Initial slope instability reported to Parks Canada.
2017: Slope stability geotechnical assessment begins.
2018: Hut closed and initial slope stability work conducted to install rock anchors below the hut
2019: Additional slope stability work not completed due to unfavourable weather conditions causing safety concerns at the site.
2020: COVID-19 health measures prevent additional slope stability work from being completed.
2021: Further slope erosion occurs, impacting the base of the hut
Area closure expanded to include Abbot Pass and its two approach routes.
Second geotechnical assessment conducted.
Heritage recording completed.
2022 (anticipated): Abbot Pass Hut removed