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Climate Change Claims an Iconic Mountain Hut

Thanks to erosion, the Abbot Pass Hut is coming down.

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Canada’s Abbot Pass Hut is located on a rocky ledge along the continental divide, straddling the border between Alberta and British Columbia. In February, Parks Canada announced that the cabin will be demolished in the spring due to erosion to the ledge on which it stands.

The cabin was built in 1922 by Swiss guides and for generations stood as a picturesque destination for hikers from nearby Calgary and beyond. For decades, the hut sat on a permanently frozen patch of land, but the warming climate means the slope now thaws in spring and summer. In 2016, a landslide on the ledge’s southern slope made the cabin uninhabitable; it was permanently shuttered in 2018 for safety reasons.

Parks Canada spent more than $600,000 to install rock anchors beneath the hut in an attempt to save it, but bad weather in 2019 and the pandemic stalled the project.

Rick Kubian, the local superintendent of Parks Canada, said officials had to make the difficult decision to order the hut’s demolition after years of salvage attempts failed.“While we previously believed the hut could be saved in place, in 2021 the slope substantially eroded under a portion of the hut foundation,” Kubian said. “Geotechnical assessments confirmed higher levels of slope erosion and new evidence—including cracks in the masonry—revealed the entire hut has been impacted.”

The Calgary Herald spoke to multiple people who have enjoyed the hut over the years, including Annalise Klingsbeil, who stayed at the hut in 2015 with her siblings and father.

“To put it bluntly, climate change sucks,” she said. “It’s sad that others won’t get this opportunity to visit Abbot Hut and make memories.”