The Wendy Thompson hut is the perfect overnight winter destination for all you snow loving adventurers. It’s located in the Marriott Basin in the Duffey Lake Area. The scenery is absolutely breathtaking and even just hiking up for a hut hang is a worthwhile endeavour. There’s a plethora of skiing opportunities suitable for all tastes and risk tolerances. There’s plenty of tree skiing lines, pillow fields, and cliff drops to play around in on deep days and if the conditions line up and you feel like something a bit more remote you can tackle Mount Marriott. The Hut is organized and maintained by the Alpine Club of Canada and reservations are required if you want to be one of the 16 guests spending the night.
The Backcountry Basics
- Carry your Survival Kit & Essentials
- Let someone know where you’re going with a Trip Plan
- Know how to avoid negative wildlife encounters
- Practice Leave No Trace to keep the wilderness pristine
- Carry a Satellite Communicator like SPOT X
The Breakdown (to the Wendy Thompson Hut)
|Distance (One Way)||7.5km|
|Time Needed||3 Hours|
|Terrain Type||Mixed Trees & Alpine Terrain|
The Wendy Thompson Hut is located in the one and only Duffy Lake Area. If you love ski touring and don’t know the Duffy, YOU SHOULD! It’s a magical zone Northeast of Pemberton and is home to a lifetime of backcountry skiing opportunities.
Parking for the Marriott Basin trail is located 66km or 1 hour North of Whistler on the BC-99 N. Park just beyond the Salt Shed in the plowed parking lot off of the highway. Depending on the snow conditions you can also drive up a portion of the Cayoosh Creek forest service road to save a bit of climbing. Make sure you have chains and a shovel if you plan to drive up the forest service road.
How To Reserve The Wendy Thompson Hut
The hut can sleep up to 16 people and can be reserved on the Alpine Club Of Canada Whistler Section website. A prepayment of $25 is required and is non-refundable unless the Avalanche rating is high or extreme within 24 hours of your departure. Dogs cannot enter the hut and must be kept outside (so unless you have a real furry dog who like sleeping in the cold, it’s best to leave the pooch at home)
What’s In The Hut?
The hut is well equipped with lots of bells and whistles that will help you have a comfortable stay. It has two floors. The first floor hosts the kitchen, sinks, tables, benches and wood burning stove. There is a wood burning stove to warm the hut. Wood is provided and it can be used in accordance to the posted instructions. There are plenty of pots, pans and kitchen utensils, but I’d honestly recommend bringing your lightweight cooking gear if you have it. The hut boasts a solar lighting system which is super handy since the sun sets early in the winter.
The floor above is the sleeping quarters. Double sleeping mattresses are provided on the bunks upstairs. Be prepared to get cozy near some other campers and bring some earplugs if you hate noise. There are two outhouses connected to the hut with a covered walk way. Crocs are provided as hut shoes so you don’t have to worry about bringing slippers. Please make sure you sit to pee so the next person who sits down in the morning doesn’t get stuck to a mess of frozen urine.
What Should I You Bring?
Plan to bring everything you would normally bring on a backpacking trip minus your sleeping mat and tent. Although it’s possible to cook on the wood burning stove I’d recommend bringing your own stove, pots and utensils in case there are lots of people using the huts amenities. Since there are not any water sources in winter you will have to melt snow to drink. Make sure you bring your water to a complete boil for 5 minutes to be certain all of the bacteria is killed. I’d also recommend bringing earplugs, because sleeping with 15 others can be quite noisy.
Additional Safety Considerations For Ski Touring/Splitboarding
If you’re planning on doing some backcountry skiing or hiking, please make sure you leave prepared. Always carry a compass or GPS device like a Spot X and know how to use it. I personally always like carrying a hardcopy map. The two best maps for the area are “The Duffey Lake 1:50 000 by Joh Baldwin” or the “Exploring the Coast Mountains on Skis: A Guide to Ski Mountaineering” by John Baldwin. Johnny B is always clutching up for boys in the backcountry.
Please ensure that you do not hike up to the hut without avalanche gear and the appropriate training. Always check the weather forecast and avalanche forecast for the South Coast Inland area before embarking.
Once you’ve parked your vehicle and tripled checked your overnight gear, stick on those skins, clip into your pins and start climbing up the Cayoosh Creek forest service road. Stay left and continue to follow signs to Rohr/Wendy Thompson as you climb up the forest service road.
At about the 2.2km mark the logging road will turn into a single track and there will be a sign posted in the trees acknowledging that only people with reservations can us the Wendy Thompson Hut.
As you make your way through the trees use the orange summer trail markers as your guide. If there isn’t a well packed skin track then break your own trail. It’s much easier to meander around the orange markers than to follow them directly.
Just before the 3km mark the summer trail to Rohr Lake forks off to the East. Both trails are marked with orange markers so ensure that that you are heading northwest. You will then reach an open meadow area with some clear avalanche paths in the distance to your right. Keep West of the avalanche routes, climbing through the steep forest and up to the Moraine.
At the 5.5km mark you will arrive at lower Marriott Lake. Use caution when crossing the lake in the early season. There is something I always find so fun about crossing a snow covered lake. Once you pass the lake you will climb one last little knoll to the northwest and continue into the meadow where the hut is located.
Drop Your Bags & Get Skiing
Once you arrive at the hut and get settled there are a seasons worth of different ascents and descents to choose from. There’s a plethora of skiing opportunities suitable for all tastes and risk tolerances. There’s plenty of tree skiing lines, pillow fields, and cliff drops to play around in on deep days and if the conditions line up and you feel like something a bit more remote you can tackle Mount Marriott.
When I visited it was early season so we gained a ridge South of Mount Marriott so we could take in some phenomenal views. It was super rocky up there in the early season so we were only able to ski the tree lines close to the hut, but they were EPIC!
I’ll for sure be back for another visit so I can tackle a couple of the other alpine objectives.
Have fun up there, be respectful, make safe decisions and keep on shredding.
Let me know if you have any questions :).