With snow dusting the peaks in Glacier National Park, crews are buttoning up their work rebuilding Sperry Chalet, the backcountry dormitory that burned in the Sprague Fire last summer. Phase 1 of the rebuilding plan is on schedule and on budget.
Travis Neil knew locals would care about his summer project rebuilding the Sperry Chalet dormitory. But he didn’t realize people across the country would feel the same way.
"We've gotten a lot of emails and just people reaching out, telling us how thankful they are that we got so much done in the year," Neil says.
Neil is a project manager for Dick Anderson Construction out of Great Falls. This July the company won the $4 million bid for Phase 1 of the Sperry Chalet rebuild, which focused on shoring up the dormitory’s original stone walls and foundations with interior seismic bracing and building a new roof. The National Park Service’s chosen plan maintains the Chalet’s iconic Swiss-chalet-meets-rustic-American-West style that dates back to the Chalet’s construction in 1914.
This summer, crews used a mix of helicopters and mule-pack trains to shuttle supplies seven miles into the backcountry.
Neil says scheduling flight proved tricky during the height of fire season.
"The availability of the pilots was actually harder than the helicopter. And it wasn't even the Howe Ridge Fires, it was other fires around the state our pilot service ended up being called to."
Neil says the team budgeted flight days and got lucky with weather to finish their work in Glacier’s truncated construction season.
He says all that remains now is boarding up windows and doors on the dormitory and kitchen and packing out the crews’ four tents and platforms ahead of the snow.
"We should be out of there no later than the end of this week," Neil says.
The Chalet will winter under a new roof that has a temporary outer layer with a snow and ice shield, along with a permanent, structural, inner roof layer.
As Dick Anderson winds down construction work, Anderson Hallas Architects out of Golden, Colorado is designing Phase 2, which includes setting a floor plan and choosing wood finishes, doors, windows and balcony work.
The Park Service will solicit bids for Phase 2 construction next spring. Work is expected to wrap up by the end of 2019. This second phase will likely be paid for with a $1.2 million property insurance reimbursement, privately solicited donations from the Glacier National Park Conservancy and additional federal funds.