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Hut Etiquette

Filed in Montane, Thunder Meadows, Tunnel Creek by on February 1, 2022 • views: 5724

The Alpine Club of Canada recently requested pieces of hut etiquette from their cabin users and they tallied up the responses and published the most requested pieces of hut etiquette. Their results are common sense and do apply with exception that our Fernie cabins are rented to groups only. Here is what was suggested, read and learn:

The most requested piece of hut etiquette came to us as a surprise, and it’s also a little heart-warming. Many of you reached out and asked that other hut users be a mentor and withhold judgement to new-comers. When we treat each other with kindness and help show the way, it’ll be a better experience for everyone at the hut – it’ll also increase the chances of that kindness being carried forward as well!

“It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been in the hut, you are to take on host responsibilities for the newcomers showing up (until they then become hosts for the next people who show up). Someone has hopefully given you a tour, shown you how to get water, where to put food, and even filled you in on tales of the hut’s animals visitors, etc. Your job then becomes to pass it along to the next people who arrive to make them feel at home. In addition, ensure that when you see people have arrived, you put on enough water for them and they will do the same for the next people to arrive. I loved it! Hopefully other people do too!”

“Everyone experiences the outdoors for different reasons with different levels of knowledge. Don’t be judgy to newcomers, share your knowledge in a positive and friendly way. Some people might not know certain alpine objectives are possible and that people might be resting for a big day ahead.”

We all need to use the water at the huts at some point, so it comes to no surprise that one of the biggest pet-peeves concerns users who don’t refill the buckets or share water-boiling tasks. Let’s all fill some of the buckets with snow after we empty one and fill up the communal pot by the fire when water is taken from it.

“Keep a pot of drinking water on boil for communal use. Take one off, put a new one on.”

“Gather more water than you intend to use.”

There’s some legendary stories of monster vermin roaming around some of the huts – we’re gonna guess that’s due to the following point: not packing out your food. While we do understand how this could be seen as an altruistic act, however the food will likely sit there for some time (other hut goers don’t know how long it’s been sitting around for) and either our maintenance team will bring it out a season later, or it’ll become vermin food… So please pack out your food!

“Most people know to share responsibility and clean up after themselves, however I still see many people leaving a variety of food in the huts. I know that many people who do it see it as a gesture or assume others will eat it, but this is not the case and it usually ends up wasted or bringing in rodents. It’s always nice to see foreigners and fresh ACC members coming to the huts but many of them don’t know this and I wish everyone did.”

“Stop leaving the food you don’t want to carry out! And clean up your crumbs in the cupboards when you leave! Food just attracts pests and most people will never eat the food that’s left. I’ve seen cans of food (in other shelters, not ACC ones) that are years old. Eww!”

Some of us visit backcountry huts as a final destination and some of us use it as a base camp for nearby adventures – we should all respect each other’s needs in this regard. Maybe you and your group need a weekend getaway and you’d like to stay up late with your friends to catch up, but there may be a group who are hoping to pack it in early to have an alpine start the next day. Let’s respect the posted quiet-time so we can all enjoy our shared space and make the best of the experience.

“If you’re waking up early (for an alpine start which is great!) – get geared up away from the sleeping quarters. For example, at Abbot Hut – you should NOT be gearing up upstairs while everyone is asleep. Bow hut – gear up in the common room, etc.”

“Even though there is a posted quiet time, if the majority of the hut is trying to sleep before then – people who stay awake should try to be respectful. For example, Abbott pass hut is a climbers hut but has become popular among hikers and scramblers to spend the night. People are waking up early for big climbs and often go to sleep well before the posted quiet time. Those not climbing and staying awake later could try their best to be of normal volume, and not be partying crazy loud.”


When you visit any hut, you’re essentially the custodian – you’ll need to clean up after yourself, prepare your own water and chop your own wood. It’s unlikely that you’ll be at a hut by yourself though, so there should be plenty of folks to share the chores with! Helping each other out with regular duties builds camaraderie, creates new friends and builds good karma.

“Everyone should pitch in and help in their own way – if you can’t chop wood, offer to fill water buckets or wash dishes. Working as a little mountain family adds to the fun of the huts!”

“Pay it forward. Take your turn to empty grey water, go shovel snow for melting, boiling water, carry in wood, cut some kindling, etc. Take some time each trip to do some house cleaning.

This may not be an obvious point for new hut users, so we thought it was worth a highlight! The huts should accommodate all occupants under max capacity, but the same can’t be said for the available drying space around the fireplace. We understand that it can be quite easy to leave your gloves and socks hanging there overnight, but if the hut is full and you have a premium spot on the drying rack, please check if your things are dry to make some room for someone who may have more saturated items.

“Get your dry stuff off the ceiling hooks when it’s done drying! People are good in the winter but forget about it in the summer, but there’s tons of objectives that require crossing creeks and climbing waterfalls!”

“One important hut etiquette rule is not to hog the spots to hang wet clothes around the fire. Once your clothes are dry, move them somewhere else to hang. Let everyone have the prime spots to dry their clothes!”

Most of us don’t like being blinded by lights in the best of times, so having it done to us while we’re trying to sleep is certainly unpleasant. If your headlamp had a “red light” option, try using that if the other lights are out – it’ll also preserve your natural night vision! If your headlamp doesn’t have that option, try angling the light down more and switching to low power.

“Early start? Middle of the night pee break? Use the red light function on your headlamp instead of the high beam please!”

“Often with alpine huts, people are getting up at various times, and it’s important to be courteous to others when getting ready for day. Even though most folks are keen on setting off early, 30 extra minutes to an hour can make a world of difference. Make sure your headlamp is accessible before you go to bed!”

Sharp bits and clunky boots: not an ideal combo in a dark area where people are trying to sleep. We understand that you may want to keep your personal belongings close to you, however, keeping sharp points and heavy boots in the sleeping area is a safety concern and reduces the longevity of the huts. Please keep sharp bits outside and boots out of the sleeping area.

“Please do not store your ice axe in the sleeping areas where a sleepy person might step on it on the way to the outhouse in the middle of the night (true story, Bow Hut March 2018).”

“No gear in the sleeping area – if it’s a full house it can be tight. Your backpack doesn’t need a cozy mattress.”

No one wants to clean up dirty dishes so they can eat, especially after a long day. There is cutlery and dinnerware at most of our huts, but not enough for remote ones if the entire hut is eating at once. So make sure to clean up after yourself when you’re done your meal so others can benefit from clean dishes as well.

“Do your dishes when you’re done cooking and eating. Other people probably need to use some of the same things, and we don’t want to clean your mess just to eat as well.”

“Clean up after you eat quickly so that others can get in to make food.”

We were all taught this one at a young age: don’t eat the yellow snow. In the case of hut living, you don’t want to load up the snow buckets with this coloured snow either… so please make sure to relieve yourself at the proper facilities or designated area. It can be difficult to spot where people have peed when filling up snow buckets at night or after a fresh dusting!

“I know it’s a drag to get up and use the outhouse in the middle of the night… But, if you made your way to the hut, you definitely have the fitness to make it to the outhouse. Do not use a pee bottle in a crowded hut when your neighbours (like me) are only inches away!!! True story…”

“Don’t pee in the spot saved for snow collection for drinking water.”

Source: Alpine Club of Canada

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