January 17, 2017

Peter Grubb Hut reopens

Peter Grubb Hut, on the west edge of Round Valley north of Donner Summit, has withstood heavy snow loads since its construction in 1938 - 39. Photo by Dick Simpson.

Peter Grubb Hut, on the west edge of Round Valley north of Donner Summit, has withstood heavy snow loads since its construction in 1938 – 39. Photo by Dick Simpson.

The Sierra Club re-opened the Peter Grubb Hut in mid-December, after completing the first round of a multi-year upgrade. The iconic building, three miles north of I-80 at Donner Summit, had been closed since March 2013, when concerns were raised about its structural integrity after providing rustic shelter to backcountry skiers and snowshoers for 75 years.

The Club retained Doug Gadow of Linchpin Structural Engineering, Inc., in Truckee to complete an assessment of the hut’s condition and then make recommendations for repair. The 2013 work included adding 1/4-inch steel plates to floor joists and 3/16-inch plates to roof rafters to improve strength under heavy loads.

Over a ton of steel plates were hand-carried to the hut during the first weekend in November. In the next three weekends, work parties of volunteers installed the plates and returned the hut to usable condition. The work was supervised by Dave Rust, a retired builder, and Dick Simpson, who oversaw logistics and recruiting. Over 50 people from Reno to Santa Cruz and even Eugene OR participated.

A fierce windstorm 24 hours before the final work party blocked sections of the Pacific Crest Trail. Fortunately, only small hand tools and warm clothes had to be carried to complete the November repairs. Photo by Dick Simpson.

A fierce windstorm 24 hours before the final work party blocked sections of the Pacific Crest Trail. Fortunately, only small hand tools and warm clothes had to be carried to complete the November repairs. Photo by Dick Simpson.

The repair work was complicated by early snow, which delayed delivery of the steel from the Bay Area and then closed the main access road through Castle Valley in late November. Wind from the second storm toppled four trees across the three-mile access route before the final work party.

Repairs will continue in 2014 with an emphasis on seismic issues such as anchoring the roof and sleeping loft to the walls. New flooring for the loft and a new roof are also likely. A priority is to retain the historic feel of the building.

The Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation recently awarded a $5,000 matching grant to support the repairs. The Sierra Club Foundation has until November to raise matching gifts (tax-deductible) from individual donors.

Peter Grubb is one of four backcountry huts owned and operated by the Sierra Club under a special use permit from the U.S. Forest Service. Although Sierra Club members and work-party volunteers receive priority in the initial allocation of winter reservations, the huts are available to the public. Reservations can be made by calling (800)867-6775. More information is available at www.sierraclub.org/outings/lodges/huts.

Details about the Peter Grubb repair and fundraising campaign can be found at www.savepetergrubbhut.org.

Dick Simpson

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