Burton Hut (2004). Photo from the VOC
Burton Hut (2004). Photo from the VOC

Burton Hut

A beautiful hut in beautiful location. This classic gothic arched hut built and maintained by the UBC VOC is small but it provides a lot more than its size suggests.

Located in Sphinx Bay on the East end of Garibaldi Lake, the hut sits below some beautiful rolling glaciers and granite peaks. The skiing and mountaineering options are huge with long 1000m/3300ft ski descents as well as technical and not so technical options for ascending the various peaks. The hut even provides a rest stop for those going into or coming out of the McBride or Garibaldi Neve Traverses.

The hut is mainly accessed in the winter and spring for ski touring purposes. Occasionally it is used for mountaineering purposes in the Summer and Fall. Note that Garibaldi lake can usually only be crossed on skis starting mid to late January.

Only 1.5hr drive from Pemberton or Vancouver the hut is centrally located in SW BC.

Avalanche terrain classification for the approach to the hut coming across Garibaldi lake is Simple but becomes Challenging if you hug the edge of the lake while crossing it. The Avalanche terrain classification for the skiing around the hut is Complex. You should also be equipped for glacier travel or crevasse rescue.

You should be physically fit to access the hut because the elevation gain to Garibaldi lake is significant and crossing Garibaldi Lake to reach the hut is long. Entirely it's a 16km long journey with 1100m elevation gain. For this reason, it's best to spend 3+ days in the area.

This hut is not the best of locations in bad weather for ski touring. Crossing Garibaldi Lake in a whiteout with deep trail breaking can be extremely challenging at best and there is very little tree skiing close to the hut.

It's worth noting the exact location of the hut incase it's completely buried. Often the top is visible but you never know.

Latitude:  49°55'45.72"N

Longitude: 122°59'36.24"W

To read more about the hut see below or scroll to the bottom for the link to the VOC's Wiki-Page listing all the info on the Burton Hut.

Roland Burton with his namesake hut during a fall renovation. Photo Christian Veenstra
Roland Burton with his namesake hut during a fall renovation. Photo Christian Veenstra
Skiing East of the Hut. Photo Sam Mckoy
Skiing East of the Hut. Photo Sam Mckoy
Skiing East of the Hut. Photo Lee Lau
Skiing East of the Hut. Photo Lee Lau

"The Burton Hut, also known as Sphinx Hut, is the VOC's oldest current hut. It is located in Sphinx Bay, on the east side of Garibaldi Lake. The hut is on NTS map sheet 92 G/15 but most of the approach is on 92 G/14. Access is easiest in winter when the Lake is frozen. In late spring, it seems that the hut occasionally floods with water due to ice jamming the nearby creek where it flows into Garibaldi Lake.

Fees are in effect for overnight stay anywhere in Garibaldi Park, you can pay online through the link on the BC Parks/Garibaldi website or go to: https://secure.camis.com/DiscoverCamping/Backcountry/Garibaldi?MapThe penalty for not paying is $144 per person.

VOC huts are open to all non-motorized users. A $5 per person per night fee applies to pay for hut maintenance. The fee can be sent in to the VOC by mail. In addition, BC Parks now (as of Summer 2011) requires that you pay them $10 per person per night if you spend nights at Sphinx, regardless of whether you are a VOC fee-paying member, or not.

VOC trips have priority during fall and winter holidays (New Years, Reading Week, Easter) so please contact the VOC before planning a trip during this time. Commercial groups are requested to contact the VOC before using any of the huts. There is a lost and found page for items in and around the VOC huts.

No reservations are taken, but please see the VOC hut registration page to help coordinate use."


The Burton Hut accommodates about 10 people comfortably and up to 15 with a bit of squeezing. There is a lot of sleeping space (attic (6), sleeping platform (5), sleeping bench (2), on the floor underneath the sleeping platform (5) ) but space for cooking, socializing and gear storage / drying is more limited.

In summer 2006 it was renovated, and is now weatherproof and insulated, making the hut far warmer than it was before the renovation. There is an outhouse located to the NNW of the hut and a nearby stream to the South (and a huge lake to the West) for water.

Appliances present include a coleman lamp, catalytic heater and a 2 burner Coleman Stove - which all run on white gas. The old kerosene appliances have been removed.

Note: As of Summer 2011, the Coleman stove has been replaced with one which will hopefully be more reliable. It may be advisable to carry in your own stove and not to rely entirely on the hut stove working."


Access to the Burton Hut is complicated by the fact that there is no trail, and that Garibaldi Lake is so huge that it doesn't usually freeze until sometime in January.

Driving Directions

The Rubble Creek turnoff for the Garibaldi Lake Trail is located about midway between Squamish and Whistler (Google Map), about 250km return. There is a prominent sign, Garibaldi - Black Tusk trailhead, indicating the turnoff. The road leads about 2km to the parking lot at approximately 600m elevation. Only the first 400m of this road is normally plowed in winter, up to a private driveway. Do not block access to this private driveway when parking along the road.


Mid winter access is generally straightforward. Ski / Snowshoe the portion of road which is not plowed in winter (2km), then up the trail to Garibaldi Lake (9km) and then continue across the frozen lake to the hut (4.7km) which is located just past the moraine wall in Sphinx Bay, on the North side of the river which drains the basin. Total distance and elevation gain are about 15.7km and 1100m.

It is usually possible to "short cut" the summer trail to Garibaldi Lake somewhat by crossing portions of the smaller lakes en route, but trying to go directly up the river is generally a bad idea. Make sure to scout the ice from a hill first, as the far side of the lake around the Burton Hut is always the last part to freeze, and it is not easy to spot open water from so far away if you are standing at lake level. February, March and April are the most reliable months for solid ice on the lake. If the lake is not frozen, the hut can still be reached by the summer route over Panorama Ridge and Gentian Peak.


Summer access requires walking around the Lake, usually via Black Tusk Meadows, over the Helm Glacier to Gentian Pass, and then bushwacking down from Gentian Pass to the hut. To avoid traveling on the Helm glacier, hike over Panorama Ridge to Gentian Peak and then down to Gentian Pass."

Quoted from the UBC-VOC wiki Page

You can read more about the access, skiing and history of the hut on the wiki page linked above.


Interested in a ski touring basecamp?