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A Case of Heli-Hiking Boosting Academics


On Christmas morning of his freshman year of high school, Nathan Bailey’s grandpa gave Nathan a special gift: a heli-hiking adventure  deep in the wilderness of Western Canada.  But it came with strings attached: He had to improve his marks in school.

For the second semester, Nathan worked harder, but at the end of the year no report card arrived in his mailbox.  Likely excuse?  Not according to Nathan.  Some books were lost, so the report card was withheld.  He was willing to raise the stakes to prove his commitment to the deal.
“I’ll pay you back if my grades don’t show up.” Nathan proposed to his Grandpa, Fred Noble, a 35-year veteran of heli-skiing with CMH.
“Ok” Grandpa Noble said. “If your grades don’t show up, then you have to pay off every penny of the cost of the trip - working for me.” That summer Nathan went heli-hiking in the Adamants.
I spoke with Nathan eight years later.

TD: How did you raise your grades?

NB: I just gave it more effort.  

TD: So you went to Canada and had a great trip, but why did you keep up the effort in school afterwards?

NB: Going up there made me realize what you can do by working hard.  I did things I never thought I would do.  I climbed a mountain!  After that, I had more motivation and gave everything more effort.  I had a 2.2 GPA my freshman year, and I graduated with a 3.6 GPA.

TD: How did the trip change your motivation in the rest of your life?

NB:  It changed everything.  In the beginning of the trip, I didn’t even want to do it.  Before I went, I was afraid of heights.  I hadn’t even been on a Ferris Wheel!  Then I did all these things I never thought I would do.  When I got home I realized all these things I could do by trying hard.

TD: What do you do for fun now?

NB: Sports.  I love sports.  Basketball, football, baseball, golf.

TD: Did the heli-hiking trip change how you look at sports?

NB: Yes.  I went rock climbing!  It showed me these different forms of athletics.  It pushes you harder than average sports.  Makes you try really hard.

TD: Would you go back?

NB: If I could afford it, I’d go up there every year.  I went there four times and never saw the same place twice.

TD: Anything else?
NB: “My Grandpa showed me the way.  This might sound, well, overused, but that trip changed a lot of things in my life.”

Nathan went heli-hiking with his Grandpa every summer for the next four years, visting the Bobbie Burns, Bugaboos and the Adamants.  By 23 years old, his focus on effort - discovered in the mountains of Western Canada - had landed him a management position with Famous Footwear in McMinnville, Oregon.   


This is a great story and I saw the eyes and mind of my 17 year old daughter open much wider with her mountain experience as well. We grew up in the mountians but the helihiking experience is overwhelming! Taking them off the trail and off the peer path is life changing!
Posted @ Wednesday, November 11, 2009 2:15 PM by Tracy Booth
We took our 5 year old on a Family Adventure at the Bugaboos. I never dreamt he'd stay out walking and exploring everyday. We had to drag each and every kid to their rooms because they were having so much fun they didn't want the day to end. On the motorcoach back to Banff it was nap time for everyone. He still talks about the bones they found, the games they played the time in the helicopter and the new friends he met. A life changing experience for all of us. Thank you!
Posted @ Friday, November 13, 2009 3:06 PM by Nancy
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